I would like to dedicate these words on Shavuos to R’ Azriel Yitzchak Wasserman, ZT”L, and may they be an ilui neshama for his soul, which has really never ceased to live and love, and whose legacy continues to teach and inspire.
Can you imagine the indescribable feeling at the giving of the Torah at Har Sinai? The crashing thunder and lighting, the mountain alight with glory, thousands of your fellows clustered tightly about you, and you’re all trembling. G-d’s voice thunders, yet speaks to each one of you personally, and your soul is reverberating from the intensity. You are like holy angels now, as you scream “Na’aseh v’nishma! – We will do and we will listen!” to the words of Torah, the guides of your life, as they’re being seared into your mind.
You and Am Yisrael are Hashem’s bride, and this is your wedding day. You want nothing more than to cleave to Him, and He is filled with fiery passion for you. Hashem loves you. Chazal has inscribed in the Midrash, that Hashem even elevated Har Sinai above your heads, a great chuppah, as part of the “wedding” ceremony! And Hashem gave you an eternally precious gift: The Torah.
And a very fine gift too. The Torah is our light, our direction for every moment of our lives, and our lifeline to the Source in times of trouble. It is a heritage passed onto the generations for all eternity. It even has a “triple value”.
The Torah was bestowed upon us ‘in threes’. Although it is the only festival enumerated in the Torah not given an explicit date of celebration and commemoration, our traditions teach that the marvel of Matan Torah took place in the third month, the month of Sivan, counting from the beginning of the year when we warm the birth of our nation (the month of Nissan). The Torah Shebichsav (the Written Torah) is comprised of 3 collections— 1.) Chamisha Chumshei Torah/the five books of Moses; 2.) Nevi’im/the Prophets; 3.) Ketuvim/the Writings. The gift of Torah was presented to the Jewish People, a nation of three groups: 1.) The Kohanim, 2.) the Levi’im, 3.) the Yisraelim.
One might understandably believe that Matan Torah, G-d’s revelation, and the transmittal of His Divine Will, should be only in connection to perfect Oneness. With G-d’s overwhelming essence at Har Sinai, nothing and no one made a sound. All was to a certain degree nullified before His revelation, everything in the world silenced and waiting. G-d is One, we believe with perfect faith. “Shema Yisrael Hashem Elokeinu Hashem Echad!” We might think, that at Har Sinai, His revelation must be associated with exclusive singularity, and His Torah should be one law. But this is not quite so…
Chassidus teaches that Supernal, unchecked, Yichud Hashem (Oneness of G-d), cannot be reconciled by our personal perceptions of reality. Hashem’s most elevated and Original Oneness cannot pervade our human understanding…
Since we can not take in the Divine Mind (which is how the Alter Rebbe describes real Torah) in Its Supreme Yichud, we must receive it in an alternative manner. And therefore, Hashem presents it to us in threes. But, what is the significance of this number?
Penetrating, sincere, applicable Torah, is blended of three ingredients. R’ Shais Taub of Chabad.org explains: We have one paradigm, a thesis: The concept of G-d’s most esoteric Yichud, connection of the soul on the highest heights and levels, negation of all rest of self– our spiritual perspectives. Next, we have a second paradigm, the polar opposite, the antithesis: Our “experiential understanding”, our bodily and material needs in this world– our physical perspectives. And then, we have a third component, the synthesis: this is an all-embracing kind of unity. This is that power that be, that harmonizes ‘both worlds’, the two opposite concepts we discussed above. We are driven by this synthesis, to uncover the essence of all deeds and mitzvos, the essence that is shared by, unites, both physical and spiritual.
Torah paves for us a path of spiritual growth, it’s our ladder to climb to greater heights than we believe we can reach, and it spurs our journey by teaching us how to act upon physical deed, by upholding the commandments that we need the aid of our bodies to accomplish. Torah unites the upper and lower worlds!
When G-d gave us this eternal gift, he also invested in us the power to forge this unity. Before Matan Torah, we didn’t have the tools or knowledge, guidance or understanding, to harmonize G-d, the neshama, and its strivings, with the secular and material of this world. Torah was our key in bringing heaven down to earth, to find the Divine in all that we do.
In days of yore, Mekubalim (Kabbalists) and Sages went out to the fields to daven Kabbalas Shabbos. They were especially passionate when it came to Lecha Dodi. But how could a field, the place of the workweek, serve as an appropriate atmosphere for beckoning in the holy day of rest, welcoming in the Shechina, and reaching true menucha (tranquility)? They taught the reason for their actions, explaining that they ran out to greet the Bride (which Shabbos is likened to, while the Jewish People are Her groom), but simultaneously, the Shabbos stepped into their realm, one usually viewed as a mundane location. They sanctified the field and elevated its purpose, while they and Shabbos Kodesh met each other ‘halfway’, creating profound harmony, its inspiration lasting for a very long time.
Just another instance of love, the fiery love, between Hashem and Am Yisrael.
And now, for one last note on harmony…
For 49 days, we count the Omer nightly. But we do not count Shavuos. “49” may seem like a rather odd number of days, yet, we do not declare the 50th with the Sefiras haOmer bracha. I once heard that each day of the 49, is another day of striving for connection, another step of the journey of personal and spiritual growth, another success of character refinement. Each day is like a musical note. Reflecting on them as a collection, blending each individual day’s message into a greater one, you’ve composed a song; however, it isn’t complete… The 50th day, the holy day o Shavuos, is the culmination of all the days of Sefiras haOmer. It doesn’t just hit the “high note”, but it fulfills and actualizes the song.
I hope for you all that you reach the goals you’re working to achieve, spiritually and materially, and find balance and unity in all that you do. I wish you all a joyous and meaningful Chag, and may you be mekabeil Torah semichus u’p’nimius!
The Messenger Bird