From Sinai To Mashiach
More Than Coincidence
Nothing happens by chance. From the fluttering of a leaf in the
wind to the transfer of power from nation to nation,  every
motion in the world is controlled by a unique fiat of the divine
This principle applies even with regard to worldly matters; how
much more so regarding events directly involving the Torah and
In this light, it is significant that the sixth of Sivan, the
date of the Giving of the Torah, is associated with two other
landmarks in Jewish history: the passing of King David,  and
the passing of the Baal Shem Tov, the founder of Chassidism. 
Concerning the passing of a tzaddik, the Alter Rebbe writes: 
"All the effort of man in which his soul toiled throughout his
life... becomes revealed and radiates downward... at the time of
his passing, and... 'brings about salvation in the midst of the
The passing of these two luminaries on the date of the Giving
of the Torah thus indicates that their lifework is connected with
that event. For both King David and the Baal Shem Tov amplified
the spiritual content of the Giving of the Torah.
Bridging the Chasm
The revelation at Sinai marks a turning point in the spiritual
history of the world.
Before the Giving of the Torah, there was no possibility for
union between the world's material substance and spiritual
With the Giving of the Torah, however, G-d  "nullified that
original decree and said, 'The lower realms shall ascend to the
higher realms and the higher realms shall descend to the lower.
And I shall take the initiative.' As it is written, 
'And G-d descended on Mount Sinai,' and 'To Moshe He said,
Ascend to G-d.'" 
This process involves two stages:
- "And G-d descended" - the manifestation of G-dliness in
the world. This stage reached complete expression with
the Giving of the Torah and with the revelation of the
Divine Presence in the Sanctuary;
- "Ascend to G-d" - the refinement of man and his
surrounding environment and the transformation of man
and his world into vessels for G-dliness. This process
began with Moshe's ascent to Mount Sinai and has never
This process of refinement reached a peak at the time of King
David and was reflected in two significant achievements.
The first was the consolidation of the monarchy. Although Shaul
had served as king of Israel before David, his sovereignty was
not accepted by all the tribes. 
Furthermore, Shaul's reign differed fundamentally from that of
"Once David was anointed, he acquired the royal crown. From
that time on, royalty belongs to him and his... descendants
forever."  This was not the case with Shaul.
David's second great achievement was the building of the Beis
HaMikdash. Although the actual structure was built by his son,
King Shlomo,  David prepared its blueprints and building
Indeed, the Midrash  refers to the Beis HaMikdash as the
"House of David."
Homage to a king, and to the King of kings
The establishment of the monarchy is connected to Israel's
endeavor to make this world a vessel for G-dliness.
Relationships such as those between teacher and student or
between two friends depend on communication and sharing.
Moreover, because these relationships are confined to the areas
where this sharing takes place, they are limited in scope. The
relationship between a king and his subjects, by contrast, is
all-encompassing, for the existence of the subjects depends
completely on the king.
For this reason, the violator of even an insignificant command
is considered a rebel deserving of capital punishment. 
There are two aspects to this stringency:
- Because the subject's relationship to his king
encompasses the full scope of his existence, even
the minutest particulars of the relationship, the
smallest possible violation of the king's will, are
- Because this relationship reaches to the core of the
subject's existence, when the subject obstructs the
relationship through his failure to obey, his very
existence is threatened.
An earthly monarchy stems from - and serves as an analogy to -
our relationship with the King of kings.
The purpose of a Jewish monarchy is to teach the people self-
nullification to the king in order to intensify their self-
nullification to G-d. 
The s elf-nullification of the people to a mortal king should
infuse kabbalas ol, "the acceptance of G-d's yoke," into every
dimension of their divine service, deepening the intensity of
their commitment until it affects their very essence. 
A Commitment to the Torah which Stems from Our Selves
The effect of the monarchy upon our divine service mirrors the
above motif, "And Moses ascended."
The commitment of kabbalas ol, accepting G-d's reign, stems from
man himself, for ideally, kingship is invited by the king's
subjects, and not imposed upon them. 
Thus it reflects man's own desire to tie the essence of his
being to G-d.
In contrast, the complementary motif, "And G-d descended," the
revelation of the Torah from above, introduces a new and external
dimension to man's framework of reference: we serve G-d, because
He commanded us to do so. 
A Dwelling for G-d in the World
A similar concept finds expression in the construction of the
Although the Divine Presence was revealed in the Mishkan (the
Sanctuary which accompanied the Jews in the desert) even before
the building of the Beis HaMikdash, the Beis HaMikdash was unique
in that its actual physical location became a dwelling place for
G-d, permanently affecting the nature of the site.
Even after the Beis HaMikdash was destroyed, its site remains
The revelation of G-dliness in the Sanctuary was a stage in the
process in which "G-d descended," the revelation of G-dliness
within the world. That revelation did not, however, change the
nature of the world itself.
Accordingly, after the Sanctuary was moved to another location,
its holiness did not remain in its previous site.
The construction of the Beis HaMikdash, however, demonstrates
how the world itself can be transformed into a dwelling place for
The Consummation of the Process
The ultimate goal of creation is a fusion of the two approaches,
that there be both revelation of G-dliness from above and that
man transform himself and the environment in which he lives into
vessels for G-dliness. This ideal will be realized in the Era
of the Redemption: there will be transcendent revelations of
G-dliness - but in a world which has been refined. For Mashiach
"will perfect the entire world, [motivating all the nations] to
serve G-d together." 
