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THE QUIET OF THE NIGHT

Roy Neuberger - Jun. 07, 2019


I admit it. My favorite of all the Megilas is Rus.[i] The language is simple, even spare, the essence of understatement.

“And it happened in the days when the judges judged, that there was a famine in the land, and a man went ….”

 

What could be simpler? And yet, within these quiet and plain words a drumbeat can be heard, the drumbeat of eternity, the footsteps of Moshiach and the establishment of the eternal monarchy of Israel. One has to listen, but it is there. Maybe that’s one reason we do not sleep Shavuos, because the night is quiet and one can hear things one cannot hear during the day.

 

“In the middle of the night, the man was startled and turned about … and behold! There was a woman lying at his feet.” (Rus 3:8)

 

King David absorbed the wisdom which can be accessed in the quiet of the night.

 

“When Dovid ate a royal repast, he ate until evening, slept until midnight and then rose and studied Torah.” (Eicha Rabbasi 2:64) “Until midnight, he would doze [for short periods) …. Thereafter, he would strengthen himself like a lion. [Rav Ashi said:] Until midnight he was engaged in Torah study; thereafter in songs and praises….” (Berachos 3b)

 

Whenever we need spiritual sustenance, we open Sefer Tehillim.[ii] What is it about this Book that sustains our soul? What draws us so powerfully to David?

 

“Sent away from his home, a pariah in the community at large, David found rich pasture and clear, flowing water for his soul, which thirsted for G-d, in the wilderness to which he fled. There, where no one knew him or saw him, he sought to draw close to Hashem….” (Book of Our Heritage by Rabbi Eliyahu Kitov)

 

David had no place for sham or hypocrisy. He wanted only closeness to Hashem. “Achas shoalti … one thing I asked of Hashem, that shall I seek: that I dwell in the House of Hashem all the days of my life…” (Psalm 27)

 

Are we not filled to the brim with the noise, the PR, the emptiness of the world around us? I believe many sensitive people would like to flee to the wilderness like David, and speak to Hashem without distraction.

 

Mount Sinai is alone in the wilderness. It is the place to which we now arrive after seven weeks of struggling upward from the impurity of our national sojourn in Egypt. “Arise and depart from amid the upheaval. Too long have you dwelt in the valley of weeping …. Shake off the dust. Arise!” (Lecha Dodi)

 

We want to be like David. We to be real! We want to learn from his life. We want to call out as he does: “Ana Hashem Hoshia na … Please Hashem save now … Ana Hashem hatzlicha na … Please Hashem bring success now!” (Psalm 118)

 

David is the embodiment of Shavuos. Not only is it the day of his birth, but he came up from Moav the way the Children of Israel came up from Egypt. “Min hamaitzar … from the straits I called upon G-d!” (ibid) Dovid never pretended to be anything other than himself. He worked on himself in truth and passion until Hashem appointed him king over Israel.

 

May Hashem send Moshiach ben Dovid, his descendant, soon in our days!



[i] We read Megilas Rus on Shavuos.

[ii] The Book of Psalms


 

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