Shalom and Bracha!
This Shabbat we read the portion of
Bamidbar. Sunday and Monday are Shavuot, when we celebrate
Hashem giving the Torah on Mount Sinai. The theme of portion is
the counting of the Jewish people. The Midrash explains that the
counting of the Jewish people demonstrates their dearness in the
eyes of Hashem. The simple meaning thereof is that we keep
careful account of our precious possessions. Hashem treated us
as His most precious possession by counting us even though he
knew the tally.
A deeper perspective is that by counting the
Jewish people He revealed and highlighted an aspect of our
dearness. When counting, all of the counted parties are equal.
No one counts more or less than anyone else. A person has two
aspects: his accomplishments, by which he differs from all those
around him, and the essence of his soul, which is the spark of
G-d within each one of us. By counting us, Hashem revealed and
highlighted the essence of our soul which unites all of us. This
also teaches us how our attitude must be particularly this
Shabbat. Rather than focusing on someone’s appearance or their
social stature, we must treat everyone with respect and dignity
because they bear within them a spark of G-d. This is reflected
in a practical sense in a Minyan: ten men form a Minyan
regardless of their special qualities or weaknesses. Nine men
cannot form a Minyan regardless of their individual greatness.
This gives us a tremendous encouragement and sense of self
worth. Each person is important in the eyes of Hashem and his
good acts are critical to the world. This is reflected in the
teaching of the Talmud that Adam was created as a lone human
being to teach us that every person must perceive the world as
being created for them and fully dependent on their good deeds.
This is central to the giving of the Torah.
When describing the events that preceded the Giving of the
Torah, the Torah relates that on Rosh Chodesh Sivan the Jewish
people entered the wilderness of Sinai and camped facing The
Mountain. Unlike all of the other encampments (including the
other encampment mentioned in the same verse) where the Torah
refers to the Jewish people in the plural, “they camped,” when
relating the encampment in Sinai the Torah uses the singular “he
camped.” The Talmud explains that when we prepared to receive
the Torah, we were like one being with one heart. This unity was
the necessary preparation to receive the Torah. Chassidut
explains that this unity was the revelation of the essence of
the soul that unites all of us, similar to that which is
reflected in the counting in this week’s portion. Further, the
number of letters in the Torah corresponds to the number of
people who were present at its giving. Just as every letter in a
Torah scroll is necessary for the sanctity of the scroll, every
Jew is an integral part of our people.
This unity comes to a culmination in the
observance of Shavuot. When the Torah is read this Sunday,
Shavuot morning, everyone, man, woman, and child should be in
the synagogue. When the Torah was first given all souls were
present. If anyone had been missing, the Torah would not have
been given. Similarly, when we read the narrative of the giving
of the Torah on Shavuot morning, everyone should be present.
Every individual’s attendance enhances the Holiday and
elucidates Hashem’s blessings for the entire Jewish people.
Divisiveness brought the destruction of the
Temple and unity will bring its rebuilding. May we merit the
coming of Moshiach speedily and to hear the new depths of Torah
he will reveal.
Shavuot-Joy and Inner Meaning
Because Shavuot follows Shabbat a special embellished Havdallah
is added to the Kiddush Saturday night as printed in the prayer
book. Both nights candles should only be lit from existed flames
because striking a match is forbidden on the holiday. The times
listed above are the earliest appropriate times. Havdallah is
said again on Monday with no Besamim or candles.
The Previous Rebbe would always give the
blessing Kabbalat Hatorah B’simcha Uv’pnimiyut (receiving the
Torah with joy and inner meaning.) The blessing has many
lessons. Shavuot is the day the Torah was given. The Torah
describes at length splendor of the giving of the Torah. The
Rebbe reminds us that our job is to receive the Torah, to
dedicate ourselves to study and absorb the Torah.
The Rebbe stresses that the receiving of the Torah should be
with joy. We can view the Torah as a burden or a privilege. When
we carry heavy suitcases it’s a burden. When we discover that
the suitcases are full of diamonds that we can keep the burden
becomes a pleasure. Every Mitzvah is a diamond, a precious gift
from Hashem. Joy is critical to service of Hashem. Every Mitzvah
should be imbued with joy simply because we are coming closer to
Hashem. In a deeper sense, true joy is only through the Torah.
When we feel pain, we can heal the cause or mask the pain.
Healing the cause is real. The Torah teaches us how to live in
the world create perfect harmony between our bodies, our souls,
Hashem, and our surroundings. It takes work, but it is true joy.
The Rebbe stresses that we should receive
the Torah in a manner that we internalize it. There are three
pillars of service of Hashem: Torah study, prayer and Mitzvot.
When we study the Torah, Hashem’s wisdom becomes a part of our
minds data base. The more that we learn and remember, the more
wisdom of Hashem that is within us. Further, Chassidut explains
that the intellect and the emotions are connected. When we
contemplate the teachings of the Torah, the mind awakens the
heart and we begin to perceive things through Hashem’s eyes and
our emotions are elevated. We truly become a divine people. This
is the way we must receive the Torah; seeking to retain as much
as possible and to internalize everything that we learn.
The Torah was given on Shabbat. Until
Moshiach comes the first day of Shavuot cannot fall on Shabbat.
This year Shavuot comes immediately following Shabbat, stressing
the connection of Shabbat and Shavuot. Just as Shabbat is a day
of joy, blessing and relaxation, the Torah brings joy, blessing
and relaxation into our lives. The coming of Moshiach is
compared to an eternal Shabbat and he will reveal the depths of
the teachings of the Torah. May this Shabbat and Shavuot usher
in his coming and the age of bliss and may you receive the Torah
with joy and inner meaning and may Hashem’s blessings imbue your
Shabbat Shalom and Chag Sameach
There is an excellent Shavuot website at
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