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My Beautiful Friends

New York, 5751

I just returned from Yerushalayim, from the Holy City, from the Holy Wall, from everything holy and beautiful in our lives. And we are in the middle of counting, counting our days, counting life, counting beautiful things. I will share with you a little bit about Lag B’Omer, about Shavuot, and about Kiddush Levanah, the Blessing of the Moon. My dear friends, the deepest depths of Yiddishkeit is, that I am longing for so much and I am so broken that I don’t have it yet. Yet I do have it. The Isbitzer says, If I need a hundred dollars it is because I don’t have it. But for G-d , if crying for the Torah, if crying for Yiddishkeit, it is because I really do have it.

You know friends, G-d gave us the Torah on Mount Sinai and the saddest thing in the world is that we had the arrogance to think that we had it. So we lost it. When Moshe Rabbeinu broke the tablets, he gave us the Torah again and the Talmud says that both tablets, the whole ones and the broken ones, are lying in the Holy Ark. We need both.

So basically the laws of the Torah which we receive on Shavuot are not enough to protect us from the Golden Calf. So G-d in His infinite mercy gives us broken tablets – the deepest secret of the Torah, the Torah of Rabbi Akiva and Reb Shimon Bar Yochai. He gives them to us before Shavuot, on Lag B’Omer. And then on Shavuot what we receive is even deeper than the secrets of the Torah, the utmost heavenliness and G-d holiness of the Torah.

The Gemara says that G-d always gives the medication before the disease. So every Shavuot there is always a possibility of making another golden calf. Maybe last year we did it, maybe we are still doing it. So Lag B’Omer is the day that G-d gave us the secrets of the Torah. You know what the secret is? The secret is something that fills your heart so much, it fills you with longing, it fills you with depth. A secret is like a little bit of light beyond vessels. Basically, when G-d created the world, G-d was hiding in the world. G-d is the biggest secret in the world. He is so obvious and yet so hidden. So G-d gives us the secrets of the Torah before Shavuot.

And every Lag B’Omer Reb Shimon Bar Yochai and Rabbi Akiva are giving over to us the deepest depths of the Torah. Reb Zadok Hacohen says, How do you know how much somebody loves you? When somebody loves you, they want to tell you all their secrets. You know what is living on Lag B’Omer? He gives us the deepest depths, how much the Torah loves us, how much we love the Torah. Lag B’Omer we are telling the Torah all our secrets and the Torah is telling us all the Torah secrets.

Reb Akiva was longing all his life to give his life for G-d . He had such deep longing for G-d . He was ready to die for G-d , to show that the way that I love G-d is beyond vessels, deeper than everything in the world.

A few days after Shavuot we are mekadesh levanah (sanctifying the moon). Everybody knows that the moon receives the inside light of the sun. Everybody knows that during the day we take care of the outside. We work, we do business. The night is the inside. The Gemara says the night is for learning, especially secrets; the night is full of secrets. Do you know what secrets are? Secrets are: after you hear the secrets you still don’t know them, there is so much more to them.

The levanah, the moon, is so deep. The moon is always longing for more. When the moon is full, it is not satisfied. It knows there must be more in the world than just this light that fills it and it begins all over again. So we Yidden get together between the beginning of the month and the full moon to thank G-d for this new light. Every month the moon is new again; the sun is always the same. Inside people are always new. In other words, inside people are always so broken, but they are also always new.

My beautiful friends, I am inviting you all for Kiddush Levanah. The first Kiddush Levanah after Shavuot, whatever we didn’t do on Shavuot, whatever we missed out, we can still do, because it is the month of Shavuot, the moon of Shavuot. It is the light of Shavuot.

You know, Shavuot night we are up all night. We are reading the beginning and the end of the every parshah and tractate. We are connecting ourselves to the beginning and the end because we know the beginning is in G-d ‘s hands and the end is in G-d ‘s hands. We pray and hope that we’ll be able to do something in the middle.

The Talmud says: If all the oceans will be ink and all the leaves will be quills to write with, we still could not tell each other the holiness of that night. And then that morning at dawn we receive the Torah with all our hearts. G-d is telling us, I am really your G-d and I am with you always, always. And you are my people. Let’s be together that night, let’s be together Lag B’Omer and let’s be together at Kiddush Levanah. We should be together, my friends, every Shabbat and every Yom Tov. And I bless you that you should always have someone to tell your secrets.