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ב"ה

ARE YOU COMING TO THE ROYAL WEDDING?

Friday, 3 June, 2022 - 12:22 pm

Mr. Goldberg bought a new fridge for his house.
To get rid of his old fridge, he put it in his front garden and hung a sign on it saying: “Free to a good home. You want it, you take it.”
For three months, the fridge sat there without even one person looking twice at it.
He eventually decided that people were too un-trusting of this deal. It looked too good to be true, so he changed the sign to read: ‘Fridge for sale $200.’
The next day someone stole it.
The Baal Shem Tov, once said that everything you see or hear is a lesson in life.
What happened on the holiday of Shavuot, teaches us in the Talmud that day is the celebration of a royal wedding—The day of the giving of the Torah is described as “the day of the wedding between G-d and His people.”
What does this mean? What is the nature of this wedding? So, the Torah we read on Shavuot relates, to how G-d says, that from Sinai and onward, “You shall become for Me a kingdom of princes and a holy people.” Shavuot turned the Jew into a royal person, indeed, is the ultimate royal wedding!
Indeed, Shavuot is linked to three gigantic persons in Jewish history—who all embody, more than anyone else in Jewish history, royalty, and aristocracy.
The first is, of course, Moses, the man who gave us the Torah; the man whom G-d called up to the mountain as He revealed Himself to the Jewish people at Sinai.
Shavuot is also the day when King David, the greatest king of Israel, was born and passed away.
Finally, the first day of Shavuot is the passing of Rabbi Yisroel Baal Shem Tov (1698-1760), founder and first leader of the Chassidic movement.
This is not a coincidence. These three people, perhaps more than anyone else in our long history, embodied the quality of leadership and royalty—and they bequeathed the gift of royalty to their people, albeit in very distinct eras of history.
Moses was the first Jewish leader and king, who molded them from a band of slaves into a royal and Divine people. David was not only seen as one of the greatest kings of the Jewish people, but he was the founder and architect of the royal dynasty of the Jewish people. Royalty remained in his family for millennia, and Moshiach too will be a scion of King David.
And, finally, the Baal Shem Tov, was one of the greatest leaders and teachers in Jewish history—the architect, founder, and first leader of the Chassidic movement, which transformed the landscape of Jewish life and scholarship.
Or as King David puts it in Psalms 119:
And I shall walk in expansiveness, for I sought Your precepts.
 
And I shall speak of Your testimonies in the presence of kings, and I shall not be ashamed.

