Food For the Soul
Shavuot 2021 (a two-day holiday, celebrated from sunset on May 16 until nightfall on May 18) coincides with the date that G-d gave the Torah to the Jewish people at Mount Sinai more than 3,300 years ago. It is celebrated by lighting candles, staying up all night to learn Torah, hearing the reading of the Ten Commandments in synagogue, feasting on dairy foods and more.
This year again, many of us will be celebrating ourselves, as our own living spaces have become our places of worship. Visit Chabad.org for ideas and inspiration about how to celebrate Shavuot at home.
The role of children is significant on Shavuot. When the Jews stood before Sinai to receive the Torah, G-d refused to give it to them until they could find worthy guarantors to assure the observance of its laws. After G-d heard (and refused) various suggestions, he accepted the final suggestion that children be the guarantors.
Why did G-d prefer the Torah study of the child whose mind is constantly distracted? Rabbi Naftali Silberbert suggests this is because, unlike the adult “the child has an acute curiosity, but he doesn’t doubt that which he is taught; he is aware that his wisdom and knowledge is limited and therefore accepts what his parent or teacher says. He asks questions because he wants to understand more, not because he is skeptical of the information he has heard.”
However, children aren’t the only guarantors of the Torah, Rabbi Silberberg adds. “The adult who dedicates himself to the Torah in a childish manner, he too can take credit for ensuring the continuity of the Torah.”
Ethics of the Fathers, Chapter Six
In preparation for the festival of Shavuot, we study one of the six chapters of the Talmud’s Ethics of the Fathers (“Avot”) on the afternoon of each of the six Shabbatot between Passover and Shavuot; this Shabbat being the Shabbat before Shavuot, we study Chapter Six.
Among the passages in this chapter are the words of Rabbi Chananya ben Akashya, who said: “The Holy One, blessed be He, wished to make the people of Israel meritorious; therefore He gave them Torah and mitzvot in abundant measure, as it is written (Isaiah 42:21): ‘The L-rd desired, for the sake of his [Israel’s] righteousness, to make the Torah great and glorious.’” (Makkot 23b).
Mind Over Matter
On the outside, Torah speaks the language of humankind. On the inside, it is depth without end.
Torah is the interface between the Infinite and creation. On the outside, it speaks the language of humankind.
On the inside, it is depth without end. Grasp either end and you have nothing. Grasp both and you have G-d Himself.
Rabbi Tzvi Freeman
Moshiach’s ultimate function
Of the Messianic era it is said that “the one preoccupation of the entire world will be solely to know G-d.” All knowledge of G-d derives from the Torah. Moshiach’s ultimate function, therefore, will be to “teach the entire people and instruct them in the way of G-d, and all nations will come to hear him.” He will reveal new insights, novel understandings of the presently hidden, unknown and esoteric teachings of the infinite Torah, allowing people “to attain knowledge of their Creator to the extent of human capacity.” In order to make it possible for the world to partake in these new revelations, the Messianic era will thus be a time of peace and harmony, with “neither famine nor war, neither envy nor strife.”
From an article by Rabbi J. Immanuel Schochet
Have I Got A Story
Sounds of Sinai
It’s been said that if you talk to G-d, you’re a religious person; if G-d talks to you, you’re crazy. I guess that means I’m crazy. G-d talks to me—not as frequently as He should, but fairly often.
I might be arguing with my wife—that same tired argument that we’ve had a hundred times already—when something inside me says, “Hey, just a minute. Maybe look at it her way, for a change?”
Who said that, me? I don’t talk that way to myself!
Or I might be walking along a sunny street, thinking my usual thoughts—the balance in my bank account, or what to have for lunch—when I’m struck with a deep sadness, a sudden yearning for something higher, something more meaningful. Who said that, me? I don’t say things like that—not since I was twenty years old, anyway.
Our Sages tell us that “every day a Heavenly voice issues forth from Mount Sinai” calling for a return to the truth of truths. Asked Chassidism’s founder, Rabbi Israel Baal Shem Tov: What is the purpose of this voice, if no one hears it?
But we all hear it, answered the Baal Shem Tov. Every time that we are struck with an unexpected thought that pushes us in the right direction—unexpected because it is totally out of character for us, and a complete departure from our present frame of mind—that means that our inner ear has picked up an echo of the Divine voice calling from Mount Sinai.
Whether or not you make it a habit to talk to G-d, you should listen to Him talk to you. It’ll be the sanest moment of your day.
Rabbi Yanki Tauber
The Midrash tells us that G-d’s voice serenaded the Israelites from all four directions, as well as from above and below.
Before delivering your message, ask yourself: “Am I broadcasting this message from all directions? Or is there some part of me that is signaling a different message altogether? If that is the case, have a conversation with yourself before attempting to convince another. If you have not internalized the message, there’s little chance that you will find the other person receptive.
From an article by Rabbi Naftali Silberber