Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Leaving Har Sinai- On the challenges of taking Matan Torah Into life

Thanks to a wonderful shiur I listened to on Friday, I headed into Shabbos and Yom Tov with strong expectations. Rav Ami Silver gave over a derasha from Derech HaMelech, which the Piaseczna Rebbe first delivered nearly 90 years ago. I went into Shabbos wanting to learn through the rebbe’s words on my own, as I strongly wanted to internalize the message. It took a few times going over it, but eventually I was able to reconnect with the message of the derasha. I was deeply moved by the idea that Kabbalas HaTorah is something which re-occurs throughout time, and that we need to see ourselves as having something worthy to merge with the Torah, rather than accepting it passively. The part which touched me the most was the idea that we must dig down within ourselves, in our own “dirt” to discover that even there, we connect with the Ribbono Shel Olam.

Over the chag, I continued to learn from the Derech HaMelech, as well as from Rav Kook’s Midbar Shur. Combined with the time I spent with family, and the learning I did with several of our children, Shavuos was a deeply meaningful experience. I truly felt that it was a personal Z’man Matan Toraseinu.

Just as suddenly, as I went from Yom Tov to chol, the experience disappeared. I remember the words, and the ideas they conveyed, but I can no longer access them. Even as today is Iseru Chag, the day when we are to bind the experiences of the yom tov to our lives, the switch from kodesh to chol is too dramatic. While I try and pass it off as being a product of physical and mental exhaustion, it seems to me that something else is going on. As I stood at the base of Har Sinai, I could imagine finding the holy within dirt, even within my own. Now, having traveled on, my imagination fails, and this profound teaching has reverted to just an intellectual concept.

I better understand how 40 days after Kabbalas HaTorah there can be a Cheit HaEigel. To receive the Torah is an avodah, but to bring it with you from Har Sinai is a greater one, and right now I don’t know how to do that.