Make Yourself a Desert (or Dessert if you want) by Michael Winner/5/21/2020 After last week’s rant on conspiracy theories, I decided to take this time to rant about another issue called “Fake News”. Just this morning, I checked my email to see if somehow my code broke the company’s systems from the programming I did, half-asleep, from the night before. In there was an email from somebody from work with a screenshot of some site announcing the death of Chuck Norris from Covid-19 at the age of 80. One does not need to check on such nonsense, since it is known that nothing can kill Chuck Norris. Not only that, but it is well known that he is not 80-years old, but much, MUCH older than that. Maybe he was born a millisecond after the Big Bang… I don’t know. But to put out such blatantly false information like that… shame…. "And Hashem spoke to Moshe in the Sinai Desert" (Bamidbar 1:1). Rav Shimshon Pincus quotes a famous question. The Torah was given in the middle of the desert. Would it not make more sense to give the Torah after entering Eretz Yisroel? After all, the Gemara (Bava Basra 148b) says that the "air of Eretz Yisroel makes one wise." He answers the question by quoting the last Mishna in Taanis: "Similarly it says, 'O maidens of Zion, go forth and gaze upon King Solomon wearing the crown that his mother gave him on his wedding day, on the day of the gladness of his heart' (Shir HaShirim 3:11). 'On his wedding day': this refers to Matan Torah (the Giving of the Torah). 'And on the day of the gladness of his heart': this refers to the building of the Temple; may it be rebuilt speedily in our days, Amen." From here we see that the day of the giving of the Torah, Shavuos, is referred to as a wedding day. In order to have a successful marriage, both sides must be totally committed to one another. There cannot be "another woman" or "another man" on the side. Not only that, but in order to have a successful marriage, both sides need to look at the other as the priority in their lives. Whenever a decision in life needs to be made, one must always think about the other. This is no different than Hashem and His Torah. The more a person wants from Torah, the more of a focus Torah needs to be in his life. If the Jewish nation entered Eretz Yisroel before they received the Torah, what would be the conditions of receiving it? They would have had to quickly finish up all their work in their fields, run to wherever they were to go, and receive the Torah. Anybody who has rushed home from work on erev Shavuos would understand that feeling all too well. Instead, they received the Torah when there was no work to be done, when there were no fields to be worked on. Instead, for forty years they sat in a "private room" in the middle of the desert with Hashem Himself. I just learned the Gemara (Yoma 67b) which asked what do we learn from the word "desert" that is cited several times, beginning in Vaykira 16:22, seemingly without reason. The gemara itself is discussing the Yom Kippur goat that was thrown of the Azazel Cliff. It brings a teaching that these three times represent the three different periods in which this particular sacrifice was too be made: 1) When the Mishkan was in the desert, 2) When the Mishkan was in Eretz Yisroel, and 3) When the Beis HaMikdash stood. It's just a thought, but here the Gemara is comparing the words "desert" with the Mishkan and the Beis HaMikdash. Of course, we don't have those today, but rather we have our shuls and yeshivos in their place. Perhaps we can take this lesson a bit farther. If, in our regular lives, the more we wish to grow in Torah, the more we need to make it the focus of our lives, so too, in places which are built solely for Torah, we need to be careful to use such places properly. We need to watch what type of speech we use or eliminate unneeded speech in times of davening. Perhaps we need to work on treating our shuls and yeshivos more properly by not bringing in things from the outside world. Either way, whether regarding our personal lives or our lives in shul and yeshivos, if we want to maintain a close connection to the Torah, we need to make our lives like a desert, free of distractions, to the best of our abilities. Have a wonderful Shabbos!