Shavuot Hallel Paragraph Five
“I love Him, for God hears my voice, my supplications.” (Psalms 116:1) It was related of Elijah the Righteous, that while searching for those who were languishing with hunger in Jerusalem, he once found a child faint with hunger lying upon a dungheap. On questioning him as to the family to which he belonged, he replied, ‘I belong to such and such a family.’ He asked: ‘Are any of that family left,’ and he answered, ‘None, excepting myself.’ Thereupon he asked: ‘If I teach you something by which you will live, will you learn?’ He replied, ‘Yes.’ ‘Then,’ said he, ‘recite every day, Hear O Israel, God is our Lord, God is one.’ But the child retorted,‘Be silent, for one must not make mention of the name of the Lord.’ [He said this] because his father and mother had not taught him [to serve the Lord], and straightway he brought forth an idol from his bosom, embracing and kissing it, until his stomach burst, his idol fell to the earth, and he upon it. (Sanhedrin 63b-64a)
Rabbi Shalom of Sakovitch (Ohr HaGanuz) points out that Elijah the Righteous promised the boy that all he had to so was cry out in God’s Name and he would live. Tragically, this boy had learned from his parents that he must never cry out to God. The boy was willing to die rather than cry out in God’s Name.
The boy believed Elijah the Righteous. He understood that even he, who had grown up rejecting even the mention of God’s Name, could cry out and be saved. He believed but did not love that God hears our voices and supplications.
It was at Sinai that we created a relationship with God that was so powerful that He hears our cries no matter how distant we are. It is on Shavuot that we reconnect with that level of relationship. It is through our Torah study that we recall the intensity of relationship that empowers our prayers to be heard. Torah study with awareness of its power, nurtures love of God. We study Torah aloud as a prayer and supplication we know will be heard.
We express that awareness of the intense love in this Psalm, with a prayer that our Torah study be inculcated with that powerful connection, and that every word be considered a prayer that can pierce the heavens.