Shavuot 5771

 It’s now 49 days and 20 hours of the omer…Shavuot will be here in a few hours.

The time count is appropriate because we’ve been counting for the last seven weeks already…counting the days until we reach tonight.  Seven weeks ago we celebrated Passover and spiritually left behind “Mitzrayim,” our narrow place, and started the countdown to the goal: Shavuot and “zeman matan Torahteinu,” the time of the giving of our Torah.

Note that it’s called the time of the “giving of our Torah,” not the time we received the Torah.  All God can do — and therefore all the holiday can “officially” proclaim — is that God gave us the Torah. Whether we accept the Torah — that’s up to each and every one of us, individually and communally.

The “giving” is not enough.  If someone gives you a Stairmaster, it’s not going to help you unless you use it.  Someone can give you a computer, if you don’t plug it in and turn it on all it will do is sit in the corner and gather dust.

It’s the same thing with Torah.  It’s not enough that God gave us the Torah.  We have to receive it, and more than receive it, apply its teachings.

It is said that we stay awake all night tonight to show how eager we are for Torah — unlike our ancestors who slept in on the day of the giving of the Torah (hence the lightning and thunder and Mt. Sinai, to wake them up).

May tonight be a time of not just the giving of Torah, but the receiving of Torah.  And may we all apply the Torah’s message of love, compassion, and kindness, may we emerge from the holiday renewed spiritually, ready to accept the Torah every day.

Chag sameach,

Reb Barry

Barry Leff

Rabbi Barry (Baruch) Leff is a dual Israeli-American business executive, teacher, speaker and writer who divides his time between Israel and the US.

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