The holiday of Shavuos marks many events. Primarily, Shavuos commemorates Matan Torah, the Giving of the Torah. This is why this holiday is termed in the prayers and Kiddush of the day, “the Time of the Giving of Our Torah.” Many years later, King David passed away on Shavuos.1 More recently, the Baal Shem Tov’s demise was on the first day of Shavuos.2

Everything that occurs in the world is a result of Divine Providence; and certainly so regarding events of such magnitude as the Giving of the Torah and the passing of King David and the Baal Shem Tov. Surely, then, the occurrence of these three events on the same date is no coincidence, but a sign of the inner connection between them. How are these events related?

The relationship between these three events is as follows. The revelation of G‑dliness at the time of Matan Torah was brought out to an even greater extent by King David, and then revealed even further by the Baal Shem Tov.

This will be better understood by prefacing the Midrashic passage that explains the accomplishment of Matan Torah:3

“David said, ‘Even though G‑d decreed that “The heavens are the heavens of the L‑rd, and the earth He has given to man” ...’ when He wished to give the Torah He annulled the initial decree and said ‘Those who are lower shall ascend to the higher, and those who are higher shall descend to the lower. And I shall take the initiative,’ as it is said,4 ‘And G‑d descended upon Mt. Sinai’ and (then) it is written,5 ‘And to Moshe He said, “Come up to G‑d.”’”

Though the Midrash states that G‑d said, “I shall take the initiative,” and that His descent preceded Moshe’s ascent, the Midrash nevertheless mentions the “ascent of the lower” before the “descent of the higher.”

This is because the main and primary purpose of the “nullification of the decree” was to realize and bring about that “the lower [should] ascend to the higher” — something that was capable of being actualized only after the Torah was given. Nevertheless, for those below to be able to ascend on high it was first necessary that “G‑d descended upon Mt. Sinai.”

Herein lies the connection between Matan Torah and the passing of King David: At the time of Matan Torah, the primary accomplishment was the aspect of “those who are higher shall descend to the lower” — something that was then accomplished in totality, as G‑dliness then permeated the very physicality of the entire universe.6

Nevertheless, the refinement of the world itself began only after Matan Torah, when the Jewishpeople began to refine and elevate the world, making it into a vessel and receptacle for G‑dliness.

Just as the process of “those who are higher shall descend to the lower” actually began with our Patriarch Avraham7 and reached its zenith at Matan Torah, so, too, the process of the “lower ascending to the higher” began after Matan Torah and was completed by King David.

The reason for this is as follows. David was the first king to rule over the whole of Israel,8 and the dynasty of the Jewish kingdom was entrusted to him in perpetuity.9 The reason David’s kingship is symbolic of the elevation from below to above, from “lower to higher,” is as follows:

The connection between a king and his subjects is all-encompassing, for a king holds sway over every aspect of a subject’s being.10

Since the nullification of a Jewish subject to his king depends on his king’s absolute nullification before the Heavenly Kingdom — a necessary condition for a Jewish king, it follows that the Jews’ nullification to G‑d (a nullification that results from their absolute obedience to their king) is such that it touches the Jews’ very essence.11

When the Jewishpeople received the Torah, their obedience and nullification was limited, since it was G‑d who took the initiative. As their obedience and nullification did not fully come about from their own efforts, it did not absolutely affect their entire being.

Kingship, however, derives from the king’s subjects — his authority is totally contingent on their absolute nullification to the king. As such, the reign of King David signifies a further step: not only was G‑d’s revelation — G‑d “descending” to man — complete, but the Jewishpeople’s acceptance — man “ascending” to G‑d — was also now complete.

These two aspects of G‑d descending to man and man ascending to G‑d will ultimately unite and become one with the arrival of Mashiach.12 The teachings of Chassidus, the teachings of the Baal Shem Tov, serve as the precursor to that glorious time. For Chassidus reveals G‑d within this world and concurrently lifts us up to G‑d — the perfect introduction to the time when “above” and “below” truly become one.

Based on Likkutei Sichos, Vol. VIII, pp. 21-28.