Shavuot and Unity: The Gateway to Judaism

Question

Hi Rabbi,

Why was the Torah given to us on Shavuot and not right after leaving Egypt or on some other day of the year? By the way, I really appreciate your answers and the Gateways’ Ask the Rabbi service.

3 months

Answers

  1. Excellent question! We need to keep in mind that there was a key ingredient still missing after the Exodus, which was an essential ingredient to merit being given the Torah. The missing ingredient was complete and total unity of the Jewish People. Let me explain.

    The people who experienced the Exodus with all its miracles were nevertheless still negatively influenced by having lived in Egypt, steeped in idolatry and a multitude of negative traits. To rectify this, they were in the desert for seven weeks (“shavuot” in Hebrew), guided by Moses and other leaders to totally rid themselves of all these negative traits and to grow in acquiring the greatest degree of positive traits. After these seven weeks of continuous progress and development, the people — each and every one — achieved the highest level of dedication and were ready to become a nation of united individuals who would live according to the ideals of ethical monotheism.

    I heard a beautiful proof to this idea of “unity” being a prerequisite for receiving the Torah. In the Hagaddah we say (or usually sing) in the section called “Dayenu”: “If You had brought us near to Sinai (to receive the Torah) but had not given us the Torah — it would have been enough!” Huh? Enough?! Being at Mount Sinai without receiving the Torah would have been enough?

    The answer is that by the time of arrival at Mount Sinai, the Jewish people had already achieved a state of complete unity. The people had pure hearts for receiving the teachings of God and to live accordingly. At Mount Sinai, the entire congregation of the multitude of individuals was, in the words of our Sages: “As one person with one heart.” Complete unity.

    May we achieve this unity once again and remain united in dedication to our calling as the Jewish nation. The Gateways Family joins with all of you and your families in the celebration of this holiday of unity and this holiday of the joy of receiving the Torah from Above. Happy Shavuot to one and all!

    Best wishes from the AskTheRabbi.org Team