Between Passover and Shavuot, a time for character improvement

Rabbi Weiman is a speaker, teaches Jewish history at Esther Miller Bais Yaakov, and is author of the new book, “48 Things, 49 Days,” (Targum Press) as well as “A Simple Guide to Happiness,” “A Map of the Universe,” and “the Everything Learning Hebrew Book.”


What’s the most important part of Passover?

Matzah? Wine? Haggadah? Aunt Tilly’s gefilte fish?

Freedom from slavery is awesome. But despite the lines of the Haggadah song “dayenu,” the freedom would not have meant very much without the Torah. Our reason for existence as a people is to be a conduit for Godliness as expressed by our fulfillment of the principles in that holy book. It is our mission and mandate. 

You may ask, if it was so important, then why didn’t we get it immediately after the Exodus? Why did it take 49 days? The sages inform us that we were the pits in Egypt. The lowest of the low. We did not deserve to be redeemed. The Almighty redeemed us out of love, or recognition of our potential, but not because we were doing so well spiritually. Therefore, they say, it took us 49 days of character perfection to elevate ourselves to be worthy of the revelation on Mt. Sinai.

If you have a red Solo cup, you don’t use it for a $100 bottle of wine. The wine glass should be something appropriate for the liquid poured into it. In a bar, the glasses are designed to fit the beverage. We had to mold ourselves into a vessel fitting for the divine inspiration.

The 49 days between Passover and Shavuot are the days given to us to do some spiritual work, some self-growth to be fitting for the gift of the Torah on Shavuot.

We all have the potential for divine inspiration. As the book of Elijah says, “Man or woman, Jew or non-Jew can reach a level of divine inspiration.”

But there’s no free lunch. It takes effort to correct your character. Luckily, the sages have given us numerous plans for self growth. “Chapters of Our Fathers” (Pirkei Avot) is a great resource for that. The book “Path of the Just” by Rabbi Luzzatto is another. 

Now is the opportunity. Don’t miss it. The most important part of Passover is the 49 days that lead up to Shavuot.