Shavuot: Clean Garments and Clean Thoughts?
The second of the three major holidays is Shavuot, “the season when the Torah was given” by God to the Jewish people. These include the famous Ten Commandments and all 613 commandments.
Shavuot means “two oaths.” This holiday marks our promise to abide by God’s laws, for which God promised He would never break his covenant with us. On Shavuot, we celebrate, commemorate, and relive God “giving us the law.” That is because God gave it once and will never give it again. The giving of the Ten Commandments was an event with a perpetual impact; we continue to receive and discover more of this eternal, infinite, Godly wisdom hidden in the immortal words of the Bible.
In preparation for receiving the Torah, we were commanded to sanctify the day and wash our clothes. For a person to become a receptacle for Godly spiritual wisdom, he must separate himself from the mundane world. He must elevate himself from the pursuits of materialism to become holy and sanctified.
Becoming holy does not necessarily mean a person has nothing to do with this world. What it means — and where it begins — is cleaning our clothes. Mysticism explains that the soul inside us, the energy that gives our bodies life, communicates through garments. A person expresses what he thinks and feels through his clothing — loud colors versus a more subtle, conservative style — and the same is true of the soul.
The soul has three garments: thought, speech, and action. In the same way, you decide when to put on your clothes, and what type of clothes to put on, you choose the spiritual garments of the soul.
Every person chooses what thoughts to think, what words to use, and what actions to carry out. It is false to say that one cannot control his thoughts, the words coming out of his mouth, or the acts he commits. A person is accountable even for the thoughts he entertains.
Everything begins with the thought garment one dons. These thoughts become the garments with which we clothe our souls, affecting the quality of our lives. If you put your body into a straitjacket or clothes that are too big or too loudly patterned, all of this affects you. The same is true of the soul.
To shape our souls the right way and to be sensitive to spiritual awareness, we must be conscientious of the cleanliness of our clothes. If our thoughts are negative, impure, and unclean, if we use inappropriate and pessimistic words, if we do things — even for a joke or for fun — that are off the mark, we damage our souls, rendering them unable to receive “the light.”
When a person sees to it that only clean and holy thoughts pass through his head, that the only words leaving his mouth are constructive and positive, and that his actions are those that even God would approve of, his soul is then prepared to become a receptacle for communication from the One on High.
This is the power God granted when He “descended down to the mountain of Sinai and gave the Law.” God made it possible for the first time to join the high (spirituality) with the low (the physical world). We can live in a physical material world and still be elevated beyond materialism. We can achieve this by ensuring that our clothes are clean and the day is sanctified.
Chag Sameach. May we all merit to receive the Torah in joy and with the help and energy of that joy, deep inside ourselves.
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