Raanana Community Kollel
Doing and Hearing
Rabbi Binyomin Lipson
The Midrash teaches that before Hashem gave the Torah to the Jewish people, it was first offered to the other nations of the world. However, rather than accept the Torah with the confidence that whatever laws it might contain would surely be beneficial in their daily lives, each one of these nations lost their chance to become beneficiaries of the Divine will when they first demanded to know what was written in it. Somehow, it was only the Jewish people who successfully found the faith and courage to respond “na’aseh v’nishma!”, “We will do, and we will hear!” That is, they were willing to fully set aside their personal considerations and accept the Torah despite the fact that they lacked the knowledge of the laws it contained and the many ways in which it was sure to alter their present way of life.
As the descendants of those millions of Jews who stood at the foot of Mount Sinai and made this amazing statement of total faith in their creator, it is essential for us to realize that “na’aseh v’nishma” is far more than just a thing of the past; one of those classic quotations that you might find displayed in the pages of a Time magazine. As Jews we need to remember that “na’aseh v’nishma” is a way of life which remains just as essential to us today as it was to our ancestors when they first received the Torah. Unfortunately, there will always be those who live with the opposite approach. They first examine the Torah’s laws and only then consider how adherence to such a change in lifestyle would affect them on a personal level. If they are sufficiently convinced that a given mitzvah will bring them fulfillment, give them a spiritual feeling, or perhaps just make their mundane lives a bit more interesting between sports games, then so be it.
Obviously, it can hardly be said that a person who approaches the Torah’s commandments with the above attitude is a servant of the Almighty. To the contrary, he relegates G-d to his own private servant, always ready to supply him with a nice idea for a good deed or two in order to soothe his conscience and to make him feel as though he is still growing in his level of observance. Is this the attitude with which our forefathers accepted the Torah? Is this the perspective with which we want to train our children?
Just as when the Jewish people received the Torah on Mount Sinai it was accepted unconditionally and totally devoid of personal considerations, the reception of the Torah which we do every year on Shavuot should be done with this same level of enthusiasm and trust in the Almighty. Whenever we find ourselves in a situation when our personal desires come into conflict with one of the mitzvot, we must try to remember the way in which the Jewish people received the Torah on Mt. Sinai and gain strength from their total trust in the fact that what our loving father in heaven commands us cannot possibly cause us any loss or detriment. Not only should this be our approach on Shavuot itself, but rather, we should ensure that this is an outlook which accompanies us throughout our daily lives.
Just as when a person goes to visit a doctor he unquestionably follows the doctor’s advice, we need to remember that Hashem manufactured the entire creation from nothing, and that only He possesses the knowledge of its inner workings, both spiritual and physical. The Torah is the divine revelation which tells us exactly how to live our lives to the fullest, in accordance with the instructions of the Maker himself, and just like the prescription of a human physician, whether or not we understand exactly how, it works all the same. May we all merit to increase our personal level of “na’aseh v’nishma” on this Shavuot and to extend this conviction to rest of the year in all of our endeavors.