When Israel was given the Torah at Sinai, all of the Jewish People called out in one voice, “All that the L-rd has said. We shall do and we shall hear” (Shemot, 24:7).
They took it upon themselves to do the commandments even before they were explained, as if to say, “You are the boss, Hashem. Whatever you say, that’s what we will do, whether the commandments please us or not, whether we understand them or not, we will do them without any complaint, or without offering a dozen excuses.”
This is the essence of a Jew – to do what Hashem wants.
In the Talmud, Rabbi Elazar teaches: “When Israel said ‘we shall do’ before ‘we shall hear,’ a heavenly voice called out, saying, ‘Who has revealed this secret to My children, a secret employed by the ministering angels?’” (Shabbat 88a).
Angels do what Hashem commands them without saying, “But it’s too cold on earth,” or “What if it rains?” or “There are suicide bombers down there,” or “The Mashiach hasn’t come yet,” or “Explain exactly what’s involved and then we’ll decide,” and a thousand other rationalizations, intellectual arguments, and excuses.
The modern master of Halacha and Kabbalah, Rabbi Kook writes:
“Saying ‘we shall do’ before ‘we shall hear’ is Israel’s eternal strength, revealing the holiness of Judaism that is concealed in the natural depths of our essence. If we feel a diminishment of this strength within us, we must first of all strive to be faithful to our true selves. We must shake off all self-deception and strive to protect the wholeness of our characters. Then we shall walk with strength on all the paths of life, including the path of our national rebirth and the rebuilding of our Land” (Ma’amarei HaRe’iyah, Pg 172-3).
Rabbi Kook teaches that the natural inner essence of a Jew is the desire to do all of the commandments. To be true to ourselves and reach inner wholeness, we must shake off all self-deception and embrace the wholeness of the Torah, including rebuilding the nation of Israel in the Land of Israel.
Rabbi Kook explains that angels require no instruction, explanation, or persuasion before they act, because they are motivated by a pure and natural holiness. So too, in the animal world, a bee naturally builds the cells of its hive with utmost precision without attending lectures on engineering. Only human beings, who are confused by a bombardment of false ideas, emotional pulls, and fears, need to exert themselves to return to their pure inner source.
Doing what comes natural. Jews and the Land of Israel go together like bees and honey.
The inner truth of the Jewish People was revealed to us at Sinai when the Master of the World gave us the Torah and commandments. The Torah is who we are. The commandments are our wholeness. When we say “we shall do” before “we shall hear,” we are our true selves, servants of Hashem, and not the servants of foreign concepts, cultures, and kings, including our very own ego and limited human understandings, which often trick us into doing what WE want, rather than doing what Hashem commands in His Torah.
“And now, brothers,” Rabbi Kook writes, “Both young and old, in a bold flight, let us return to our exalted purity. Faithful to the very nature of our soul, let us fortify our return to our Land on a foundation of purity and confidence. And a heavenly voice shall once again bust forth from the peaks of holiness, saying, ‘Who has revealed this secret to My children, a secret employed by the ministering angels?’ And as in the days of yore, we shall all answer together with a fiery voice, ‘All that the L-rd has said, we shall do and we shall hear.”
Hag Shavuot Samaoch!