Shavuot: Rabbi Zvi Leshem



Shavuot 5766

Rabbi Zvi Leshem (Blobstein)

Shavuot is, according to Rav Leibele Eiger, Muvchar HaMoadim, “the Choicest Holiday”, so intense that it lasts for only one day, similarly to Yom Kippur. He sees it as part of a set that includes Shabbat Bereshit, focusing on God the influencer, Yom Kippur, centered upon humanity, the receiver, and Shavuot, highlighting the Torah, intermediary between God and man. Shavuot and Yom Kippur are also unique among the holidays in that they deal with the present, not the past. Thus the Torah does not record a date for the giving of the Torah at Mount Sinai!

The Netivot Shalom quotes Rav Chaim Vital that one’s entire life is dependant upon the night of Shavuot. This night is so powerful that some of the Rebbes were unable to recite Torah, stating that “The Torah from last year has been completed and the Torah of this year has yet to be revealed”. For the Netivot Shalom the main avodah of the night of Shavuot is bitul, self-annulment, to HaShem and to the Jewish People.

The Piaseczner in Derech haMelech agrees that the whole year is dependent upon this special night. The goal is to enable the holiness of this night spread into the year with no interruption. We need to absorb a bit of prophecy regarding Torah and mizvot and take it with us into the year. At Mt. Sinai we all “saw voices”. The Rebbe writes in Aish Kodeshthat God teaches Torah to the Jewish People. When he taught us the Torah at Mt. Sinai it was the Chumash, the written Torah that is not to be spoken out loud without a written text. We were therefore shown the letters that we heard, floating through the sky, in order to provide a written backup for HaShem’s oral teaching. As we know the Rebbe places great emphasis upon the role of the community in Chassidic life. At Matan Torah we were “as one person with one heart”. In order to receive the Torah on Shavuot we need to reaffirm our bitul to Klal Yisrael, as stated above by the Netivot Shalom. While prophecy is a highly individual spiritual experience, for the Jewish People its main application is in the communal setting. May we merit, as individuals and as a community, to reaccept the Torah as deeply as possible, taking the experience with us throughout the entire year.


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