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Judgement Day- Of A Different Kind

Written by Rabbi Yehoshua Alt, 2/6/2019

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Judgement Day- Of A Different Kind

Shavuos, the day of Torah. What a gift![1] The Shelah[2] writes that we must be especially happy on Shavuos because we merited the כתר תורה...


The following are just some of the many gifts that we can benefit, through Torah.

1) The Chazon Ish[3] writes in a letter that one who merits ידיעת התורה appears as a man but is like a Malach on high.

2) There is nothing that connects someone more to Hashem than Torah, says the Maharal.[4]

3) Our Torah has far-reaching results. In another letter, the Chazon Ish[5] writes that if the Bnei Torah would toil in תורה לאמתתה they would save many children and men from הרהור עבירה; forbidden thoughts of sin, כפירה; denial of Hashem, and the like.[6] So, our Torah can affect that which our actions can’t.

4) It is through Torah that the world continues to exist.[7] For this reason, it is called a תורת חיים. In the Yeshiva of R’ Chaim Voloziner, there was always a shift learning throughout the night in order that there would always be someone learning. In fact, R’ Chaim Voloziner would visit the Beis Midrash a few times throughout the night to encourage those learning. Even when he was old and couldn’t give a shiur, he still kept up his nightly visits. Additionally, after Yom Kippur, while everyone would break their fast, he would learn to continue the existence of the world.


We are taught that Shavuos[8] is the day of judgment for Torah.[9] Just as we were judged when the world was created so too with Shauvos, as Torah was given on this day. In fact, there were those who were more fearful of Shavuos than Rosh Hashana since on Rosh Hashana our physicality is judged whereas on Shavuos it is our spirituality that is at stake. 


The Mishna teaches that we are judged on Shavuos for fruits of the tree.[10] The tree refers to Torah, the tree of life- עץ חיים.[11] The fruits of the tree refer to our חידושי תורה;[12] novelties of Torah.[13] Indeed, the Sefas Emes tells us that on Shavuos each Jew receives what he will understand and be מחדש in Torah[14] for the year-כל אחד ואחד מישראל בחג הזה כל מה שעתיד להבין ולחדש בתורה.[15]


How do we get Torah? We need to daven[16] and as Chazal tell us מה יעשה אדם ויחכם...יבקשו רחמים...; what should one do to become a scholar, plead for mercy from Hashem.[17] In fact, in the Yeshiva of the Chasam Sofer, the Tefila of אהבה רבה[18] on Shavuos morning took four hours![19] In this light, we can understand that which the Gemara says in regard to Shavuos בעינן נמי לכם as בעינן is related to אם תבעיון בעו, to daven.[20] The Tzror Hachaim[21] saysויום זה של חג השבועות מסוגל לאיש הנלבב לבקש ולחנן על נפשו שתמצא חלקה הנחלק לה בסיני; the Yom Tov of Shavuos is Mesugal to request and beseech to find our portion in Torah that was given to us by Sinai. If we ask for it we can get it and as the Sefer Chasidim[22] tells us if one requests something like לימוד תורה and the like, and pours out his soul, Hashem listens to his Tefila even if he has no מעשים טובים
R’ Alt merited to learn under the tutelage of R’ Mordechai Friedlander Ztz”l for close to five years. He received Semicha from R’ Zalman Nechemia Goldberg. R’ Alt has written on numerous topics for various websites and publications. He lives with his wife and family in a suburb of Yerushalayim where he studies, writes and teaches. The author is passionate about teaching Jews of all levels of observance.

[1] The Ohr Hachaim (Shemos 14:27) tells us creation is subservient to Torah and those who toil in it, and to do all that they decree just as if Hashem decreed it (The miracle of the sea splitting is that it was before Matan Torah.).

[2] Mesachta Shavuos

[3] Igros Chazon Ish, 1:13

[4] Gevuros Hashem chapter 8. See also Nesiv Hatorah, chapter 9

[5] Igros Chazon Ish 3:62.

[6] In this way, we can explain שתולים בבית הי...יפריחו; planted in the house of Hashem, in the courtyards of our G-d they will flourish (Tehillim 92), as if one is planted in the house of Hashem, then he can affect the חצירות, that which is outside the Beis Midrash.

[7] Nefesh Hachaim 4:25. For this reason, there are different time zones since for example when one is sleeping in America, there can be someone learning in Eretz Yisrael.

[8] One explanation given for staying up Shavuos night is the following: One who is reading an exhilarating, stimulating novel that draws him, finds it difficult to put down. The same is with our Torah, which we received on Shavuos.

[9] This is said in the name of the ר"ן.

[10] Rosh Hashana 16a

[11] Mishlei 3:18. In regard to writing on Chol Hamoed, the Mishna Brura (545:47) writes about the loss of חידושי תורה thatאין לך דבר האבד גדול מזה; there is no greater loss than this.

[12] The Nachalas Yaakov (Hakdama to Mesachta Sofrim) brings the comments of the Alshich onאם תבקשנה ככסף...  (Mishlei 2:4). He says that one shouldn’t despair from engaging in that which he desires whether it is in Chumash, Mishna, Talmud or Aggada and to even have insights (חידוש). One shouldn’t say who am I and if it is such a great חידוש, why didn’t the earlier generations come up with it, because maybe this is his portion of Torah from Sinai.

[13] We can interpret it this way since really we have a question on the simple meaning. On Pesach, we daven for טל; dew because we are judged for grain. On Succos, we daven for rain as that is when we are judged on rain. So, why on Shavuos do we not daven for the fruits of the tree since that is what we are judged on then?

[14] The Nefesh Hachaim (4:12) writes that each word one is מחדש from his mouth, Hashem kisses and crowns and builds an entirely new world from it (see the Zohar he quotes for an in-depth description).

[15] See also Sefas Emes, Shavuos, תרסא, s.v. המנהג. The Meor Einayim (Miketz, s.v. זמן) comments that each person receives the Torah on Shavuos. See also Shemos Rabba 28:6.

[16] R’ Dessler writes from R’ Yisrael Salanter that there is one Tefila that gets answered at any time and any situation- a Tefila for heavenly assistance in spirituality (Michtav M’Eliyahu, volume 4, pg 77).

[17] Nida 70b. This works in tandem with spending more time studying and less time engaged in business as the Gemara there says. Besides personal Tefila, we can also daven for Torah- by Birchas Hatorah, אתה חונן in Shemona Esrei, הוא יפתח לבנו בתורתו in ובא לציון among other places.

[18] A Gadol once said, “The day I don’t cry during אהבה רבה, I can’t be creative in my learning.”

[19] The Shaar Yissoschar (Maamar Chag Habikurim, 93) writes that we are accustomed to lengthen and have lots of כונה in אהבה רבה on Shavuos morning.

[20] Pesachim 68b. Yeshaya 21:12, see Baba Kamma 3b. The Pele Yoatz (עצרת, s.v. והכל) says that it is better for one to sleep the entire night of Shavuos than to recite Shema and Tefila dozing off.

[21] תרעא, בי דינא לחג השבועות (brought in Sefer Banyan Olam on the Mitzva of Talmud Torah, chapter 16)

[22] 131

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