The Secret Of The Festivals
Shavuos takes place fifty days after Pesach. We count the Omer for
49 days from Pesach to Shavuos.
Pesach as we have learned is the notion of escaping bondage and
breaking personal boundaries.
Shavuos is the celebration of the time at which the Torah was given
to the Jewish nation on Mount Sinai. 
This was a unique moment in time, the only occasion on which there has
been a revelation of G-dliness to a vast group of people. There have
been many individuals who claim to have had sensory contact with the
Almighty. Perhaps they have. Clearly there is always room in such
cases for skepticism.
At that moment in history three million people experienced something
beyond comparison which has been carefully recorded and reproduced
from generation to generation from the time of the giving of the
In fact we have an uninterrupted chain of testimony commencing from
the three million people who experienced this incident.
Moshe took six hundred thousand males together with their women and
children out of Egypt, into the desert, out of bondage, breaking all
boundaries to do so.
Forty-eight days later, he was told to prepare everybody for the fact
that Hashem was going to appear.
Three days before the Torah was given, the forty-eighth day, the Jews
prepared themselves for what was to be one of the most cataclysmic
events in human history.
On the sixth of Sivan, amidst thunder, lightning and every imaginable
backdrop all three million people heard the Ten Commandments. 
These same Ten Commandments are read in synagogue every Shavuos.
What happened the day the Torah was given changed the effect of human
behavior for all time.
Prior to the giving of the Torah, that which was spiritual was
spiritual and that which was physical remained physical; there was
no conjunction between the two. Now, for the first time since
creation, mankind was able to bring down into physicality that
which was spiritual. 
A shattering corollary can be deduced from this astonishing fact;
not only can objects be infused with the spiritual but the spiritual
can actually be effected by what is done in the physical.
Neshomos can literally change the course of what is to happen
according to the way in which they respond to the mitzvos.
For the first time in history Hashem commanded a nation to keep six
hundred and thirteen mitzvos and learn His newly revealed Torah. The
astonishing result is that the behavior of the neshomos orchestrates
the present and the future of everything alive on the globe. 
Accordingly, when a Jew puts on tefillin, the mere act of putting
on that tefillin effects spiritual change.
The Rebbe in many of his letters repeatedly points out that a person
can improve the berachos (blessings) which flow to him by his
These of course relate to performing mitzvos.
These physical activities of the Jew at a personal level effect a
change for him as well as generally in the spiritual dimension.
If a Jew eats kosher for example, eating a cow which eats the grass
which is grown by the ground; the cow, the grass and the ground are
elevated by the Jew using that food to nourish his body to learn Torah
and do mitzvos. 
Physical activity effects a spiritual result.
So it is generally that neshomos cause a change in physicality which
effects spirituality which fascinatingly enough then can change
Indeed, when Israel behaves in accordance with Torah and mitzvos
we have peace and plenty in the world. History can be studied as
a reflection of Jewish activity; in times of Jewish integrity the
world moves forward in harmony. When Jews behave badly the
What are the dynamics of this?
There are 248 limbs and 365 sinews in the human body (see Building
Block no. 5). Just as they need exercise and blood to sustain and keep
them healthy so the limbs and sinews of the world are sustained by the
exercise of mitzvos and the life blood of Torah.
By our learning the Torah and keeping the mitzvos we draw down
G-dliness into the physical so sustaining the world.
It is this very power to bring down the spiritual and infuse the
physical which from then on became the mission of the Jewish nation.
The ultimate achievement will be to fulfill G-d's purpose in
creating the physical world. That purpose as set out previously,
is to make a dwelling place for Him in the lowest of all worlds -
the physical. 
This awesome power was given to us at Mt. Sinai and this is what
we celebrate on Shavuos.
When finally the job is complete, when all physicality has been
soaked to saturation with G-dliness, Moshiach will be revealed.
Then G-dliness will be as evident and revealed as sunshine and warmth
are today and Israel will have completed Hashem's intent for Creation.
There is a second aspect to our celebration of the giving of the
This second aspect somehow escapes most people.
Even when Jews learn Torah in depth there seems to be a problem
converting the principle we will now discuss into daas
(see Building Block no. 3).
This is so even though many have read and heard the precept.
Let us begin with the simple proposition; the Torah, being the wisdom
of Hashem and His truth, is eternal.
Doesn't sound too difficult?
The Torah applies in each generation, to every Jew, every day.
Obviously, at its simple level this means there can be no change in
our everyday laws of Shabbos, Kashrus and all those matters which
legally separate us from the rest of society.
At a deeper level the concept is much more exciting.
Just as the Torah applies in general to every Jew, each week's Sedra
(portion) applies specially in that week.
Indeed each days portion applies to that day! 
So for example, when we learn the day's Torah portion telling of
the binding of Isaac by Abraham, the opportunity for the spiritual
potential is there for each Jew on that day to achieve a level of self
sacrifice. This can be at a spiritual or physical level.
Deeper still, equipped with this secret, when a Jew learns that Hashem
appeared to Abraham he can check what Abraham was doing to merit the
revelation. He can then be certain that, because of this principle
that the Torah is eternal and applicable to every Jew, he could invoke
the same revelation as Abraham - providing he satisfied the same
Again, this will be easiest in the week of the relevant portion.
Suddenly therefore every Jew has a map!
Everyday is charted by Torah at a level of potential. Tuning in to the
plan allows for sense to be made from confusion, music to be separated
As mentioned repeatedly "daas" in these concepts requires personal
achievement rather than outside instruction.
However, when a Jew learns there is treasure at home, he can at least
make the decision of whether to dig for it.
On Shavuos those who have been digging, (and finding, as every Jewish
excavator does), come together to celebrate the fact that we were
given life's precious blueprint and exalt in its contents - each man
at his level.
- (Back to text) See Alter Rebbe's Shulchan Aruch 494:1.
- (Back to text) See Exodos 19:16, 20:15.
- (Back to text) See for example Likkutei Sichos, Vol. 1, p. 40ff.
- (Back to text) See for example Sefer HaMaamarim Melukot Vol. 1, p. 14 in
explanation of the Midrash "Know what is above you".
- (Back to text) See for example Igros Kodesh of the Rebbe, Vol. 7, p. 180.
- (Back to text) See Igros Melech Vol. 1, p. 320.
- (Back to text) See Tanya, Chapter 33.
- (Back to text) See HaYom Yom, Entry 2, 3 Cheshvan.
- (Back to text) See Likkutei Sichos, Vol. 1, p. 23ff.