How could we survive the struggles of life without it?
It’s no news to any of us that the essence of Shavuos is infinitely more profound than elaborate tablescapes and delectable dairy goodies (though making the Yom Tov as pleasant and joyous as possible is important too).
So we know that it’s the day on which we celebrate the giving of the Torah, but what does that really mean to us? What’s the whole point of this gift that we received millennia ago, consisting of volumes of instructions as to how we should be leading our lives?
The elementary answer for why we observe the Torah and mitzvos is that they’re our ticket to Gan Eden. The more positive commandments I fulfill and the less negative commandments I transgress, the greater the reward I reap in the World to Come. And that’s true.
But there’s more.
Hakadosh Baruch Hu, our Father who granted us this incredible gift, wants more for us. He wants us to live the good life in this world too. In fact, the Sefer HaChinuch tells us something so moving, so powerful. He says that the Ribono shel Olam wrote the Torah with us Yidden in mind. For every need that we could possibly have in this world, He made sure to provide an avenue through which we can satisfy that need—and get rewarded for it at the same time!
For example, who if not our Maker, who understands to our psyche best of all, understands the deep need we have for simcha? (I always manage to take my articles on the emotional tangent. This is a site for women, right?:)) And so, embedded in our guidebook for life are means through which we can not only express and feel joy, but attain quantities of it too. Vesamachta bechagecha… we were granted Yom Tov and Shabbos. With an obligation to lead a life of joy and perform mitzvos with a happy heart, we are not only encouraged to work toward that which is so good for us, but we’re also receiving sechar in the process. Even the commandments we have to give of ourselves, to be kind and sensitive to others are also a means through which we lead happier lives.
In the same vein, all of us human beings were created with a need for security. We need to feel that we can rely on a force greater than ourselves, a source of protection that will always be there for us. And that’s the first mitzvah that Hashem revealed to us at Har Sinai: Anochi Hashem Elokecha… He commanded us to live a life of emunah, which is the ultimate—and only—way to truly feel secure.
Last week, I went to be menachem avel four of the families who were sitting shivah for the kedoshei Meron they had lost. And all of them, without exception, echoed the same sentiment: How would we survive this without emunah?
In His kindness, Hakadosh Baruch Hu turned our deepest needs into commandments. Whether it’s our need for structure, for a sense of community and belonging, even for love, the answer to all of that is embedded in Torah. There are mitzvos that are vehicles toward a most fulfilling marriage, mitzvos that enable us to enjoy prosperous relationships, and mitzvos that spare us from abandonment and loneliness.
Torah provides structure, it provides direction, it provides comfort. As Dovid Hamelech expressed in Tehillim (119:92), “lulei Sorascha sha’ashu’ei az avadeti be’anyi. If not for Your Torah my occupation, I would have perished in my affliction.”
Ashreinu mah tov chelkeinu! How good is our lot. When the entire world grapples in an era that seems uncertain, chaotic, and in upheaval, we cherish the gift that keeps us grounded, positive, and full of hope. Torah is the vessel through which we connect deeply to Hakadosh Baruch Hu, who holds all the keys to everything we need in our lives.
This Shavuos is our opportunity to thank Hakadosh Baruch Hu for the all-encompassing gift that is Torah, the guidebook that takes us through life… and to ask Him that we, our husband, and our children merit to taste and feel her sweetness, always.
Painting image by RAANAN ART