Chag Shavout/Matan Torah

Dedicated Leilui Nishmat Rina Bat Jamile, Renee Natkin A’h by her son Jerry

Chag Shavout/Matan Torah

Shavuot

Shavuot is referred to in our prayers as zeman mattan toratenu, the time when our Torah was given. This holiday commemorates that momentous occasion when the world achieved the purpose for which it was created — the acceptance of the Torah.

As Harav Moshe Hayim Luzzato mentions several times in Derech Hashem, the holiday cycle is more than just a series of anniversaries commemorating historical events. Just as the Heavens opened up and great spiritual powers were given to the people of Yisrael as they camped at the foot of Mount Sinai some 3,300 years ago, the Heavens make these gifts available to us every year on this date. It is up to us to make ourselves worthy of receiving those gifts by always learning and growing in Torah.

A family was once driving somewhere when the young daughter noticed one of their relatives walking on the sidewalk. It was quite obvious that he was walking for exercise, so in order for him not to have to stop his exercise, the car slowed down and drove alongside of him exchanging greetings and goodwill, and then continued on. All of a sudden the young daughter screamed out: “There’s room in the car for him! Why don’t we give him a ride? He is so unfortunate! Look how much he is sweating!” Of course, the family started laughing…

Why? For the simple reason that he doesn’t need to get to any specific place! His whole objective is to exercise! He isn’t toiling to get somewhere; his very exertion is itself the goal! The more he exerts himself, the healthier more fit and healthy he becomes…

The exact same is true when it comes to amal haTorah. The amal itself is the very objective and goal. The Torah is our connection with Hashem. Its impossible to have a true connection with Hashem without truly applying oneself in his Torah study. Just as one needs to toil and sweat in order to attain and achieve being physically in shape, so too we need to toil and labor in order to attain and achieve being in shape spiritually. Labor and toil refines the soul, and transforms a person’s essence to being united with the Torah, and as such, becoming polished and purified by it.

Hashem showed His love for the Jewish nation through the gift of the Torah. Hashem gave us the Torah in order to elevate us to strive for holiness and righteousness, and thereby become a “light unto all the other nations of the world.”

A Real Kidush Hashem during Coronavirus

There’s a very short video that’s been circulated of a truck driver who was in lakewood passing a rabbi with a group of men praying with a minyan that impressed this man greatly. He said “I was in lakewood last week and I was driving by, when I saw a rabbi holding service in a parking lot. It was the most amazing thing I’ve ever seen in my life. To me, it looked like he was G-d! It was just amazing! The way the men were just standing there, so still and paying attention to the Rabbi. God bless them...I’m telling you, it was just the most amazing thing I have ever seen!” We have to realize the impression and Kiddush Hashem we can potentially make on the public while we go about our everyday lives, as we live through these days of Coronavirus.

Ruth’s Hesed

The gematria for Ruth is 606. If you add 7 for the seven Noahide (universal) laws that all nations must obey, the total is 613. This signifies that Ruth was a true convert, the epitome of someone accepting the Torah. For this reason we have the custom to read Megilat Ruth on Shavuot.

Another great quality of Ruth was her hesed as she refused to abandon her mother-in-law Naomi. She could have easily gone back to her father’s palace, where she would have lived as a princess of Moab. Instead she stuck with Naomi, so that Naomi would not be alone. Ruth said to Naomi: “Wherever you go, I will go; wherever you will lodge, I will lodge; your people are my people, and your G-d is my G-d; where you die, I will die, and there I will be buried. Thus may Hashem do to me, and more! If anything but death separates me from you.”

This was the ultimate form of hesed and the essence of what being a Jew is all about — caring for one another.

Ruth was a princess, but she offered to go and beg in the fields so as to spare Naomi that embarrassment. Also, as the ultimate hesed she married Boaz, a much older man, so that she could have a child through yibum and give Naomi happiness after losing her husband and two sons.

We learn from this that there are two paths that we can choose to follow. Ruth decided to follow the Torah and not abandon her mother in law and in doing this hesed, she merited to become the mother of the Davidic dynasty. However, her sister in law Orpa chose a different path. She returned to her pagan Moabite gods, and according to the Talmud (Sota 42b), Goliath the Philistine — who was ultimately killed by David — was her descendant.

