Shavout: Getting G-d’s Love Letter

The revelation of G-d at Mt. Sinai wasn’t simply an opportunity for the Jewish people to receive G-d’s laws but experience G-d’s love. What happened at Mt. Sinai was a personal, face-to-face encounter with G-d. It wasn’t just about getting the laws that made the day important, it was about feeling the ecstasy of G-d’s intimacy with the Jewish people.

The experience at Mt. Sinai was not only a revelation of G-d’s truth, but more importantly, it was a revelation of G-d’s love. Torah was and continues to be G-d’s love letter. It is the greatest gift ever because it embodies G-d’s presence. When you learn the Torah you can actually feel G-d’s closeness to you. The Talmud teaches that when G-d gave the Torah to the Jewish people He said, “I am giving you My soul in writing.”

Imagine one day you receive a love letter. You are at work and eating lunch at the employee cafeteria, and someone drops a letter in front of you. You see that it’s a letter from the one you love. Do you rip open the envelope and start to speed-read through the letter? No, of course you don’t. You save this letter. You’re going to read it in a very special place because this letter deserves more.

Now imagine you’re in that special place. You open the letter carefully, you start to read your beloved’s words and you actually begin to hear her voice. And then you feel her presence.

If you’re anything like me, you’ll read the letter over and over again, because you know there’s much more to this letter. The first time you read it you get the simple meaning. But then you read it even more carefully. You notice that she tells you about the weather and then she starts talking about her mother. What’s the connection, you wonder. You then read the letter again and now you see that there are hints in this letter. You pay attention not only to what she says, but also to the way she’s structured her sentences. Then you go over it again because you realize that it’s even deeper than that. You look at how she even forms the very letters. There are secrets in the nuances of the actual shape of her letters. You then start looking for the deeper subtle meanings.

Once you’ve analyzed every aspect, you carefully refold the letter, place it in its envelope and tuck it away for safekeeping. You save this letter because you sense the presence of your beloved within these mere sheets of paper.

Now let’s imagine that someone else is reading that letter. Is that person going to feel the presence of someone else’s beloved? No. He’d just get the letter’s simple meaning, the information. But for you it would be different. You wouldn’t just be reading the letter; you’d get involved in it. And through your involvement with the words, nuances, and deeper meanings, you’d meet your beloved.

This, in essence, is learning Torah. Through our involvement with the text, we hear G-d’s voice, feel the Divine presence and experience G-d’s love and relive the revelation at Sinai each day of our lives.

Therefore, 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.