Thursday, May 21, 2015

478 - Shavuos

Rav Wolbe (Daas Shlomo) makes an interesting observation regarding the Torah which was given by Hashem and received by Bnei Yisrael at Har Sinai. The Aseres Hadibros were all said in singular form. The Ramban explains that this signifies that Hashem spoke to and commanded each and every individual. On the other hand, the Torah tells us, "The entire nation proclaimed in unison, 'All that Hashem spoke we will do.'" Bnei Yisrael's acceptance of the Torah was done in complete harmony "like one person, with a single heart." While Kabbalas HaTorah (the acceptance of the Torah) was specifically a communal event, Matan Torah (the giving of the Torah) was specifically an experience for the individual. How are we to understand this dichotomy?

The Mishna in Avos (2:18) states, "Do not be wicked by yourself." Rav Chaim Volozhin explains that one should make an effort to daven with the tzibbur because if you pray "by yourself" and depend on your own merits, you might be considered "wicked." In a similar vein, the Medrash (Shir Hashirim Rabba 8:15) says that when Bnei Yisrael, through the recitation of Shema, accept Hashem's Kingship upon themselves in unison, Hashem approvingly tells the angels to listen to their voices. The Medrash continues that this is not the case when their recital of Shema is not carried out in harmony. Accordingly, any initiation of a connection to the Creator should ideally be performed by Bnei Yisrael as a tzibbur. 

The very essence of Bnei Yisrael is that they are a "single nation on the earth" (Shabbos Mincha). In contrast to the other nations, Klal Yisrael at their core is a single unit, and it was with this quality that they were meant to approach Kabbalas HaTorah. Each person would completely negate their own individuality thereby melding themselves into a single entity; a solitary creation of awesome stature capable of standing before the Creator and receiving His commandments.

This total display of solidarity resulting from the sublimation of individual feelings reverberated on High. Hashem reciprocated by giving the Torah as a whole to Klal Yisrael, while granting each and every person an individual approach to the Torah's multifaceted and infinite wisdom.

While we are generally concerned with our own achievements and success, proper preparation for Kabbalas HaTorah requires that we shift our focus toward others. The essential quality at Har Sinai was Bnei Yisrael's solidarity. They sublimated their personal priorities for the benefit of the masses. Therefore, it is important that we feel responsibility for the masses of Jewish People who haven't yet enjoyed a relationship with their Creator.

There are many unaffiliated Jews waiting for someone to fan the spark buried deep inside them. Moreover, there are many affiliated Jews who would gain immensely from a relationship with someone who has a stronger connection to Torah than they do. Bringing another Jew closer to His Father in Heaven not only enhances his life, it enhances our lives as well. For when all of Klal Yisrael unite in the acceptance of the Torah, their combined acceptance enhances the personal benefit of each individual.

Good Yom Tov!

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