Audio: Parshat Naso and Shavuot

Parshat Naso and Shavuot
5/30/2014, 8:02 AM

A7 Radio's "Torah Tidbits Audio" with Phil Chernofsky
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How long from Pesach (first day thereof) to Shavuot? 50 or 49 days, inclusive or not. But that's only if you are counting days from one to the other. How else should we count? - you might ask. With Jewish History, that's how. And the answer is - we're not there yet! We've said it often in the past - let's say it again, and go on from there.

At the Burning Bush, G-d told Moshe that He would descend into Egypt in order to take the people to Eretz Yisrael. On the way, we would serve G-d on that very place (Har Sinai). In other words, the Plan: take us out of Egypt and give us the Torah to live by in the Land of Israel. In the prophecy at the beginning of Va'eira, G-d set down the Plan again. Take us out (on three levels), make us His Nation, bring us to the Land... Checklist: Pesach celebrates the Exodus. We were taken out of Egypt by G-d and we relive the experience (or are supposed to) every single year. Checklist: Get the Torah and go into the Land. Check and check... but wait a moment. G-d gave the Torah to us. Check. Did we receive the Torah? Good question. Maybe the honest answer is YES and NO. There have been and are many Jews who live their lives by the standards and values of the Torah and by the observance of the mitzvot. But there are many Jews who do not (yet) do so. How many and how many? The numbers and ratios are not the most encouraging. So did we receive the Torah? Yes and no.

Partially. Some but not all. Enter Eretz Yisrael. We did, but after a delay of 40 years and after most of the adult male population died off. Then there was exile and partial return and exile and partial return. There is close to half the Jewish population of the world living in Israel. Which means that there is close to half the Jewish population not living in Israel. Have V'HEIVEITI been fulfilled? Yes and no. Or not yet completely, if you like that answer better. Shavuot is Z'man Matan Torateinu, the time of the giving of our Torah. We celebrate - for sure. But we also must realize that we have a long way still to go in bringing more and more of our fellow Jews into a Torah life. Shavuot is Yom HaBikurim. Shavuot marks the end of the Omer period, from the barley offering until the Two Loaves wheat offering. When was the last time that Bikurim or the Omer or the Sh'tei HaLechem were brought? More importantly, when is the next time we will bring Bikurim? Shavuot is the Potential Culmination of that which begun with the Exodus and with Nationhood. Along with celebrating, we must work hard on bringing the potential to fruition.

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Phil Chernofsky is the educational director of the Orthodox Union's OU Israel Center in Jerusalem and editor of the Torah Tidbits parsha pamphlet. Since 1998, he has hosted Torah Tidbits Audio, a shiur on the weekly parsha with witty insights. It airs every Thursday from 7:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. Israel time and is downloadable as a podcast on Israel National Radio. Phil made Aliyah to Israel over 30 years ago. He is the author of the newly released book And Every Single One Was Someone, a tribute to victims of the Holocaust.
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