Shavuot 5779

June 5, 2019

All for one

 

Chag Shavuot is a grand time for the Jewish people. It is the reliving of the Jews receiving their beloved Torah from Hashem. It is arguably the most eventful occurrence in Jewish history. However, with some thought, it doesn’t seem to be as grand as it appears. If one looks into the story of the Jewish people, it seems that there was some form of teachings well before the Bnei Yisrael stood at Har Sinai. Rashi in Sefer Bereshit refers numerous times that mitzvot, such as matsot and korban pesach, were being fulfilled. The Gemara in Shabbat (87b) also says that the Bnei Yisrael received Shabbat before they even got to Har Sinai. If there was already teachings around, what happened at Har Sinai that was so remarkable? Furthermore, in the Haggadah we say “If we came to Har Sinai and we didn’t receive the Torah, it would be enough”. How could it be enough just to stand and the bottom of the mountain, if the whole purpose of standing there is to receive the Torah?

 

Avraham was the first man to create a connection with hashem. He reached very high levels in relating to G-d not to mention going against the ideologies of the entire society that was around him. Hashem made a Brit (covenant) with Avraham and the rest of Bnei Yisrael who would follow. This began with the Brit Milah. This was the birth of Bnei Yisrael. Avraham began to spread his teachings about a one powerful G-d who ruled over all nature. He installed it into his children and they passed it on through to their descendents. The teachings continued through the descendants of the forefathers and even under the intense slavery in Egypt, they managed to keep everything they had learned until they broke out of the chains of slavery and into freedom into the desert. However, for the Jewish people, this was not enough.

 

When the Bnei Yisrael stood at Har Sinai they accepted upon themselves another Brit. The pasuk says that the Bnei Yisrael stood facing the mountain. Rashi says ״כאיש אחד בלב אחד״ – like one man, with one heart. Every single soul that left Egypt was standing at Har Sinai ready to receive the Torah from Hashem. Everything they had learnt was about to materialise in front of their eyes, but it requires one thing that was not there before. Rashi says that until now there had been lack of connection between each other they did not see eye to eye and there was dispute between one and other. What enabled the Jews to receive the Torah was that they stood together with love and care which combined them as one body of people which can never be torn apart. Only through this connection were they able to receive the Torah from Hashem. That is what is so remarkable about Har Sinai and that is what we are referring to in the Haggadah – the unification of the Jewish people would be enough.

 

The Jewish people are not just a race who come from a country, they are an interconnected group of people who inevitably affect each other. Rav Yisrael Salanter used to say that when a Jew gossips in Kovno, a Jew in Paris desecrates Shabbat. Furthermore, the same way every single cell is vital for a human body to fully function, every Jew is vital for the Jewish people to fully function.

 

We have a tremendous faculty that is unique in many ways. The Jewish people feel such connection to each other throughout their entire livelihood. The kindness, generosity and hospitality we share, just because we are Jewish, is indescribable. The reason we do that is because we are a people who established an unbreakable connection. That connection was established at Har Sinai and that connection is what we relive today.