Sunday, June 8, 2008

Shavuos - "The Beautiful Flowers"

The Holiday of Shavuos is well known for many things. One of which is its many names. Whether it be known as Zman Matan Torateinu, Yom Habikurrim, Chag HaKatzir, Atzeres or Chag Hashavuos it is ubiquitously known as the time when the Torah was given to the Jewish people.

One of the many customs which are preformed on Shavuos is to decorate ones home and Synogogue with greenery and flowers:

What on earth do greenery and flowers have to do with the giving of the Torah?

The Mishna Brura 494:10 replies that the custom serves to recall Mount Sinai which was surrounded by foliage, as it is written “Even the flock and the cattle may not graze facing that mountain.” The Bnei Yissochor writes that it is customary to “prepare roses and other fragrant plants for Shavuos and also to decorate the Torah scrolls with them.” He quotes the following midrash as a source for this custom:

As time passed a King came to inspect and orchard and found it in ruins, covered with thorns and thistles. As he was about to command his men to chop down and destroy the desolate ruins, the king spotted one beautiful rose among the thorns. The king took the rose and smelled it, as his spirit was restored. He said, “Because of this one rose, the entire orchard will be saved.”

Similarly the world was created only for the sake of Israel. Twenty six generations after creation, Hashem looked down on his world to evaluate what had become of it: He saw that twice people had been destroyed by water and that plenty of other terrible things continuously were occurring in his world. His world was very much deserving of destruction and renewal once again. But then Hashem looked down again and he saw is one rose, Israel, and smelled its fragrance when they willingly accepted the Ten Commandments. His spirit was restored when they proclaimed, “We will do and we will listen.” Hashem declared, “In the merit of this rose, the orchard shall be saved. In the merit of the Torah and those who study it, the world will be saved” (Shir HaShirim Rabba 2:3)

As we look around our homes and communities during this beautiful Shavuos season we can look at the beautiful plants as a symbolism not only of what Har Sinai looked like when we got the Torah like what the Mishna Brura suggests but as a direct correlation to Am Yisrael’s willingness to study and live by Hakodosh Baruch Hus Torah.

- I saw this in Artscroll’s, Shavuos – Its Observances, Laws and Significance


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