Unity – the Gateway to Judaism
Why was the Torah given to us on Shavuot and not right after leaving Egypt or some other day of the year? Thank you.
Good question. There was a key ingredient that was still missing after the Exodus to merit being given the Torah — complete “unity” amongst the Jewish People. Let me explain.
The people who experienced the Exodus with all its miracles were nevertheless still negatively influenced by having lived in Egypt, steeped in idolatry and a multitude of negative traits. To rectify this, they were in the desert for seven weeks (“shavuot” in Hebrew), guided by Moses and other leaders to totally rid themselves of all these negative traits, and to grow in acquiring the greatest degree of positive traits. After these seven weeks of continuous progress and development, the people — each and every one — achieved the highest level of dedication and were ready to become a nation of united individuals who would live according to the ideals of ethical monotheism.
I heard a beautiful proof to this idea of “unity” being a prerequisite for receiving the Torah. In the Hagaddah we say (or usually sing) in the section called “Dayenu”: “If You had brought us near to Sinai (to receive the Torah) but not given us the Torah — it would have been enough.” Huh? Enough? Being at the mountain without receiving the Torah would have been enough?
The answer is that there was complete unity with pure hearts to receive the teachings of God and live accordingly. At Sinai the entire congregation of the multitude of individuals was, in the words of our Sages: “As one person with one heart.” Complete unity. May we achieve this unity once again and remain united in dedication to our calling as the Jewish nation. Happy Shavuot to one and all!