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Shavuot according to the Kabbalah

 

Why is Shavuot (Pentecost) called Matan Torah (the giving of the Torah)? Was the Torah given only once? And what is the Torah and who wants to receive it?

The wisdom of the Kabbalah teaches us that everything there is comes from one source only. That source is revealed through a single attribute: benevolence. Anyone who discovers Him, is awarded with a bond to eternity, endless perfection that contains tranquility, security and sublime delight. If you could see Him now, you'd forget your troubles in a moment, and would nullify yourself against the power of his overwhelming goodness.

Hence comes the question: Why does He not show Himself right now? If He wants to bestow, let Him bestow!

Well the truth is that he is revealed already, only we can't see Him. Our own nature prevents us from seeing Him. It is opposite to His. All He wants is to give and all we want is to receive. In such a case we cannot bond with Him. In order to connect with Him we need to acquire His attributes. If we could make some act, even the smallest, for someone else's good, without any personal gain, we'd feel a little of what He feels, and we'd be able to understand the motive behind His conduct towards us.

He is concealed because only if we discover Him ourselves, in free will, will we be able to receive the bounty that He offers without shame. If He were to reveal Himself to us without former preparation, we'd nullify ourselves before Him, incapable of any response.

But in order to discover Him we need a nature different to our won. We must acquire His nature, be as benevolent as He is. We have to love Him as He loves us, without any personal gain.

What can cause us to change our nature? We've seen many philosophers and leaders who have tried to alter man's nature by education, reproach, admonition etc. None of them succeeded. At most, a few of them succeeded in oppressing abusing the people so they would stop wanting to change. But the minute the threat was lifted, they returned to their rebellious nature.

In response to that question our sages have said: "I have created evil will, I have created Torah as a spice." The evil will is the substance that we taste and feel as intolerable. It is our egoism. We want to use it, but we don't know how. The spice that softens it and enables us to reach the purpose of creation, to bond with the Creator, is called Torah.

The evil inclination is nothing but the thought of our own good. That is the motive behind all the evil that exists. The egoistic thought causes us to see in everyone around us, a means of receiving pleasure. That is why we care so much about nature, the plantation, the wild life and the people around us. Even if it is unconscious, we always seek out how we can enjoy them, without any consideration of their needs.

He who understands it and searches for a way to change, can use the Torah for just that purpose.

The Torah is a unique force that can alter our nature and enable us to sense the will of the Creator. It is the power we are meant to discover, if we ever want to really change. Without it, we don't really stand a chance of ever reaching any contact with any force that leads us.

Torah is the connection that enables us to escape the authority, to escape the rule of our egoism.

He who attains this strength, discovers it is given from above, no limitations. But who can accept it? Only he who wants to change and acquire a new vision of reality who understands that without Torah he will forever be unsatisfied, anxious and concerned, only he will search for it and utilize for correction.

The Torah tells us that Israel came out of Egypt and walked in the desert for fifty days before receiving the Torah. The exodus is a revelation, given to a man from above. It is a gift he receives, that shows him the Creator's rule over reality. Once he has seen how his inner Pharaoh, his evil inclination, grows within him, and how Moses defeats him with the help of the Creator, a man searches for a way to attain the will of the Creator on his own. He searches for guidance, clear instruction that will bring him to full recognition of his Maker; he searches for Torah (in Hebrew also means instruction).

In order to attain the Torah independently, there is a need for gradual preparation. Moses is the people's representative before the Creator. It is the inner power, the purest, that can come in contact with the Creator, but it is not enough. We have to reach a state where the whole people, meaning all the desires that aspire to attain the Creator (Israel), will come in contact with Him and will acquire His attributes.

For that a man has to go through forty-nine special corrections, one each day, for seven weeks (Hebrew: shavuot). Only after those seven weeks is it possible to receive the Torah. That is why the celebration of the receiving of the Torah is called Shavuot.

The attributes of the soul that is corrected can be marked with names of Sephirot. Each soul has ten Sephirot. The first three need not be corrected, and therefore there are only seven that need correction. Each of the seven contains within it all the other seven, so that on the whole, a man should correct forty-nine Sephirot, which are the attributes of his soul, each correction, against one of the inner Sephirot.

The order of the Sephirot that are been corrected is: Chessed, Gvurah, Tifferet, Netzah, Hod, Yesod, Malchut. On the first day after the Passover night, the Chessed within Chessed is corrected. On the second day Gvurah within Chessed, on the third, Tifferet within Chessed and so on.

During the second week the Sephirot within Gvurah are corrected and so on, until on the forty-ninth day, Malchut within Malchut is corrected. The meaning of the correction is the realization that we need only the Torah, the healing power, that will finally redeem us from egoism.

On the fiftieth day, after one has verified in each and every trait, that all one needs is this strength, called Torah, his attributes unite, above all his evil thoughts - Hebrew: hirhurim, from the word 'har' (mountain) - and above all his hatred - Hebrew: sinah, hence the word 'Sinai', and ask for one, whole correction for them called Torah.

Kabbalists have a custom of studying through the night on the night of Shavuot, to receive the full correction.

The preparation that the people of Israel - the desires that are aimed toward the Creator - go through in the course of the forty-nine days from the time of the Passover, the corrections a man performs on himself during the Omer count, and the study at night, have all prepared for him the right vessel for the reception of the Torah, the power of correction.

However, we must not forget that the Torah, the force that redeems man from all misfortunes, can only be received if it is demanded together, to change for the better, "as one man with one heart". The Torah has already been given, but we can receive it only if we unite with a common aim - to discover the Creator.

 

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