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 â€œhighâ€ 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 â€œinto learningâ€? 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): â€œAnd these matters that I command you today shall be upon your heart.â€ All of my answers, according to the Chofetz Chaim, are in this one verse.
What should I learn and where do I start? â€œAnd these mattersâ€ refers to words of Torah. It really doesnâ€™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!! Donâ€™t fall into the trap of there being â€œtoo muchâ€ 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 â€œinto learningâ€? Itâ€™s easy to look at FFBs or even BTs who have years of Torah learning behind them and think, â€œThereâ€™s no way I can ever catch up to everyone else. I feel like Iâ€™m so far behind.â€ â€œThat I command youâ€ 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 doesnâ€™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 â€œsettle intoâ€ yiddishkeit, itâ€™s easy to get caught up the status quo.
When will I find time? â€œTodayâ€ is as good a time as any. Donâ€™t tell yourself you donâ€™t have any time. Remember the Nike commercials: JUST DO IT.
â€œShall be upon your heartâ€ 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. Itâ€™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, Iâ€™m feeling less stressed.
Originally Posted June, 2006