Shavous : Desire & Brocha

I was thinking how great it would be to buy a hallucinogenic tree frog for my wife.  I think every mother should have one.  Of course, that raises interesting halachic questions such as, “are secretions from a frog kosher?”  Naturally, I have a rav who enjoys these questions, so I called him up (with a list of normal questions as well) and asked him. He explained that throughout the Gemara we see different secretions from non-kosher animals being used in medicines .  In fact, he remembers a certain chocolate from when he was a child that was under OU, and was very shiny.  And, as we know, chocolate isn’t shiny.  It turns out that they were using wasp honey.  It seems that that Rav Moshe Feinstein ruled that secretions from non-kosher animals, that were clear, had no taste, and not food (I think those were all the requirements), could be used.  My rav added that of course, there are those that disagreed with him, but that’s how he held.  Interesting, no?


Now, where can I get one of those fellows?


There’s a medresh where a couple who were married for 10 years came to Rebbe Shimon bar Yochai.  Their problem?  They did not have any children and they didn’t know what to do.  In the end, Rebbe Shimon bar Yochai told them to get divorced.  He has a mitzvah to have children, and if things aren’t working after ten years, they should marry somebody else.  However, he said, just as you started off your marriage with simcha, you should end it as well, by making a festive meal.  With a heavy heart, the couple decided to follow his advice.


At the meal, the husband had a bit too much to drink and told his soon-to-be-former wife, “Because of my love for you, I want you to take the most precious item in this house and bring it to your house to remember me by."  Shortly after, he fell unconscious. 


The woman turned to her servants and had them bring her husband's bed (along with the husband) to her father’s house.


The next day, the husband woke up, looked around, and asked, “Why am I here?”  She replied, “You told me to take that which was most precious to me, and so I did!”


Realizing that their relationship was not going to be so easy to break, they both returned to Rebbe Shimon bar Yochai and explained why they could not go through with the divorce.  Rebbe Shimon then gave them a brocha that they should have children soon, and needless to say, they were holding a baby in their arms a year later.


Rav Yaakov Leonard asks, if he was going to give them a brocha, why didn’t he simply give it to them when they first came to him, why only after they realized that they could not separate from each other?  He answers that because the desire that they had for each other was not “realized," and had to be “brought out."  Only then, when they truly realized that the relationship that they had, could simply not be broken with a divorce, were they capable of receiving such a brocha.


That is why there is a famous custom to stay up throughout the night of Shavuos and learn Torah.  While one can certainly get a good night’s sleep and learn even more the next day, the point of this custom is to show one’s desire for learning.  “How can I sleep when I can learn!” When that desire is expressed, then that person becomes a “bigger vessel” to receive the brocha of Torah learning.  THAT is the main part of Shavuos.  And that is also why the one mitzvah that is specific to Shavuos is to make a good meal.  It’s not a day that we celebrate the receiving of the Torah, it is a day that we show our love and appreciation for having received it.


I hope everybody has a wonderful Shabbos and a meaningful Shavuos!