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Bright-eyed and Bushy-tailed
By Boruch Merkur

Have you ever had the nightmare of waking up late for an important interview, or an exam, or the like? Itís bad enough when its a dream, but when it happens for real it makes you wish they never invented the snooze-button, doesnít it?

On a regular morning, though, we plead with the alarm clock for compassion. But it insists - buzz buzz buzzing away. And then we thank the L-rd Above for the creation of the snooze button!

But when the alarm doesnít turn off - even after banging on the trusty snooze-button, and even after playing crash-test dummy with the alarm clock against the wall - we realize that it wasnít the alarm clock after all that was causing the dreaded... buzz buzz buzz... There it goes again! In fact, the alarm clock was only set for 7:15, and now its only 6:30! Buzz buzz buzz...

And then it becomes nice and sparkling clear: that most annoying sound is none other than the very sound that has woken you up every morning for the past few weeks... Buzz buzz buzz... Itís the friendly neighborhood wrecking crew, up again, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, with their Mack trucks and their buzz saws - or drills, or whatever it is they tear the streets up with these days - helping you get up on time for work. Thanks a lot, guys!

***

Back in biblical times, close to three months into our epic journey through the Sinai desert, the Jewish people camped out together, several million strong, at the foot of the desertís historic mountain, Mount Sinai, with its aura of dread and mystery, and its characteristic thunder and lightning.

But that night was different. There was something more than just your average calm-before-the-storm in the air. It was an all-encompassing calm, every creature at peace - quieted and still. That night even the nastiest flies didnít bite - and certainly there was no sign of the local wrecking crew - the night before we received the Torah.

Now, it makes sense to say that, even on such a holy night, you or I might have taken advantage of the opportunity to catch a few winks of shut-eye. It would probably not even be too far-fetched to say that you or I might have slept in the following morning, when we were given the Torah. After all, we are simple people. You see, at Mount Sinai, the Jewish nation was like a bride before the groom on their wedding day. (And what a groom! Almighty G-d Himself, the King of kings, the Holy One, blessed be He!) Surely on our wedding day we wouldnít want to have any bags under our eyes from missing out on our beauty sleep.

Now, this may be true of you or me - but surely not of them, the original desert trekkies. These people were holy through and through. They werenít so concerned with beauty sleep and the like - they werenít so grub. Surely they waited with baited breath in anticipation of their holy wedding day. You would expect that they would have been up all night, or you would at least presume that they would have gotten up extra early to rendezvous at dawn with their eternal partner to be, G-d Himself.

But no, it didnít quite happen that way. In fact, they overslept. They were more than two hours late for the reception - and thatís even late in "Jewish time"! And when they finally woke up, it was to the tune of a most tumultuous alarm: the crackling thunderbolts and blazing flashes that lit up the sky above their wedding canopy. Mount Sinai. G-d had been waiting at the chuppa since dawn, whilst His bride, the Jewish people, lay basking in Snoozeland. And to add to the embarrassment, the illustrious Master of Ceremonies, Moshe himself, had to personally round them up in a last minute wake-up call.

Because of this oversight, we now try to make up for the damage done by staying up and learning Torah all night on the holiday of Shavuos. But it remains to be explained: why werenít the Jewish people more eager to wake up on time to receive the Torah, a veritable marriage contract with the Alm-ghty?!

Maybe we can say that they were simply too pooped from shlepping about for seven weeks in the desert. But that reason doesnít seem to hold water. As we have said, these people were holy. Besides, "pooped" just doesnít get in the way of something so important. (If, for example, someone was going to give us a certified check for a million dollars at six oíclock in the morning, would we oversleep? Not exactly! Weíd even be willing to call up the infamous wrecking crew, begging them to start the job a little earlier that morning.)

The truth is, as the Rebbe explains, the Jewish people did not sleep-in because they were lazy. Rather, they actually intended to prepare for the giving of the Torah by sleeping. They knew that through putting their bodies to sleep, their souls would be free to soar up to Heaven and be recharged. They believed that this would render them as fit vessels for the receiving of the holy Torah. And indeed, their approach was right - only their application was wrong. The giving of the Torah was much more than just a spiritual experience. In fact, it was the quintessential physical experience. And hence, spiritual "push-ups" alone wouldnít cut it.

