Torah Fax    

Friday - Shabbat, May 21 - 22

Torah reading: Naso (Numbers  4:21 - 7:89)
Candle Lighting Time 7:54 PM
Shabbat ends 9:02 PM 

Pirkei Avot Chapter 1

Immediately, Or Sooner          

As we connect the holiday of Shavuot with this Shabbat, which follows on its heels with less than a 24 hour break, let us meditate on a lasting message that can be gleaned from the holiday. The Holiday of Shavuot is first and foremost the anniversary of the day in which the Torah was given at Mount Sinai. Every Shavuot we not only commemorate this momentous event; we relive it, because, in truth, the revelation at Sinai occurs over and over again each year on Shavuot—especially when we read the Ten Commandments. 

Shavuot is also the anniversary of the passing of King David, who was born and died on the same day—seventy years apart.

The third major historical event to have occurred on Shavuot is the passing of the Ba’al Shem Tov, exactly 250 years ago.

The three protagonists of this day are therefore Moses, David and Rabbi Yisrael Ba’al Shem Tov. The initials of these three names—Moses, Yisrael, David—forms the Hebrew word. miyad, which means “immediately.”

What do these three personalities/events have to do with the idea of immediacy?

One suggestion perhaps is that the ideals that all three had in common were the removal of the forces that prevent us from realizing our goals. The impediments to achieving our objectives and prolong our agony can be removed by the collective energy of these three leaders and their ideals.

All three personified the most central ideals and focuses of Judaism, albeit in different ways: Moses through the commandments; David through his prayers and the Ba’al Shem Tov through touching and revealing the inner soul of Judaism.

Before Moses time, the spiritual realms were blocked from entering in the parameters of the physical world. As the Midrash puts it, there existed a “decree” or dichotomy between the upper spheres and the lower spheres. The revelation of G‑d at Mount Sinai and the subsequent communication of the Torah to the Jewish people through Moses, who acted as the conduit to bring the Torah down to us, removed that dichotomy.

Prayer—especially as it was revealed through King David and expressed in his Psalms—personifies the removal of the barriers between our needs and wants and G‑d’s “consciousness.” Through prayer, G‑d—by His own choice and volition, of course—“pays attention to our needs. Moreover our needs and wants, through prayer, can become His “needs” and “wants.” Of course, G‑d has no inherent needs; but He chose to make our needs and wants His needs and wants. It is prayer that bridges the gap between the two.

The Ba’al Shem Tov removed the barrier between the inner soul of the Jew and his outer persona. The Ba’sl Shem Tov revealed the exquisite beauty in even—nay, especially—the simplest Jew. No longer did we have to dig endlessly to find the inner treasures beneath the surface of every Jew; the Ba’al Shem Tov’s teachings facilitated that. The Ba’al Shem Tov’s teachings also helped to expose the Divine in nature and reveal the inner dimension of G‑d and His Torah.

It is therefore no wonder that the term miyad-immediately is used in conjunction with the coming of Moshiach as Maimonides writes: Israel returns to G‑d and they are redeemed miyad-immediately.

In these words, Maimonides alludes to the three pronged approach to removing the last barrier that separates between us and the Messianic Age.

First and foremost, the smooth and unobstructed transition from exile to redemption is brought about by the study of Torah that is associated with Moses. Torah is the medium that changes our conscious mindset. It helps us to think, speak and behave in a liberated fashion.

Second, the power of prayer, where we come to G‑d and “demand” that He bring an end to exile—as King David did plead and demand of G‑d to fulfill his requests on behalf of the Jewish people—has the power to remove the obstacles that G‑d may have imposed because He is waitng for us to ask for it.

And last, but not least, the study of the Ba’al Shem Tovs’ Chassidic teachings—as they have been expounded upon in the myriad of Chassidic works written by his successors, particularly, the over 200 volumes authored by the Lubavitcher Rebbe—we can touch the unconscious precincts of our soul and reveal its core and essence, referred to as the “Moshiach” spark of our soul.

The Ba’al Shem Tov is the one who revealed the inner light of Torah and of the Jewish soul. And this year his contribution of light assumes even greater significance inasmuch as this is the 250th anniversary of his passing. In Hebrew the number 250 is represented by the word ner-which means candle. Through his teachings we are able to reveal that light.

When we unleash the three pronged “assault” on exile in all of its manifestations, it facilitates the immediate, unhindered, unequivocal, unqualified, unmitigated and irreversible process of the Messianic Age. Because when we harness the three forces represented by Moses, David and the Ba’al Shem Tov, we remove: a) the conscious resistance to Redemption, b) the G‑dly imposed resistance to Redemption and c) the suppression of the subconscious Messianic core. May we see this happen immediately-miyad!

Moshiach Matters  

Question: Does Judaism view the Messianic era as a supernatural time? Answer: Well, there definitely are sources that would imply so. According to the Midrash, in the Messianic era, plants will yield their produce on the same day they are planted; entire trees will be edible, not only their fruit; and even non-fruit-bearing trees will bear fruit. The Talmud describes the Messianic era as a time when the earth will produce delicacies and silk clothing, when wheat stalks will tower like palm trees and grains of wheat will grow as large as an ox’s kidneys. (Ketubot 111b). - from
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