Delayed Gratification

Psychiatrists are well settled on the idea that delayed gratification is the proper approach to assume for success. Though it’s the harder road it offers the greatest rewards as man’s toil for anything trumps his easy acquisition of it.

As Shavuos is here, we must analyze our approach to the receiving of the Torah in the past and how we want to relate to it in the present.

Initially when G-d gave us the Torah we said Naase Venishma, but only for the written law (according to one modern commentator) not the oral one. G-d had to threaten us with a suspended mountain to guarantee our acceptance of the oral law. In essence we wanted instant gratification, as the written law is a “what you see is what you get” document. (Rabbi Genack quotes Rav Soloveichik as saying that one receives reward for just merely reading pesukim of the written law without understanding them, whereas regarding the oral law once must understand what they are learning in order to receive any awards for learning it.)

However, later in history by Purim, we chose the better route of delayed gratification when we lovingly and out of free will accepted the oral law. Interestingly, the Megillah describes our acceptance as “Kimu Vekiblu – we held it and accepted it,” similar to our original terminology of “Naase Venishma.” Indeed, we took on instant acceptance with the notion that “later work” involved in uncovering the oral law’s depth was worth it.

The Zohar says the Torah is given anew every day. The question then is why Shavuos is named “Zman Matan Torateinu” as every day we accept it. My cousin, Rabbi Yakov Nagen, Rosh Kollel at Yeshiva Otniel, answers that indeed every day the Torah is given but we have such outside noise and distractions that we can’t hear it. For “Matan Torah” G-d took care of the noise as the world was silent at that time.

We just read Parshah Bechokotai. Famously; Rashi says that we must be Amel Be’Torah. The Gematriah of Amel (ayin, mem, lamed) is 140. This equals the Hebrew word “Kam” (kuf, mem) “rise up.” Today we must take the initiative and silence all noise and distractions that prevent us from tuning into the Torah on a daily basis. And we must face it with an attitude of delayed gratification knowing that all feelings of accomplishment come through hard work.

Reb Chaim Kanievsky shlita, the master of the oral law, says Moshiach is on the doorstep and that it is destined to come the year after Shmittah where we are now. We must rise up to delve into the most satisfying body of thought ever presented to humankind; the oral law.



A Chiddush For Gemara Bava Kamma And Shabbos

Why do chazal refer to the melachos on Shabbos as 40 minus one – why not just say there are 39 melachos? Perhaps 40 is such a fundamental number (i.e. – the forming of an embroyo over 40 days, Moshe receiving the Torah in 40 days, the necessity of having 40 seah in a Mikvah) Chazal didn’t want to disturb the number of 40 by saying 39 (which is to close to the fundamental number of 40) in turn mandating chazal to use the term 40 minus 1.