Friday, May 27, 2011

Preparing to Climb the Mountain

Great pre-Shavuot insights from Hakhel:

Special Note Six: As we move closer to Shavuos, we begin to sense a greater closeness to climbing the mountain itself. During this special period, the Yetzer Hara may be at serious work, actually attempting for us to have a yerida, rather than an aliyah. He has many techniques and trials available to challenge you with at this time: This may go wrong with davening, that may go wrong with learning. This may go wrong at work, that may go wrong at home.... We must especially bolster ourselves, and if there is, in fact, a yerida, we should try to make sure that it instead takes us to a further aliyah. Rather than stumbling, or even despairing from any new, unique or strange pre-Shavuos circumstances or situations--we should use it to propel us higher up the mountain. As Chazal teach, Lefum Tza'ara Agra--according to the necessary effort (such as a steeper mountain) is the fruit born.

In this important regard, Rabbi Eliyahu Schneider, Shlita, provides a great observation. He explains that Pesach and Sukkos may, at least in theory. begin on their own simply by closing your doors at home, driving to a hotel, handing them your credit card, and taking pleasure in the days of Yom Tov. No, preparation, no sweat in advance--and hopefully enjoying Oneg and Simchas Yom Tov with family and/or friends! Shavuos, however, is very different, as its name indicates. There is no Matzah or Seder as there is inherent in Pesach, nor is there a Sukkah to dwell in or a Lulav and Esrog to take, as is part and parcel of Chag HaSukkos. Instead, the essence of the Yom Tov is the ‘Shavuos’--the weeks that precede it--that lead up in preparation to the Yom Tov. Only after, as the Torah refers to it, the Sheva Shabbosos Temimos, can we celebrate Shavuos! There are no particular Mitzvah or Mitzvos associated with this Yom Tov at all, because the preparation for our Kabbalos HaTorah is the essence of the Yom Tov--and the climax is in our hands reaching up and out as we reach the top of the mountain!

We should take the time this Shabbos to reflect upon our preparation and where it will be going over the next 10 days. What will I begin that is new? What is it that I will reinforce? How can I make sure that I will enter Shavuos with the term properly referring to is as Shavuos? Hashem has blessed us with a mind to use. Let us use it for this most sublime and lofty of purposes--which literally fulfills our lives, and even more literally fulfills the world!

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