We spend seven weeks counting up to Matan Torah, culminating in Shavuos, a holiday celebrating one of the greatest moments in Jewish history. One would think that the halachos of this time period would reflect our excitement, however we conduct ourselves with the halachos of mourning. To understand why this occurs, Moshe Rabeinu’s relationship with the Torah and Rabi Akiva’s relationship to Torah Sheba’al Peh are explored, as these two figures are central players in this time on the calendar. The duality of these two concepts is reflected in our understanding of the period of Matan Torah itself and the period of Torah Sheba’al Peh.
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Rabbi Moshe Hauer is the Spiritual Leader of Congregation Bnai Jacob Shaarei Zion, one of the leading Orthodox congregations in Baltimore, Maryland. His articles and shiurim on a broad array of Torah topics can be found at www.rabbihauer.org. This essay can also be viewed here. Rabbi Hauer is active in local communal leadership in many areas, with an emphasis on education and on social service organizations serving the Jewish community, including charitable services, hospice and domestic and child sexual abuse prevention. Rabbi Hauer visits Israel frequently and is very involved in Israel-related activities. He is a founding editor of the online journal “Klal Perspectives” and leads a leadership training program for rabbis and communal leaders. He lectures on a wide variety of topics in Jewish law, Jewish thought, and historical and contemporary issues. Rabbi Hauer will serve as the executive vice president for the Orthodox Union beginning fall 2020.