SHAVUOT NIGHT FEVER
The scene is Shavuot night, next Friday evening. In homes all across the world, suggestions similar to the following will be asked in one form or another: "The synagogue bulletin says that there will be a special Torah learning program tonight.
The scene is Shavuot night, next Friday evening. In homes all across the world, suggestions similar to the following will be asked in one form or another: "The synagogue bulletin says that there will be a special Torah learning program tonight. Why don't we go and participate - it might even be fun." In many cases, the responses may be one of hesitancy, as we try to come up with some kind of excuse. . ."I have never gone before, so why begin now". . ."I don't know the first thing about learning Torah". . ."I just don't think that it's a good idea." The evening is liable to pass by like every other night of the year.
Have you ever noticed that the holiday of Shavuot never comes out before Parshat Bamidbar? In fact, Shavuot almost always falls out during the week immediately following the reading of this Torah portion. Rabbi Moshe Feinstein, a great Torah scholar and leader of the past generation, derives a simple yet profound lesson from this annual juxtaposition, a message that every Jew must never forget. Imagine Moses and Aaron walking around the Jewish camp in the desert, taking their census of the hundreds of thousands of people. Every person, from the most learned Torah scholar to the most ignorant member of the nation, was viewed equally during the count. Even Moses, who conversed with Hashem face to face, was counted as only one. Reflecting on the census can serve as an important vehicle to boost our own morale and realize how much potential we really have.
This message is an extremely important one for us to remember as the holiday commemorating the giving of the Torah speedily approaches. It is all too easy to become discouraged with our lack of Torah proficiency and to give up our quest for Torah knowledge. By juxtaposing the holiday of Shavuot with our reading about the census in the desert in this week's Torah portion, we are reminded to continue to strive forward in our observance, especially with regard to the study of Torah, and not to be discouraged.
So when the question comes up next Friday night of what to do, let us not be lulled by the evil inclination into inaction. Everybody is counted and we are all capable of reaching great heights. Shavuot is the opportune time to rededicate ourselves to Torah study. Seize the moment - don't let it pass us by.
Michael Alterman, a graduate of Yeshiva Atlanta, is enrolled in a joint program with Ner Israel Rabbinical College and the University of Baltimore.
You are invited to read more Parshat Bamidbar articles.
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