Rabbi Yonasan Sacks
Anticipating Kabolas HaTorah
We find ourselves in an intense period awaiting zman matan Toraseinu. The days of the omer in general, and the shloshes yemei hagbola in particular, challenge us to appreciate and internalize the profound significance of kabolas haTorah. The Ramban explains that the very purpose of sefiras haOmer is to connect the experience of yetsias Mitzrayim (the exodus from Egypt) with that of ma'amad Har Sinai (standing at Mt. Sinai). This linkage emphasizes the need to view our freedom from the bondage of Mitzrayim as a means toward heightened Avodas Hashem.
How do we prepare ourselves for the Shavuos experience? Which aspects of our avodas Hashem require the most considerable emphasis?
Unquestionably, we must approach our limud haTorah with a profound sense of passion, diligence, and commitment. We must perceive Torah study as an act of kabolas penei haShecinah, Divine revelation.
Rabbeinu Yonah, however, underscores tikkun hamiddos, perfection of character, as a necessary condition for kabolas haTorah. Commenting on the teaching of Rav Elazar ben Azaria, "im ein derech eretz, ein Torah" (Avos 3:17), Rabbeinu Yonah explains, "Torah einena shochenes l'olam b'guf she'eino ba'al middos tovos"; Torah can only reside in a ba'al middos tovos, one who posses a refined or exemplary character.
Interestingly, the Avudraham cites a minhag limiting the recitation of Pirkei Avos to the weeks between Pesach and Shavuos, highlighting tikkun hamiddos as a prerequisite for kabolas haTorah.
The Avnei Nezer explains that the students of R' Akiva who, l'fi madreigasam (at their level), failed to exhibit proper kavod for each other, died specifically during yemei haSefira, a time designated for tikkun hamiddos.
Both limud haTorah and tikkun hamiddos require our constant attention and concern. Just as the Torah characterizes the weeks of Sefira as "temimos" (whole; perfect), so too our commitment to limud haTorah and tikkun hamiddos must be incessant and continual. May we merit a meaningful and profoundly significant kabolas haTorah.