Rabbi Bezalel Safra
Former Rosh Kollel in Detroit
On Pesach we left Egypt. The nation achieved liberty and freedom. But this great joy was incomplete, because freedom in and of itself is not a goal. Unbounded freedom leads to boredom, which, in turn, leads to sin and to failure. The fact that a person is free is a means of achieving a higher goal. Thus freedom is a means, not an end.
The Festival of Shavuot clarifies that end, providing the purpose and reason for the Exodus from Egypt. Pesach and Shavuot are linked to each other by the counting of the omer. Pesach establishes the groundwork for Shavuot, because only as a free people can we accept the Torah, which is a guide for an elevated existence. The Torah teaches us how to build a people to be a light unto the nations and which will lead to tikkun olam – a repairing of the world – through the Kingdom of G-d.
Similarly, Yom Ha’Atzma’ut and Yom Yerushalayim are linked in like manner. On Yom Ha’Atzma’ut the Jewish People received freedom – independence. But independence for what?
Then Yom Yerushalayim came to remind us that the purpose of our independence is to attain the goal of Yom Yerushalayim – the Beit HaMikdash (Temple), the inspiration of the Shechinah (Divine Presence) on the Jewish People by way of the State of Israel.
On this Festival of Shavuot, which is at its core a pilgrimage holiday, the people would literally walk up to the Beit HaMikdash in Jerusalem. Let us pray that the Jewish People remembers to connect the giving of the Torah (Shavuot) with its freedom (Pesach), and Yom Yerushalayim to Yom Ha’Atzma’ut.