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This page presents insights by Rabbi Tuvia Bolton on the weekly Torah portion.

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Shavuot (5764 (1))

Once Rabbi Mendel Futerfass (a famous Chasid Chabad in Stalinist Russia) saw one of his friends coming out of the ‘Shamos’ bin (the room where scraps of holy books are kept because it is forbidden to throw them away) with a handful of torn pages.

"What are you doing" Asked Rav Mendel.

"I take them home and sew them together and make a book!" He answered. (There was a great shortage of holy books in Russia because of Communist censorship).

"But what kind of book will that be?" Rav Mendel asked, "I mean, there will be no beginning and no end, just unrelated pages! How can you read a book like that?"

"Well" his friend calmly replied, " I look at it this way, there are three things; Learning Torah, Understanding Torah and the Holiness of the Torah. The first two depend on the wisdom and the reason of the Torah, but the Holiness of the Torah is the letters of the Torah, and that’s what my book will be about"

Shavuos is the most important of all the Jewish Holidays.

It celebrates the Giving of the Torah, and without the Torah not only would we not know any of the Holidays or the Commandments, but by now there probably would be no Jewish people (G-d forbid).

In fact Rashi (Braishis 1:31) assures us that if the Jews hadn’t received the Torah on that day, the whole world would have ceased to exist!

If so, Shavuos is actually the most important day in the history of the world!!

But if we examine what happened on that day we see that it was seemingly very anticlimactic.

The Jews did not receive the entire Torah or even most of it; they heard only ten simple commandments.

One would think that after the preparations of: suffering 210 years in slavery, a series of mind-boggling miracles like the ten plagues, splitting of the sea, Manna from heaven, water from a rock, clouds of glory, Mount Sinai shaking amidst fire and thunder, and more, they would get something a little more impressive or at least more mystical and obscure than ten commonplace commandments, Don’t kill, Don’t steal etc.; statutes which can be found in even the most primitive of cultures!

But the answer is that on that first Shavuos, G-d gave…. Himself.

King Solomon in his ‘Song of Songs’ compares it to a wedding day between G-d and the Jewish people. The Jews became a "HOLY People" (Shmos 19:15) [The Hebrew word for ‘make holy’ and ‘to marry’ are the same (M’kadash)]

The first word of the Ten Commandments sums it all up: "ANOCHI".

G-d has a lot of names and according to Kaballa each name corresponds to a different facet of G-d’s infinite ‘personality’. But the name ANOCHI is not one of them. It refers to something that is above all names or facets; it is the essence of G-d himself. And this is what the Jews received at Mount Sinai.

The experience was so unique that until this very day no one can even begin to understand it. In fact no religion, (even those that claim to replace Judaism) has ever even CLAIMED that such a thing happened to them!

To them it is incomprehensible that the Creator would reveal Himself to an entire nation of millions of ordinary people FOR NO REASON, when He could have just spoken privately to Moses like they (falsely) claim happened in their religions.

But the reason that G-d did it is as we explained; with just the first Commandment "Anochi Elokecha" G-d united Himself with EACH and every Jewish soul for all time:

‘Anochi’ became "ELOKECHA" lit. YOUR G-d" (The word ‘YOUR’ here is not plural but singular.)

What this practically means today is that when any Jew opens up a book and learns Torah, any aspect of the Torah, (especially if he says the words aloud) or even does a commandment, he can feel a little bit of what they felt a Mount Sinai 3312 years ago! ..… the feeling that G-d is VERY VERY close. In fact, closer than we are to our own selves!

It’s called ‘The Jewish Feeling’ or, the G-dly Soul. (Tanya chap. 2)

This feeling was what made the Holy Temple special, (The Ten Commandments were kept in the Holy of Holies), it’s what draws people to the Western Wall today and has been keeping Jews and Judaism alive and vibrant through almost two thousand years of oppression.

In the blessing after reading the Torah we call it ‘Chayai OLOM’: Infinite life.

It is the G-dliness of the Torah, the ‘Joy’ (simcha), the ‘Light’ (M’or), and the ‘Dew’ (Tal) of the Torah that has the power to enliven the dead… completely above any human understanding. That is what we are celebrating on Shavuos.

