Vertlach: Shavuos


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This weeks דבר תורה  is לזכות רפואה שלימה ל-אברהם בייניש בן גאלדה שפרינצה.
ולאה בת חנה
And לזכר נשמת ר’ אברהם בן שמחה זצ”ל
ר’ חיים בן ר’ צבי ארי-ה זצ”ל
ור’ יחיאל יהודה בן ר’ אברהם מרדכי הכהן זצ”ל

It is well known that one of the highlights of Shavous is that the entire klal Yisroel learns the entire night until the morning. The question can be asked, why? What is the source of this minhag? The Magen Avraham says the reason is, because klal Yisorel overslept the morning of matan Torah and in order to make up for it we stay up every year on that night to rectify our wrongdoing.  However, if you look in parshas Yisro you will notice that the loshon used there is a bit different. The pasuk (19:1) says ‘it was the third month since bnei Yisroel left Egypt and on that day they “came” to the Sinai desert’. Whenever the Torah mentions that bnei Yisroel reached their destination the pasuk usually said ‘vayachanu’ or a similar loshon of settling.  Why here did the Torah write ba’u, which means ‘arrives’? The Ramban answers that since bnei Yisroel were so excited for matan Torah they didn’t have time to setup their tents; to setup shop. If this is so, then how do these two pshatim, the Magen Avraham and the Ramban coincide?

Rav Chatzkel Levenstein, ZT”L answers with a powerful thought.

Inspiration is an emotion that passes with time; it comes and it goes. When a person is inspired in order for it to last one has to make it tangible, they need to act on it. A person has to make it into something concrete by either making a kabalah or doing something physical with it. Klal Yisroel was extremely inspired at that moment of reaching midbar Sinai but the actual giving over of the Torah to bnei Yisroel wasn’t until three days later. By that time the inspiration had already evaporated because they did nothing with it and they ultimately lost it.

There’s a famous gemarah (avodah zara 17a) regarding reb Elazar ben Durdia. The gemarah recounts there wasn’t a zonah in the world he didn’t visit. Once, he heard of a certain zonah overseas that charged an exorbitant amount for her services; a purse of dinars. He packed the money and traveled across seven seas to meet her. When they were together, she blew a small breath of air from her mouth and said ‘just as this current of air cannot retrieve its place of origin so too in heaven they will not accept elazar ben durdia for teshuva’. At that moment Elazar ben Durdia called out to the mountains, the heaven, the earth, the sun, moon, stars and constellations asking all of them individually to help him and beseech mercy from above on his behalf; he wanted to repent. (The gemarah goes into more detail) When he saw his pleas falling on deaf ears he placed his head in between his knees, realizing the teshuva can only come from him, and began to weep. He wept until his soul departed from his body. At that moment a bas kol was heard saying ‘REB Elazar ben Durdia is now been ready for olam haba’.

The gemarah continues and say that Rebbi cried when he heard this; he said ‘one can acquire his portion in the world to come in a single moment.’ The obvious question here, asked by Rav Elyashav Shlit”a (and many others) is why was Rebbi crying? This should have been the most inspiring moment for anyone? To see a person who lived his whole life doing aveiros and at the time of his death a bas kol calls out and names him “Reb”? This should’ve given Rebbi so much chizuk, why was he crying?

The answer is this same point. Rebbi was crying because he saw how one moment-in a flash-a person can change their lives forever and he understood–how often do these opportunities come around and we pass up on it? How often do we get inspired and allow it to just pass away without grabbing onto it and helping it change us? That, is why Rebbi was crying.

On Shavous night, like we mentioned earlier, we have a minhag to stay up. But we’re not just staying up to be misaken that we overslept. We have to be able to be misaken the fact that we lost that excitement; that lost chance. How does one do so? By finding something that excites him in Torah, taking that moment and internalizing it.

The pasuk in Shir HaShirim (7:2) says מה יפו פעמיך בנעלים-which can be loosely translated to mean ‘your footsteps are so lovely in shoes’. However, the gemarah says it refers to ‘how beautiful it is that klal Yisroel comes to be oleh regel for Hashem. Asks Rav Shimon Schwab ZT”L if its talking by oleh regel then why would it use a loshon of בנעלים? We know that when one is standing in the beis hamikdash he is not allowed to wear shoes?

He answers that it’s not pshat that Hashem is proud of us when we’re there in the beis hamikdash but rather when we are leaving on our way home; when we’re wearing our shoes again a day after yom tov or a week after yom tov and he sees what we have taken with us from that yom tov! This is also pshat in the beracha in shemoneh esrei that we say on yom tov, V’haseainu. We ask Hashem to load us up to be able to carry us through the year until the next yom tov.

May we all have an inspiring and uplifting yom tov and may we all be zoche to take something from this yom tov; something that was michazek us and to hold onto it throughout the whole year until next year when we will be in yerushalayim together with Moshiach tzidkeinu b’mheira v’yameinu amen!

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