If I were to count, I would guess my kids have about one-hundred stuffed animals. No kidding. At least. There could be more, but the problem is that they bore of them so quickly that they get hidden away in drawers, containers, closets, etc. that it is hard to keep count. Before Passover, I bought each kid a new stuffed animal, and then, of course, during the week, they managed to collect at least a few more. To be perfectly honest, it is utterly ridiculous.

So you can imagine my shock when my two daughters decided they wanted to spend their hard-earned allowance and birthday money buying… yup, a stuffed animal. And let me assure you, there was nothing exceptional about this one, other than its price.

And then it hit me. I figured out the secret ingredient.Unlike the cute little ones I managed to find at the dollar store, or even the lush, soft, adorable ones that were $10.00 in the airport (that I bought out of guilt for being gone once again on a speaking tour), this particular stuffed animal, cost $47.00.

I was in utter shock. Not only could I not believe the cost of this thing, but I couldn't believe how badly my girls wanted it (and still can't believe I actually allowed them to buy it). And then it hit me. I figured out the secret ingredient. And let me tell you, boy, was it brilliant! Talk about a genius marketing move… this store had it down pat.

You see, this wasn't any stuffed animal. This was their stuffed animal. One they picked, stuffed, dressed and could call 100% their own. Unlike the other hundred plus ones they had that were simply bought as-is, this one they helped create. And that, my friends, made all the difference.

I watched as the salesman complimented their choice. He told them it was the best looking one in the place. Then he had them participate in its stuffing. They got to feel if it was full enough or too skinny. They chose just how it was going to come out. And of course, it needed a heart. So they took a little, red satin one which they needed to run against their heart to make it loving and against their heads to make it smart and then it was inserted and the animal was sealed.

But there was more. You see, this animal needed a name and a birth certificate. This was going to ensure that it not be any $5 stuffed animal which sold for $47, but their personal stuffed animal. And I must admit, I actually got into the clothes shopping, finding the cutest little pair of white sneakers. And whoever made the little holes for the ears to pop out… absolutely adorable.

We have had Ariella a week. Each night they take turns sleeping with her. And each night they take off her clothes and in the morning dress her again. They love her because they made her, and because they made her, they feel responsible for her.

There is no question that when we are involved with the process of something, we feel a part of it. It is the difference between being an owner of a company or an employer. When you work for someone, you merely have a job. You are concerned to do your work well so that you keep that job and get paid. But when you own the place, when you created it, you care about every single aspect of it. For its success is your personal success, and likewise, its failure is your failure.

We were witnesses, each and every one of us, man, woman and childEvery Shavuot, we are commanded to hear the reading of the Torah. Every single man, woman and child is to hear the Ten Commandments. Unlike any other time of year, we bring even our newborn babies to hear those precious words uttered. The giving of the Torah is not something that we commemorate on Shavuot. It is not a historical event that we pay tribute to and celebrate in its memory. Rather, when we hear the Ten Commandments, we acknowledge that we are once again being given the Torah. Just like we stood at Mt. Sinai, when each and every one of our souls were there, so too, every Shavuot we relive the experience.

The Torah is a scroll. There is no beginning, middle or end. Rather the end is enwedged in the beginning and the beginning in the end (Sefer Yetzirah 1:7). So the Torah ends with the words, Beini Kol Yisrael, "in the eyes of all of Israel," and it begins, Breishit Barah Elokim, "G‑d created the world." It is a statement, a declaration: "In the eyes of all of Israel, G‑d created the world." We were witnesses, each and every one of us, anashim, nashim v'taf, man, woman and child.

We need to hear it so that we can own it. For when we feel a part of the creative process, when we feel that we are not just observers but participants, then we feel responsible for what we have received. It is through our responsibilities that we feel connected, that we feel we have something to give, and something that only we can give. Which is why receiving the Torah is just the beginning. It is the caring for it and growing with it that is most important.

This is why the Torah's first commandment is Pru U'revu, to be fruitful and multiply. And this does not only mean by virtue of bringing physical children into this world, but also through being creative. When we use the unique talents that each and every one of us was endowed with, that is being creative. And the last commandment in the Torah is to write a Sefer Torah, literally, a Torah scroll. Each and every one of us is to write our own Torah. Writing is the creative act of taking what is within our mind, hearts and souls, and sharing those ideas with others, in a permanent way. So our first commandment, "to be creative," along with our last commandment, "to write," results in the process of "creative writing."

We were blessed with the ability to help create within that creationThe toy store figured it out. The things we care about most, that our dear to us, are those we feel a part of. My children have countless animals, but only one that they helped make, and only one that they feel is truly their own.

So this Shavuot, when we listen to the reading of the Ten Commandments, it is not to remind us of what was, but of what is. It is for us to recognize that we are not only a part of creation, but we were blessed with the ability to help create within that creation. And therefore, we have a responsibility and obligation, not only for ourselves as individuals, but to the world at large as well.