Shavuot: Banner of Love
“The Holy One, Blessed Is He, has great love for Israel, and therefore He made them banners like the ministering angels (who were arranged in banners when God appeared at Mount Sinai). How do you know that this was a display of love? Because it states: (Song of Songs 2:4) “He brought me to the house of wine (Sinai), and His banner over me was love.”
The Holy One, Blessed Is He says: “And his banner (Degel) over Me is love”. Even if a man is sitting and engrossed in Torah, and he skips (Daleg) from one chapter to another, from one law to another, from one verse to another; that skiping over, says The Holy One, Blessed Is He, is love for Me, it is beloved by Me. (Midrash Tanchuma, Bamidbar #10)
Just as the angels were arranged in banners, Israel’s camp was divided into tribes, each holding its flag. Banners represent structure and order. And yet, the Midrash expounds the word “Degel”, flag, as alluding to “Daleg”, skipping. One would think that skipping from one idea to another, learning one verse, and then skipping to another represents the opposite of order. But, it is only when we approach Torah with a desire to search for what speaks to us as individuals, when we go from one concept to another, not out of frustration, but on a discovery for meaning, it is only when we stop looking at Torah as one-dimensional and linear, but rather, see it as an exciting, multi-faceted treasure hunt, as a quest to connect ideas with each other, to draw powerful and practical lessons from, and to look for one’s own path and unique attachment to its light, that we can find order. It is after we have explored, searched, and found our place and our personal inheritance in Torah that we are ready to experience the sense of belonging that comes from being gathered under one’s own flag.
This Shavuot, let us celebrate our quest as an expression of our love; in response, may we all feel God spreading His banner of love over us.