Ah! That is how a real Jew felt! “I shall speak of Your truth in the presence of kings without shame!”
And it reminded me of another story about British royalty. A Jewish tycoon once shared with me that he was sitting with the late British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, who was one tough personality and came to be known as The Iron Lady. She served as the longest and firmest Prime Minister of the United Kingdom during the 20th century.
He asked her what was the most amusing moment in her long and distinguished career?
Mrs. Thatcher shared the following story. The British Queen and Margaret Thatcher would meet once a week, on Tuesdays, at 6:30 PM. Once, at the designated time, Prime Minister Thatcher entered the Buckingham Palace, approached the Queen, gave the traditional bow, and was horrified when she realized that she and the queen were wearing the same dress.
The next morning, the Prime Minister sent a handwritten note to the Queen, expressing her profound apology for the incident. She added that henceforth she ordered her staff to ask the Palace what the Queen would be wearing so that this embarrassing thing would never happen again.
A few hours later a note came back to Thatcher from the palace. The note read: "No need to apologize. Her Majesty never notices what commoners wear!”
I love the story, not so much because of what it says about the British royal family, but because of the lesson, we can glean from it on Shavuot. A Jewish soul is a royalty, a “Fragment of the Divine.” When you truly realize that, then you face the world with a certain confidence and courage, not coming from arrogance, but rather from knowing who you are and what you are. You do not even “notice” the obstacles, inner or outer, to your mission, because you are the queen/king. You appreciate the truth that if G-d is the architect of the universe, everything He sends your way is always intended to bring you closer to Him. For the true king, there are no obstacles, only opportunities.
When the Jew realized the whole world was created for Torah, then nothing in the world can serve as an obstacle to Torah—only as a springboard for a deeper connection, commitment, and more resilience.  
Yet, Moses, David, and the Baal Shem Tov lived in three very distinct generations.
Moses emancipated his people from slavery, and lived with them for forty years in a desert, in an entirely supernatural existence. With their own eyes and ears, they witnessed the infinity and grace of G-d, and the truth and power of the Torah He has given them through Moses. Of course, they all felt like kings!
King David lived in a different milieu. Jews were living in a natural world, in the Land of Israel, surrounded by enemies from all sides, and he needed to engage in many a battle to protect his people and land. His reign was anything but smooth rocked by anxiety from within and without. Yet at least the Jews were living in their own homeland, under the rule of their own monarch, in the presence of prophets and great spirits, and with a keen awareness of the role and contribution of the Divine Torah in their lives. Indeed, David proved to be the man who united all of the tribes of Israel under one flag; conquered Jerusalem and established it as the capital of the Jewish nation; prepared all the materials for the construction of the Holy Temple, to house the Divine presence; and brought stability, confidence, pride, and peace to the people of Israel, for the first time in a very long time.
So, the Jews, again, could feel like kings.
Enter the third hero of Shavuot—the Baal Shem Tov.
When Baal Shem Tov was born, in 1698, in Ukraine, his people were shattered both physically and spiritually. The Jewish community was just recovering from the horrific massacres of Bogdan Khmelnitsky, in 1648-49, when the Cossacks ripped through Ukraine and Poland and murdered 300,000 Jews. It was the worst massacre of the Jewish people since the destruction of the Second Temple and the crushing of the Bar Kochva revolt, 1600 years earlier. Jews were craving solace, for some restoration of dignity. And this showed up in the persona of a man by the name of Shabti Zvi, who declared himself as the Messiah whom G-d sent to liberate the Jewish people. Many communities in Eastern Europe were lured into his charisma (especially with the help of his Public Relations man, Nathan from Gaza, who was a brilliant organizer, writer, and orator). The electricity in the ear was transfixing. In Turkey, where Shabti Zvi lived and preached, Jews sold their homes and leased every ship on the coast to take them to Israel. And then, in 1666, when offered the choice between beheading and conversion, Shabti Zvi converted to Islam. It dealt a nearly fatal blow to the morals, hopes, and dreams of a people. Their Messiah has become a Muslim!
The poverty, the deprived circumstances of life, and the demoralization of the Jewish people were at their lowest nadir. And if this was not enough to discourage people, the Enlightenment began to take root in Western Europe, which would prove yet another fatal blow to the future and destiny of the Jewish faith, resulting in mass assimilation and conversion over the 18th and 19th centuries, in Western and Eastern Europe.  
It was precisely in this era when a soul was born, to infuse life into a broken and shattered people—to confer upon them once again the feeling of royalty. In his 62 years of earthly life, he managed to place a crown of royalty, on the Jewish people. it seemed like he restored on the heads of Israel the two crowns they received at Sinai, when they said, “we will do” and “we will study.”
These are the things the Baal Shem Tov taught:
You are not a slave; you are a child. That G‑d loves you as if you were His only child, and much more.
You are a prince or princess; the whole world awaits your every move. Your every deed, every word you speak, even a single thought you think, has an effect that reverberates throughout all the worlds and throughout the whole of history.
The Baal Shem Tov further taught that G-d is with you every moment, every nanosecond. In your highest and lowest moments, G-d is holding your hand, cheering for you, and holding on to you. Nothing that happens to you is by chance. There is always love and meaning at its core.
You are never a victim of circumstances. The circumstances are here to serve you. G-d has placed you in these circumstances to elevate your relationship with yourself, your G-d, and the world to a far deeper place.
Never ever despair. Life was meant to be lived in joy, passion, and creativity. We can live it joyously in every situation, under all and any circumstances.
That G-d has created the universe, and you, at every moment; meaning that all the love and meaning in the world is always experienced in the NOW.
The Baal Shem Tov ignited the light of Moshiach inside the hearts of the Jewish people; he taught them that redemption always begins internally, with the change of your mindset and awareness. “There is no exile and redemption,” said the Baal Shem Tov, “only in your awareness.”
The Baal Shem Tov, was once asked: "Why is it that Chassidim burst into song and dance at the slightest provocation? Is this the behavior of a healthy, sane individual?"
The Baal Shem Tov responded with a story:
Once, a musician came to town — a musician of great but unknown talent. He stood on a street corner and began to play.
Those who stopped to listen could not tear themselves away, and soon a large crowd stood enthralled by the glorious music who’s equal they had never heard. Before long they were moving to its rhythm, and the entire street was transformed into a dancing mass of humanity.
A deaf man walking by wondered: Has the world gone mad? Why are the townspeople jumping up and down, waving their arms, and turning in circles in the middle of the street?
"Chassidim," concluded the Baal Shem Tov, "are moved by the melody that issues forth from every creature in G‑d's creation. If this makes them appear mad to those with less sensitive ears, should they, therefore, cease to dance?"
And here we are today, 3334 years since we stood at Sinai and celebrated the Royal Wedding, and exactly 324 years since the birth of the Baal Shem Tov, who restored Jewish royalty in the bitterness of a long and dark exile.
They say what is the difference between a 20-year-old, 40-year-old, and 60-year-old?
A 20-year-old is very self-conscious. Who am I? Where do I fit in? What do they think of me?
A 40-year-old says to himself: This is me, and I could not care less what they think of me and how they look at me. They don’t like what they see, tough luck on this, this is who I am. Take it or leave it.
And then the 60-year-old realizes that nobody was ever looking at him in the first place…
As a Jew, embracing my innermost identity, and realizing that my very being is sacred, means truly embracing my inner Jewishness. The essence of the Jew is to be a Jew.
There is a wonderful story that is told about Chaim Weitzmann, who was to become the first president of Israel. In the early ‘40s, while imploring the British to allow the Jews to return to what was then Palestine, a British gentleman said to him, “Dr. Weitzmann, what do you need to start a Jewish country for in that God-forsaken corner of the Middle East? Why don’t you take your Jews – who evidently need some refuge from persecution – and take them to Argentina or Uganda or the Canary Islands or someplace else? What do you need Palestine for?”
And Weitzmann said to the man, “You may be right, but before I answer you, let me ask you a question. I understand that every year on Mother’s Day and on a good many other occasions during the year, you drive all the way across the city of London to visit your mother at the nursing home where she lives. There are lots of other old ladies in London. Why don’t you visit some other woman who lives closer instead of visiting your mother?”
The gentleman got the point that your mother is not just any old woman. She is your mother. And in the very same way, Jerusalem is not just any old land. It is our family home. We never forgot our Jerusalem. For 2000 years we prayed toward this city and we mentioned it dozens of times a day. We are grateful to the United States for doing the right thing and appreciating the eternal connection between the Jewish people and Jerusalem, since the times of King David.
Never ever should we again be ashamed of telling ourselves and the world that we have a mother and telling them who our mother is.
We were not meant to be the punching bags of the world; we were invited to a Royal Wedding 3334 years ago. Can we finally accept the invitation?


Shabbat Shalom and Chag Shavuot Sameach,


Rabbi Yoseph Geisinsky

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