Shavuot: About Giving And Receiving
Shavuot is the giving of the Torah that stretched out over millennia. What actually was given to us at the Mount Sinai? Why do we all the time return to it? How long can we receive the Torah?
Or maybe the Torah describes not this Hollywood picture but something much more serious? The thing that is happening within us today. Maybe the cloud fell on the heart? Maybe it was mountain of hatred, hanging over us in smoke and fire? Maybe passions were thundering and burning within us, making us to shudder to the depth of our nature?
The Torah isn’t a chronicle about past events; on the contrary, it describes the moment when our future is being decided. For the first time a clear answer is required from all of us: Are we ready to accept the mutual guarantee as a law of life? After all, exactly this is the Torah—an instruction on how to become guarantors for each other.
Since then the main lesson is passed from generation to generation: The Torah that was given to us once, we need to receive it again and again. We must receive it at the mountain of hatred (Sina), under the roar of storm raging inside. Accepting this Law we were living together on our land, rejecting it we dispersed among other nations.
The surprising fact in the modern era is that the land of Israel “given” to us, like the Torah, also waits for us to receive it. Since the proclamation of independence almost 70 years have passed. Half a century ago we united Jerusalem. However, this isn’t yet the guarantee, not the nation united “as one man with one heart.” Yes, physically we have “left Egypt,” returned home, but internally we haven’t yet passed through Sinai and therefore we risk losing our chance.
The modern state of Israel is a historical window of opportunities. And most importantly, it is open not only for us, but for the whole world. After all, today the entire humanity turns into a powder keg of passions. And our choice will be decisive for it.
Medication on Demand
Shavuot, like all Jewish holidays carries a call for action. It is bright, it is full of whiteness, but it isn’t simple. If it was enough just to hold hands and smile to each other for a second, we would’ve built here a “garden city” long time ago for everyone to admire.
However, it’s not so. We were given the land and the opportunity to live on it like brothers, and we instead hesitate, squabble, drink each other’s blood and try somehow to solve problems as they come.
Fate presented us with the unique chance for unity, and we even don’t understand what is happening. We bump into each other, people are strangled by indifference, burned with anger, and deafened by cannonade of sectoral enmity, but we pretend that everything is fine, nothing wrong. We can continue living like this. We have such an experience of disasters behind of us that seemingly we can’t complain.
However, this is just a respite! In fact, we are slowly but surely getting pressed to the mountain of our own hatred. We are not looking out of the camp, but this mountain nevertheless is hanging over us right now.
Naturally, when we don’t notice it we don’t need the Torah. Lightning sparkles somewhere, from somewhere we feel heat, heart sometimes rumbles “under the bonnet”, but we are on our land, and not in some desert. Right?
No, we are where our hearts are. We are in the desert of barren and soulless relationships. If we suddenly discover how egoism tears us to pieces, if we try to connect into something integral and face an insuperable internal split then we need help.
It turns out that the «normal» exit from Egypt is not the end. The main challenge is ahead of us. All the ways lead to the mountain. At the foot of it, having finally realized the problem and recognized the disease we understand and take the medicine. It was in this “pharmacy” before, but we didn’t know that we are sick. This is why the giving of the Torah and its reception is not the same thing.
Elixir or Poison?
The Torah is a medicine intended solely for «internal use,” for the connection between us. All our troubles, exiles, destructions of the Temples, wandering and persecutions were caused by the unfounded hatred that made us distant strangers to each other.
The Torah allows us to become close again, “get out from under the fire.” However, if we use it only externally, without striving for unity of all the people “elixir of life” turns into a “deadly poison.”
These are not metaphors at all, but precise terms used by our sages. We don’t even understand the damage we cause to ourselves by not using the Torah or by using it not for the correct purpose. Sometimes we even boast about our “cleanness,” although in reality we are up to the ears in our own dirt. The large sectors in the country exist in the “parallel worlds” almost without touching each other. Some of them live at the expense of the rest of the population and even oppose themselves to it under the pretext of “righteousness.”
Everything that divides us directly or under the cover of beautiful and correct words is a deadly poison. It eats away everyone.
If we raise our eyes from everyday worries, we will see how far we are scattered from each other. We are not just separated, we enjoy pricking, humiliating, and trampling. Each one wants to be more successful, richer, smarter, and higher than others. This is especially evident in the media, where the vices of society are visible as on the palm of a hand. No one is surprised at anything anymore and nobody is ashamed.
It isn’t the most pleasant sight, but everything falls into places: we wander in the desert of human nature and it rises in front of us like a mountain. “And they arrived in the desert of Sinai, and they encamped in the desert, and Israel encamped there opposite the mountain.” (The Torah, Exodus, 19:2)
Now we have the opportunity to receive help, an instruction, a force that will bring us together, so that we will build healthy relations in the society and live happily in our country. This is the current moment of evolutionary development: either we will grow up ourselves and start using the Torah according to its purpose, for the sake of unity above all disagreements, or the adversity of growing up will force us to do this. In essence, this it the situation in which any child finds himself as soon as he stops being an infant.
Remedy for all Times
The best thing we can do for ourselves and for the world is to unite at the mountain of hatred, the mountain of our doubts and reveal Moses within ourselves, the power that pulls (Mosheh) us upward. It always works if we are together.
Then we will understand that not some refugees from Ancient Egypt camped in the desert in order to receive the most important gift in life, but each of us, no matter where he lives, to which nationality belongs, and which religion professes, stands at the foot of the mountain. Here is only one nationality—human, and the heart is one for all.
The Torah, indeed, is the most powerful tool that we still don’t know how to use. A person can’t reach it alone, and we are not ready to do it together. It will provide us with security and prosperity and will give peace to the world. We just need to get used to the fact that it works not in one separate person, but between us.
After all, egoism is revealed exactly in relation to others. Once it burst out in Babylon and since then it always manifests in the society, in the relationship between people.
Therefore, the Torah is aimed to correct connection of the person with the environment at any time and at any level of technical development. It can’t be replaced with the newest means of communication. Everything we have won’t work correctly without it. Only a positive relationship will allow us to lay the solid foundation of our future.
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