Scaling Sinai with Your Heart

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Every Shavuos we find ourselves looking for new, fresh material for the all-nighter and for the “Ice Cream” derasha. I’ve prepared an in-depth shiur as well as a “speech” that shares the same theme.The shiur includes real “lomdus” and textual study as well as emotional, spiritual lessons. The shiur is peppered with stories and jokes that help keep the shiur (and the students) alive and fun.

I have prepared three PDF’s:  (All 3 for $36)

PDF #1: Teacher’s Guide (19 pages)

PDF #2: Handout for Students (includes 8 pages of readings rendered in Hebrew and English)

PDF # 3: Excerpts from the Shiur that can be used as a speech

Below is a brief Synopsis of the shiur.

This class will focus on the historic expression, “Na’sseh V’Nishma -- We shall do (commit) and we shall obey (internalize),” and how these two dimensions are reflected in the three spiritual pillars of Judaism: Torah, prayer, and mitzvos. The class begins with a humorous anecdote about the past Chairman of TWA and a Rabbi seated next to each other on an airplane and then delves into a discussion regarding Torah study:

Why is the 101st time we review Torah superior to the first 100? Why does the Rambam extol the learning of Torah at night? How can the Sifri refer to the intellectual endeavor of Torah study as “avodah she’bilev,” a service of the heart? We learn about the transformation Torah is meant to effect that is akin to the spiritual change of personality that occurred to Shaul Hamelech, who through his anointment became a new person – “ish acher,” in the words of Shmuel HaNavi.

The shiur continues with the “Tale of Two Covenants,” the Sinai Covenant, and the Covenant with the Patriarchs, the Bris Avos. Sinai gave us the instructions, the naa’seh, the Avos gave us who we are, our spiritual DNA. At Sinai we were instructed, for example, to host guests; but it is Abraham who serves as our paradigm to teach us how to be a host. At Sinai we are instructed to educate our young; but Jacob is the role model who teaches us how to be proactive, to teach Judaism, not with Jewish guilt, but with love, sensitivity and joy. This is the Bris Avos. On Shavuos we experience the Covenant at Sinai and learn how to act with a full heart and be transformed, to not only act as a Jew, but to feel as a Jew.

We learn about the two experiences every Jewish soul goes through: the revelation at Sinai, where every soul was present, as well as the personal “revelation” we each receive from the angel in the womb. Why the need for these two separate experiences?

And finally, we explore the two modes of prayer, the spontaneous vs. the formal, the personal vs. the collective. The former originates with the Avos, the latter with the Korbanos. As we stay up the night of Shavuos exploring the inner dimension of Torah, we learn to synthesize the naa’seh and the nishma, body and soul, Bris Avos with Bris Sinai.

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