"Before Him went forth a Word." (Habakuk 3:5)
"I have found in a Midrash that when Hashem gave the Torah to the Jews, He busied the Angel of Death in other matters so that he would not stand and accuse, saying, 'A nation which is going to deny You [and worship the Golden Calf] in but forty days time--to them You are giving the Torah?'" (Rashi ibid.)
To be sure, Hashem is all-powerful, and if He chooses to give the Torah to the Jews then nothing will be able to stop Him. But on the occasion of the giving of the Torah, Hashem issued a "word" of command to the Angel of Death to ensure that he wouldn't be present. For the Jews were destined to sin just forty days later, and Hashem didn't want anyone to bring up this fact.
This approach was adopted by Hashem, not because He needed to resort to it, but because contained therein is a lesson for us.
Each of us has moments of inspiration when we feel inspired to go beyond our ordinary abilities, to accomplish something special. But just when we are fired with enthusiasm, right then we hear a still, small voice within ourselves, whispering, "You know that isn't you! Tomorrow you'll be the same person you always were--so whom are you kidding?"
For it is those very moments--the times when we reach beyond our capabilities--which define what we really are. True, we won't remain on those heights indefinitely. But it is at those times that we show just what abilities lie within us.
On Shavuos, many people follow the custom of staying awake the entire night, studying Torah. We know that we can't do that the whole year. But just the same, on Shavuos we do it. And that's how we demonstrate what kind of people we really are.
Copyright (c) 1997 by Rabbi Levi Langer
Courtesy of www.JewishAmerica.com