The holiday of Shavuot is a fascinating one; while others reenact aspects of our past -specifically events that occurred to us -this particular holiday is about what we did. Specifically, our choice to accept, embrace, learn and uphold the words of the Torah.
While we recieved the Torah ages ago, there is -on a yearly basis -a renewal of that acceptance. One that goes above and beyond the choices we make daily to learn and uphold our Biblical inheritance.
But how do we accept what we already have? Is it just a renewal, a symbolic gesture or a recommitting? Do we acknowledge our going astray to return once more?
Many know of the Midrash that speaks of Hashem holding Har Sinai (Mt Sinai) over our heads as a wedding canopy at the time the Torah was given to us; while some of that may connote fear and coercion, it also hints at a special, intimate, marriage-like relationship with The Almighty and the Torah. And over the past few Parshiyot, the Torah describes an unbreakable relationship between Hashem and the Jewish people. Whether that is for good or for worse, this unique relationship impacts the Jewish nation.
Esther Perel, a psychotherapist and specialist on intimacy (I know, she sounds so frum!) and author of the book "Mating in Captivity," said at a roundtable discussion that long-term relationships should be viewed from a perspective of "short term with the option to renew." The point of this idea, of course, is twofold: first, that relationships change and evolve as individuals do, and second that one cannot take for granted any relationship, otherwise they will cease to work for it. To expect that a relationship is simply going to last forever means that I may get lazy or do whatever I please, but it will still go on the way I'd like it to.
But I believe the holiday of Shavuot carries with it the message that Ester Perel put forth. We cannot and should not take for granted a relationship with God and a connection with the Torah. By having "an option to renew" every year, we recognize and say "Na'aseh V'Nishmah," that "we will do and we will listen."
In that same vein, we stay up all night delving into Torah, a symbol -not only of this commitment but also -in renewing our relationship with The Almighty. We have the "option to renew" and we vigorously say YES with our actions and our words in learning Torah through the night.
I do believe this idea is both beautiful and applies not only to Torah, but to marriage as well.