Shavuos 2018: Shavuos & The Torah
What is Shavuos?
Shavuos is a holiday that marks the completion of the seven week “Omer” period from when the Jewish people were liberated from Egypt to when they received the Torah at Mount Sinai. There, we experienced a revelation that no other nation has even attempted to claim throughout history. All 600,000 neshamos (souls) watched as the “Heavens opened” and we received the greatest gift known to man, the Torah. We celebrate this holiday by re-accepting the Torah through many hours of study throughout the holiday. Many even have the custom to stay up all night and learn Torah together at the shul (synagogue).
What is the Torah?
If you ask Google, Siri, or Alexa you’ll probably get an answer something like this, “The Torah is the central reference of Judaism and has a range of meanings. The Torah is the law of G-d as revealed to Moses and recorded in the first five books of the Hebrew scriptures.”
While that IS true, that answer doesn't have much meaning as to what the Torah means to a Jew.
I will attempt to bring a greater appreciation for the holiday of Shavuos, our religion, and the Torah itself.
The Torah is quite remarkable.* It is both an instruction manual as through it Hashem laid out exactly what He wants from His nation, and as a set of blueprints. For we are taught, Hashem looked into the Torah and created the World. Everything that was, is, and will be can be found in the Torah’s words, either written explicitly or alluded to.
The Torah was created before time and housed in the Heavens until G-d gave it to Moshe who gave it to the Jewish people more than 3,300 years ago at Har Sinai (Mount Sinai) on Shavuos, 1312 B.C.E. Moshe relayed EVERYTHING to the people at the mountain just as G-d had taught him.
Throughout the millennia each leader of the B’nai Yisrael went to great lengths to ensure that the Torah remained intact with no additions, subtractions, or variations.
The Oral-Torah is the explanation and breakdown of each of the 613 commandments.
Sourcing mainly to the Mishnah and Gemora. The Oral-Torah is what prevents the Torah from becoming outdated. It is the Rabbis working through every detail of the Torah so we know how to apply the laws in every imaginable situation.
Without the Oral-Torah we could not perform any of the commandments. For example, the Torah instructed us to “Bind them as a sign upon your arm and let them be tefillin between your eyes.” (Deuteronomy 6:8) This is the verse in the Torah that teaches us about the obligation for Tefillin. However, with this pasuk alone we wouldn't have the slightest clue how to observe or fulfill this mitzvah. Its particulars were taught at Har Sinai and were then written down in the Oral-Torah, as discussed in the Mishnah and Gemora. This is how we know what the Tefillin are supposed to look like and how to wear them properly.
Purpose and Importance
The Torah is truth and it is perfect.
In yeshivas all across the globe, students and Rabbis scrutinize every word of the written and Oral-Torah in an effort to challenge it. This has been the primary method of transmission throughout the ages. Yet, with all its predictions and all its promises the Torah has always been perfect without even one mistake.
Every year on Shavuos we celebrate our re-acceptance of the Torah.
Our purpose in this world is to become close with our Creator. We do that by learning His Torah and living by it.
PLEASE take the opportunity this year to study from the Torah. Reach out to a Rabbi and set aside even a small amount of time. Learn about your purpose and understand how we are suppose to live as Jews. It’s a big request, but I promise you, if you learn from the Torah and live by its teachings you will be rewarded beyond ANYTHING you could imagine!
Have a wonderful Yom Tov!
Maverick V. Peters