Tuesday, June 03, 2008


One of the more intriguing questions surrounding the Yom Tov of Shavuos is the question as to why the Torah itself does not identify the day as one that celebrates Mattan Torah, the Almighty's awesome gift and, as it were, betrothal of the Jewish nation unto Himself. The Torah chooses, instead, to depict the significance of this day as the Yom HaBikkurim – viz., the day of the year which commences the season of bringing one's Bikkurim – first fruits – to the Beis HaMikdash in Yerushalayim. Surely, it would seem, that the more momentous character of the day is that it is the anniversary of Mattan Torah at Har Sinai!?

The Maharal (Tiferes Yisroel chap. 27) gives us a startling answer:

אמנם מה ששואלים בני אדם כי אם חג השבועות הוא בשביל שנתן לנו התורה, למה כתב (במדבר כ"ח) וביום הבכורים בהקריבכם מנחה ולא כתב ביום מתן תורה מאחר שעיקר היום טוב הוא בשביל התורה, כמו שאנו אומרים זמן מתן תורתנו, אין זה שאלה כלל כי השם יתברך נתן למועדים זמן אשר הם שמחת ישראל אשר זכו אל הטוב כמו שאמר בחג המצות שבו יצאו ישראל מבית עבדים וסוכות כי בסוכות הושבתי אתכם וביום הכפורים כי ביום הזה יכפר עליכם, ובחג השבועות התורה שנתנה בו נתנה מהשם יתברך והיא לעול על ישראל והרי אומות העולם לא היו רוצים לקבל התורה ואף כי אנו אומרים זמן מתן תורתנו היינו משום שקבלנו התורה בעצמנו ואמרנו נעשה ונשמע אבל מכל מקום השם יתברך הנותן התורה היה כופה ההר עליהם שיקבלו התורה בעל כרחם מפני שהיא עול עליהם ואיך יכתוב בתורה זמן מתן תורה שנתן השם יתברך בגזרתו על האדם. ומזה הטעם לא נכתב גם כן בראש השנה הטעם שהוא יום הדין מפני כי הדין מצד עצמו אינו מקובל ואינו נוח לאדם ולכך לא תלה המועד בזה רק נכתב זכרון תרועה והזכירה שנזכר על ידי תרועה לפני הקדוש ברוך הוא לטובה, וכן הוא הזכירה בכל מקום. ותלה שלש מועדים הפסח בחדש האביב ושבועות חג הקציר וסוכות חג האסיף, ועוד יתבאר ענין אלו שלשה זמנים אל המועדים השלשה. והתבאר לך מה שלא קבע זמן חג השבועות שבו נתנה תורה לישראל:

In other words, as we were compelled to accept the Torah at Sinai, and because it imposes upon us a heavy yoke, with so many burdensome laws and potential punishments, its Giving would be a reason to be upset, not happy! The Torah therefore concealed the character of Shavuos as the commemoration of that event, and highlighted instead its happier character, as the time at which the first fruits begin to appear on the trees of the Land of Israel.

Our great Moreh Derech in Mussar and Avodas Hashem, Rabbi Yisroel Salanter (Ohr Yisroel #23) makes a similar point and expands upon it. He adds that it is for this reason that when the Torah discusses the simchah of Shavuos at the end of Parashas Re'eih, it writes וזכרת... את החקים האלה – that we remember these chukim – laws that do not possess an apparent rationale – for in light of this approach the simchah of Shavuos is, indeed, a chok. [For the lamdanim among us, this approach is medukdak in Rashi, Pesachim 68b: הכל מודים בעצרתדבעינן נמי לכם - שישמח בו במאכל ומשתה, להראות שנוח ומקובל יום זה לישראל שנתנה תורה בו.]

It would seem difficult that such giants, who lived and breathed Torah, and who surely derived from it great joy – as we do to this very day – should make such a stark statement concerning Shavuos!

Perhaps we might explain this enigma via a simple tzvei dinim: There is a distinction between one who stands “outside” the Torah and perceives it as a novice, and one who has experienced Torah on the “inside” - partaking of its sweet and pleasant substance. Shavuos commemorates the giving of the Torah – when we received the Torah as “outsiders” and “novices.” It therefore seemed depressingly complex and demoralizing. However, once we tasted of that concerning which it says כי הם חיינו ואורך ימינו, and טעמו וראו כי טוב ה, we came to love the Torah and rejoice in our acquisition of it.

