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Some ask why we have such a tremendous celebration over the Torah on Shemini Atzeres and not on Shavuos, the day the Torah was actually given to us.
The answer is simple. Many of us have joined the Daf Yomi cycle to complete the study of the entire Talmud in seven and a half years by learning a page a day. But most of us drop out; some after a short while and some after sticking it out a bit longer. Only the really dedicated ones make it to the end. It is they, and they alone, who celebrate their phenomenal achievement at its conclusion.
Similarly, it is true that on Shavuos we all received the Torah. But it is only when we have actually completed studying all of its parshios, at the end of Sukkos, that we can actually celebrate and dance with the Holy Torah scrolls.
We should also remember that it is not enough to just study the Torah. The most important thing is to fulfill its many commandments. If we don’t, then what is there to celebrate?
It is true that many of the mitzvahs are difficult to perform; but if we observe the service of the tzaddikim (the Righteous ones), we will be impressed and influenced by their behavior and will find it easier to comply. That is why it is good to hear and read stories of great Rabbis.
In Tuvecha Yabiu, Rabbi Yitzchak ZIlberstein, shlita, relates a fantastic story of a fellow who applied for a loan at a local gemach (free-loan fund). Although this particular gemach did not require a formal guarantor, those who ran it did ask for a character reference. A prominent Rabbi vouched for the integrity of the borrower and assured those who ran the gemach that they were dealing with a reputable person who could be trusted to return the loan on time. Consequently, they granted him the loan.
As usual, the day of payment arrived much too soon, and the borrower did not come forward with his payment. For several months, the representatives of the gemach mailed reminders to his home but they were all ignored. One day, they happened to meet the Rabbi who had recommended him in the street and they expressed their discontent with him for having assured them that they could trust someone who obviously was not as honest as he seemed to be. The Rabbi slapped himself on the cheek and began to apologize profusely. He explained that three months ago, precisely on the day that the loan was due, the borrower had given him the money and had asked him to return it for him, since he was extremely busy. “Unfortunately,” the Rabbi continued, “I, too am very busy, and I completely forgot to deliver it to you. Please wait here a few moments, and I’ll rush home and bring you the complete amount.” In a very short while, the loan was completely returned and the managers of the gemach felt guilty for having wrongly accused an innocent person.
A week or two later, the borrower showed up at the office of the gemach and apologized for being late with the payment. He explained that he was in the hospital all of this time and only when he came home, the day before, did he receive all of their notices asking for prompt payment. He apologized again and paid the loan in full.
The gemach committee realized that the Rabbi had given them his own money and quickly ran to his home to return it to him.
Rabbi Zilberstein adds that Reb Chaim Kanievsky, shlita, who told him the story, commented that such an act of kindness can protect all of the Jewish People from harm.
May we learn from such people to go in their ways, and then we will surely be able to celebrate with the Torah with great gusto.
Shema Yisrael Torah Network