On Monday evening, May 10, Rabbi YY Jacobson shared an inspiring shiur on behalf of Chazaq about Shavuos. He noted that 3,300 years after the giving of the Torah, we can still hear the echoes of Sinai. “Shavuos is the holiday that allows us to focus on what it means to be a Jew, the people of the book, the people of eternity.” He taught that our nation is a nation because of the Torah. He added that he salutes Chazaq for sharing so much Torah and teaching so many of all ages what it means to be a Jew. He offered a brachah to Chazaq to be strong – and stronger – to go from strength to strength to bring the vitality and depth of Yiddishkeit to all Jews.
Chazaq and TorahAnytime both do sacred work. He thanked both organizations for spreading so much Torah. He offered a brachah to Chazak.
He then taught that we are one people, united by one Torah for eternity. If one Jew was missing at Sinai, Hashem would not have given the Torah. “Every Jew has an indispensable role in the cosmic symphony.” Just as if there is one letter missing in a Torah scroll, the whole Torah is disqualified, because the Torah is a completely unified entity. That’s why every letter is essential. “Torah is indivisible and that is the way to look at the Jewish people. We are indivisible.”
All Jews come together on Shavuos to hear the Ten Commandments read in shul. It’s like Hashem is re-giving us the Torah. We should all try to do this. Rabbi Yishmael taught that there are 26 generations that existed before the Torah was given. G-d wanted to protect the path that takes you to true life. The path of ethical behavior leads you to Torah. A mishnah in Pirkei Avos states if there is no derech eretz, there is no Torah; and if there is no Torah, there is no derech eretz. Thus, derech eretz precedes Torah.
There is a powerful emphasis in Yiddishkeit on derech eretz.
The way you deal with people anywhere – at home, at work, in public places, etc. – is derech eretz.
The great sage Hillel taught: Don’t do something to someone that is not something you would want done to you. The essence of Torah is to be a kind, empathetic person. Learning Torah should bring me to powerful values and to being sensitive to other people’s feelings. “It makes me become more expansive and helps me see the G-dliness and spirituality in every person. Torah is the blueprint to help me deal with my issues.”
Rabbi Akiva taught that we should love our neighbor as ourselves. Torah compares a person to a tree. A person should not focus on how beautiful and great he is, as this develops selfishness and is not what Hashem wants. Rather, the essence of the soul is that it is part of the infinite. Arrogance is the worst thing, as it makes a person become obsessed with self-consciousness. Of course, it’s important to have an awareness of your strengths, realizing they are gifts from Hashem. At the same time, it’s important not to become haughty or vain. The impact of learning Torah should be decency, mentchlichkeit, and humility.
Next, Rabbi Jacobson shared a story about Rav Moshe Feinstein zt”l. A rabbi recalled that when he was a yeshivah student learning in Israel, he had a sh’eilah and decided to call Rav Moshe. Rav Moshe answered, sounding a bit tired, and then the student realized that he’d forgotten about the time difference and he’d called Rav Moshe Feinstein in New York in the middle of the night. Rav Moshe just said, “Hold on a minute,” and then he came back to the phone and answered the sh’eilah. Rav Moshe asked for his address and then, surprisingly, a few weeks later, this student received a check in the mail from Rav Moshe Feinstein. Rav Moshe explained that he knew it was expensive to call long distance, and that he’d made him wait before answering the sh’eilah.
Here, he was awakened in the middle of the night, and yet he answered with complete serenity, and even sent a check thinking the student had to pay a lot for the call.
Torah makes you sensitive to the perspective of the Divine. Rabbi Jacobson taught that the essence of Torah is to treat others with respect. “If you love Hashem, then you love His children.”
This beautiful shiur can be viewed on www.TorahAnytime.com.
By Susie Garber