Renew Your Vows

May 30, 2019

4 min read


Bamidbar (Numbers 1:1-4:20 )

"Moshe brought the people forth from the camp toward God and they stood under the mountain" (Shemos 19:17). Rashi: This tells us that the Shechinah (i.e., Divine Presence) went out towards them like a bridegroom who goes out to greet his bride."

"I shall marry you to Me forever; I shall marry you to Me with righteousness, and with justice, and with kindness, and with mercy. I shall marry you to Me with fidelity; and you shall know Hashem" (Hoshea 2:21-22) (the Haftarah for Parashas Bamidbar)"

If we were to ask every Jew in America to tally our Holidays from most significant and meaningful to least, I suspect that the number one spot would be claimed by either Pesach or Chanukah followed shortly by Rosh Hashanah and/or Yom Kippur. Unfortunately, my hunch is that Shavuot - the holiday where we celebrate the single greatest event in the history of mankind, i.e., God's revelation at Mt. Sinai and the giving of the Torah - would not appear too high on the list and, quite honestly, might occupy the lowest rung."

What is the explanation of this unfortunate phenomenon?"

True, it doesn't have the same collegial, family-oriented experience as the Pesach Seder or the Chanukah lighting."

It doesn't offer any "props" such as the Shofar, Lulav, Sukkah or astronaut Purim costume."

But is that the real reason why Shavuot is playing second-fiddle to the other holidays among Jews at-large? After all, without Shavuot and the receiving of the Torah itself, none of the other holidays would even be on the map."

The conclusion I reached is that many of us simply have no idea what we are celebrating. "

If it's just a historical reality that has no bearing on me today, then it's no wonder why the observance thereof is so lack-luster."

If it's just acknowledging my receipt of 613 mitzvahs and their myriad sub-parts that regulate everything I do from what I eat to who I marry … well, is that such a reason to rejoice in the post-Woodstock, live-and-let-live world of today?"

In light of this lamentable quagmire, I (humbly) suggest that the heart of Shavuot and the innate joy associated therewith is the celebration not solely of the Torah we received (and its Infinite wisdom, and capacity to refine our character, give expression to our soul) but the relationship that we entered into. An unbreakable bond of love between God and His Nation (collectively and individually). Beneath the chuppah of Mount Sinai several thousand years hence, we whole-heartedly pledged our devotion to God with the declaration that echoes throughout the generations, "Na'aseh v'nishmah" ("We will do and we will listen"). No negotiations. No pre-nup. No what's in it for me. Just tell me where to sign."

A marriage is the bonding of two souls, the merging of two identities into one destiny. It's a wholly (and holy) singular relationship based on trust, commitment, selflessness and dedication. Each marriage marks the next link in the chain of the Jewish Nation and the hopefulness that timeless Torah values and morality will be perpetuated further into the future."

Taking this idea one step forward, Shavuot emerges as our annual "anniversary" of sorts where we (should) celebrate first and foremost the marriage we entered into (with God) above and beyond the "wedding gift" we received (i.e., the Torah itself)."

May our Shavuot - with all the cheesecake and all-night learning, with all its purity and all its simplicity - have a profound effect on all of us. "

May we step up and seize the opportunity to re-dedicate ourselves to God, His Torah and His Nation, with a full-heart, brimming with appreciation for the opportunity to be counted amongst those souls who are cognizant of our relationship with God and eager to develop that relationship to the point where it enriches and deepens every facet of our life and every fabric of our being.

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