We learn from this that in our own lives we must make decisions that will carry us on the right path of Torah. Where we live and where we send our children to be educated all have consequences in terms of whether or not our families stay on the Torah path, and whether or not we grow in that direction. When we make sacrifices for Torah, it will ultimately bring us a great reward, as it says in Pirke Avot: “lefum tzaara agra — according to the suffering is the reward!”

A Story of Hesed

There’s an amazing story of Hesed that I saw in Rabbi Ashear’s 4th living Emunah book. One Friday Shimon was shopping for Shabbat in a grocery store that he doesn’t generally frequent; the last time he had been there was three months earlier. While checking out at the register, he saw a talmid chacham whom he considered to be a hidden tzaddik. Knowing that this talmid chacham struggled financially, Shimon handed him his credit card and said, “Please, let me have the zechut of purchasing your Shabbat food this week. When you’re finished, I will be waiting in my car to take you home.”

The man accepted, and on the way home, he thanked Shimon for his kindness.

“I must share with you the unbelievable Hashgachat Hashem that just occurred,” he said. “I did not have money to buy food for my family for Shabbat and I didn’t know of any way to get it. I don’t like asking people for handouts.

“In the morning, I took out the Gemara (Beitzah 16a) that says that it is Hashem Who pays for all our Shabbat expenses. When I built up my Emunah to really believe this, I decided to go to the grocery store, relying on Hashem to pay for the food.

“A friend of mine couldn’t believe that I was about to go shopping without any means to pay for my purchases. I told him, ‘If we have Emunah in what the Gemara says, we should go to the grocery and fill up our carts for Shabbat, as though someone handed us their credit card and said that it’s on him.’”

The tzaddik concluded, “I came to the store, and there you were, handing me your credit card!”

Most people are not on that level of Emunah, but there are many ways for us to receive what Hashem has already prepared for us. We need to talk to Hashem. We need to get closer to Him, and we have to know that He can always help us, no matter what. B’ezrat Hashem, that merit will enable us to find all of our yeshout!

The Angels In Heaven Protested to Hashem…

Rabbi Mansour spoke about a midrash that says that when Moshe Rabenu went up to heaven to receive the Torah, the angels were so upset they wanted to lynch Moshe. They didn’t want him taking the Torah to give to the Jewish nation, because they didn’t think humans were worthy. The midrash says that as they were complaining to Hashem, Moshe’s face morphed into the face of Avraham Avinu. When the angels saw this Hashem asked them, “Have you no shame? Didn’t Avraham wait on you and serve you? How can you complain like this?” At that point, the angels acquiesced and allowed the Torah to be released to Moshe for the Jewish people. Why did this answer satisfy the angels?

Rabbi Mansour explained this midrash and said there are two types of tzaddikim. The first one is a tzaddik nistar—a hidden righteous person. But it’s not the hidden that we would assume. This person is someone who learns Torah, and then goes about his day without sharing it. Then there is a tzaddik nigleh—a revealed righteous person. This person learns Torah, and then he has the strength to close the book and go out and influence and elevate others.

It is written about Noah, “Ish tzaddik tamim.” He went out to the immoral people of his generation and he tried to help them do teshuvah. At a certain point he gave up, because the challenge was too great and he could not influence them to be better. Unfortunately that is when he loses his title of “tamim.” Hashem refers to him as a “tzaddik.” Judaism can only thrive and continue when our rabbis share the Torah they learn with the people. They must be temimim.

Why did Hashem choose Avraham to lead his generation? He wasn’t the only tzaddik. Rambam answers, Shem lived at the same time. He was a Rosh Yeshivah and great scholar and tzaddik. But if one wanted to learn from him, he had to go to Shem, whereas Avraham specifically went out to the people. When Avraham was in his tent after his milah, he was at the highest possible level a human can reach. He was conversing with Hashem. Out of the corner of his eye, he saw three men, and he saw an opportunity to go to the people. Instead of telling the men he was busy, he told Hashem he must attend to his guests. Avraham sacrificed his own spiritual level for the good of the people.

