Shavuot Vol.9 No.33
Date of issue: 6-7 Iyar 5760 -- June 9-10, 2000
issue has been sponsored by
Dr. Charles and Miriam Selengut
in honor of the engagement of their daughter,
Dr. Nora Selengut,
to Philip Brooke of Yerushalayim.
Rabbi Yosef Adler
by Rabbi Yosef Adler
It has become a well-established Minhag to recite Yizkor at the conclusion of each of the Shalosh Regalim. The word Yizkor actually appears three times in the Torah. In Parshat Noach, after the Mabul succeeded in wiping out the existing civilization, the Torah writes, "And Hashem remembered Noach, all the animals, and everyone who was with him in the ark" (Bereishit 8:1). In Parshat Vayetzei (30:1), Rachel expresses her frustration when she cannot bear children. Eventually, Rachel is privileged to have a child, and once again the Torah uses the word Yizkor: "And Hashem remembered Rachel, and He listened to her, and He opened her womb" (30:22). At the beginning of Sefer Shemot (2:23), the Torah describes the suffering of Bnai Yisrael at the hands of the Egyptians. Hashem's response is immediately noted: "And Hashem heard their crieds and He remembered his Brit, Avraham, Yitzchak, and Yaakov" (2:24).
In each of these cases, the people involved could have allowed their suffering to overcome them and simply resigned to the fact that their condition would never improve. They could have said that there is no need to continue to maintain loyalty to Hashem or follow His path. Noach could have expressed the thought that it did not pay to rebuild society, for Hashem would surely destroy it again if people stray far from the path, Rachel felt worthless as a wife and a woman due to her inability to have a child, and Bnai Yisrael could easily have forfeited any connection to their Jewish heritage as a result of their enormous suffering at the hands of Paroh. Hashem, in every case, came to help, and when "Hashem remembered" it allowed those in need to continue as individuals and as a people.
On Shavuot, we recite Yizkor for parents, siblings, and children who have left us. The Jewish People as a whole recite Yizkor on behalf of those who perished during the Holocaust and for Israeli soldiers and citizens who have made the supreme sacrifice to defend the land of Israel. As we ask Hashem to remember their souls, we too must gather strength and courage to continue to pursue the values and ideals of those for whom we recite Yizkor today.
We Will Do and We Will Listen
by Shimi Weiss
Years ago, during the time of Shavuot that we are now approaching, the Jewish Nation stood before Har Sinai and screamed out as a nation, "We will do and we will listen." This seems a little a strange since it is human nature to listen first and then act.
Rabbi Eliyahu Dessler gives a suggestion that might help us understand how one could act before he listens. He writes that the fundamental aspect of love is the ability to give to your loved one. He goes further to say that one does not always love and then give. More often than not, the giving comes before the loving, and love grows from the giving. The more one gives, the more one loves.
Rabbi Avi Weiss mentions a program called Marriage Encounter. This program believes that love should be considered not only as a feeling, but also as a decision. Feelings can always change; for instance one can feel anger towards a friend one day and be friendly again the next. Love is different because love is a decision. When one makes the decision to love and takes that step, the feelings will follow. That is why love is not always measured as what one feels for another, but as what one is prepared to do for another.
This concept applies very much to our connection with Hashem. If one were to consider prayer for a minute, one would realize that prayer is an expression of love towards Hashem. So why do we not pray when we feel like it? Instead, we are obligated to pray, and after making the decision to do so, the feelings from prayer will surface.
Now we see an underlying concept of all Jewish rituals. First we should perform the act and then the feelings will come. This is why at Har Sinai the Jewish People first said, "We will do," and then said afterward, "We will listen." One can learn a great lesson from this. It is not good enough to feel love toward our family and friends; one must also express this love and let them know they are loved. There is never a better time than now, as Rabbi Weiss writes, "Actions are primary, they are the indicator, the inspiration for true love."
(Adapted from a Dvar Torah given by my uncle, Rabbi Avi Weiss.)
Halacha of the Week
One should make sure to eat something for Melave Malka every Motzai Shabbat, even during the summertime. In fact, the Shulchan Aruch allocates an entire chapter to this Halacha to emphasize that we not neglect this rule (Orach Chaim 300).
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