Now we are about to ascend to Har Sinai, to stand before this mountain and hear the Voice of Hashem.
Is this possible?
My friends, the news is catastrophic on every level. How can the Voice of Hashem be heard today? As I have often said, I myself cannot bear to open a newspaper, even a kosher one, or read the headlines. I cannot take the pain. The enemies of Torah are on the march; no one is stopping them. Our enemies are mocking us, just as Golias mocked the Torah in the days of Dovid ha Melech. Only Dovid had the courage to face him “b’Shaim Hashem,” and bring victory to the Legions of G-d.
A week ago, I attended a simcha in a large beis medrash. I saw hundreds of young men learning Torah. I understood that Torah itself is under attack. But these young men are still learning Torah, even though the entire world is threatening them on every side. And I was overwhelmed by the realization that, despite the worldwide battle against it, the voice of Torah still resounds. As long as there is Torah, the world will survive.
I realized that every single word of Torah saves us. Yes, my friends, every word of Torah is a life preserver which saves us from the raging tsunami which is descending upon the entire world. We are talking about life itself here, immediate danger. The waters are swirling around us, waters of strife and tumah, waters of hatred, waters more powerful than we. But each word of Torah is a life preserver, and we need to save ourselves. It’s not a question of “Do I want to learn?” Rather it is a question of “Do I want to live?”
Last week, one of my wonderful readers wrote a poignant note, lamenting that some people seem not to value davening as much as Torah learning. I don’t know whether we understand. Every day we say, “May it be Your will, Hashem, our G-d and the G-d of our forefathers, that the prayer of our lips be worthy, acceptable and favorable before You, as if we had brought the Korban Tamid at its time and at its place.”
When we daven, we are rebuilding the Bais Hamikdosh and bringing the korbanos! Just as each word of Torah is our life preserver, so each word of davening rebuilds the Bais Hamikdosh, which is the center of our life. Dovid ha Melech did not say “I pray.” No, Dovid ha Melech said, “Ani s’filosi … I am prayer!” (Tehillim 69:14) Dovid ha Melech defined himself as tefillah. That means that we actually construct ourselves with our words of tefillah. Our essence is the words we say when we are davening.
This Shavuos, we have to be like Dovid ha Melech, who stood up for Torah in the eyes of all Israel.
A few weeks ago, two of our grandchildren in Eretz Yisroel went on a “tiyul” in the very place where Dovid killed Golias. They specifically wanted to go to that place, which is described graphically by the Novi: “The Philistines encamped between Socoh and Azekah, in Ephes-Dammim,” a valley near present-day Beit Shemesh.” (Shmuel Aleph 17:1)
When Golias cursed Israel, “Shaul [the King] and all Israel heard these words of the Philistine and they were terrified and greatly afraid.” (ibid 17:11) This is like our situation today. We are petrified by the words of our enemies, unable to move, frozen like ice.
But listen, my friends, to the words of Dovid ha Melech. “You come to me with a sword, a spear and a javelin, but I come to you with the Name of Hashem, Master of Legions, the G-d of the battalions of Israel that you have ridiculed. On this day Hashem will deliver you into my hand ….” (ibid 17:45-6) He was all alone, but he was not afraid to say those words.
This is Dovid, the eternal King of Israel. And this is how we have to be today. We need the courage to speak in the Name of Hashem, everywhere at every moment. We are in a war to the finish now. This is not a game. This is not a drill. This is the confrontation with the forces of evil, which are gathering even now desire to destroy us forever, G-d forbid.
As we stand in front of Har Sinai to receive the Torah, it is time to remember that Hashem is “ish milchamah … the Master of war.” (see Shemos 15:3) He causes His enemies to disappear from the earth, and it seems clear that He is about to do so in our days.
On what basis do I say this? It is not complicated. Our enemies are closing in on all sides, as they did at Yam Suf. They are more powerful than we, but it is known and revealed that Israel will survive. Therefore, He will surely save us.
It is our job to be like Dovid ha Melech. On the day that Am Yisroel speaks b’Shaim Hashem, “the whole earth will know that there is a G-d in Israel … for unto Hashem is the battle, and He will deliver [all our enemies] into our hands.” (I Shmuel 17:46-7)
In this awesome moment we are hovering between life and death. Hashem says, “I have placed life and death before you, blessing and curse, and you shall choose life, so that you will live, you and your offspring ….” (Dvarim 30:19)
The end is clear; Hashem will always prevail. The only question is: Are we with Him?
It is all up to us … to choose life!
This is our avoda on the Great Day of Zman Torasainu. If we desire it, Hashem will lift us up to the very Heavens and the Light of Torah will shine forever!
Avoda: Our task in life
Bais Hamikdosh: Holy Temple
Dovid ha Melech: King David
Har Sinai: Mount Sinai
Korbanos: Sacrifices in the Holy Temple
Korban Tamid: Daily sacrifice in the Holy Temple
Zman Toraisainu: Shavuos, the Yom Tov on which the Torah was given.