I want to illustrate with a story:

I once used to put tefillin on Jews in the central bus station of Tel Aviv. (For those unfamiliar with Chabad tefillin campaign it goes like this: You take at least one pair of good Tefillin, one folding table, situate yourself on some busy street and ask Jews if they want to put on Tefillin, in countries other than Israel you have to first ask people if they are Jewish) So one Friday I ask this non-religious-looking soldier if he would like to put on Tefillin and he suddenly gets all red with anger and begins shouting at me. "Because of you maniacs I sat in Military prison for two months, who needs your Mitzvot (commandments) or your Tefillin, leave me alone!!!"

So I innocently asked him what he meant, while keeping an eye on his right arm (because he was pretty mad)

"Four months ago I was AWOL from the army, I was running away and I had a whole weekend of fun planned out, but as I got off the bus I stopped to put on Tefillin at one of you guys’ Tefillin stands."

He paused for a second. He was standing a bit too close for comfort, leaning over yelling at my nose like it was some sort of microphone. Then took a few quick deep breaths and continued.

"And WHILE I was putting on the Tefillin…. the Military police saw me, arrested me and I HAD TO SIT IN JAIL FOR TWO MONTHS BECAUSE OF YOU NUTS!!!"

I saw that he was really angry and I didn’t know what to do, so I looked him back in the eye and as calmly as possible asked him…

"So? Nu? Want to put on Tefillin?"

He looked at me, looked at the Tefillin, and looked back at me one more time. Without changing his expression he took one step back, stopped turning red, rolled up his sleeve and said "Lama LO?" (lit. Why not?) And he put on Tefillin.

Therefore the Torah is called ‘Torat Chiam’, the ‘Teaching of Life’; it awakens our soul, gives us life and teaches us what life is. Not like the various other ‘bibles’ that are products of human spirit, (or spiritual humans).

{There is a Midrash that says that before G-d gave the Torah to the Jews He offered it to all the other nations, and when they asked what it says, G-d told them exactly what they didn’t want to hear; to the murderers He said "Don’t kill" etc. But after they all saw that the Jews received it, they set to making their own, more acceptable, ‘torahs’. So that is why Islam glorifies murder and lying, and others allow thievery and Idolatry etc.}

But another thing, happened on the day of Matan Torah, Heaven and earth exchanged places:

The first of the Ten Commandments ‘I am your G-d’ the deepest statement possible containing all Kaballisic secrets…was revealed down here to potential Murderers and thieves (Don’t Kill Don’t steal) the lowest type ofn people, thus raising them to the highest of possible levels.

In other words, since Matan Torah, G-d came down here and this physical world was raised up; G-d is now easily accessible to everyone and all the spiritual channels and roads are open to ascent.

That is why the Torah is called the "Tree of Life" and is the antidote to death. (See Tanya end of Chap. 36) Because the G-dliness in it transforms and purifies everything, the entire mundane world, down to even the opposite of life. And this is the light of the Moshiach, which will eventually raise the dead.

The following emphasizes this:

There are three Tzadikim associated with this holiday: Moshe, Dovid HaMelech, and the Baal Shem Tov. Moshe gave us the Torah and the latter two both passed away on the Holiday of Shavous. All three made unique contributions to the Torah and all three are above death.

The Gemora tells us (Sota 13b) that Moshe did not die, similarly (R"H 25a) that Dovid Hamelech is still alive, and the Besht claimed that if he wanted, he could raise up to heaven in a cloud like Eliyahu the prophet, thereby avoiding death. This is because all of them were attached to this level of G-dliness in the Torah that is above death.

And this is the ‘New Torah’ that the Moshiach will bring.

Namely that the G-dliness in the Torah will be revealed not just temporarily as it was on Mount Sinai, but permanently to the entire world; like Moshe, Dovid and the Besht felt it. [In fact, Moshiach will be a ‘spark’ of Moshe (who is called ‘the first AND LAST redeemer’), of Dovid (Moshiach ben Dovid) and of the Besht (who revealed Chassidut, Torat HaMoshiach)].

May we SEE all this immediately (the Hebrew word for immediately is ‘MYAD" which the Lubavtich Rebbe pointed out is the initials ‘M’oshe ‘Y’isroel (Baal Shem) ‘D’ovid)

And may this Shavuos bring us the ‘New’ Torah with Moshiach NOW!

Copyright © 1999-2017 Rabbi Tuvia Bolton. All rights reserved. No unauthorized reproduction or copying of this material shall occur without prior permission.

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