Shavuot

Sivan 5756 / 19th May 1996 - 17th June 1996

Sivan

by Rabbi Yaakov Asher Sinclair - www.seasonsofthemoon.com
The Color of HeavenArtscroll

Seasons of the Moon


The Month of Sivan
Sivan 5756 / 19th May 1996 - 17th June 1996

TEUMIM / GEMINI | WHAT'S IN A KISS? | OUT OF THE MOUTHS OF BABES AND SUCKLINGS | AKDAMUS

THIS MONTH'S SIGN

TEUMIM / GEMINI

The first two astrological signs are both represented by animals: Taleh (Aries) the Lamb, and Shor (Taurus) the Bull. It is only with this month's sign - Teumim (Gemini), the Twins - that we find a sign which is represented by Man.

The Torah was given this month on the sixth of Sivan - under the first human sign, Teumim - to indicate that only after the giving of the Torah can Man achieve his full potential, to be raised above the level of the animals.

When the Jewish People camped at the foot of Sinai in preparation to receive the Torah they achieved a harmony and unity which was unparalleled before or since. Israel was united in heart and mind like a single person. It was only in this state of unity, of being One, that they could receive the Torah which is One. For the Torah is the mind of The Creator Who is One. The symbol of the Twins is an expression of 'one-ness'; of different people, physically separate, but joined in a spiritual kinship in which they resemble each other to the point that they are identical.


WHAT'S IN A KISS?

Kissing is not merely a physical show of love. It is the way that two souls become joined together.

On the festival of Shavuot, we read in Synagogue the Book of Ruth. The story begins with Naomi and her husband, Elimelech, leaving the land of Israel because of famine. They move to Moav. Elimelech dies, and their two sons marry Moabite women: Machlon marries Ruth, and Chilion marries Orpah. Ten years later, the two sons also die, and Naomi decides to return to the Land of Israel. Her two daughters-in-law also set out with her, but Naomi tells them to return to their families. She kisses them both and they weep. Ruth, however, refuses to go back to her family. She clings to her mother-in-law, converts to Judaism and subsequently becomes the great-grandmother of King David.

Naomi knew that one of her two daughters-in-law would have the honor of being the source of the Kingdom of David and the ancestress of the Mashiach. Though they both stood silently in front of her as she urged them to return to Moav and their families, she knew that one of them contained the spirit of her dead husband, and this would be the foundation of holy progeny.

By kissing them, she hoped to arouse this spirit so that it would unite with her own soul and in this way one of these two women who stood before her would become Jewish. With this accomplished, her daughter-in-law would then become eligible to mother the holy seed that would result in the Royal Family of David.

When Orpah, the other daughter-in-law, kissed Naomi it was no more than a gesture of affection. In no way was she affected by the kiss. But since Ruth was the destined one, when she kissed her mother-in-law, her neshama (soul) made an eternal connection with Naomi.

It was just a kiss, but the whole of world history turned on it.


OUT OF THE MOUTHS OF BABES AND SUCKLINGS

We are all familiar with the phrase "Out of the mouths of babes and sucklings." But what is its origin and real significance?

When you intend to donate a priceless treasure to an art gallery or a museum, you want to be certain that the treasure will be cared for; that it won't be damaged or neglected. So, naturally you ask for guarantors. When Hashem wished to give the world's greatest treasure - the Torah - to Israel, He said to them "Give Me guarantors that you will observe the Torah." Israel replied "Are not the patriarchs - Abraham, Isaac and Jacob guarantors for us?" Hashem replied "They are already indebted to me."

It's like someone coming into a bank for a loan. When the bank manager asks for a guarantor the man borrowing the money says that his guarantor will be one of the bank's biggest existing creditors!

Hashem said "You have brought me the patriarchs who themselves owe me a variety of debts - as guarantors. Rather bring me guarantors who are not indebted to Me. And who" continued Hashem "is not indebted to me..?"

"Bring Me the suckling babes!" Hashem commanded. Immediately, the babes were brought from their mothers' breasts (and those yet unborn in their mothers' wombs which had taken on the appearance of translucent glass). Hashem spoke to them: "Do you stand as guarantors that if I give your parents the Torah you will be responsible for them observing it?" They answered "Yes!" Then Hashem said "I am Hashem, your G-d" And they answered "Yes!" "You will have no other gods." "Yes!"

The children agreed to each of the Ten Commandments, one by one. Finally Hashem said "Through your mouths I give the Torah to My people." As it is written in the book of Psalms 'Out of the mouths of babes and sucklings you have founded strength' (Psalm 8), and there is no strength, but the Torah.


If all the heavens were parchment,
If all the trees of the forest were
pens,
If all the waters of the sea were
ink,
And if every creature was a scribe,
They would not suffice
To expound the greatness of
The Creator,
And the reflection of His Majesty
in Heaven and on Earth -
(Effortlessly-created
With the breath of the letter
Heh)

The poem Akdamus is read on the morning of Shavuot before the Torah reading. Every line ends with the syllable 'ta', which consists respectively of the last and the first letters of the Aleph-Beis. The allusion is to the endlessness of the Torah. As soon as we reach the final letter 'Tav', we immediately start to dwell again on its infinite depth with the first letter -'Aleph'.


SOURCES :
  • THIS MONTH'S SIGN - 'Above the Stars' - Rabbi M. Glazerson
  • OUT OF THE MOUTHS - Medrash, 'Sefer HaToda'ah' - Rabbi Eliyahu Kitov, translated by Rabbi Nachman Bulman
  • AKDAMUS - translated by Rabbi Nachman Bulman
  • WHAT'S IN A KISS? - The Alshich on The Book of Ruth, translated by Rabbi Leaonard Oschry and Ravi Shahar

SEASONS OF THE MOON is written by Rabbi Yaakov Asher Sinclair and edited by Rabbi Moshe Newman.
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