Every founder of a company or organization has an ultimate vision of how things will look one day – that perfect picture in their mind. For most founders, it’s digging your feet deep into the sand on some exotic Island while the company is operating smoothly thousands of miles away. We’ll leave commentary of that for a different time.
While we are quite far from my “perfect picture,” as we should be less than two years in, I experienced a moment of feeling like we have arrived at something I had anticipated when we opened the organization (now we just have to do it for the next fifty years BE”H). At the end of the Tu Bshvat Seder a week and a half ago, in the spirit of “fruit” and shovavim the guys stayed around for a while and I opened up a discussion about successful dating. Those of you that read this weekly email (I very much appreciate that) know that marriage and dating is a topic on which I place tremendous emphasis. That night we discussed how to win a girl’s heart; in a twenty four year old male’s language – how to convince the costumer to buy your product. It was not surprising that the guys struggled to come up with the most basic answer. (See below… happy to hear answers from our readers, lest you think I am misguided).
This Shabbos marks the end of the Shovavim period. Next week is Rosh Chodesh Adar and we enter into a whole new realm of the year. What is the character of this period of transition? How do we take the energy of Shovavim from the last six weeks and spring forward?
Parshat Mishpatim completes the two week series in which the Torah discusses the events of Matan Torah. One can explain that the Har Sinia experience is divided into two sections, which are not even juxtaposed in the Torah, because there are two fundamental facets of this focal point. The reaction of Bnai Yisrael in Yitro connotes Yirat Shamayim or Fear of Heaven. “The people saw and trembled and stood from afar. They said to Moshe, “You speak to us and we shall hear; let God not speak to us lest we die.” (Shemot 20:15, 16)
The reaction of Bnai Yisrael at Sinia in Mishpatim is very different. “They saw the God of Israel, and under His feet was the likeness of sapphire brickwork, and it was like the essence of the Heaven in purity… they gazed at God and they ate and they drank,” (Shemot 24:10, 11)
Different from Rashi’s understanding, the Ramban understands this description in a positive light. He compares the reaction of Bnai Yisrael here to the joy and celebration that is experienced on Yom Tov. Explains the Ramban, “Because it is an obligation to rejoice in the receiving of Torah.” Yom Tov is a time that we are meant to relate to Hashem with love and joy, אהבה ושמחה (words that are repeated again and again in the Tefillot and Kiddish), not fear and trembling.
Love and Joy are appropriate themes to mention Shabbot Mevarchim of Chodesh Adar. מי שנכנס אדר מרבים בשמחה. Why this month out of all months of the year? This was the month that we finally, finally received the Torah out of love and Joy. The Gemara in Shabbot 88a teaches us that the Jews willingly and gladly upheld the Torah in time of Esther and Mordichai, as we see clearly from the end of Megillat Esther.
Rebbe Nachman ZT”L teaches us that if Elul and Tishrai are the months that we focus on Teshuva M’yirah (out of fear), than the months of Adar, Nissan and Sivan comprise a period in which we focus on Teshuva M’ahava.
It happens to be that I met and started dating my wife, Batya in the month of Adar. We planned it like this so that we would have exactly the right amount of time to be able to have a June wedding! Our plans did not materialize and we had to settle for being married in July.
Adar, after cold and difficult winter months of internal character building – known as “Shovavim,” is the month in which we begin to outwardly express love and joy. This does not mean that we get up on roof tops and sing מי שנכנס אדר מרבים בשמחה, rather, a Jew at this stage of the year has an inner awakening and subtly conveys added אהבה ושמחה.
What did I tell my eager students of what a wholesome young Jewish lady is looking for in a husband? What should males in their twenties and thirties be thinking about in order “to convince the costumer to buy your product?” They should be finding ways, of course only in an Orthodox, non-physical manner, to convey a sense of loving-kindness to their date. When a bat-Yisrael feels that this gentleman has the potential to love her for the next seventy years until they are old and grey, she will more likely be won over.
May we joyously bring in the holiday period ahead of us and may we dance at many Jewish weddings in June, and even in July!