By: Avraham Goldstein
At Mayanot, we learned that the giving of the Torah is not something that happened only in the past. It’s something that we experience every year on Shavuot. Even more so, Chassidus explains that a Jew in his divine service should view the Torah and mitzvahs as new every day.
After Maariv and a festive meal, we had a very long night ahead of us. Shavuot at Mayanot was draining physically and spiritually (in a good way!). While staying up all night, pounding down XL energy drinks and sugary, salty snacks, reciting the Tikkun (special passages that achieve a spiritual correction when read), we were entertained with classes such as Rabbi Silberg’s “Why do In-laws Always Interfere?”
When the clock struck 4 in the morning, many Jews were going to sleep, but not us! How could we sleep with the Kotel right down the street? As we were marching as an army together down Yaffo Street, it seemed like the thousands of other Jews walking to the Kotel were joining us on a pilgrimage to the Holy Temple. It was truly breath-taking. I carried my own chair, because from experience, I knew that all the chairs would be taken by the time I got there. It wasn’t a folding chair, so it was a little awkward to carry for the thirty minute walk, and I got some funny looks, but it was well worth it in the end.
The Kotel was so packed we could barely move. While we were praying, I could hardly see the Wall, as I was sandwiched between hundreds of people. Although the Wall may not have been visible, and praying may have been difficult with all the commotion, I felt like I could tap into a very powerful energy, the energy that the Jews must have felt when they were receiving the Torah together at Sinai on this very day.
When the clock struck 8 in the morning, we were practically sleep walking, but it wasn’t yet bedtime for me and my fellow students. Instead, it was time to run a Kiddush table with wine and pastries for all the hungry Jews leaving the Kotel. It was amazing for me to see all the different types of Jews that stopped by to make Kiddush and grab a bite to eat.
Finally, we trekked back to Mayanot for cheesecake! There must have been seven or eight varieties of cheesecake. Mayanot students were happy to fulfill the custom of eating dairy on Shavuot. After the dairy meal, most of the students slept all the way until the meat meal. We had a lively farbrengen until Mincha, and before we knew it the festivities were over. In Israel, keeping a single day of Yom Tov makes for one very action-packed day.