Shavuot 5780

May 26, 2020



King David has a deep connection with the festival of Shavuot. It is the day of his death and we commemorate it each year on Shavuot. One of the reasons we read megilat Rut is because she is the great grandmother of king David. Yet it seems rather surprising because David is known for prayer yet Shavuot is all about Torah. Why is he the one that encapsulates the festival of receiving the Torah?

Hashem reveals Himself to Moshe for the first time at the burning bush. This bush was on Mount Sinai the same place where the Jewish people were to receive the Torah. He tells Moshe that the Jewish people will “Serve Me on this mountain.” Why is the receiving of the Torah called serving Hashem, we did nothing but watch and experience that awesome event. Why does the verse talk about “serving” Hashem on that mountain?

The gemorah asks (niddah 70b) What should a person do to become wise? The gemorah answers he should increase his learning and decrease his business activity. But many have done so and not been successful? Rather he must beg from the One who has the wisdom, as it says “Hashem gives wisdom from Him is knowledge and understanding”

From here we learn the pathway to Torah includes two key ingredients.1. Learning. 2. Prayer. Only with these two aspects can a person acquire Torah wisdom. Why?

Torah is not simply knowledge, it isn’t amassing facts, it’s absorbing spiritual wisdom which comes from above. It is from a higher world and impacts the entire being. To merit any gift from above one needs to make space. That space is carved out when the person asks for this gift. The more one realises how powerful and special this gift is the more he begs Hashem to have a portion.

We asked what service was necessary when we received the Torah?

Rav Moshe Shapira zt”l explained according to the desire to receive the Torah was how much that awesome event impacted us.

So too every year we relive this “receiving of the Torah” by expressing our desire for higher knowledge and spiritual wisdom from the One who has the keys to wisdom.

This is the connection to King David. Read tehillim, it is David’s constant yearning for connection to Hashem. He did not just pray, he lived prayer. Such was his burning spirit and desire, he even describes himself as prayer itself.

We see this desire from his great grandmother Rut. She gave up everything she had, she left behind the royal aristocracy of Moav for the poverty of the Jewish people. Why? She had a burning desire to connect to Hashem. She saw the truth in Naomi and the beauty of her ways and cleaved to that with all her might. The greatness and beauty of the Torah surpasses anything this world has to offer. That desire for a higher more elevated existence caused her to become “The mother of Royalty”.

Prayer is the pathway to Torah and expressing this desire is the key to Shavuot.

Every Jew has a part in Torah. Whether it is chumash, nach, gemorah, halacha, musar (character development) or Jewish thought, in depth learning or covering ground there is something for everyone. This is the time to make that commitment. How? Pray to Hashem, ask Him to taste the sweetness of the Torah. There is nothing more profound, more beautiful and more uplifting than Torah. If we pray to Hashem we can merit its glory.

“Enlighten our eyes in your Torah attach our hearts to your commandments and unify our hearts to love and fear Your name.”


By Rabbi Ilan Halberstadt