by Rabbi Natan Halevy
Shavuot is the holiday in which we relive the events that truly made us a nation of Hashem, namely receiving the Torah at Mount Sinai. This monumental event was the culmination of our exodus from Egypt and the completion of the purification process that began at Passover.
When we reach Shavuot, we will have counted 49 days in which we are elevated every day, until we reach the 50th gate. This 50th portal represents a higher level of spiritual comprehension. A deeper perception of Hashem that can only be felt in our souls. The 50th day is not counted by us, rather it is bestowed as a gift from Hashem, beginning with the night of Shavuot. We do not count the 50th day, for we are not able to achieve this level on our own. We must prepare ourselves as much as possible to be a vessel for the lofty revelation that occurs on the Shavuot festival, the giving of the Torah. And indeed, every year, the revelation we receive is higher than years before. This is according to the rule, “we elevate in matters of holiness.”
The purpose of the Torah is to help us achieve the unification and connection of the spiritual and material realms. Before the Torah was given, physical objects were not permeated with holiness. There was a divide between the spiritual and material that could not be bridged. The Torah was given to us in our bodies for the purpose of the refinement and illumination of our physical existence with spiritual light.
When Moshe came up to heaven to receive the Torah, the angels made a claim before Hashem. “What is this son of a woman doing between us? How can you give the precious Torah to People that are imperfect?” The angels felt that it was disrespectful that the Torah be given to us in our corporeal form.
Hashem instructed Moshe to answer their argument. Moshe retorted, “Do you have parents that you need to honor? Do you have physical desires and temptations?” Moshe was emphasizing that the main purpose of the Torah was to be brought into our physical world and to make an impact in this realm. It is in this physical realm that we face challenges and that we must be uplifted and inspired on a constant basis.
It is for this reason that there is a special emphasis on enjoying physical pleasures on the Shavuot holiday, more than on all other holidays. The Torah connects all realms and elements. So too, with our physical pleasure and enjoyment, we are demonstrating that the focus of our physical lives is aimed at true connection with the spirit of Hashem and with the Torah. The verse asks, “Who is like your nation Israel, one nation in the world?” Our nation is endowed with the ability to create unity and connection amongst the divisions and polarities of this world and existence. And through our service and efforts on this holiday, we draw down this special energy throughout the year in a way that influences our lives to be healthy and united, in body and spirit.
May we all have a fantastic holiday, blessed with health and good fortune. My best regards to our entire, lovely community.