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Dvar Torah - Acharei Mot

After the high of Pesach, we confront a long slog. While a week-long celebration might seem long, counting seven weeks, forty-nine days, to Shavuot begins to seem interminable. Why must we wait so long after going free to receive the Torah? Why couldn't we be given it straight away?

One common interpretation of the extended period between liberation and the Torah is that it was a time for us to spiritually mature. We needed to reach a certain level of readiness before we could receive the Torah. As our Rabbis teach us, during our time in Egypt, we descended through 49 levels of impurity. However, this explanation seems incomplete. Our Rabbis also inform us that even the lowest servant witnessed more miraculous events at the splitting of the Red Sea than the greatest of prophets did later. If we were on such a high spiritual level to experience such divine revelations, wouldn't we be ready to receive the Torah?


In reality, it is not entirely accurate to say that we had to wait seven weeks to receive the Torah. We are informed that after crossing the sea, the Jews wandered in the desert for three days before they began to complain about the lack of water. The Torah recounts that they found bitter water, which was undrinkable. At that moment, Moshe cast his staff into the waters and they turned sweet. "There [Hashem] placed for [the Jews] laws and there he trialed them." Many laws of the Torah were already given just three days after crossing the Red Sea! Moreover, our Rabbis teach us that the water the Jews were complaining about was also a metaphor for Torah! The Children of Israel already had some Torah knowledge and were deeply thirsty for more!


If so, what was the point of the revelation at Mt. Sinai? At Mt. Sinai, we received the entire Torah as a package and were irrevocably committed to it. The goal of the events we commemorate on Shavuot was not to accept the Torah. The objective was to cement the bond between Hashem and our people. That takes time and effort. It could not be done immediately because it required both sides to commit to the relationship. 

Today, our relationship with G-d still requires effort. The time between Pesach and Shavuot is a time for us to work hard and renew that relationship. By doing so, we can reinfuse it with meaning that keeps it fresh, vigorous, and beautiful for the coming year. 




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