09 Jun 2016 24/7
Sefer Bamidbar, Parshas Bamidbar, Chag ha’Shavuos, Zman Matan Torasainu – Shavuos 5776… Another year, another betrothal – וְהוּא כְּחָתָן, יֹצֵא מֵחֻפָּתוֹ (Ps.19:6) – another kabalas ha’Torah is upon us.
Do you want the Torah? Hashem asked the other nations. “What is in it?” they replied. “Don’t kill? Don’t steal? Don’t commit adultery, immorality, don’t lie, keep the Sabbath, fast for 26 hours to afflict our souls…!? No thanks – we will pass; not for us!” they replied.
Do you want the Torah? Hashem asked the Umah Yisraelis. Shemos 24:7 – “And Moshe took the Book of the Covenant, and he read it in the ears of the people, and they declared, all that Hashem has spoken, נַעֲשֶׂה וְנִשְׁמָע – we will do and we will listen.” Shemos 24:7 – All that Hashem has spoken, we will do and we will listen, 24/7 – 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. When we accepted the Torah, we became a time bound people.
R’ Soloveitchik zt’l teaches, “ וְהָיוּ נְכֹנִים, לַיּוֹם הַשְּׁלִישִׁי – And be ready for the third day, for on the third day, Hashem will descend before the eyes of all the people upon Har Sinai (Ex.19:11). Judaism is very sensitive to the flux of time. G-d’s rendezvous with man occurred at an appointed time. Be ready! This is the command of Judaism. Each moment of conscious existence is a divine gift out of which the summons to the service of G-d emerges. Judaism believes that each person has a fixed place in creation. If I find myself thrust in here and now, it is because G-d thinks that I can act here and now efficiently. If I had been born one hundred years ago or if I would come into this world a century later, my contribution as a servant would be nil. G-d wills me to act right here and now… Every fraction of the infinite stream of time become precious.” (Chumash Masores Ha’Rav, Shemos, p.163)
R’ Shlomo Zalman Auerbach zt’l once told over the following story: “When R’ Naftali Trop zt’l (1871–1928), Rosh Yeshiva of Yeshivas Chofetz Chaim in Radin, Poland, fell ill, there was a great emotional awakening in Radin. Everyone volunteered hours of learning and prayer; everyone offered as much as he could to intercede on R’ Naftali’s behalf in the Heavenly Court. When they went to the Chofetz Chaim zt’l, who deeply loved R’ Naftali, and asked him to contribute something towards R’ Naftali’s welfare, he thought and thought. Finally, the Chofetz Chaim announced that he would donate a moment of Torah for R’ Naftali. One moment of Torah study, he said!
“Do you know the worth of one moment of Torah study!? That is what he was willing to contribute.” (And From Jerusalem His Word, p.247-248)
Each moment of conscious existence is a divine gift out of which the summons to the service of G-d emerges.
The counting of Sefiras Ha’Omer – from Pesach to Shavuos, from slavery to freedom – reminds us that each moment of the present will soon be the past, and each moment in the future will soon become the present. Time comes and goes… We must be ready to heed its call and embrace our mission – וְהָיוּ נְכֹנִים, לַיּוֹם הַשְּׁלִישִׁי! And be ready for the third day. Be ready to accept the Torah; be ready to live a life of Torah…
R’ Aharon Yehudah Wilner zt’l, the Rosh Yeshiva of Yeshivas Klausenberg in America after the war, once remarked: “Even if you paid me a million dollars to waste a minute, I could not.”
As we prepare to accept the Torah anew this Shavuos, anew this day, anew this very moment – For all that G-d has spoken, we will do and we will listen, 24/7 – let us be sure that we, too, are ready to answer the call of time.
בברכת שבת שלום וחג שמח,