From the Rabbi's Shtender
You Are Royalty
רב יוסף ביומא דעצרתא אמר: עבדי לי עגל
תלתא. אמר: אי לא
האי יומא דקא גרים כמה יוסף איכא בשוקא פסחים ס"ח ע"ב
Rav Yosef would request a special veal dinner
before the holiday of Shavuot because "if not for
this day, there are many Yosef's out in the
street." (Talmud Pesachim 68b)
In 1968 the US Government passed legislation known as the Uniform Holidays Bill which moved Washington's Birthday, Memorial Day, and Veterans Day from a fixed calendar date to a designated Monday, thereby making a three-day weekend. This year in the Jewish calendar we also have a three-day
weekend, Shabbat followed by two days of Shavuot.
How exactly should we be celebrating these days -joy that we have the opportunity for so many mitzvot at one time, or a sense of dread, "What's this holiday, and how can I manage three days in a row?
"The Talmud tells us that based on the sentence, "Declare the Shabbat a day of pleasure," that Shabbat is to be a day of enjoyment. When it comes to Yom Tov, there is a disagreement among the rabbis (surprised?) as to how it should be celebrated.
According to Rabbi Eliezer, the Yom Tov day should be either entirely "spiritual -for G-d " or entirely "a day of physical pleasure -for us". Rabbi Yehoshua says, "split it -half for G-d and half for us."Rabbi Eliezar explains the argument is only in regard to Passover and Sukkot. However, when it comes to Shavuot everyone agrees, we must also have "lachem -for you/us -
because on this day the Torah was given.
"Rabbi Yosef on Shavuot ordered very fine veal because, as he said, if not for this day, I would just be another "Joe" out on the street. This is the day, the day of the Torah, that made him unique. And in fact, this is the day that makes us, the Jewish people, unique for on this day we received the Torah.
In our prayers when we mention Shavuot, we call it the "Day of the Giving of Our Torah" for we are then thanking G-d for His gift to us. But when we otherwise refer to the holiday it is called the day, not of the giving of the Torah, but, of our receiving it.
It did not and does not depend solely on G-d's giving but rather upon our receiving. For this is
the day that made us unique; this is the day that made us into a treasured nation; this is the day that made us into the Jewish people.
Yes, have a celebration -a physical one. Eat fine food, drink fine wine, wear fine clothes. You are royalty -for you have accepted the Torah.
(Originally appeared in the Voice)
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