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  • Writer's pictureRabbi Yonah Burr

Shavuos - A Moment Lasts Forever

As our ‘Sefira count’ comes to an end, we eagerly anticipate the Yom Tov of Shavuos, which we refer to as the celebration of the giving of our Torah, Z’man Matan Toraseinu. We lein the section of the Aseres Hadibros, and recall our experience receiving the Luchos at Har Sinai.

There is a serious question to ask here.

What was the aftermath of this momentous experience? Those Luchos were shattered to pieces. Our joy abruptly stopped. Not until Yom Kippur were we given the Torah that we have today, in the form of a second set of Luchos.

Why, then, do we continue to celebrate Shavuos as the day we received the Torah, when, in fact, we did not receive our permanent, timeless Luchos on that day? Why seemingly pay homage to that which we could have had but tragically lost?

We learn from here a very comforting lesson.

When one grows spiritually, and then falls back down, one tends to despair. When a person begins to build a deeper connection, and then loses it, it is discouraging. He feels as if he accomplished nothing. But the Yom Tov of Shavuos gives us both hope and strength. It shows us that any level achieved, even if subsequently lost, has an eternal effect.

We sinned profoundly--losing, perhaps, the spiritual greatness we so proudly wore. Yet, we did still stand at Har Sinai. We did reach the highest levels of purity. We did receive the Torah in its original form! Though we experienced a setback, the moment in time remains forever. We, the Jewish People, have these lofty levels ingrained in our collective conscience, and this potential is ours to draw from, even if, at times, we may not feel it.


Prenatal Exposure

The same concept is borne out of an interesting fact the Gemara states about a fetus. Chazal teach that the fetus learns the entire Torah in utero. Even though the fetus forgets everything at birth, the fetus' prenatal exposure to the highest levels of Torah has a lifelong effect, enabling him to achieve, on his own, the greatness he once experienced.

Rambam, in his commentary on the last Mishna in Meseches Makkos, makes a similar point- ד' חפץ למען צדקו יגדיל תורה ויאדיר Hashem, in His Righteousness, increased the Torah and glorified it- explains the Rambam, Hashem gave us so many mitzvos, so many opportunities, because it take only one mitzva performed to perfection to achieve eternity.


We sometimes find ourselves inspired by a particular Mitzva, or immersed in Davening or learning. We wish we could go to that level more often. Shavuos reminds us that the moment is indestructible. When we perform even one Mitzva to purity and perfection, even if we can’t reach that level on a consistent basis, it is an eternal achievement, for exposure to Ruchnius lasts forever.

Have a wonderful Shabbos and Yom Tov!

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