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Beit Midrash Shabbat and Holidays Preperation for Shavuot

Are We Ready?

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The Brigade Commander's Visit
The Golan Heights. The Alon Company. We had completed our basic training and Armor Training School. We were at the next stage – advanced tank-crews exercises. In some ways, these exercises are even more difficult than basic training. A minimal amount of sleep and strenuous work.
All of a sudden, in the middle of the day, the commanders announced: "All routine activities are being decreased, and the time will be devoted to cleaning up the base and its surroundings". Three days of hard labor of a different type. The base must be sparkling clean! As our commanders put it – "Not one cigarette butt should be seen." "Shiny as a mirror". And the occasion? A visit of the Brigade Commander in three days' time.
Only someone who has served in the army can understand what a brigade commander means to a newly recruited soldier. A soldier may speak to his direct commander, but not to his platoon commander – unless specifically summoned to appear in his presence. Obviously he cannot speak to his company commander, or even his deputy, not to mention his battalion commander or deputy. To approach the deputy brigade commander is unthinkable, and as for the brigade commander himself – it is not to be dreamed of!
The whole company worked day and night. Our (minimal) sleeping hours were further curtailed. We cleaned, painted, renovated and repaired the various broken accessories that had waited so long to be fixed. Finally the three days passed, and the great moment arrived. We saw the Brigade commander's multiple-antaenna-ed jeep. We were all ready and received the brigade commander with the call: "Atten – tion!" After three seemingly endless days of preparation, we expected a lengthy, significant encounter. Our expectations were in vain: A short talk, lasting a mere five minutes – and the commander was gone…
It was a strange feeling. Only years later was I able to explain it to myself. The sensation of profound respect for the brigade commander did not manifest itself particularly in his visit, but rather during the three-day preparation. The short visit gained its unique significance due to the anticipation which preceded it.

Getting ready
The "Three days of limitation" (the days before Matan Torah). The People prepare and purify themselves to receive the Torah.
On the Seder Night we say: "If Hashem had brought us before Mount Sinai, but had not given us the Torah – "Dayenu" – that would be sufficient for us. How can this possibly be? True, the meaning seems to be that this alone would be reason enough to thank Hashem, but clearly we would be extremely unhappy had we not received the Torah in the end! However, this sentence in the Haggadah teaches us that there is tremendous significance to preparation! Without this crucial stage – there is no Matan Torah! It may even be that this groundwork has a stronger impact on us than the event itself.
Every year we receive the Torah anew. We stand in Shul, listen to the Ten Commandments, and feel the renewal of our covenant with Hashem.
But are we really ready for Matan Torah? Have we prepared ourselves properly? Do we have within us a deep, serious determination to accept and fulfill all the Mitzvot? Do we truly want to be ruled by Hashem, or is it simply convenient for us to call Him "The King", while we continue to do as we wish? Are we indeed willing to change, to commit ourselves to behavior that is fitting, respectable and honorable – towards Hashem and our fellow man? To resolve to pray, say the blessings, keep kosher, behave and dress modestly, observe Shabbat and conduct ourselves honorably in business pursuits and other areas of our lives?
So that we may receive the Torah, let us try to prepare ourselves before and during Shavuot. Let us consider committing ourselves to a specific task of self-improvement in honor of the renewal of Matan Torah.
May we all, please G-d, be worthy, pure and holy, ready to receive the Torah and fully observe its Mitzvot. May we be devoted to Hashem and connected to the Torah in love and joy.
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