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Bechukotai

Thursday, 30 May, 2019 - 6:10 pm

 

Imagine that the President of the United States was coming to visit you in your home in ten days.  (No politics here, pick the President of your choice, current or former.)  Would you be going about your business as usual?  I think not.  The President of the United States chose you for a personal visit!  You would be so excited that you were chosen for this special opportunity.  You would be telling all of your friends and you wouldn’t be able to sleep.  You would start by preparing your house to be sure it is spotless and without any blemish.  You would be touching up the paint and removing anything unsightly.  You would be thinking about what food to serve and what type of dishes you need to acquire for the purpose.  You would be thinking about what to say to him, and you would be losing sleep over all the details of making the visit perfect and the President comfortable.

Well, the President, as great as he (or the position he holds) may be, is only a human being.  In about ten days, Hashem will visit each and every one of us in our home.  What do I mean by that?  On the sixth day of the Jewish month of Sivan 3,331 years ago, Hashem “came down onto Mount Sinai”  (Shemot 19:20) and gave us the Torah.  The world is our home, as it says in Tehillim  (115:16) “the earth is the domain of human beings.”  So Hashem came to visit us in our home to give us the Torah.  Let’s take this a step further.  The first three words of the Ten Commandments that Hashem spoke in Sinai are: Anochi Hashem Elokecha – I am Hashem your G-d.  Now the English language is severely limited compared to Hebrew.  The word “your” in English could be singular or plural, and I believe that almost everyone who reads the English translation of the Ten Commandments assumes that Hashem is talking to the multitude of people gathered at the foot of the mountain.  However in Hebrew, the word for “your” is different in singular and in plural, and in this case, “your G-d,” is in the singular.  Meaning, that Hashem spoke to each person as an individual. 

Chassidus explains that Hashem has a personal relationship, one on one so to speak, with each and every individual, not just as part of the collective.  If you think about it, it is a remarkable thing to realize that Hashem reached out to each individual to connect with him or her, and that therefore we can each have a direct, personal relationship with Hashem. 

That was 3,331 years ago, but actually it repeats itself every year.  The Hebrew word for year is Shana, which, consistent with the richness of the Holy language, has a few meanings, one of which is “repetition.”  Every year, the Jewish holidays, and the spiritual and mystical events that they mark repeat themselves again.  The air of freedom that permeated the world the first Pesach is revealed again every Pesach, and the great revelation of Hashem to every individual Jew on the first Shavuot is repeated every year on the sixth of Sivan.  So it is accurate to say that in about ten days, (on June 9 and 10 this year) Hashem will once again “come down” into the world, into our domain – the world, to connect and reestablish the relationship with each one of us.  So yes, Hashem is coming to visit each of us in our home.

So it would seem appropriate that we don’t just go about our business as usual, suddenly remembering on Shavuot that there is a great holiday when we received the Torah.  We would be well advised to prepare for this monumental event, to “clean our homes,” and remove the garbage, and to make sure that Hashem will be “comfortable” when He comes.  Practically speaking, this means studying extra Torah and stepping up our Mitzvah observance, reading up on the observances, customs and laws of the Holiday, and finding ways to be more conscious of our relationship with Hashem. 

There is however a major difference between a presidential visit and the visit from Hashem.  Hashem is the source of kindness and mercy, and He understands and is tolerant of human nature.  As the Torah tells us, if we just open up an entrance the size of the eye of a needle, Hashem will open for us an opening like that of a great hall.  Any small step that we take to enhance our relationship with Hashem is meaningful and brings us closer to Him.

So let’s do something tangible in our lives to prepare for the upcoming holiday of Shavuot, which marks the time when Judaism began.  In the words of the traditional Chassidic blessing for Shavuot, may you receive the Torah with joy and internalize it.  The more preparation, the more internalization.
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