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,
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
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
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
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)
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
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
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.