Perhaps the greatest fear of man is that he will be forgotten, that ultimately his life will be devoid of meaning. Even, perhaps especially, the most powerful harbour this fear, often going to heroic efforts to leave their permanent mark on history.
There is a widespread custom to decorate our shuls with flowers in honour of Shavuot. This beautiful custom commemorates the flourishing of the desert in the vicinity of Mount Sinai as the Jews received the Torah. The gloom and desolateness of the desert was transformed to an oasis, thriving with the sounds and scents of life.
While the flowers commemorate the surrounding at Sinai, it is through learning the Torah itself that is the essence of Shavuot.
"A child who knows how to shake [the lulav] is obligated to take the lulav" (Sukkah 42a).
As more and more of our economy runs on credit, as we increasingly pay for purchases with debit cards or even smartphones, the necessity—or even the capability—of using cash is becoming less and less common.
Truth be told, this not a modern phenomenon. “Rabbi Yochanan said: According to the words of the Torah, money acquirers ownership; yet why was it said that one must lift an object [in order to acquire ownership]? It is a [rabbinic] decree, lest he tell him, ‘Your wheat was burned in the attic’” (Eiruvin 81b).
“From the blessings of man, we see if he is a scholar or not”. How, and more importantly, whom one blesses tells us much about a person. How we word our blessings was of great interest to our Sages; after all, before speaking to a king, we think over each word we want to say, and mistakes reflect a lack of seriousness. How much more so when speaking to the King of Kings!
As the Talmud is, at its core, an oral tradition—with the words before us a summary of “classroom”” discussion—it is not surprising that debates will occur as to what the “teacher” actually said.