Mazal Tov!

A tale is told of two great Torah scholars of the early 1900s, Rabbi Chaim Soloveichik of Brisk, and Rabbi Shimon Shkop of Grodno zt”l.

“Reb Shimon” as he was known, once proposed a “s’varah”– a line of Talmudic reasoning, that went as follows:

He argued that the act of kiddushin (betrothal) is not a one-time occurrence between man and wife; rather it is a constantly ongoing series of events.

Reb Chaim did not agree. He expressed his rebuttal in two pithy words. “Mazal Tov!

“Mazal tov”? Reb Shimon repeated. What did Reb Chaim mean by that?

“Well, according to you, it would come out that you didn’t only get married all those years ago,” Reb Chaim explained. “After all, your act of getting married is constantly ongoing. As such, you have just gotten married once again. And so I wished you mazal tov!”

…and Mazal Tov Again!

One of the great Chassidic masters of yore, the legendary Rabbi Levi Yitzchok of Berditchev, explained that, conversely to the previous anecdote; the occasion of receiving the Torah, that awesome, cosmic event that formed our nation all those years ago, actually does repeat itself each year, on the Chag of Shavuot.

But, why? What are we reaccepting exactly? Don’t we have the Torah already?

The answer given is that each year, we don’t simply repeat the original event, rather it is an additional layer. Each successive year provides an additional attachment, an additional closeness, and an additional level to the bond between Hashem (God) and the Jewish People, and to the bond between the Jewish People and the Torah.

So, Let’s Challenge Ourselves!

If you haven’t stayed up the whole Shavuot night to study Torah before, this is the year to do it!
If the whole night is too much, at least do a part. And if you prefer to take on a different challenge, to grow in a different area, that’s great too.

The main thing is, let us push ourselves one step out of our comfort zones, and climb another rung on the ladder that reaches Heaven. And then we can truly wish ourselves “Mazal Tov”!!

by Rabbi Pinchos Fried

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