To explain: Before the Torah was given, the spiritual was completely separate from the physical. Therefore, until then, the approach of recharging the soul through transcending the physical body would have been a most appropriate preparation. But the giving of the Torah marked the start of a new era. From then on, the spiritual could permeate and reside in the physical. And hence, the preparation for such an event had to emphasize working with the physical - and not simply transcending it, but rather - imbuing the physical with the spiritual. Thus, they certainly should have struggled with their bodies to get up at the crack of dawn to meet the groom.

When Moshiach comes, we will again experience a dramatic change in the world. Then, not only will the spiritual be able to reside in the physical, but the physical itself will be completely penetrated with holiness. Now our bodies our vitalized by our souls, but Moshiach will usher in a time when our souls will be sustained and nourished by our bodies. And we can start preparing for the coming of Moshiach right now, by waking up to the reality of the imminent Redemption and dancing our feet off the ground in anticipation!

(Based on Likkutei Sichos 4)


Donít Have a Messy Face
By Rabbi Chaim Miller
Children find it easy to shout with pride, "WE WANT MOSHIACH NOW!" because they donít have the problem of wanting to see the truth their way...

There once appeared a rather perturbing cartoon which depicted the Mona Lisa with her nose cut off and a pair of scissors in her hand. The caption read: "Once in a while I like to spoil myself!"

As with most of the seemingly trivial things we see from day to day, there is a powerful message hiding behind even this cartoon: We think that when we treat ourselves to "the good things in life" that we are spoiling ourselves, getting that extra-special treat. The truth is, however, that we are selling ourselves short and allowing ourselves to become enslaved to our more primitive desires, and the significance in our lives is obscured. In short, when we "spoil" ourselves, we do, in fact, become spoiled.

* * *

My teacher, used to enjoy telling this story:

A man awoke to see bright light coming from all directions, and inquired, "where am I?"

"You are in the World of Truth," he was told.

As his eyes became acclimatized to the light, it became obvious that there were thousands of lamps burning oil, creating a tremendous blaze.

On closer inspection, he noticed that the amount of fuel remaining in each lamp varied - some had large reservoirs of oil yet to be consumed, whilst others were virtually empty.

The meaning of this peculiar set-up began to be clarified when the man noticed nameplates attached to the bases of each of the lamps. It dawned on him that each lamp represented the lifeline of each person; the amount of oil remaining showed how much time a person had left on Earth.

Within a short time he had located his own lamp, and terror set in - it had only a few drops of oil left! Without too much thought, he looked this way and that and swiftly tipped some oil from the neighboring lamp - which was practically overflowing - into his.

Of course, he was caught in the act - that much is predictable - but the point of the story is the profound words of rebuke that he received: "ARE YOU LOOKING FOR THE TRUTH, OR ARE YOU LOOKING FOR THE TRUTH THE WAY YOU WANT IT TO BE?!"

* * *

Deep down inside, everyone agrees: We do not need to be proven that there is a G-d, because we know that He is within us. We do not need to be proven that we are Jewish, because we feel it. And we do not need to be proven that the Torah is G-dís holy communication to us, because we feel that a Jew should be doing something Jewish, something in line with the Torah. The only problem is that we must be perceptive to our inner being in order to reveal these truths.

In this sense, we are right now in the "World of Truth," and it is all too tempting to spend our entire lives looking this way and that and grabbing whatever "oil" we can. But a Jew is not true to himself unless his soul finds expression through the Torah way of life. We simply have to strive to be sensitive to that which we know to be true, and then act on it.

And thatís why children find it so easy to shout with pride, "WE WANT MOSHIACH NOW!" because they donít have the problem of wanting to see the truth their way. If you tell a child something is true, he believes you; he does not warp his perception of reality according to his own desires. If only we could attain this kind of sincerity, we would then be able to forget about ourselves and instead yearn for everything that is true and good.

   

At Mount Sinai, the Jewish nation was like a bride before the groom on their wedding day. Surely on our wedding day we wouldnít want to have any bags under our eyes from missing out on our beauty sleep.

 

 

The truth is, as the Rebbe explains, the Jewish people did not sleep-in because they were lazy. Rather, they actually intended to prepare for the giving of the Torah by sleeping.

 

 


YECHI ADONEINU MOREINU V'RABBEINU MELECH HA'MOSHIACH L'OLAM VA'ED!

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