Herein lies the connection of Shavuos to the Baal Shem Tov.
In a celebrated letter,  the Baal Shem Tov describes the
ascent of his soul to the heavenly abode of Mashiach.
"Master," he asked, "when are you coming?" And Mashiach replied,
"When the wellsprings of your teachings spread outward."
Since G-d rewards man "measure for measure,"  we can
understand that the spreading of the Baal Shem Tov's teachings
will precipitate the coming of Mashiach, because these teachings
represent a foretaste of the Era of the Redemption, revealing how
every dimension of our worldly existence is in truth permeated by
The coming of Mashiach is connected not only to the Baal Shem
Tov, but also to the Giving of the Torah and to King David.
The Giving of the Torah is described as a microcosm of the Era
of Redemption.  And of Moshe Rabbeinu, the lawgiver, 
it is said, "He was the first redeemer, and he will be the final
The connection between the Redemption and King David is reflected
by the fact that Mashiach will be one of his descendants. 
Indeed, Mashiach is identified with King David to the extent that
we pray for his coming with the request, "Speedily cause the
scion of David... to flourish." 
May this daily prayer be fulfilled in the immediate future, and
may we witness the ultimate purpose of G-d's intent in giving man
the Torah, with the coming of the Redemption.
Adapted from Likkutei Sichos,
Vol. VIII, Shavuos
- (Back to text) See Likkutei Sichos, Vol. VII, p. 277 ff.
- (Back to text) Jerusalem Talmud, Chagigah 2:3. Birkei Yosef (gloss to
Orach Chayim 494:11) explains that this is why it is
customary to read the Book of Ruth on Shavuos.
The Babylonian Talmud (Shabbos 30a) states that King
David died on Shabbos, and according to the current fixed
calendar (cf. the first footnote to the previous essay)
it is impossible for Shavuos to fall on that day. This
apparent contradiction can be resolved: because at the
time of King David's passing the calendar was still
determined by the testimony of witnesses, in that year
Shavuos could have fallen on Shabbos. See Seder HaDoros,
- (Back to text) Likkutei Dibburim, Vol. I, p. 32a (and in English
translation: Vol. I, p. 75). See also Likkutei Sichos,
Vol IV, p. 1031, which likewise explains that the Baal
Shem Tov was brought to burial on the seventh of Sivan,
the second day of Shavuos. Thus, he shares a connection
with both of the dates on which the festival is
celebrated in the Diaspora.
- (Back to text) Tanya, Iggeres HaKodesh, Epistle 28.
- (Back to text) Cf. Tehillim 74:12.
- (Back to text) See Shmos Rabbah 12:3. This concept is explained in the
above essay entitled "What Happened at Sinai?"
- (Back to text) Shmos 19:20.
- (Back to text) Ibid. 24:1.
- (Back to text) Bamidbar Rabbah 4:20.
- (Back to text) Rambam, Mishneh Torah, Hilchos Melachim 1:7.
- (Back to text) Shabbos (loc. cit.) also points to a connection between
Shlomo HaMelech and Shavuos, noting that David's life was
not prolonged even slightly beyond its appointed span,
for "the time for Shlomo's reign had already come," viz.,
- (Back to text) I Divrei HaYamim 29:2 ff.
- (Back to text) Tanchuma, Parshas Naso 13.
- (Back to text) Rambam, loc. cit. 3:8.
- (Back to text) Derech Mitzvosecha, Mitzvas Minui Melech.
- (Back to text) The sliding scale of punishment for transgressions of the
Torah implies that not all of its commandments affect
people in the same manner as do the commandments of a
king Developing a relationship to a king can thus
intensify one's observance of the Torah as a whole.
- (Back to text) See Vol. I in the present series, p. 19ff.
- (Back to text) Even when one's commitment to the Torah is all-
encompassing, since it stems from G-d's command it does
not fully permeate the finite individual. Cf. the analogy
of a student mastering a concept as discussed in the
above essay entitled "What Happened at Sinai?"
- (Back to text) On the verse (Vayikra 26:31), "I will lay waste to your
sanctuaries," our Sages (Megillah 28a) comment, "Even
when they are destroyed they remain sanctuaries." See
also II Divrei HaYamim 7:15, which states: "I have chosen
and sanctified this house, so that My Name will be there
for eternity and so that My heart and My eyes will be
- (Back to text) Rambam, Mishneh Torah, Hilchos Melachim 11:4.
- (Back to text) This letter, addressed by the Baal Shem Tov to his
brother-in-law, R. Gershon Kitover, describes the ascent
of his soul on Rosh HaShanah, 5507 (1746). The letter was
first published in Ben Poras Yosef, and appears in part
in Keser Shem Tov, sec. 1.
- (Back to text) Sanhedrin 90a.
- (Back to text) Tanya, ch. 36.
- (Back to text) Cf. Malachi 3:22: "Remember the Torah of Moshe, My
- (Back to text) Shmos Rabbah 2:4.
- (Back to text) Rambam, loc. cit. 11:1.
- (Back to text) Siddur Tehillat HaShem, p. 56.