|Written by David & Leah Goldin|
THE PROTECTION OF THE TORAH: At the time of receiving the Torah, the people of Israel were in a very high state of expectation and desire. When they heard the first commandment from the blessed Lord our God they fainted and remained totally unconscious and without life. The Torah began to plead, "To whom am I begin given? To those who are alive or to those who have died?" The blessed Creator immediately caused a dew of revival to descend upon the earth and brought them all back to life. It was subsequently revealed, that even with the privileged state of the people of Israel, and their great desires, if it were not for the protective powers of the Torah which felt mercy for them, they would have remained in their lifeless state. The same is true for the past few generations who are in great need of a spiritual revival and for the light of the Torah to protect them.
(from the letters of the Chafetz Chaim #47)
EVEN THE ANGELS DO NOT PERCEIVE THE TORAH IN ITS ENTIRETY
There is truly no limit to the holiness of the Torah, as evidenced by the numerous interpretations and commentaries for every verse that were composed by our blessed Sages. Rabbi Elazar (Yalkut Tehillim Remez 625) said: The various portions of the Torah were not given in order. If they had been, anyone who would read them would have the power to revive the dead and perform wondrous acts. For this very reason, the order of the Torah is concealed, and is only known to the blessed Lord our Creator, as it is written (Isaiah 44:7), "And who, as I, can proclaim --- Let him declare it, and set it in order for me..."
Thus, it is very clear that even the angels on high cannot perceive the Torah in its entirety, as it is written, "And who, as I, can proclaim --- Truly, even if all the seas were ink, and all the lakes were quills, and all men were scribes, they could not write the great holiness of the Torah, which is the root of the Creation, and the beginning of all reality, as it is written in the Scriptures (Proverbs 8:24-27), "When He established the Heavens, I was there; When He set a circle upon the face of the deep."
(from the Chafetz Chaim's introduction to Eitz Pri)
ANYONE WHO TOUCHES THE MOUNTAIN
It became known to the Chafetz Chayim that there was to be a medical conference that would suggest new medical and hygienic procedures for yeshivot.
The Chafetz Chayim hastily sent a letter off to the famous public physician of Vilna, Dr. Zemach Shabad, stating that the state of affairs in the yeshivot was excellent. The food was of the highest quality, and the student's have free time to go for walks and exercise.
As a footnote to the letter the Chafetz Chayim added: I would only like to remind the honoured physician that it is written in the Scriptures (Exodus 19:12), "...whosoever toucheth the mount shall be surely put to death". If this is the case with the mountain, what could be for the very Torah itself?
(according to the Chafetz Chaim, His Life and Work, p. 847)
AN ECHO OF THE DIVINE VOICE FROM MOUNT HOREB [another name for Sinai]
Rabbi Yehoshua ben Levi said (Avot 7:2): Everyday a bas kol [an echo of the divine voice] resounds from Mount Horeb which proclaims: Woe be it to those who suffer from the humiliation of the Torah! The question remains, where is this echo of a divine voice heard? And there are many interpretations of this matter.
...The significance of the bas kol comes from the awesome voice at Mount Horeb, when the blessed Lord our Creator, Himself, descended upon us and spoke to us, (with thunder and lightning), and brought us His Law in the form of the Torah. And we who act negligently and do not receive His word with great joy and do not comply with the Law, learn from this bas kol that appears in order to warn us. It is written clearly in the Scriptures (Vaetchanon, Deut. 4:9-10,12): "Only take heed to thyself, and keep thy soul diligently, lest though forget the things which thine eyes saw, and lest they depart from thy heart all the days of thy life; but make them known unto thy children and thy children's children; the day that thou stood before the Lord thy God in Horeb, when the Lord said unto me: 'Assemble Me the people, and I will make them hear My words, that they may learn to fear Me all the days that they live upon the earth, and that they may teach their children' "; "And the Lord spoke unto you out of the midst of the fire; ye heard the voice of the words, but ye saw no form; only a voice."
You may clearly se that it is written "...keep thy soul diligently, lest though forget the things...all the days of thy life". We can learn, therefore, that this is a very important principle in the worship of our blessed Lord.
(Chomat HaDat, Chapter 3)
RECEIVING THE TORAH ANEW
During the First World War, when the times were very hard, the Chafetz Chayim once went up to the holy ark, opened the doors, faced the congregation and said:
COME, LET US RECEIVE THE TORAH ANEW. LET US DECLARE AND MAKE A VOW THAT 'WE SHALL DO, AND WE SHALL OBEY'. AT THIS TIME WHEN WE ARE SURROUNDED BY TROUBLES, WE, THE PEOPLE OF ISRAEL, SWEAR TO PRESERVE THE TORAH. EVEN THOUGH WE HAVE ALREADY SWORN AND ARE STEADFAST, WE SHALL RECEIVE YOUR TORAH ANEW, AND KEEP IT, AND WORSHIP IT.
(according to the Chafetz Chaim, His Life and Work, p. 868)
AL GEIREI TSEDEK (ON SINCERE PROSELYTES)
It is well known that the sincere proselyte, Hagraf Pototzki, was martyred in Vilna on the second day of Shavuot. The Chafetz Chaim used to repeat the words of this martyred and sincere convert in order to explain the source of these holy converts. The blessed sage said (cf. Sifri on Vezot Habracha and Avoda Zara 2b:) When the blessed Creator was about to give the Torah to Israel, he went to all the nations of the world and offered them the Torah. There wasn't a single nation or people which agreed to accept the Torah for various reasons. Although the vast majority of the peoples of the world refused to accept the yoke of the Law and its commandments, there were a few individuals who desired with all their hearts to receive the Torah, but it didn't reach them. These individuals are the source of the souls of the proselytes.
One can also suppose that among the Jewish people who stood at the foot of Mount Sinai and proclaimed "We will do and obey", there were a few individuals who did not desire to receive the Torah. These individuals developed into the apostates of every generation. It is known that all the spirits ans souls were present at Mount Sinai at the time of the giving of the Law, even those that are in the bodies of the apostates.
(according to the Chafetz Chaim, His Life and Work, Volume I, p. 292)
WHY DO WE EAT DAIRY ON SHAVUOS?
It is customary to eat dairy food on the first day of Shavuot. There are many reasons for this custom.
1) A hint is found in the phrase מנחה חדשה לה' בשבועתיכם (“A new meal-offering to the Lord on your Festival of Weeks”) (Numbers 28:26). The initials of these words spell out מחלב (“of milk”).
2) Also honey should be eaten on this day, because the Torah (given on this day on Mount Sinai) is compared to honey and milk, as it is written (Song of Songs 4:11): “Honey and milk are under thy tongue”.
3) Because the Torah is compared (in the Torah) to milk (in terms of essential nourishment).
4) Because before the Torah was given, the Jews were not required to keep the detailed laws of kashrut. After the Torah was given (on Shavuos), they had to keep kosher, but all their cooking utensils were treif (and one cannot kasher vessels on Yom Tov). So, they milked their cattle and drank the milk.
One is also REQUIRED to eat meat on Yom Tov. This is because of Simchas Yom Tov (the requirement to rejoice in the holy day), so those persons (e.g. vegetarians) who do not enjoy eating meat are not obligated. Because of this, and the required waiting period between meat and dairy, and between some dairy (e.g. hard cheeses) and meat, the minhag is to have a dairy meal (consisting of milk and soft cheeses) in the morning at kiddush, followed by a proper yom tov meal. Were one to eat hard cheese, there would be a 6-hour wait. Note that eating dairy is a minhag [custom], whilst eating meat is a obligation (but only for those who enjoy eating meat).
Chag Shavuot Sameach!