For Gifts You Have to Work

It's not enough to continually ask, “When will Mashiach come”. Working on one’s emuna and and spreading it with family and friends  – that is  looking forward to the geula, and that is what brings Mashiach!

5 min

Rabbi Shalom Arush

Posted on 05.06.23

Translated from Rabbi Arush’s feature article in the weekly Chut shel Chessed newsletter. The articles focus on his main message: “Loving others as yourself” and emuna. 

Why So Short? 

What is the most important thing in the world? Of course – the Torah! The world was created for the Torah. It is the purpose of the world. If so, two questions come up: 


Question no. 1: Why do we celebrate for seven days on Pesach, marking the Exodus from Egypt, which was just a release from bondage, seemingly a material salvation, and on Sukkot for eight days, marking the miracles in the wilderness and Hashem’s caring for us – also connected to material welfare – but when it comes to the holy Torah, which is the purpose of everything, we celebrate it for only one day


Another question: The imprint left by Pesach and Sukkot is very significant. Both regarding Pesach and Sukkot there are many preparations. We break our routine completely. For Pesach we clean the house thoroughly and on the holiday itself we change our eating habits, and on Sukkot we literally leave our houses, our natural and familiar environment. It is very dramatic and significant, and it creates a different atmosphere from the usual one. But when it comes to Shavuot, we barely feel it. There are no special preparations and no special mitzvot and within a day we are back to our routine and almost forget we had a holiday.  


Wouldn’t it have been right to have a more “serious” holiday, which would leave a much more meaningful mark, celebrating the giving of the Torah for which the world was created, and which is the most significant thing for the Jewish People as a nation? 


The Torah is a Gift 

Dear fellow Jews, we must understand something very deep: 


The holy holidays are not “parties” to celebrate events that happened in the past. Our holidays consist of our serving Hashem in a way that reflects all the necessary tikkunim (corrections) and refinements that the souls of Israel need every year, every generation. 


The holy Torah is not work, but rather a gift! We speak of matan Torah, like in the word matana (gift). But how does one get a gift? By working hard. The work consists of refining and purifying ourselves so that we can be suitable vessels for the light of Torah. The holy Torah is not the work, but the result. And the rest of the holidays are the preparation and labor, the work, which give us the power to receive the Torah. Therefore, we invest most of the time and most of the work in preparation, and then we receive that sublime spiritual light.  


Because the Torah is not just wisdom; it is not a collection of books. The Torah is spiritual light. The light of the Creator of the World – He and His Torah are one. This spiritual light rests on anyone who is prepared for it and is worthy of it – one who has the traits of the Torah. And that is our work – to be prepared, to do everything to be worthy.  


And what is the work? 


The Main Work and Refinement is Emuna (faith)! 

And when emuna illuminates one fully, the Torah arrives as a matter of course. 


And indeed, our holidays consist of working on the emuna. Pesach is the holiday of emuna, the holiday of miracles and signs and supernatural events and the revealing of incredible Divine Providence. Using the strength of this emuna, we proceed to work and refine all our middot (character traits) for seven weeks. Because all the good middot are various revelations of emuna, and all the bad middot are various revelations of lack of emuna, as I have written and explained at length, in theory and in practice in the book, The Garden of Emuna


And therefore, we also learn Pirkei Avot (Chapters of the Fathers), which deals exclusively with working on one’s middot. According to that, it is understood why the Torah was given to the eaters of the man, because they were those who experienced emuna and lived the Divine Providence on the highest and clearest level. 


Rabbi Nachman says that in the merit of the mitzvah of sukkah, every Jew becomes a piece of the Torah himself, and therefore we make a great rejoicing around the holy Torah immediately after Sukkot. This is understandable, based on what we said above that Torah is the result of emuna and of the tikkun of middot through the power of emuna


According to this, we can understand how the Avot (Patriarchs) fulfilled the entire Torah before it was given. Avraham Avinu was the pillar of emuna and the first of the believers, and he gave this to the whole world, and of course to his son and his descendants – and in the merit of that emuna, naturally, they too fulfilled the entire Torah! 


This is how we can explain the avoda of this week, which is the last week of Sefirat Ha’Omer. This week is dedicated to the midda of Malchut (royalty). The midda of Malchut expresses the faith, the prayers and the humility, to know that everything belongs to Hashem. According to the Kabbalists, all the good middot are reflected in Malchut. And therefore, the “final exam” of all the days of the counting and the final preparation for matan Torah is the correction of Malchut – the compete emuna.  


And therefore, the main point of our service, both in terms of the time we invest as well as the effort and labor involved – is to acquire emuna. To live it, to enhance our prayers and to refine our middot and cleanse ourselves from base desires. When we do everything relevant to us, from our end – the Torah itself is already the gift. We receive it with love and are happy with it and enjoy learning it. 


In the same way, we can explain the expectation of the geula (salvation). The future, final salvation that we are awaiting so anxiously – it, too, is only a result. Who will be the Savior? The Savior is the Mashiach ben David; in other words, he will have the middot of David Hamelech. The midda of Malchut, which is all emuna and all tefilla, and which teaches the entire world wholehearted emuna


And like the Torah comes and is accepted when the Jewish People is ready and suited for it – in other words, when they have emuna – so too the Savior can come when the Jewish People are ready and worthy for the light of the Savior – the light of emuna, the midda of Malchut. When the midda of emuna will expand and reveal itself in the Jewish people – the Savior will appear immediately and save us. He is waiting and looking forward to this more than we are.  


People say: When will Mashiach come already? When will the geula (final redemption) come? But the real question is when will the emuna reveal itself, when will the Jews want emuna and ask for it and pursue it with all their might. That is the question and that is the expectation. But the main thing is that the emuna is our avoda! That is our part in the geula. That is how one looks forward to the geula


To say, “When will Mashiach come” is not looking forward to the geula. But to work on one’s emuna and acquire it and spread it and talk with family and friends and with anyone who wants to hear words of emuna – that is the true looking forward to the geula, and that is what brings the geula. 


Emuna is our lifework. Sweet and pleasant – and also rewarding labor, because it is the key to a life of happiness, a life of true freedom from the yetzer hara (evil inclination) and base desires, a meaningful life and a life of connection with the Creator. Only by way of emuna can one cleanse oneself from base desires because the good inclination and our only weapon is tefilla, and tefilla depends on emuna. The believer is neither angry nor sad. The believer is full of satisfaction and joy every moment of his life. The believer loves and gives copiously and beams light and good and improves the entire world.


And if those were the only gifts and benefits – that would be enough! 


But now comes the holiday of Shavuot and tells us that there is much more: If you believe so much, and you are so good, and are so pure and refined – you receive the greatest gift and the purpose of the world – you receive the holy Torah! 

Tell us what you think!

1. Ronnie


great, thanks

Thank you for your comment!

It will be published after approval by the Editor.

Add a Comment