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Shavuot—Joy & Accepting the Gift of Torah

by Chaya Rivka Zwolinski

*Rebbe Nachman teaches us how to be present in the moment, especially during the holy zmanim such as the holy Yom Tov of Shavuot. For nearly seven weeks, we’ve been counting the Omer (since the second night of Pesach.)

During the 49 days of the Omer, what we are actually doing is journeying through the 49 gates of teshuva. As we count, we purify ourselves, and return to Hashem with love and awe. We are returning to Hashem as we count. We focus on being present on this special journey to Shavuot.

Day by day we count: Today is one day of the Omer, today is two days of the Omer, and so on. When we reach Shavuot, we will have reached the 50th gate. Rebbe Nachman explains that the 50th gate is Hashem’s own teshuva. It’s when Hashem returns to us. It’s a return and restoration. We’ve done all that work, diligently counting the Omer, working on improving our middot, our character traits, breaking our hearts over the times we’ve hurt other people or the times we allowed ourselves to step away from Hashem. But on Shavuot—that’s when Hashem returns to us.

We have a special bond with Hashem on Shavuot, unique in the history of creation. We refer to this bonding experience as zman mattan Torah, the time when Hashem gives us the Torah. It’s a very powerful joining together of us and Hashem.

What is happening on Shavuot is that we are accepting the Torah just as if we were at Mount Sinai when the Torah was first given. We are actually receiving it in the present. We are literally accepting it today.

This giving of the Torah is the greatest act of love. When a person gives something and the other person receives it with love and appreciation, that forges a deeper, richer and more joyful relationship. When Hashem gives us the Torah and we receive it with awe, love and appreciation, we are co-creating an intensity of connection that is unparalleled. We are soldering ourselves together with Hashem. It is a bond of joy and awe each of us is capable of if we do the work.

Rebbe Nachman tells us that it is very important to experience all the festivals with joy. What happens at each festival including Shavuot, is that all the mitzvot we do throughout the year are gathered together.  They come together in a fragrant bouquet to bring us and Hashem the sweet fragrance of joy on the Yom Tov.

May you have an awe-inspiring, joy-filled Shavuot. Chag Sameach.

*Based on LM 56

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