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Home » Family Life, Marriage, Shavuot

Shavuot: How To Celebrate An Anniversary?

Submitted by on May 21, 2012 – 1:20 amNo Comment | 3,385 views


Shavuot is the anniversary of the day we received the Torah. Almost every year before my anniversary my friends ask, so what are you going to do for your anniversary? I submit that a much better question would be what is your anniversary going to do for you? And if this the proper attitude toward anniversaries the big question becomes, how to celebrate an anniversary?

A comedian once said that anniversary is an acronym for Ani- very-sorry (Ani is Hebrew for I).  What are we very sorry about on our anniversary? I believe it is the loss of the magical spark we each had on our wedding night. The exquisite thrill, ecstatic joy and endless gratitude we experienced that night, somehow faded with time for which we are very sorry.

But sorry alone doesn’t cut it. What we really need to do is figure out how to reclaim it, how to get it back. And this is what your anniversary can do for you – if you plan it right. On an anniversary we are intended to relive the moment of our marriage. By envisioning it, discussing it and recreating it in our minds, we can stimulate the flow of emotion that that pulsated through us on that fateful night so many years ago.

The Wedding Magic

Why are we happy on our wedding night? It is hard to articulate an emotion verbally, but if I had to put it in words I would say we are experiencing the thrill of a gift. Your spouse has just given herself or himself entirely to you. Your spouse kept nothing back. She or he is yours completely, with all his or her heart and, it is hoped, forever.

There can be no better gift than the gift of self and no better way to give it than in entirety. But because we are so precious, we don’t give ourselves away lightly. We reserve this gift for someone we value and love. We give it only to someone, we feel deserves us. This is what makes the gift so special. To know that the person you love, value and admire most, sees you in similar light and deems you worthy of him or her is the thrill of a lifetime.

We can’t believe our fortune. We are forever grateful to our spouse for this magical enchantment. We wake up the morning after and are thrilled because our loved one still with us. What’s more, we know it will be this way the next day and the next for the rest of our lives. What a thrill to be given something you can never deserve and to be given it with a full heart.

In the beginning we are pledged to cherish this gift, to honor and respect our spouses with the deepest of sentiments. But human nature is such that we grow comfortable with routine. Slowly we become a little relaxed, soon we grow lax and before we know it we take the gift for granted. We stop trying to earn it or at least show appreciation. We become so familiar with our spouse that we stop seeing his or her presence as a gift. It is not a cherished person in my home, it is my familiar spouse.

Life gets in the way of magic and before long we are busy dividing up household chores and expenses. The daily routine and usual stresses take hold and the unbreakable bond begins to show signs of distress. Suddenly, my loved one drives me crazy. Suddenly the one I cherish makes me angry. How did we get here? Life brought us here. It is normal to get here.

It might be normal to get to this stage, but we don’t have to stay there. Every so often we need to touch base with each other and remember what drew us together in the first place. Every so often we need to recreate the special bond we both felt when we were married- the yearning of anticipation and the thrill of excitement. We can bring it back and that is what anniversaries are to celebrate an anniversary innerstream

They are not merely opportunities to buy presents and go on holiday. They are times to reflect and discuss. They are times to enhance our present with memories of our past. At your next anniversary, ask not what you might for your anniversary, but what your anniversary might do for you.


At Mount Sinai G-d appeared to us in majestic splendor and Divine glory. He selected us from among the nations and betrothed us. He showed His love for us by entrusting us with His most treasured possession, the Torah. In fact, through His Torah He gave us Himself. We were suffused with humble gratitude. We pledged not only to observe His Torah, but to cherish and value it.

Time passed and the same thing that happens to all marriages happened to us. We grew comfortable with our routine, slowly stopped cherishing it and soon took it for granted. We grew relaxed in our observance and than even lax. Finally we became familiar with it and familiarity breeds contempt.

It is unthinkable that human beings can become bored with the inimitable splendor, majesty and grandeur of the Divine presence, but though unimaginable it is a fact of human nature and not a surprising one at that. The question left to explore is what can be done about it?

The answer of course is Shavuot. On our anniversary we reflect on the momentous occasion that occurred at Sinai and recreate the pomp and ceremony that stirred our souls. We excite our imagination as we envision that moment and recreate the sense of awe and reverence that we felt at that time. We return to a place of admiration, respect and love. We embrace G-d all over again and revel in our bond.

How To Celebrate An Anniversary

Anniversaries can hardly succeed if we observe them only once a year. You can’t correct a year of neglect in a single day. In truth we should have a daily appointment with memory lane, an anniversary moment if you will, every single day. When we do this, we keep our marriages fresh and our magic alive. This way, we are primed and ready by the time our anniversary arrives – making it a resounding success.

This is precisely why the Torah tells us to view the Torah every day as it were freshly given today. [1]The greatest gift can grow old and unless we envision the Sinai moment every day to recreate the excitement of newness even the Torah can grow old in our eyes. It is not sufficient to refresh our excitement on Shavuot. If we want it to work on Shavuot we must do it every day.

On the other hand, if we create a Shavuot moment every day as we read the Shema or as we study the Torah,[2] Shavuot will become a resounding success. We will celebrate our anniversary with G-d and will never again have use for the term Ani-very sorry…

[1] Deuteronomy 6:56. See Rashi and Sifri ad loc.

[2] See Psalms 145:18 G-s is close to all who call Him, To all who call Him with Truth. Truth here refers to the Torah as explained in Tana D’bei Eliyahu Zuta 21. When we call to G-d for closeness through the study of Torah we recreate the intimacy, awe and splendor of the original moment. See Tanya shps, 23 and 37.

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