By Rabbi Avremel Matusof
Just like that, another week has passed by.
Of course, that’s not completely accurate. We celebrated Shavuot on Monday and Tuesday. But, as festivals go, it is so short and quick.
It’s not just how short the festival is. There is nothing dramatic to commemorate or celebrate. There is no hard work, no intensity, just delicious cheesecake and blintzes. Shul was much improved over last year - when the Shul was actually bereft of people. This year there was color, flowers - - - and people! Yet, it was over almost before it began.
Since Shavuot commemorates the grandest event of them all - when G-d gave us the Ten Commandments and Torah - why indeed is it not marked with more spectacular grandeur? Why is it such a brief festival?
At a roundtable Torah discussion, I explained it as follows: The Rabbis remark that the event at Mount Sinai was nothing less than a marriage! The married couple was G-d and the Jewish people. The Torah served as the Ketubah - the legal marriage document.
This makes Shavuot our wedding anniversary. To be marked accordingly.
In married life, there are a lot of moments. Some are special and beautiful. Others are challenging, and even tough. Together, these experiences accumulate into a wondrous and amazing journey.
The one day in married life when there are no moments is the anniversary. A wedding anniversary is above time and space. It is all about pure and intense love and appreciation. A card, a gift, flowers, and candlelit dinner lend the ambiance to the annual reminder of being together with the one we love and are committed to.
It is a day to mark the fusion of two individuals wholly and wholeheartedly committed to each other. It is a deep and powerful emotion, unconnected to roles, responsibilities, and duties. The framework which generally governs a successful marriage is not a factor on this day.
It is the ultimate expression of love - totally removed from outside considerations.
It is not a day to remind each other of what was, or wasn’t, said. It is not a time to reflect on what was, or wasn’t, done. It is not a moment to weigh up the elements that work, and which don’t work, during the ebb and flow of married life.
It is just pure. Love. Bond. Connection.
In that magical and beautiful moment, one just wants to be together with one’s spouse forever. On that day, one mentally determines to do whatever it takes to strengthen the bond and enhance it, to heights yet to be reached. On the day before, and on the day after, there may be different sounds and moods. In those environments, one may be gently, but determinedly, trying to keep it all together in the sometimes pressured environment of day-to-day life.
But the anniversary day is calm, exciting, and precious. It’s all about each other—nothing more, nothing less. Frankly, nothing else matters.
This is Shavuot. No need to clean the house of Chametz, no requirement to hear the Shofar, no Fast day, no panic for a good and Kosher set of Lulav and etrog. Nothing. Just a beautiful and pleasant Chag, surrounded by family and community.
Throw in some milky delicacies (nice custom, but not enshrined in law), and that’s it. Why?
Because on Shavuot we just want to be with our partner (G-d) in an atmosphere of love and bonding. We don’t want ‘distractions.’ We just want to feel the energy, strength, and vibrancy of the relationship.
It is, after all, the anniversary day. The greatest day in the calendar. The platform upon which so much else is built.
On Shavuot, we ‘write’ an anniversary card, in which we express our appreciation and gratefulness for having such an honest and loving partner in our lives: G-d Himself.
We value what He gives us - everything from health to opportunity. What can we give Him, is what we must each ask ourselves. Something to show that our relationship is alive and sparkling. How will we express our relationship after the celebration? Will it be a Mezuza on the door, Tefillin on the arm, or perhaps Shabbat candles on Friday Afternoon.
Something to ponder on the day of the anniversary.
The day after the anniversary, we build on the momentum and take it to a higher level.
Shavuot 5781 was amazing and beautiful. Let’s see how we can transform its minimum time span into maximum impact.
Have a great Shabbat
Rabbi Avremel Matusof is a Madison native. He received his rabbinic ordination at the Rabbinic Talmudic College in NYC. Rabbi Avremel has traveled extensively to bring hope and direction to smaller communities, including: Namibia, Ghana, China, Dominica, and Kauai, Hawaii. He moved back to the area with his wife, Chaya Mushka in the summer of 2011 as Director of the Young Jewish Professionals program (a Chabad of Madison affiliate), serving the growing professional population of the area.