So we’ve rejoined the regular world tonight after two days of celebrating Shavuot. It was a good time, actually, even if I was in a little bit of a funk going into it for reasons unknown.
Tuesday night I had dinner at home instead of at the synagogue, then made my way back at around 11:00 PM ready to study Torah all night. We got started at around Midnight, looking at two letters from the Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, on the meaning of Shavuot, as expounded by our rabbi. The conversation drifted for a while to the topic of Israel and the 6-day War in 1967, when Jerusalem was finally reunited and we gained access to the Western Wall one more time. The Zohar seems to indicate (in the way that the Zohar can indicate anything with any kind of accuracy) that 40 years after the reunification of the city (i.e. now in 2007/5767) we enter into an auspicious time for the arrival of Mashiach. I have no idea if this is true or not (as I said, the Zohar is anything but clear, written in symbolic language that hides its esoteric revelations), but I think we still need to do our part to bring the Redemption, auspicious time or not.
After a short break (the conversation actually drifted a couple more times, ending in a discussion about failed marriages and divorces, something I have nothing to say about) we went back to study, this time exploring a maamar from the Rebbe on some mystical underpinings of Shavuot. We talked about the book of Ruth, its connections to the holiday, the role of converts in Judaism and in the line of Mashiach (Mashiach will descend from a convert, as we can see in the book of Ruth, who was a convert and the great-grandmother of King David, an incarnation of Mashiach), and about the various midrashic tales of what transpired at Mount Sinai when the Torah was given. In between breaks I was also studying the Talmud, tractate Chagigah, reading about the Seven Heavens, and the Merkavah, the Holy Chariot of the Throne of G-d, as seen in the vision of Ezekiel (Chapter 1), which is enough to send anyone home with a headache, so dense it is with esoteric symbolism.
Much coffee was had, but eventually we all got sleepy and at 3:40 AM we called it a night and all nine of us (actually, there were 10 counting a 12-year old boy who is soon to have his bar mitzvah) made our way home. For my part, I got home, had something to drink and a snack, and kept on studying the Talmud, reading about the merkavah and the heavens, until I woke up and realized I’d fallen asleep while reading. I made my prayers and at 5:00 AM I went to sleep. By 10:30 AM I was back at shul for morning prayers and to hear the Ten Commandments be read aloud. Since to G-d there is no Time–past, present and future are all one concurrent point to Him–when we read the commandments at the synagogue, we are all really and truly standing at the foot of Mt. Sinai once again, hearing the voice of G-d Himself read the commandments to us and transmit them to Moses and the rest of the nation.
During the last two days we have eaten horribly. I mean, I’ve tried to be good, so as to not gain the 5 pounds I’ve lost in the last 2 weeks, but since it is customary to eat dairy in Shavuot, there has been an overabundance of cheesecake, both the ones my wife made (which she did alter to a more diet-friendly recipe) and the ones at shul (the bad-for-you-yet-yummy kind), plus a lot of food, much of it with cheese on top (at least at home). I mean, I did do a lot of walking, but I think that only got me a net result. Oh well.
Tomorrow my wife and I go away for a weekend getaway. Our destination is still a secret to her, which is great! I’ll post pics here once we get back.