Rabbi Dovid Saks
Shavuos 5774 Like Shavuos!
Wednesday June 4th and Thursday June 5th
On Shavuos we read the segment of the Torah which narrates the awesome event of G-d proclaiming the Ten Commandments to the entire Jewish nation.
Commentators explain that the first commandment, “I am G-d Your Almighty who took you out of the Land of Egypt” is a command to believe in G-d. A question raised is how can one be commanded to believe in something, especially, for a young 12 year old girl when she becomes Bat Mitzva and a boy when he becomes Bar Mitzva at the young age of 13. They haven’t yet delved into the deep philosophical and metaphysical concepts of G-d, creation, and the purpose of life. How can they be expected to believe in G-d?
I’d like to propose a script for a short one-scene movie that takes place in a hospital birthing room. At first, a mother is in the final stages of labor and finally she gives birth to a healthy baby boy. But instead of the typical cries that babies belt out, this baby begins looking around the room – like he knows what’s going on. Then to the shock of the doctor, nurses and mom, the baby begins to talk intelligently! He asks where all the equipment, blinking lights and medical supplies came from. He is told they are manufactured in factories in the US, Canada and China.
Then he notices a window and asks if he can look outside. He is carried to the window followed by the astounded and amazed team of hospital workers. He gazes outside and is fascinated by the sun, sky, clouds, trees, grass, rocks and flowers. He asks, “Who made all of this?”
Someone speaks up and tells him, “Well, er, um, you see, it kind of evolved – it basically all happened randomly.”
“Are you serious?” the infant blurts out! “Do you mean to say all the equipment was purposely manufactured but nature happened by itself – with no Creator?”
“I cannot buy that – it is total hypocrisy! It had to have come from a Creator! Look, I just came out of my mother’s womb – I came from something. Things just don’t happen randomly!” This is end of the movie script.
In truth this is not my script. The great Rabbi Elchonon Wasserman o.b.m. gives this scenario to prove the point that each child is inherently born a believer in the Almighty. These beliefs must be protected, developed and maintained. When the child is placed in a world with so many distractions, indulgences, ideologies and lack of religious boundaries, it becomes challenging for him later in life to appreciate and attain the clarity of belief that he initially had at birth.
Essentially, parents are given the responsibility to protect their child’s initial belief by raising the child with the foundations and environment where our beliefs are expressed through the Mitzvos and our ideologies and values are gleaned from our Torah and it teachings.
We can now understand the Mitzvah to believe in G-d, for with this method in place, one must only maintain his initial belief so that at the time one is at the age of Bar/Bat Mitzvah – they have the tools to continue maintaining belief in G-d throughout their lives.
During a particular class when I was explaining that G-d is benevolent, caring and good, a teen told me that it was a completely new concept to him. I asked him why? He explained that his family attended synagogue on a limited basis, basically during the High Holidays and a Bar/Bat Mitzva here and there.
His only exposure to G-d was when something bad happened. If one of his parents would slightly injure themselves or hear bad news, they would say [blank] damn it. If I would misbehave, again [blank] damn it! My entire association with G-d was to put the blame or condemn Him.
However, when my parents were blessed with a windfall of blessing, never did they say, “Thank G-d.” They always attributed their successes and blessings to themselves. The Holiday of Shavuos is a befitting time to recognize our deep appreciation of G-d by expressing ourselves saying, ‘Boruch Hashem – blessed be G-d,’ for all He does for us and for all the blessings in our lives!
Wishing you a happy and enjoyable Shavuos!
Rabbi Dovid and Malki Saks and family