The Giving of the Torah: A Gift of Waking Up!

Written by: Current Mayanot Men's Program Student Jonathan Stebbins

Shavuot is the one of three nights a year we stay up all night. On purpose!
Loud arguments, gentle prayers, long readings, a nation of words finding its voice.

So what was it like to be there? On the ground-reporting 3,300 years ago?
“The Day of the Giving of the Torah..”  (deep announcer voice)
On this, the most momentous day in history, the Jews OVERSLEPT…..

In honor of this occasion, it is a custom, to stay awake all throughout the night learning Torah. Not to repeat the mistakes of our past.
There is much to be derived from the idea of sleeping and our People having overslept.

They say the deepest sleep is right before daybreak. Our generation is on the eve of the Redemption. What that means to me, the increase in justice, prosperity, and peaceful revelation are signs of the times, the world in a sense, preparing itself for a new reality. But we’re still asleep, our G-dly core has taken a vacation to some land of dreams while we’re left to see this world with only human eyes, only the micro-perspective. We must help each other wake up. We need to wake up to our eternal heritage and the beauty within.

In our so-called modern world, we’re told of infinite possibility. We can make a utopia, we can live in outer space, we can give everyone happiness, and prosperity, for no effort, we can do this that and the other thing if only we all get on board. And so we all get on board. We’re told that everything humans ever did was because of our ingenuity, our accomplishment, our industry. That’s how we got to this sophisticated modern world of luxury, by our efforts alone. So let’s ramp it up, they say. Let’s make everyone participate. The whole world will adopt our ways, our ideas, they’ll all sacrifice their lives to create taller buildings and bigger economies and advanced technologies and new philosophies, and then we can finally make a world where we no longer need G-d. The primitives of the past needed faith, but not us. We will “back up our own hard drive,” we’ll make it on our own. And yet so many of us are convinced. Or at least feel obligated to bow to these ideas. And we throw away our eternal heritage in the process. It’s true that many theories sound brilliant, but brilliance isn’t truth.

G-d has given each of us a mission. We are delivery drivers. Our job is to deliver G-dliness into this world, one package at a time.  So we study Torah, perform mitzvos, and we expand our circle to include every Jew in acts of loving kindness. And no matter where we go we find a way to do those three things. And then no matter where our feet may lead we are playing our role in the spiritual economy, bringing blessings down through every heavenly chanel into this physical world, where we can try to provide the entire world with goodness, joy, and light.

To me, studying Torah is about awareness, waking up to the fact that we have a great potential to do good on earth and help each other. Let’s use this celebration of Shavuot to wake up, to transform ourselves, use our awareness to be better, do better and help others do the same.