Shavuot-Joy and Inner Meaning
NY City Candle lighting Tuesday 8:03
NY City Candle lighting Wednesday after 9:12 from an existing flame
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. Yizkor Thursday
Shavuot ends Thursday 9:12
Shavuot - Joy and Inner Meaning
Shalom and Bracha!
Wednesday, June 4th and Thursday June 5th are Shavuot, when we celebrate the giving of the Torah on Mount Sinai. Wednesday morning the narrative of the giving of the Torah is read in the synagogue, and it is important that everyone be there for the reading. When we received the Torah, we promised Hashem that we would bring up our children to follow the Torah. It is very significant that children be present when the Torah is read Wednesday morning.
The Previous Rebbe would always give the blessing Kabbalat Hatorah B’simcha Ubpnimiyut (receiving the Torah with joy and inner meaning.) The blessing has many lessons. Shavuot is the day the Torah was given. The Torah describes at length splendor of the giving of the Torah. The Rebbe reminds us that our job is to receive the Torah, to dedicate ourselves to study and absorb the Torah.
The Rebbe stresses that the receiving of the Torah should be with joy. We can view the Torah as a burden or a privilege. When we carry heavy suitcases it’s a burden. When we discover that the suitcases are full of diamonds that we can keep the burden becomes a pleasure. Every Mitzvah is a diamond, a precious gift from Hashem. Joy is critical to service of Hashem. Every Mitzvah should be imbued with joy simply because we are coming closer to Hashem. In a deeper sense, true joy is only through the Torah. When we feel pain, we can heal the cause or mask the pain. Healing the cause is real. The Torah teaches us how to live in the world create perfect harmony between our bodies, our souls, Hashem, and our surroundings. It takes work, but it is true joy.
The Rebbe stresses that we should receive the Torah in a manner that we internalize it. There are three pillars of service of Hashem: Torah study, prayer and Mitzvot. When we study the Torah, Hashem’s wisdom becomes a part of our minds data base. The more that we learn and remember, the more wisdom of Hashem that is within us. The thinking pattern of the Torah becomes our thinking pattern. Further, Chassidut explains that the intellect and the emotions are connected. When we contemplate the teachings of the Torah, the mind awakens the heart and we begin to perceive things through Hashem’s eyes and our emotions are elevated. We truly become a divine people. This is the way we must receive the Torah; seeking to retain as much as possible and to internalize everything that we learn.
The days of Shavuot are a special time of Hashem’s protection and blessings. May Hashem grant the greatest blessing the coming of Moshiach, when we will reach the new depths of Torah that only Moshiach can reveal.
Dedicated to Rafael Ben Bahia for a long and healthy life and much joy from all of his family
There is a great Shavuot website at http://www.chabadgn.com/holidays/shavuot
Beha’alotcha-Illuminating the World
NY City Candle lighting 8:05
Shabbat ends 9:14
Shalom and Bracha!
This Shabbat we read the portion of Beha’alotcha. The portion begins with a brief discussion of the lighting and construction of the Menorah. As this is the portion we read immediately after Shavuot, it teaches us that immediately after receiving the Torah we must use our knowledge to illuminate the world.
The Menorah has many teachings in service of Hashem. The portion begins Beha’alotcha Et Hanerot, which is translated when you will kindle the candles. The term Beha’alotcha is an interesting choice of words. To kindle is L’hadlik. Beha’alotcha literally means when you will cause to rise. In reference to the Menorah, it teaches a law that the Kohen must hold the flame to the wick until the wick burns well on its own. This teaches many lessons. The soul of a person is called “The Candle of Hashem.” The Torah is called light. When we study the Torah, we bring light into our lives and kindle the candle of our soul. When we study superficially, it illuminates that moment. When we look deeper into the Torah, and truly ponder into its wisdom, seeking to apply its wisdom to every part of our lives, the “flame” ignites and continues to illuminate our lives after we finish studying.
When we teach someone Torah, we share light with them. When we teach someone how to learn Torah on their own, and share with them sufficient warmth and depth that they want to continue on their own, we have kindled a Menorah. When they learn to illuminate others, lights spreads and darkness recedes. The Previous Rebbe once defined a Chassid as a lamplighter.
The Menorah represents the Jewish people. Hashem calls the Jewish people “A candle to the nations.” Interestingly, the seven branches of the Menorah all faced inward, towards the central branch. Seemingly, were the wicks to face outward, the Menorah would produce more light. This teaches us that in our mission to illuminate the world with the light of Torah, we mustn’t seek to become as worldly as possible, but rather look deeper into the depths of Torah and seek how it illuminates each aspect of the world. This strengthens our light and gives us the power to illuminate the world.
Rashi explains the term Beha’alotcha to mean that there was a step leading up to the Menorah. In order to illuminate, we must elevate ourselves. Sometimes, when we take time from our own spiritual pursuits to share with others, we feel this is a spiritual downfall. The term Beha’alotcha teaches us that it is an Aliyah, an elevation.
The Menorah was neither welded nor molded, but rather beaten from one single piece of gold. This teaches us that that Jewish people must feel themselves as limbs of one entity, and that the pain of another is our pain and the joy of another is our joy. Further, the beauty of the Menorah and its stability was based on the branches being distinct and on opposite sides of the center. We must view our differences as part of a beautiful harmony and balance.
Further in the portion, the Torah describes the Pillar of Divine Fire that led the Jews through the desert. When we illuminate ourselves and take that fire and illuminate others, Hashem gives us a special guidance. As we internalize the warmth and light of Torah, Hashem’s guidance and protection increase.
Towards the end of the portion, the Torah teaches that Moshe was extremely humble compared to all people of the world. Seemingly, how could he be humble? He was the redeemer of the Jewish people, he stood alone on Mount Sinai with Hashem and he regularly spoke to Hashem in the Tent of Meeting.
The Torah teaches us the true meaning of humility. Humility is not ignoring one’s qualities. Humility is recognizing that our qualities are a gift from Hashem. Moshe felt that if someone else had his opportunities, they would have accomplished even more. This understanding of Humility gives us a beautiful insight into respecting others. If other people had our gifts and opportunities, perhaps they would have done better. If we were given their lot, we might have been much worse.
Strife was that cause of the destruction of the Temple. May we soon witness its rebuilding and the rekindling of the Menorah through the coming of Moshiach.
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Dedicated to Shirley Chera and Steven Harary on the occasion of their wedding. May Hashem’s blessings illuminate their home and their unity and harmony parallel the Menorah.