Rosh Hodesh Sivan Torah Essay
Valeria Shani Janzen Sametz
“(…) כָּךְ הָיָה הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא מַבִּיט בַּתּוֹרָה וּבוֹרֵא אֶת הָעוֹלָם (…)” “ (…) So too Hashem gazed into the Torah and created the world. (…)” Bereshit Rabba 1:1
This Midrash in Bereshit Rabba presents the idea that the creation of Torah not only preceded the creation of the world, but had a role in how the world was created. In a sense, the Midrash is telling us that the Torah served as the blueprint that Hashem consulted. However, it appears that the Torah was not only the blueprint for the creation of the world, but the reason or condition for its creation. Rashi, on Bereshit 1:31, notes that while each day of creation concludes with “X וַֽיְהִי־עֶ֥רֶב וַֽיְהִי־בֹ֖קֶר י֥וֹם”, the conclusion for the sixth day is different.
“וַיַּ֤רְא אֱלֹהִים֙ אֶת־כָּל־אֲשֶׁ֣ר עָשָׂ֔ה וְהִנֵּה־ט֖וֹב מְאֹ֑ד וַֽיְהִי־עֶ֥רֶב וַֽיְהִי־בֹ֖קֶר י֥וֹם הַשִּׁשִּֽׁי׃” “And God saw all that He had made, and found it very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day.” Bereshit 1:31
Rashi expounds on the reasoning behind the added “הַ” on the conclusion of the 6th day, explaining that the entire Creation stood in a state of suspense, or moral imperfection, until the sixth day; and which is this sixth day? None other than ו’ בסיון המוכן למתן תורה, the 6th of Sivan which was destined to be the day when the Torah would be given to Israel. Here Rashi is not only telling us that the Torah preceded the world, but that B’nei Yisrael accepting the Torah was a precondition for the creation of the world. Rashi refers us to Masechet Avodah Zarah 3a, which goes further by saying that if B’nei Yisrael does not accept the Torah, Hashem will return the world to a state of תוהו ובוהו, of chaos and disorder. B’nei Yisrael needs to accept the Torah in order for the world to exist as Hashem planned it. From the moment of Creation, the connection between the Torah and B’nei Yisrael has been the cornerstone for a world infused with Godliness and ratzon Hashem. While this message is beautiful and inspiring in and of itself, I would like to put it in a different light.
When B’nei Yisrael arrived on the 1st of the 3rd month, Rosh Chodesh Sivan, to midbar Sinai, something incredible happened.
“וַיִּסְע֣וּ מֵרְפִידִ֗ים וַיָּבֹ֙אוּ֙ מִדְבַּ֣ר סִינַ֔י וַֽיַּחֲנ֖וּ בַּמִּדְבָּ֑ר וַיִּֽחַן־שָׁ֥ם יִשְׂרָאֵ֖ל נֶ֥גֶד הָהָֽר׃” “Having journeyed from Rephidim, they entered the wilderness of Sinai and encamped in the wilderness. Israel encamped there in front of the mountain,” Shemot 19:2
The pasuk starts by speaking about B’nei Yisrael in the plural form, and then suddenly switches to speaking about them in singular. Rashi picks up on this change and explains its reason. When B’nei Yisrael left Egypt and traveled through the wilderness in order to arrive at Har Sinai, they did so as a group of individual people. However, once they encamped in front of Har Sinai, they were no longer individuals. Rather, Israel encamped there כאיש אחד בלב אחד, as one man with one mind. When we were receiving the Torah, we were one – one people, with one heart, one wish, and one will. There was no division between us, we were in a state of complete spiritual togetherness.
I want to believe that when Hashem looked in the Torah to create the world (Bereshit Rabba 1:1) and conditioned the creation of the world on B’nei Yisrael’s acceptance of the Torah (Avodah Zarah 3a), He not only anticipated that we would receive the Torah, but that we would do so in complete national and spiritual unity. Our acceptance of mitzvot and Torah every day, and especially as we prepare for Chag HaShavuot, should also reflect our efforts to be united as a people and to emulate that state of spiritual togetherness we experienced during Ma’amad Har Sinai. May our Torah study on the night of Shavuot, and always, brings us closer and unify us as a nation.
Rosh Hodesh Sivan Tov