Shavuot is the joyous celebration of the moment at which Hashem and Israel entered into a figurative marriage with each other: the hopeful springtime of their relationship. The Counting of the Omer reminds us of the important connection between Pesach (Am Yisrael’s freedom from physical bondage) and Shavuot (our spiritual redemption from idolatry and immorality), culminating in the day of the giving of the Torah by G-d, also called the day of the receiving of the Ten Commandments by Israel. While the receiving of the Torah (from below reaching upward) is a continuing process in history, the single act of giving us the Torah (from above to that which is below) is what makes this Festival significant.
At Yad Aharon & Michael – Johannesburg’s leading, independent Jewish Food Fund – we remain committed to absorbing the Torah’s principles, carrying out the commandments and emulating Hashem’s infinite lovingkindness towards His creation. Both the giver and the receiver are honoured and ennobled by unselfish actions which, in spiritual law, create a flow whereby the giver and receiver are bonded in a state of unity and delight. Once we discover that in giving, we open ourselves to receiving as well, we release ourselves from associating giving with the fear of loss, and deprivation. It is only once we break through these boundaries, that profound change takes place in our thoughts, awareness and quality of life. “Whoever is generous to the poor lends to the LORD, and he will repay him for his deed”. Proverbs 19:17.
Torah constitutes a bridge between the Divine essence and man: and giving and receiving are an affirmation of the limitless supply of divine generosity and support. On Shavuot, Bikkurim (first fruits) were brought to the Temple, thereby unleashing Hashem’s abundant blessings into the world:
“Honour the LORD with your wealth and with the first fruits of all your produce; then your barns will be filled with plenty, and your vats will be bursting with wine”. Proverbs 3:9-10
Through my work at Yad Aharon, I have learnt numerous invaluable life lessons, one being the realization that “going the extra mile” is the ultimate therapy which enlarges my spirit and leaves me “walking on air” for days. Being “on the receiving end” forms part of the wheel of life and we teach our clients to also receive graciously and happily, not only because they deserve it but, in so doing, they are in harmony with the law of giving and receiving.
The Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem Schneerson (zt’l), lists “The 4 Steps to Sinai” which he considers necessary for anyone who wishes to approach the Torah: Humility. Devotion. Toil. Divine assistance. I couldn’t have chosen more apt qualities to describe the fabric which underpins Yad Aharon & Michael’s mandate, namely to remain focussed and committed in addressing the escalating nutritional insecurity in our community through the various food-related projects and initiatives under our umbrella.
True humility means setting one’s ego aside and living with the reality that nothing matters except doing the right thing. The humble person has the ability to embrace and honour those around him and, since he confidently knows his place, he can leave space for others and help them find their place, too. We can go through life believing that “I’m all that counts” or we can choose, as I do, that “What’s greater than me is what counts”.
As practitioners of the art of giving, we are on an ever-expanding, ascending spiral of spiritual power and faith. The Torah embodies not only a way of life but also a way to love. The wisdom and commandments of the Torah empower us to love each other and love G d. Shavuot is a day to celebrate the laws in love and the love in law.
Chag Sameach to one and all!