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Keep Growing!

By: Mrs. Rina Zinkin

In last week's Parshah, we read, "Im be-chukotai telechu, ve-et mitzsvotai tishmeru, va-asitem otam” (Vayikra 26:3) – "If you walk in My statutes and keep my commandments and do them…"

Rav Mayer Twersky shlit"a points out that the Midrash Rabbah on this pasuk focuses on the very suggestive terminology of "telechu" with regard to mitzvah observance. In other places in the Torah, mitzvah observance is referred to using the words "shemirah," guarding, or "asiyah," performance. The Midrash suggests that "telechu," "walking in the mitzvot," teaches us a fundamental lesson and goal for all mitzvot. Mitzvot must propel a person to higher levels of spirituality on a constant basis. A life of Torah and mitzvot is not static. There must be a constant sense of progression.

In fact, Rav Chaim of Volozhin, zt"l, writes that man's spiritual mobility is indeed his defining characteristic. Whereas angels are spiritually stationary, man is a "holech / mehalech"; he is spiritually mobile.

This seems to be an essential motif within the Yom Tov of Shavu’ot as well. There are two important questions that many ask about Chag Ha-Shavu’ot:

1) Why do we call this Yom Tov "Chag Ha-Shavu’ot," the Festival of Weeks, when this name does not really seem to capture the essence of the day? It is true that as part of our preparation for Shavuot we must count seven weeks, but the essence of the Yom Tov is the receiving of the Torah. This does not seem to be reflected within the name "Chag Ha-Shavu’ot."

2) Most opinions in the Gemara seem to hold that after Yetziat Mitzrayim, there were 51 days until matan Torah. If so, why do we celebrate Shavu’ot, Zeman Matan Torateinu, on the 50th day after Yetziat Mitzrayim?

In answer to the second question, the Maharsha comments in Masechet Avoda Zara (3a) that upon leaving Mitzrayim, the Jews worked on raising their status spiritually to attain the necessary level of kedushah and taharah to be able to receive the Torah. As each day passed, they shed another level of tumat Mitzrayim and moved one step closer to the kedushah of matan Torah. This spiritual cleansing and purification was completed on day 50. Although we received the Torah one day after, on day 51, day 50 represents the culmination of the spiritual growth that Klal Yisrael accomplished throughout those 50 days. This is why, explains the Maharsha, we celebrate Shavuot on Day 50. The Yom Tov is really a celebration of the spiritual growth, of the "halichah," which brought us to the level of being able to receive the Torah.

With this idea, we can now answer our first question. The reason we call this holiday "Chag Ha-Shavu’ot" is because it is the "Shavuot," the weeks, which is precisely what we are celebrating. We are celebrating those weeks of spiritual ascension to be able to receive the Torah: "Im Bechukotai Telechu." This is what defines us as people, and this is what defines our Yom Tov of Shavu’ot.


May we be zochech to take advantage of each day, now during Sefirat Ha-Omer, and continue learning, growing, and working on ourselves so that we will be ready to be mekabel the Torah on Shavu’ot. Have a beautiful Shabbos and please stay in touch!




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