From the Wellspring of the Holiday - Shavuot.
Contributed by Rav. Mordechai Makor
In the square panel of a mosaic found at Beth Alpha Kibbutz was a zodiac wheel with all 12 symbols and names of the zodiac, surrounded by four female figures at the corners, identifying the seasons of the year. Credit: Art Resource, NY
Anyone who learns Torah for its own sake, brings peace up above and here, down below, as it says, “Then he will strengthen through my strength, he will bring peace to me, peace he will bring to me.” (Yishayhu 27:5) Rav said: as if he built a palace up above and a palace down below, as it says, “I will place my words in your mouth… To plant the sky and solidify the land.” (Yishayhu 21:15) Rabbi Yohanan said: He even protects the whole world, as it says “And with the shadow of my hand, I will cover you.” Rabbi Levi said: He even brings the redemption close, as it says, “And to say to Tziyon, you are my nation.” (Sanhedrin 99b)
Anyone who learns Torah, it is as if he has brought an Olah sacrifice, as if he brought a Minha sacrifice, as if he brought a Hatat sacrifice, as if he brought an Asham sacrifice, and as if he brought a Shelamim sacrifice. (Menhot 110a) Anyone who learns Torah, it is as if he has sacrificed all the sacrifices in the world to Hashem, and many places of honor are set for him in the world to come. (Zohar 3:159a)
Rabbi Yehuda began: “The Torah of Hashem is perfect, it revived the soul.” (Tehilim 19:8) How much should people learn Torah! Anyone who learns Torah will have life in this world and in the world to come, and will merit two worlds. Even one who learns Torah and does not do so for its own sake as is proper, will merit a good reward in this world and will no be judged harshly in the world to come. When his soul departs to return to its source, its Torah will walk before that soul, and how many gates will be broken by it until it returns to its source! The light of Torah will surround it until it wakes up again in the time that the dead will reawaken, and will be for him a defender. (Zohar 1:184b)
How beloved is Torah before Hashem, that anyone who works hard learning Torah is beloved above and beloved down below! G-d will listen to his voice and will not abandon him in this world or in the world to come, and the Torah requests that he should work hard learning her, day and night. (Zohar 2:46a)
Yisrael is fortunate, for Hakadosh Baruch Hu chose them from amongst all the nations, and because of his love for them, gave them the true Torah in order to know the ways of the holy King. Anyone who clings to the Torah, clings to G-d, for the Torah is all names of G-d, and those who learn Torah, learn the secrets of His name. All those who distance themselves from Torah, are distanceing themselves from their Creator. (Zohar 3:89b)
Anyone who learns Torah, merits the opening of many gates for him in this world, and many lights. The hour that he departs from this world, his Torah precedes him and turns to all the gatekeepers crying out: “Let the gates open, and prepare a place of honor for this man! He has worshipped the holy King!” There is no joy for G-d other than one who learns Torah. How much more so, one who wakes up in the night to learn Torah, for all the righteous in Gan Eden listen to his voice and G-d is praised through him! (Zohar 3:213a)
“The beloved deer, bringing grace.” (Mishlei 5:19) Rabbi Shimon cried, saying: Torah, Torah, light of all the worlds! How many rivers and springs of water spread from you in all directions! From you is everything, upon you the upper and lower worlds are established, an elevated light comes from you! Torah, Torah, what can I say of you, “the beloved deer” you are, bringing grace above and below. Torah, Torah, a pleasure to your creator, who can count and reveal all your secrets and hidden stores! He placed his head between his knees and cried from his great love for the Torah. (Zohar 3:166b)
A Shavuot Parable
We will begin with a wonderful parable, with the words of the book “Maalot HaTorah”: Imagine, a great and mighty king sees a man lying in the garbage, beaten and suffering many afflictions and diseases, with many failings and problems. The man finds favor in the eyes of the king, and the king commands to wash him from his dirt, to heal him from his diseases until he is healthy and complete in all his limbs, to dress him in fine clothing, to crown him with jewels and pearls and to give him all his secrets. He commands that all matters of the kingdom should be by his hand, marries his daughter to him, and raises him above all the princes and servants of the king, telling all the great men of the kingdom to serve him in royal clothing, in whatever he desires.
Then, while he is still wearing the clothes of royalty and crowned in jewels and all of the great men of the kingdom walk before him and light his way with lamps, he sees children playing in the garbage, collecting rocks and laughing. He is jealous of them and leaves the royal procession and sits with them in garbage, joining in their games. Will there be any end to his punishment, he who has insulted the honor of the king and his servants, dirtied the fine clothing, degraded his status and kicked the gifts of the king through his preference for children’s games?!
Up until here is the parable, and what is the explanation?
We will first say: A great merit and a great responsibility came to our hands this year, with the juxtaposition of the holiday of Shavuot, the holiday of the giving of the Torah to the holy Shabbat. True, everyone is responsible to learn Torah every day, and to set aside times for learning Torah; However, many are busy with their livelihood and imagine that they have no choice.
Six long days we are busy with our work; on Shabbat we are tired from the week’s work. It is a bad excuse, but an excuse. Now though, we celebrate the holiday of the giving of the Torah on Friday. We thank G-d for this most wondrous of gifts, the most glorious of inheritances and now we will test if our hearts and our mouths really match up. Are we really happy with the Torah and thank G-d with a full heart for its giving? The next day is Shabbat, a Shabbat after a relaxing holiday. We are not tired on it, not worn out we will sanctify it with the Torah?! Or will we, G-d forbid, turn to children’s games, wasting time, reading newspapers….
The Month of Sivan in Jewish Astrology
Sivan is a very special month because of the event that takes place in this month. On the 6th of Sivan, the Torah was given at Mount Sinai. The whole reason Hashem created the world was for the Torah to be revealed. Mount Sinai was the pinnacle of creation. One question we need to ask is what actually happened at Mount Sinai? Read more...