"The King is coming! The King is coming!"
The little village was a bundle of excitement. Once every few years, the King toured all of the towns in his kingdom. He met with the villagers and listened to their requests. He was a kind-hearted ruler, who did his best to fulfill the desires of all of his subjects.
"Ronnie, do you think that you will get to see the King?"
"I am just a lowly peasant. How can I see the King?"
The King's servants approach the crowd of peasants.
"Who would like to see the King?"
Ronnie sheepishly raises his hand.
Ronnie is taken by carriage to the King's inner chambers. He has never seen such luxury. Servants surround the King, waiting to attend to his every wish.
"Yes, my loyal servant. What is your name?"
"Do you have a special request from the King, Ronnie?"
"Um, yes Your Royal Highness. I did not eat breakfast today and I am very hungry. Can the King grant me a slice of bread?"
The servants begin to laugh. This poor humble peasant. He has the opportunity of a lifetime: a private audience with the King. He can request wealth and riches beyond number! What does he ask for? A slice of bread!
The Nesivos Shalom zt"l explains the Medrash Shir HaShirim (3:2) which likens the Holy Day of Shavuous to the wedding day between Hashem, the chosson (groom) and Klal Yisrael, the kallah (bride). The chosson brings beautiful gifts to his new kallah on the day of their wedding. Our chosson is the King of Kings, The Holy One Blessed Be He, who has the power to fulfill any wish. What will our request be this Shavuous? Will we be like the peasant and ask for a slice of bread? Or will we desire greatness.
Rav Shimshon Pincus zt"l explains that Shavuous is a Holy Day with no unique mitzvos. Pesach has the mitzvah of matza, Succos has the lulav, and Rosh Hashanah has the shofar. Why is Shavuous different? On Pesach, we needed the mitzvos of Korbon Pesach and mila to merit leaving Mitzraim. Therefore, we are commanded to eat the matza, which reminds us of those mitzvos. On Shavuous, we received the Torah. We needed no merits. The Torah was given to us as a gift. As we say in the daily prayers, "You favor a person with knowledge. Favor us with wisdom and understanding." The receiver does not need to pay for a favor or earn it. Just one thing is required. Desire.
To whom would you give a valuable gift? To someone who would want it, appreciate it and properly care for it? Or to someone does not care for it, and will ignore it and lose it. The Torah is the most valuable gift that a person can receive. To whom will Hashem give it? To one who values it. To one who desires it. How do we show our desire? By learning Torah with all of our koach (strength). By showing Hashem that there is nothing that we desire more than to live our whole lives according to His Torah. We want it in our bones. We want nothing else in life. This will open the gates of heaven, and the Torah will come showering down upon us.
Kinderlach . . .
We go to school every day, working hard to learn Torah. We want to succeed. We want to understand and remember what we learn. And we want to learn more and more. Shavuous is a day where we can help our learning throughout the whole year. On Shavuous we stay up the entire night learning Torah. We are showing Hashem how much His Torah means to us. It is even more important than sleep. He knows what is inside of our hearts. If we truly desire to learn His Torah with all of our hearts, he will make us successful. Your learning in school will improve. You will understand more, remember more, and learn more. You are spending so many hours each day learning. Spend a few hours Shavuous night learning with all of your heart. It is time well invested. You will reap the benefits all year.
The sons of Levi were Gershon, Kehas, and Merari. Their families had the honor of carrying the various parts of the Mishkan (Tabernacle) during the travels in the desert. The census of these three sons and their families began in last week's parsha with the counting of Kehas' family. Gershon was the bechor (firstborn). Why was Kehas' family counted first, and the older brother Gerson's family counted second? The Keli Yakar answers this question by explaining the importance of honoring the Torah. The Aron Kodesh (Holy Ark) and the holy vessels were given to Kehas and his family to carry. These were the holiest vessels and therefore the job of carrying them was the most prestigious. Kehas was counted first because they carried the Aron, which contained the Torah. One must give proper honor to the Torah and those who learn it. If Gershon was counted first, one could mistakenly think that the honor of bechora (firstborn) is more important than the honor of Torah. This answer raises another question. Why was the most prestigious job given to Kehas, and not his older brother Gershon? The Keli Yakar explains that this was done to show that the crown of Torah is free for all to take. If it were given to the bechor, he might think that he received it because he was older. Age has nothing to do with Torah. The crown of Torah is more precious than the crown of Kehuna (priesthood) or Malchus (Kingship). Those crowns are inherited, yet the crown of Torah is free for all to take.
Kinderlach . . .
Honoring Torah and those who learn it is very important. We must stand up for our Rebbeim, and speak with them in a most respectful way. We must listen to what they say, and follow their halachic rulings. That great honor that is given to Talmidei Chachomim can be ours. It is not passed on from father to son. It is not dependent on wealth or political power. It is free for anyone to take. There is just one catch. You have to work for it. This Shavuous night take a big step towards greatness. Claim the crown of Torah for yourself.
Kinder Torah Copyright 2002 All rights reserved to the author Simcha Groffman
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