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29 Iyar, 5784 - June 6, 2024 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly










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HaRav Chaim Kluft shlita on the Importance of Shavuos

By HaRav A. Cohen


Less than one week remains before our receiving the Torah anew.

How must we prepare for such an important day?

HaRav Chaim Kluft: At the beginning of the parsha dealing with the giving of the Torah, the Netziv states a vital fundamental:

"From here we are expected to learn that regarding everything related to kedusha, the more one prepares himself in advance, the more it is able to affect and impact upon him. This is saying that one cannot approach the Giving of the Torah without prior preparation. What does this entail?"

The Ohr HaChaim says that there were three kinds of preparation before the Giving of the Torah at Har Sinai.

The first: "Intensifying ourselves in Torah study." One can sit and study and still not experience that intensity of overcoming obstacles, of self-fortification. I once noticed a student applying himself to study but appearing very tired. I asked him why he wasn't going to sleep. He replied that he had committed himself to twelve hours of consecutive study. Woe unto such study!

In a letter, the Chazon Ish wrote that application to study is not measured by the time one devotes to it but " one's personal mesirus nefesh and heartfelt involvement for the love of Torah. Better one wholesome hour of dedication through love than many others of lukewarm study. To be sure, the time devoted therein, in itself, is a natural result of dedication."

Furthermore, HaRav Chaim of Volozhin writes in the same vein: "One who studies one hour through genuine joy, will cover much more than if he spent several hours of study through sadness and lethargy."

One must truly subject his very personality to Torah which will lead to extended diligence time-wise.

The second form of preparation: "The words of Torah can only endure by one who humbles himself and conducts himself like a barren desert." Torah and pride are mutually exclusive, and this is tried and tested.

The third form of preparation: "One who desires Torah knowledge must associate with other Torah scholars, whereby, together, they can hone their wisdom through mutual respect. Altogether, these things will prepare him to receive the Torah."

Application in study in itself does not constitute a preface to receiving the Torah. Rather, this refers to the manner and makeup of the study of studying together through a joint heart. This does not mean two scholars studying side by side yet individually, like two separate branches, bad bevad. This is the destruction of Torah. Receiving the Torah includes joint effort in joint study.

In the Letter by Rav Sherira Gaon to the scholars of Kiruan, he notes that Rav Ashi was the Rosh Yeshiva for close to sixty years.

In his time there existed the rabbinical practice [takona] of covering two masechtos a year. The year was divided into two parts, each one called a 'kalla,' similar to the summer and winter sessions of our times. Since there are sixty tractates of Shas, including those which did not have gemara, it came out that the entire Shas was completed in thirty years. Rav Ashi succeeded in completing Shas twice during his tenure. When I read this, I got an inkling of what Torah study meant to Klal Yisroel.

This idea is repeated in Yevein Metzula that in Poland, in the era of the Vaad Arba Arotzos, Jews would gather at the end of the annual semi-study session to deal with public issues, while also announcing which tractate would be studied in the coming zman. Thus, at the beginning of the next season, all the yeshivos in Poland would commence with the same tractate.

It is an exhilarating feeling to see how Jewry as a whole is studying the same part of Torah at the same time. Indeed, this expresses the atmosphere of "all of Israel [in the single conjugation] encamped," as one entity.

HaRav Yaakov Neiman zt"l used to quote the Sabba of Kelm: "Together, the mass constitutes a 'gaon.'"

What, after all, is a gaon? One who encompasses much knowledge and derives many comprehensions thereby. The plural, the mass, is like the single entity of a gaon since it encompasses every question, every difficulty and its solution, every comment and every insight into the subject, creating one complete conglomerate structure. This is the power of the united many, and this is how study should be.

The preparations that preceded the Giving of the Torah were suited for Har Sinai. Are they applicable to 5784 as well?

HaRav Kluft: Certainly, and I would also like to add what the Malbim explains there.

At first, the people stood separately while Moshe Rabbenu ascended Har Sinai level by level. Before long, the People requested: We desire to see our King! Thereupon, Hashem revealed Himself to each Jew, each according to his individual capacity. The preparation thereof took place during the Three Days of Hagbolah, but at Har Sinai, each person remained in his place but Hashem spoke to each one separately according to his ability.

This teaches that no one is expected to do or absorb more than he can, and consequently, to prepare himself accordingly in advance. And thus, "Hashem descended before the eyes of all Yisroel on Har Sinai." You are expected to achieve anything only to the extent that you are able to do so.


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