PSSD: Post Shavuos Stress Disorder

After spending an inspiring Shavuos, I often find myself a little overwhelmed. While most of us get stressed out about getting home on time for Shabbos, or all the preparation that goes into Pesach, I find the days after Shavuos to be stressful. Cheesecake aside, the magnitude of spending an entire evening engaged in Torah study and celebrating our acceptance of that Torah, is awesome.

I find the “high” I get after spending a night learning Torah or listening to a lecture is something I want to hold on to, forever. I want to take it, bottle it, and hide it away for the times when I feel challenged with my learning or my davening. For me, I find it stressful. As I walked home, Shavuos morning, from a night of intellectual and emotional stimulation I had questions running in my mind: What should I learn and where do I start? Who am I to even attempt to get “into learning”? When will I find time?

For some reason my mind wondered back to something I had heard from Rabbi Baruch Klein (Far Rockaway). He said, in the name of the Chofetz Chaim, that the secret to staying inspired is found in the Shema. The Torah says in Devarim (Deuteronomy 6:6): “And these matters that I command you today shall be upon your heart.” All of my answers, according to the Chofetz Chaim, are in this one verse.

What should I learn and where do I start? “And these matters” refers to words of Torah. It really doesn’t matter if you are starting out with Alef-Beis, Chumash, or the laws of Shabbos. Any way that you can increase your Jewish knowledge and grow closer to Hashem is fantastic!! Don’t fall into the trap of there being “too much” to learn. Just pick up a book, go to a class, or go online to any link featured at BeyondBT.

Who am I to even attempt to get “into learning”? It’s easy to look at FFBs or even BTs who have years of Torah learning behind them and think, “There’s no way I can ever catch up to everyone else. I feel like I’m so far behind.” “That I command you” the verse says. Who commands me? Hashem is commanding us. Learning Torah, davening, grown in mitzvah observance all about having a relationship with Hashem. It really doesn’t matter what everyone else is doing or what their background is. By definition, a Baal Teshuva is one who goes against the way they were raised or against lifestyle they grew up in. We start off so headstrong and sure of ourselves, yet as we “settle into” yiddishkeit, it’s easy to get caught up the status quo.

When will I find time? “Today” is as good a time as any. Don’t tell yourself you don’t have any time. Remember the Nike commercials: JUST DO IT.

“Shall be upon your heart” means that then entire verse should be constantly in our thoughts throughout the day. Torah is meant to become part of us. Torah Judaism is more that just a lifestyle or a set of laws. It is something that is entwined within the fabric of our being. The opportunities to get close to Hashem are not confined to a night of Shavuos. It’s everyday. It every bracha we choose to make, every kind word we say about another person, and every time we remember that we are connected to Hashem.

Thanks to Rabbi Klein and the Chofetz Chaim, I’m feeling less stressed.

Originally Posted June, 2006

4 comments on “PSSD: Post Shavuos Stress Disorder

  1. Neil, had similar thoughts myself, so the chizuk was much appreciated. Regarding the various episodes of rebellion and machlokes in the parshios ahead of us, I’d recommend having a look at “Dor Deah – A Journey to Greatness” which is Rav Avidgor Miller’s peirush on Bamidbar. I’ve only just started it, but in his hakdomo, he stresses something we can easily overlook. (also in Rejoice O Youth about page 165)

    Rav Miller zt’l emphasises how the 40 years in the midbar were the best thing that could ever happened to us and that the episode of the mraglim was really the siba to enable this – to enable us to shteig and grow in the largest, greatest kollel there ever was, being able to see and hear Moshe Rabbeinu every day, and for the only time in our history with all the shvotim in one place, and zoche to continuous nissim, which would give us strength to endure everything that would happen to in the future.

    In short, Rav Miller zt’l shows that the 10 tests in the midbar were due to the unparalled level rest of the majority of Yidden were on, that the Torah focusses in to the incidents with a magnifying glass.

    In this vein, he says I think in the name of the Alter of Slobodka, on the passuk we say in Kabollas Shabbos “Arba’im shono akut b’dor, v’omar am to’ei leivov hem, v’lo yod’u d’rochai” – the only way to read each phrase in this possuk is as not as a statement but as a question. Hashem knew this was by far the greatest dor there ever was – “how can I say they do not (perfectly) know all of my ways?”.

  2. Too true, Steve. It is tough to stay uplifted while reading the parsha week after week in the summer. Let’s remember that while B’nai Yisroel were travelling with the Mishkah it was a pattern of building and taking down, only to build again. At times, our lives reflect our ancestor’s journey into Eretz Yisroel.

  3. I would like to emend the above topic and call it post Bhalloscha Stress Disorder, Those of us who review the parsha regularly will note that Sefer Bamidbar begins with Klal Yisrael preparing for the conquest of EY.In the middle of Bhaaloscha, we see a questionning of Moshe’s leadership, thereby followed by the episodes of Kivros HaTaavah, Mraglim and Korach and Mei Mrivah-whereby a short trip became a 40 year slog thru the desert.I can’t speak for others, but my mood always goes downhill when I reexperience this collasal experience of dissapointment, especially during these brutally hot months. It takes me until after Tisha Bav to regain my sense of optimism.

    At that point, the seemingly endless black hole seems to brighten and remind me that Elul and Ymei HaDin VRachamim are not that far away.

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