Shavuot: Free of Charge

Three Elements

According to the Sages of the Talmud, the Torah was given in three situations: Fire, Water, and Wilderness.

– 🔥 FIRE: “The entire mountain of Sinai was smoking because God had descended upon it in fire.” (Ex. 19:18)
– 💧WATER: In the words of Deborah the prophetess, “the earth quaked and even the heavens trickled; even the clouds dripped water. Mountains melted before God – as did Sinai – before the Lord God of Israel. (Judges 5:4-5)
– 🌳 WILDERNESS: “God spoke to Moses in the wilderness of Sinai.” (Num. 1:1)

What is the lesson here? Our Sages point out the commonality between these three elements: They are all free of charge and available to everyone, rich and poor alike. So too, Torah is free for all to read, to follow, to learn from, to teach. Ruth the Moabite appeared to occupy the lowest rung of society – destitute, widowed, and foreign. But her deep yearning for connection to God, Torah, her mother-in-law Naomi, and the Jewish people overcame all barriers and she became not only a devout Torah Jew, but the ancestress of King David. 

Ruth was a Moabite princess who gave up everything to throw her lot in with the Jewish people and lived long enough to sit beside King David’s throne as his beloved “alte bubbe” (great-grandmother.) Because the Torah is free to all who seek it. 

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