The Torah says that when Moshe came down from the mountain, he went “to the people.” Rashi says he left his “asakav—business” and went straight to B’nei Yisrael. What kind of “business?” Moshe just received the Torah straight from Hashem. He could have gone to spiritually elevate himself more and study in his tent, but he went to the people to give it over to them immediately. Moshe’s face morphed into Avraham’s up on the mountain, because they both sacrificed their own spiritual elevation in order to better influence the Jewish nation! We only deserve the Torah because of this quality. Tzaddikim like Avraham Avinu and Moshe Rabenuproved to the angels that humans can achieve greatness and be worthy of Torah. We learn from this that we all have an obligation, not just to learn Torah, but to teach it over, to share the wealth and elevate others!

United We Camp

When B’nei Yisrael they left Egypt and journeyed to the Sinai desert, it says: “vayahanu bamidbar, vayihan sham yisrael neged hahar — and they camped in the dessert, and he camped there opposite the mountain.” First the passuk writes that “they camped” in plural. But when it writes that B’nei Yisrael camped at Har Sinai, it switches to singular.

Rashi comments on the usage of the singular form: “k’ish ehad, b’lev ehad — Like one man, with one heart.” This is because at Har Sinai, B’nei Yisrael were like one person, with one heart. That unity gave us the merit to receive the Torah!

There is nothing greater in Hashem’s eyes than seeing B’nei Yisrael unified in harmony as one close nation, just as a father loves seeing his children close to one another, getting along and unified as one.

May we all continue to be special in Hashem’s eyes and in the eyes of the Nations so as to make a Kiddush Hashem, as we celebrate the acceptance of the greatest gift any nation could ever receive, our holy Torah. May we also continue be as one nation, and always be concerned for the welfare of our fellow Jews, and make sacrifices for those close to us, as the passuk says: “ve’ahavta lere’aha kamoha — Love your friend as you love yourself!”

Shabbat Shalom and Chag Sameach!

Rabbi Amram Sananes as written by Jack Rahmey

Discussion Points:

· What stories of hesed do you have from your own experience, or from others who you know?

Le’ilui Nishmat...

Eliyahu Ben Rachel

Rabbi Shimon Chay Ben Yaasher

Avraham Ben Garaz

Sarah Bat Chanah

Esther Bat Sarah

Avraham Ben Mazal

Shulamit Bat Helaina

Rabbi Meyer Ben Chana

Rahamim Ben Mazal

Batsheva Bat Sarah Esther

Rafael Ben Miriam

Ovadia Ben Esther

Rav Haim Ben Rivka

Moshe Ben Mazal

Moshe Ben Yael

Yitzchak Ben Adele

Avraham Ben Mazal

Meir Ben Latifa

Chanah Bat Esther

Yaakov Ben Rachel

Malka Bat Garaz

Moshe Ben Garaz

Avraham Ben Kami

Yaakov Ben Leah

Mordechai Ben Rachel

Chacham Shaul Rachamim Ben Mazal

Natan Ben Rachel

Saadia Ben Miriam

Eliyah Ben Latifa Simhon

Margalit Bat Mazal

Ovadia Haim Ben Malaky

Rabbi Aharon Chaim Ben Ruchama

Anyone interested in Dedicating this Divre Torah L'ilui Nishmat or Refuah Shelemah or In Honor of someone, can email me at jrahmey@rahmeyfinancial.com.

Checks can be made out to “Mikdash Melech” for $101 and mail to 1326 Ocean Parkway, Brooklyn, NY 11230 (please put in the memo “Divre Torah Food for Shabbat”)

Anyone interested in past parshiot please go to the website ParashaPerspective.org

Anyone interested in Dedicating this Divre Torah L'ilui Nishmat or Refuah Shelemah or

In Honor of someone, can email me at jrahmey@rahmeyfinancial.com.

Checks can be made out to “Mikdash Melech” for $101 and mail to 1326 Ocean Parkway, Brooklyn, NY 11230 (please put in the memo “Divre Torah Food for Shabbat”)

Anyone interested in past parshiot please go to the website ParashaPerspective.org