The festival of Shavuot (which starts this Sunday) is known as Z’man Matan Toratenu – “The time of the giving of our Torah.” Also a celebration of the wheat harvest, it has become primarily a commemoration of the revelation of the Torah at Mount Sinai to Moses and the Israelites.
It is noteworthy that that is a holiday of the giving of the Torah, rather than the receiving of it. After a long and arduous journey in the dessert, in which we had time to distance ourselves, and transition away from a lifestyle of slavery towards independence and freedom, we were given one Torah, all at this one time.
Our ancestors took a wandering journey which included both sustaining themselves along the way, as well as preparations for arriving at their destination. Similarly, our tender vegetable transplants must be prepared for their upcoming exposure to outdoor conditions (wind, rain, sun). Gradual exposure to the elements will toughen them up by thickening the cuticle on the leaves so they lose less water when exposed. This helps prevent transplant shock, when seedlings languish, become stunted, or die from sudden changes in temperature and exposure to sunlight.
I find my time and attention dictate my hardening off process as much as any best practice guidelines. Increasing from one hour of outdoor exposure to six hours is a great plan as long as you don’t forget, and leave your seedlings outside for a chilly overnight, negating the hardening off process.
Like the journey to be transplanted in the ground, we have spent the last almost 49 days of the Omer on a journey to receive Torah. Such revelation might be a shock to the system if unprepared. How do we prepare for such a momentous moment?
Yet, Shavuot is a holiday of the giving of Torah, so when do we celebrate the receiving of Torah? The sages say there is a constant opportunity every day. And while there was one Torah given, we do not all receive the same Torah; each of us receives divine wisdom in the time and way it is meant for us.