Of the Book

There are three Biblical holidays where the Jewish people would ascend to the Temple in Jerusalem to celebrate. It begins with Sukkot in the fall, continuing to Passover in the spring, and ending with Shavuot — which commemorates the giving of the Torah. Shavuot is likened to a wedding between G-d and the Jewish People. Our entire nation stood at Mt. Sinai — the wedding canopy, as G-d – the groom, wed His bride – the Jewish People, giving her a ring of betrothal – the Torah, and we made vows that we would always be loyal to one another.

A couple’s relationship can be divided into three stages. The first stage — the early days of the relationship — is a courting process. Both feel very much in love. Each person is showing the best side of themselves, without much meaningful challenges to the relationship. Each one appreciates the other’s qualities and is attracted to their talents, personality and capabilities.

The second stage comes after a real commitment has been made, like marriage. As time progresses, the same feeling of being madly in love may not maintain the same high level. But the relationship matures in a different way. Each helps the other, beginning to better appreciate what the other person does for them. The kindness, support and caring that a supportive spouse offers.

In the third stage, the couple has ceased looking only at what the other offers, or at the great talents of their mate. They are now one. When you see an elderly couple together after five decades of marriage, it may not appear as exciting as a college romance with the same outward passion between them. But they are deeply bound. Each knows, instinctively, what their spouse needs and thinks.

So, too there have been three stages in the Jewish relationship with the Divine. At its outset, G-d performed miracles for us in Egypt, at sea, and in the desert; He swept us off of our feet. We were madly in love with one another. When we had the opportunity to commit to G-d, we proclaimed: ‘Na’aseh V’nishma — We will do! And later we will look to understand why.’ We had an undying devotion to an awesome G-d.

But this fervor, like any infatuation, proved to be temporary. After our marriage at Mt. Sinai, we disobeyed and rebelled, nearly leading to divorce. It took a mutual trusted friend, Moshe, to destroy the original marriage contract – the two tablets – and rewrite new vows and a path to reconciliation.

Our relationship has grown since then, with many hurdles and setbacks along the way, caused by both sides. We have been doing endless things our Mate needs, performing His Will through Mitzvot and Torah observances, often under incredible duress and challenge. In turn, He has saved and helped us succeed in this world beyond measure.

The relationship between G-d and the Jewish people has now moved into the third stage — becoming One. Many of us today are looking for an authentic, meaningful spiritual connection. Some may call that energy ‘The Universe’, but Judaism defines this intelligent, loving energy we yearn to connect with as being of Divine origin. On Shavuot we were given G-d’s diary, the Torah’s instructions. When infused with its mystical teachings, it is a clear guide toward a path of deeply felt connection.

May we all feel this oneness in our relationship with the Divine this Shavuot, until it we be felt clearly throughout the universe with the final redemption, may it be speedily in our days.

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