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"A Taste of Honey!"

05/27/2020 02:28:00 PM

May27

Rabbi Reuben Israel Abraham, CDR, CHC, USN (ret)

There is the parable about the big brown honey bear who was hungry.  He searched around looking everywhere for food.  He found thistles and dandelions and tubers, but he did not find what he really wanted: honey.  Since honey was his absolutely favorite food, he continued to search the woods and the meadows.  He came upon some stately white oak trees under which was a copius amount of acorns.  "I am not a squirrel," he thought to himself. "I do not want aqcorns!  I want something sweet.  I want honey.  Give me honey!"  A few minutes later, he suddenly smelled the fragrance of that which he was seeking: wildflower honey!  He quickly hurried toward the source of the fragrance.  All of a sudden, a bee buzzed by his ear.  He kept going.  A second bee landed upon his nose while a third one landed on his ear.  He continued on his trek.  Before too long, the bear was surrounded by a swarm of angry bees.  The truth be told, the more bees there were, the happier the bear was.  Why?  Because he knew that bees meant there was a beehive and a beehive meant that there was a honeycomb.  With a singleness of purpose, the bear put up with the increase of the stinging that he was enduring constantly moving toward the intoxicating honey fragrance that was getting stronger and stronger with each step he took.  Never losing the site of his objective, the bear came upon a patch of wild lupines and there it was: the honeycomb of his desire!  The lesson?   A hungry bear with a mouth full of honey never pays the slightest attention to any obstacle, not even to hundreds of bee stings.

The first night of Shavuot is known as "Tikkun Leyl Shavuot," literally "Repairing the Night of Shavuot," which commemorates the fact that the B'nei Yisrael who were standing at the foot of Har (Mount) Sinai had been told to spend the night in preparation to receive the Torah the very next morning.  What did they do instead?  The Torah tells us that they fell asleep!  It is during this first night of Shavuot that participants in "Tikkun Leyl Shavuot" spend the entire night studying Torah which can include Torah, MishnahTalmud and other traditional texts.  The session ends with the participants davvening Shacharit together at sunrise.  The fact that they have stayed awake all night studying Torah "repairs" the mistake our ancestors made at the foot of Har Sinai.  Perhaps they fell asleep because they were not eager to receive the Torah from HaShem?  Perhaps.  But each year since that seminal moment in the history of Am Yisrael (the People Israel), we are given the opportunity to once again strengthen our bond with both HaShem and with H-s Torah.

We must not be like our ancient ancestors and succumb to falling asleep on this night.  After all, the fact remains that if you decided to spend the night "binge watching" your favorite television series, you would most probably not fall asleep.  So why would you do so when you open a Chumash or a Tanakh or a volume of Talmud on the first night of Shavuot?  We should take a lesson from the bear in the parable.  May we overcome the "bees" (sleepiness and fatigue) as we bring ourselves close to the "honey" (the Torah) on this night.  May we once again taste the sweetness of the Torah which is honey to our souls.

Fri, July 3 2020 11 Tammuz 5780