Wednesday nights - Rav Benzion's Tanya shiur..........Please continue to daven for the good health of the Rebbe (Yechiel Michel ben Devorah Leah) and Rebbetzin (Feiga bas Sarah).

Monday, May 21, 2012

Preparation Shiur For Shavuos

In preparation of the first Kabbalas HaTorah on Har Sinai, Hashem told Moshe: וקדשתם היום ומחר - v'kidashtem hayom umachar - "And you shall hallow them today and tomorrow." There are various interpretations found in the Medrashim regarding the nature of this particular sanctification. This past Shabbos, the Rebbe, shlit"a, spoke about five of these approaches, what they represent in avodas Hashem and how they apply to each and every one of us as we get ourselves ready for Shavuos. Here are my notes from the first two:

1) Three days before Kabalas Hatorah, Klal Yisroel was commanded to refrain from marital intimacy to enable them to be in a state of purity for Kabalas HaTorah. According to the first Medrash, this is the intention of "v'kidshtam hayom umachar". In our times, there is no such halachic prohibition. However, the Rebbe explained, there is an important and fundamental message applicable for us. The word the Torah uses for intimacy is yedia - knowing. It is not a euphemism. In order to be intimate with someone you need to be sure you know them. Where are they coming from? What do they need? What hurts them? How can you provide comfort and safety to the other person? Only when you have the answers to these and similar questions can you approach the possibly for intimacy. So, in order to prepare for receiving the Torah from Hashem, Hashem asks us to remove our attention and attachment from the world and focus on learning about Him. Who is Hashem? What does He want? What gives Him nachas, so to speak? The pasuk says דע את אלקי אביך ועבדהו - Know the G-d of your father and serve Him. A prerequisite for serving Hashem and receiving His Torah is knowing who He is. Every year on Shavuos, Hashem offers us an opportunity to recapture and relive the intimacy of Har Sinai, when Hashem came down from Heaven and spoke to Klal Yisroel "face to face". He swung the mountain over our heads like a chupa and kissed us. In Shir Hashirim it says, ישקני מנשיקות פיהו - Klal Yisroel yearns for that kiss and that is what is available to us on Shavuos if we are of one mind with G-d. We must know everything we can about Him. The Rebbe said that before Yom Tov everyone should take time off from their "intimacy with the world" to get curious about G-d and to explore the seforim hakedoshim, on one's own or with the help of a mentor, and find out more about our Heavenly mate.

2) The second pshat the Rebbe mentioned is that the pasuk is referring to purification in a mikveh, that Klal Yisroel were supposed to immerse themselves in a mikva before Kabalas Hatorah. The Rebbe said that while in the actual sense men are obligated to go to mikveh before Yomim Tovim, there is an additional lesson here as well. One of the ideas behind a mikveh is that under water is a context in which man cannot live. It is essentially a place of death for a human being. By immersing oneself completely in such a context, they are not considered vibrant and living at that moment. Upon their ascent from the water, the person is reborn, an entirely new entity. The Rebbe explained that we all have past mistakes that haunt us. We carry them with us into davening and learning, into what should be enriching situations, and because we can't seem to shake off our feelings of worthlessness and defeat, we don't bring our full selves to the task at hand. In order to stand before Hashem we absolutely must let go of our feelings of guilt and self-reprehension. We are not to see ourselves as deplorable or despicable, no matter what we may have done. How can we stand before the Master of the Universe and accept the sublime mission of Yiddshkeit if we have no self-respect, if we are not offering up our true, fully capable selves? We dare not remain blind to our excellence, to the stellar, sublime nature of our neshama. The idea of mikva is for nothing to come between us and the regenerative waters of our essence. If we hold back and doubt ourselves even a little, there is a chatzitza, a barrier and the immersion doesn't count. We must allow our entire being to be completely washed clean of any feelings of inferiority and deficiency if we truly want to connect to Torah. 

[UPDATE: The entire shiur can be heard by clicking here.]

Enjoyed this post? Share it with others! And don't forget to get free updates by email or RSS.


DamesekFan said...

Do I even need to hear the other 3? These two are gehnoog arbit!

Damesek said...

That's part of why I didn't post the rest. To write the Rebbe's Torah one must inevitably work on what he's writing simultaneously and I had difficulty being merakez my head enough to work through the other three. Maybe I'll do a kitzur version.

Anonymous said...

I'd love to hear the rest. Being stuck in New Yuck means this is the one of the only ways I get to hear his Torah.

Damesek said...

I am very glad that you find the blog helpful. I am not planning on writing up the other three but the Rebbe gave that shiur again which you can listen to in "Live Shiur for Shavuos".