I was reminded recently of an old friend with whom I have not had contact for several years. He is a Baal Teshuva, born and raised in a small town in the Deep South, who raised his own children in a larger Jewish community. In the recent past, when I inquired about his family, he proudly listed off his twenty- and thirty-something children, and the Yeshivas they or their husbands are learning in, namely Mir, Lakewood and Ponevezh. I saw the glow on his face and told him what a rich man he is.
We all share that wealth. The greatest gift mankind has ever received after life itself, is the Torah that the Jewish People have a special portion in. Perhaps our greatest challenge is taking this gift for granted. The Yom Tov of Shavuos is our once a year opportunity to rekindle the excitement that is buried somewhere inside us.
To gain this perspective one needs look no further than the many families in our community who come knocking at the door of our school seeking to enroll their children. There are many reasons why they come, but at the bottom of it all, these families are attracted to Toras Emes because we have what they are seeking – TORAH! There are, Baruch Hashem, so many families in our community who are searching for more Torah – they want more Torah learning, they want more Midos Tovos and they want more meaning in their lives. Their greatest wish is to raise children who will embody a healthy balance of passion for Yiddishkeit with Mentschlichkeit and a strong educational foundation to succeed in life.
As we approach the Yom Tov of Shavuos, we would do well to stop and reflect upon this greatest gift that is ever present in our and our family’s lives. We commemorate receiving Hashem’s Torah as an everlasting heritage for our people. We need to stop and consider “how fortunate we are, how goodly is our portion,” that we have the Torah and that we have the wherewithal to hand this most priceless legacy to our most precious treasures – our children.Let this Shavuos be a time of renewed appreciation for the blessing of being Torah Jews, together with a redoubled commitment to be the best parents and role models we can.
Have a wonderful Shabbos and a rejewvenating Shavuos,
Rabbi Kalman Baumann