There’s a beautiful Chabad wish/greeting for Shavuot: “May you receive the Torah joyously and internally!” In Hebrew its: Kabolas HaTorah B’Simcha ub’Pnimiyus. This year (5775/2015) we saw these two messages with unique and memorable twists while passing through Syracuse NY on our family road trip to Chicago for Shavuot.
It may be hard to see the building lettering in this small picture. We passed by too quickly on the highway near Syracuse to take our own picture (so we used a photo we found online) but the message hit us right away. The name of this company is JOY PROCESS MECHANICAL. It’s a mechanical engineering firm of some kind. Now, ordinarily, you wouldn’t associate joy with words like process or mechanical. They are tedious, technical, the nitty gritty.
Yet, Chassidic teaching (and any good life wisdom) insists that we find joy in the everyday, seek happiness in the little details of life. Tanya 25 speaks of the ultimate goal to synthesize and harmonize the infinite spirituality of a Mitzvah with its nitty gritty details in the physical world. So, yes – Joy (in the) Process Mechanical!
Syracuse was one of our stops to break up the long trip and keep things interesting. We took the kids to the Rosemond Gifford Zoo at Burnet Park in Syracuse, a wonderful little place. On our way to the Zoo we passed this huge artistic lettering on the metal panels of this long railroad bridge that read: NOW THAT YOU ARE HERE – NOWHERE ELSE MATTERS. Wow, what a message!
And this railroad bridge sign relates to the second part of the Chabad Shavuos wish: To receive the Torah internally. There’s a story from the Rebbe Rashab, 5th Rebbe of Chabad. The Lubavitcher Rebbe told this story in 1991 when I was a Yeshiva student (and its impact then on me is a story for itself). Once the Rebbe Rashab was farbrenging with the Chassidim, probably in the late 1800’s or early 1900’s. They were singing a melody, but the Chassidim rushed the melody in their eagerness to hear the Rebbe say a Chassidic discourse. The Rebbe stopped their rush and said: “A Pnimi (an internally driven person) wherever he is, he is there 100%.” If you are in the middle of singing a melody, give it all you got. Be in the moment. Don’t skip the present in an eagerness to move on. So one definition of a Pnimi, of being internally driven and powered is the message from this railroad bridge. Now that you are here – nowhere else matters (at least for right now).
Leaving Syracuse, getting back onto the 90 heading west toward Chicago, we felt these two signs gave us a rich meaning and perspective to the traditional Chabad wish/greeting for Shavuos: May we receive the Torah joyously and internally!