When I was a kid, I used to love my birthday. For weeks in advance I would count down the days. My anticipation was not for the cake or the party, but for the gift! Sometimes I would sneak into my mom’s closet a few days beforehand to shake the wrapped box and try to guess what was inside.
Since the day after Passover we have been counting toward Shavuot. So what’s the gift waiting for us at the end of the fifty days?
The beginning of The Ethics of the Fathers begins with a description of the transmission of the Torah: “Moshe received the Torah from Sinai, and then passed it to Yehoshua…
The Maharal of Prague asks a question: why does it say that “Moshe received the Torah from Sinai”? Did he not receive it from God?
He answers that if the teaching had stated “Moshe received the Torah from God,” then we would have thought incorrectly that God bestowed wisdom only on Moshe. Really God is constantly bestowing wisdom on each and every one of us.
The learning of Torah is nothing short of God intimately bestowing his precious gift upon us. This is why we say the blessing over the Torah that God is the “giver of Torah;” God is constantly giving freely to whoever wants to receive.
On Shavuot we are not only celebrating the historic event of Moshe receiving the Torah, but also the gift of our own, personal, unique relationship with Torah and God, which is accessible in each moment.