Rabbi Mayer Twersky
Rabbi Mayer Twersky

Kabbolas HaTorah

Sefrias HaOmer, according to the Sefer Hachinuch, reflects our anticipation and yearning for kabbolas haTorah. This beautiful perspective is oft quoted, but what does it actually mean? In what sense are we going to accept the Torah this year? We can not opt out of Torah; Torah is eternally binding on all Jews. So what do we mean when we speak of a new kabbolas haTorah every year?

Let us consider two perspectives. In the first perek of Hilchos Talmud Torah the Rambam describes and defines the chiyuv talmud Torah. Then in the third perek he writes, "mi she'n'sa'o libo lekayeim mitzvah zos kara'oy - one who is inspired to fulfill this mitzvah optimally..." In other words, one's fulfillment of talmud Torah can be minimalist or maximalist. The minimalist discharges his obligation of talmud Torah; the maximalist takes full advantage of the priceless beracha and privilege of talmud Torah. He does not simply fulfill the mitzvah, he does so optimally.

These two approaches are not limited to mitzvas talmud Torah; they are applicable to all mitzvos. One can be "yotze" his avodas Hashem; or, alternatively, one can strive to excel in his avodas Hashem.

The minimal obligation in Torah and mitzvos does not require a new kabbala. The new kabbolas haTorah every year provides an opportunity to commit ourselves to optimal fulfillment and observance of Torah and mitzvos. Perhaps our tefillah has hitherto been adequate; on Shavuos we accept Torah, we commit to improving our tefillah (come earlier, daven slower, etc.) Perhaps our kvius itim has been acceptable; Shavuos is a time to commit to making extra time to learn. Similarly, in the realm of bein adam lachaveiro.

A second perspective on our kabbolas haTorah: the gemara teaches that, "kol mitzvah shekiblu b'simcha adayin osin osa b'simcha - every mitzvah Klal Yisroel accepted joyously they still fulfill joyously." Case in point: mitzvas milah.

This gemara teaches us that kabbolah is significant not only in creating obligation, but also in forging connection. By re-accepting the Torah, we strive to forge a deeper connection to Hakadosh Baruch Hu and His Torah.

In anticipation of kabbolas haTorah, we need to reflect upon the gift of life which Hakadosh Baruch Hu bestows upon us. Life - in its simplest sense, but also in the sense of chayey olam notah b'socheinu. Such reflection can inspire us to a kabbolas haTorah b'simcha which b'siyata d'shmaya will forge an even deeper connection to Hakadosh Baruch Hu and His Torah.

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