We are gathered here tonight to part from each other. However, we are only parting in regard to our bodies and their physical place. From a spiritual perspective, this is not a true separation for "every man of Israel is (united with his colleague) as one man, as friends."
This concept is intrinsically related to the holiday of Shavuos, "the season of the giving of our Torah." The association with the present evening is further emphasized since tonight is among "the days of compensation" for the holiday of Shavuos. Indeed, it falls in the same week as the holiday itself, without being separated by a Shabbos.
Unity was a pre-requisite for the giving of the Torah. Our sages noted that when the Torah describes the encampment of the Jewish people before Mt. Sinai, it uses a singular conjugation: the Jews were united "as one man, with one heart."
From that experience, we derive the potential for Jewish unity. Even though we live in different countries and lands, we can still unite together "as one man, with one heart."
Thus, each person's intent upon returning home should be to express this unity. The oneness that we shared in the previous days should continue into the future, until the next time we will meet again.
In this context, the journey each of you are making to your homes can be compared to the "journey in time" from the festive season to the weekdays that follow.
When departing from a festival, we recite the Havdalah prayer to differentiate between the festival and the week days. However, the intent of that prayer is not to separate the two from each other. Rather, the recitation of Havdalah was instituted to draw the influence of a festival (and similarly, of the Sabbath) into the weekdays that follow by adding a greater dimension of holiness and G-dliness.
The Jews are commanded: "You shall be holy, for I, G-d, your Lord, am holy." Each Jew is given the potential to achieve a rung of holiness equated to G-d's and express that holiness in his daily life within the context of time and place. Even though this may appear as a challenging task, G-d has already granted us the powers to achieve this goal and to do so with vigor and joy.
The concept of transmitting holiness to our mundane environment is particularly connected to the holiday of Shavuos, "the season of the giving of the Torah." It is the power of the Torah which enables us to carry out this service, for at that time, the command, and thus the potential to sanctify a day as a festival, was given.
Thus, in this context, there are two elements which distinguish Shavuos from the other festivals:
- The holiness of the festival is more accentuated.
- The transition into the mundane world after the festival's conclusion is more difficult: it is necessary to pass from the world of Torah into mundane and wordly activities.
Though the above applies in regard to every Jew, it is particularly relevant to those who are journeying home after spending the Shavuos holiday here. The spiritual transition described above is given physical expression in their journey to their homes.
The above is also relevant to the concept of Jewish unity mentioned above: When a Jew leaves his home and travels to a distant land, he is less concerned with his personal affairs and thus, can accept the concept of love for his fellow man much more easily. However, while returning home, he becomes involved in his private matters and is thus, not as responsive to others. Nevertheless, G-d has granted each of us the power to extend the unity experienced during Shavuos into the days that follow.
Since everything that happens to a Jew is controlled by Divine Providence, it follows that there exists a connection between the daily portions of Torah study related to the present date and our gathering here.
- In regard to the study of Chumash:
There is a lesson to be derived from the portion of the week as a whole and also, from the particular reading which is associated with the present day. The name of the portion of the week, Nasso, means to raise up. Each Jew must realize how G-d, through the acts of Moshe, lifts up each Jew above all limitations and constraints.
Therefore, when a Jew resolves to make a positive contribution, whether in regard to himself, his family, or to his surrounding environment, he will be successful. He has the power to influence the entire Jewish people and even, the world at large.
Today is related to the fifth reading in the portion of Nasso which mentions the actual erection of the Sanctuary by Moshe. The intent of the Sanctuary was to create a resting place in which the Shechinah would "dwell within."
Just as in the construction of the Sanctuary the Jews created a dwelling for G-d out of the material substance of the world, so, too, each Jew can make a "small Sanctuary" within his home and community. Indeed, we have the potential to make the entire world "a dwelling place for G-d."
A Jew need not feel intimidated or even upset by the material environment in which he lives. Rather, he must feel confident that G-d will assist him in this task and help him transform the world into a dwelling for G-dliness. This mission relates to Nasso for in order to make a dwelling place for G-d in this world, one must rise above all limitations.
- In regard to today's portion of Tehillim:
The first chapter of today's portion of Tehillim contains the verse (55:19): "He redeemed my soul in peace...." G-d redeems every Jew from all limits and constraints, in a manner of peace, without war or conflict. Furthermore, the verse uses the past tense, implying that the redemption is already fact and not mere hope.
Each Jew stands above the world. G-d desires that a Jew actually experience this fact, so He places a Jew within the context of worldliness. His intent in doing so is for him to rise above that worldliness and express his bond with G-d. If a Jew firmly resolves to do so, he will realize how G-d has redeemed him "in peace."
- In regard to today's portion of Tanya, chapter three of Shaar HaYichud Veha'emunah:
[The number three (3) is related to the holiday of Shavuos as the Talmud Shabbos 88a comments: "(G-d) gave a threefold light (the Tenach) to a threefold people in the third month (Sivan).]
That chapter describes how each creation is considered as utter nothingness in relation to the G-dly energy which continually brings it into being "ex nihilo." Nevertheless, none of the creations perceive that creative power directly and therefore, they feel like independent entities. If the creations were given the potential to perceive the G-dly force which brings them into being, they would be totally nullified.
The above creates the following contrast: Since G-d created the world in a manner where our powers of perception appreciate its material substance alone, we must involve ourselves with that substance and use it to perform mitzvos. Simultaneously, we must be conscious that the material existence of the world is ultimately of no importance for it is G-d's creative force which is maintaining the world's existence at all times.
This concept is related to the present gathering for, as mentioned above, though from a material perspective we will soon separate, from a spiritual perspective we will remain united. Our service involves fusion of the material with the spiritual in a manner where no conflict exists between them. We must apply the spiritual concepts appreciated by the soul in a manner that can be accepted by the body, thus, unifying the two.
c) The daily portion of Rambam studied contains the following lesson:
"The happiness with which a person rejoices in the fulfillment of a mitzvah and the love of G-d...is a great service...as the verse relates: 'And King Dovid was dancing and whistling before G-d.'"
Though the joy and happiness in Torah is an important service, it may appear difficult to approach that level when confronted with the material nature of our existence. Therefore, the Rambam quotes the above verse, thus emphasizing that the joy comes from being "before G-d." When a Jew realizes that he is living in G-d's presence and at every moment, G-d is expressing His love for him, he will surely respond with feelings of joy and love.
May the bond between G-d and the Jewish people be revealed and thus, arouse blessing in regard to health, children, and prosperity, including the ultimate blessing, the Messianic redemption. Then, we will all proceed, together with the entire Jewish people, to Eretz Yisroel, "the land upon which the eyes of G-d are upon it from the beginning of the year until the end of the year."
In order to hasten the fulfillment of these blessings, we must increase our service of Torah and mitzvos and in particular, our donations to tzedekah, for our sages have declared: "Tzedekah hastens the redemption." Therefore, I will give each of you a dollar to be given to tzedekah upon your return home.
May these efforts hasten the coming of Moshiach speedily in our days.