Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Reb Sholom Brodt's Erev Shavuot Greeting

B"H Erev Shavuot 5770

Dear friends "ad 120 b'simcha
Shalom uvracha mi'Yerushalayim
At Har Sinai when we received the Torah we were all healed. And so we wish Rivkah bat Yael and all our brothers, sisters and friends who need healing with blessings of joyous refuah shleimah. Amen.
The 'frierdiger Rebbe' - Reb Yosef Yitzchak of Lubavitch taught his chassidim to bless one another 'to receive the Torah joyously and deeply into the depths of your being'.
We wish you a wonderfully joyous and most meaningful Yom Tov b'ahavah ubivracha - may the Beit Hamikdash be rebuilt quickly in our days. Amen!
Sholom and Judy and all your friends in Yerushalayim


I found some beautiful meditations for learning Torah in a sefer called U'SFARTEM LACHEM – a spiritual guide for the 49 days of the Omer counting. This sefer is based on the teachings of the Gemorah, the Zohar, the RAMA"K and the Baal Shem Tov. As is well known, the spiritual journey that we began on the night of Pessach continues through Shavuot. On Pessach night a great Divine light was revealed to us, and then it was withdrawn. With this loving light revelation Hashem drew us after Him as it revealed where we were heading – to Har Sinai to receive the Torah, to enter into an eternal covenant with Hashem and His Torah and His people. When the light was concealed we cried out from the depths of our hearts to Hashem, and we were informed that this light will be revealed and given to us at Har Sinai and that we were to use the next 49 days to 'fix' our vessels to receive Hashem's revelation.
The entire period from Pessach until Shavuot is a time for 'tikkun ha-nefesh' and 'tikkun hamidot' – to ready our selves to receive the Torah. As we get a glimpse of higher and higher levels in Torah learning we must remember that there are 49 steps; each step is important and is not to be skipped over. Progressing step by step provides stability. Though I am yet far from such conscious learning and intense meditations, nevertheless I found it inspiring to just read and learn these meditations and prayers. Remember we learn to walk one step at a time.
The following is my free [and not yet edited] translation of U'sfartem Lachem, pages 25-26.
Thus is explained in the sefer Nefesh Hachayim (Gateway 4, Chap. 7):
"It is advisable that one should prepare oneself on each occasion before beginning to learn [Torah]; to make a reckoning with Hashem with a pure heart and with 'yirat Hashem'. One should cleanse himself of his transgressions and think thoughts of Tshuvah, so that he should be able to connect and attach himself during the time of his involved study of His holy Torah, with His Speech and His Will, blessed be He."
Being that a person may not always have a sufficiently settled mind before learning Torah, to allow him to make a true reckoning with His Master, therefore we considered it proper to provide a short list of things to remember before learning, and thereby 'prepare oneself'.
It is good advice – as we go towards [the holiday of Shavuot] – the acceptance and the giving of the Torah, to copy these meditations and prayers, so that we can meditate on them before beginning our learning sessions, so that we may arouse our selves properly for the study of the holy Torah.
Aleph(1). [Meditate. Kavannah-intention.] The study of Torah is true attachment to Hashem yisborach.
Hashem please allow me and help me be conscious that in learning Your Torah You are allowing me to bond with You.
Beis(2). Inspire yourself to learn Torah in the way it was given – with fear, awe, shiver and perspiration – with conscious Yirat Shamayim, during the time of study.
Hashem may it be Your will that I may study Your Torah and intensely experience its life energy. May my mind and respond in fear and awe May even my body sense this intensely and respond with shiver and perspiration.
Gimmel(3). Reveal your purpose before learning by stating – "I am learning Torah, to fulfill the Mitzvah of my Creator, who commanded me to study Torah, for the sake of unification of 'Kudsha brich Hu' and His Shechinah.
Daled(4). [Tshuvah before learning.] I regret my evil deeds and I accept upon myself to improve myself in the future.
Hey(5). [Kavannah-intention.] I am learning for the sake of learning, guarding, keeping, doing and fulfilling the words of Your Torah.
Vav(6). [Kavannah-intention.] I will [attempt to] devote myself to learning consciously without interruption, and I will try not to look outside of the sefer.
Zayin(7). [Kavannah-intention.] I am learning to seek the truth of the Torah, to understand it well and to remember everything that I learn.
Chet(8). [Reminder.] The words of Torah learning are to be verbally expressed with our mouths and heard with our ears.
Tet(9). [Kavannah-intention.] I desire to learn out of my love for Hashem yisborach, as it says, "And you shall love Hashem your G-d...and these words...shall be upon your heart...and you shall speak them."
Yud(10). [Meditate.] I am preparing myself to be a vessel for receiving the holiness of the Torah.
Yud-Aleph(11). [Kavannah-intention.] I am learning in the name of All of Israel - Kol Yisrael – may it be for their merit and their salvation from all manner of harm.
Yud-Beis(12). [Kavannah-intention.] I desire and accept upon myself to study with great effort and toil – for the words of the Torah are acquired only with great effort and toil.
Yud-Gimmel(13). [Kavannah-intention.] I am learning for the sake of sanctifying His Name in His world.
Yud-Daled(14). [Prayer.] I give thanks and praise to Hashem yisborach, for His great gift of opportunity to study His holy Torah at this time.
Tet-Vav(15). [Prayer.] I pray before Hashem blessed be He, that He should help me in my learning, and that He should enlighten my eyes in His holy Torah. Amen.

- Rabbi Sholom Brodt, Rosh haYeshiva of Nachlaot's Yeshiva Simchat Shlomo - 18 Gilboa Street in the Nachlaot neighborhood of Jerusalem - check out Simchat Shlomo at www.shlomoyeshiva.org

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