Rabbi Avrohom Eliyahu Kaplan gives another answer to the original question. He bases it on an example from the “real world.” When a happy couple's anniversary is due to take place, each spouse waits to see if the other one remembers the significance of the date. To need to remind one's “other half” is to feel neglected and unloved. One may drop some hints, but not more! As Shavuos is the anniversary of our “marriage” with Hashem at Sinai, Hashem awaits to see whether we remember the momentous character of the 50th day of the Omer. He drops us hints – such as making the date the day of the Bikkurim – but puts the responsibility of remembering the full nature of Shavuos upon us. And, of course, like a good spouse, the Jewish nation (for the most part), has adopted the custom of “giving flowers” - by adorning our Shuls with foliage.

May we be zocheh to demonstrate our devotion to Hashem on Shavuos – and throughout the year as well!


  1. Is this for sure a real Piece not added by Maskilim or somthing?

  2. Parshas Naso
    נָשֹׂא אֶת-רֹאשׁ בְּנֵי קְהָת מִתּוֹךְ בְּנֵי לֵוִי לְמִשְׁפְּחֹתָם לְבֵית אֲבֹתָם.
    There is an amazing fact about this weeks Parsha it is the longest coming in at 176 Posukim ,it does not end there the Perek in Tehillim with the most Pesukim has 176 of them, and Baba Basra the longest Masechta in Shas has 176 Daf. What is the significance of this number? Rav Isbee answers there are 22 letters of the aleph-beis. Therefore this number represents Torah. The natural world Teva is always in sevens: there are seven days of the week, there are also Shivas Minim, seven continents, seven notes on a musical scale, last but not least seven seas. That being established the world beyond Nature Mimaleh Min Teva is always represented by eight. Now we know the secret of the number 176. When you take the torah represented by 22 and multiply by 8 Mimaleh Min Teva it equals 176.The secret to our number is Hashem is showing us the torah is above other studies it is Mimaleh Min Teva.
    דַּבֵּר אֶל-בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל וְאָמַרְתָּ אֲלֵהֶם אִישׁ אוֹ-אִשָּׁה כִּי יַפְלִא לִנְדֹּר נֶדֶר נָזִיר לְהַזִּיר לַיהוָה
    The Nazir is a person who is described as one whom by not drinking wine and not cutting his hair. That is he separates himself in order to reach a higher level of Kedusha. The Gemara in Nedarim has a similar case of spiritual climbing, when addressing a person who accepts upon himself optional fasting. The Gemara there says כל היושב בתענית נקרא חוטא. The question is why is this separation from worldly pleasures viewed negatively? It would seem natural for a person climbing the spiritual ladder to want to take an active role in reaching his goal of spiritual growth. Why does the Gemara look at it as a negative thing? The Ostrovtze Rebbe gives a profound insight into the Gemara's question. A closer look at the words reveals the truth of the question. The Gemara does not view separating yourself from worldly matters negatively. The words are כל היושב that is one who sits, he tortures himself and does not let the message reach him, he is unmoved it is only then that the gemara says it is as if he is נקרא חוטא.
    שְׁלֹשִׁים וּמֵאָה הַקְּעָרָה הָאַחַת כֶּסֶף וְשִׁבְעִים הַמִּזְרָק הָאֶחָד כֹּל כֶּסֶף הַכֵּלִים אַלְפַּיִם וְאַרְבַּע-מֵאוֹת בְּשֶׁקֶל הַקֹּדֶש כַּפּוֹת זָהָב שְׁתֵּים-עֶשְׂרֵה מְלֵאֹת קְטֹרֶת עֲשָׂרָה עֲשָׂרָה הַכַּף בְּשֶׁקֶל הַקֹּדֶשׁ כָּל-זְהַב הַכַּפּוֹת עֶשְׂרִים וּמֵאָה. ׁ
    The Torah tells us what each Nasi brought to the Mizbach a set of gifts .Why in this Posuk does it only say the Keilim they where brought in and not the contents? The second question is why by the ladles of קְטֹרֶת it does mention what was in them? The answer requires a slight background in Kedoshim. The Griz answers all the Nesiim came together to offer their gifts. They thought it was possible Hashem would tell them each to offer separately. They knew the Din that if you make hekdesh your gift it must be offered on that very day if not you have LINA. That means a Korban left over night which is Pasul. Therefore when the brought in the Keilim only with the קְטֹרֶת full because it says in the gemara in Shevous on Yud aleph Amud aleph by קְטֹרֶת there is no LINA. The posuk does not mention the contents of the Keilim because they would have become Pasul because of LINA. The קְטֹרֶת was mentioned because for the קְטֹרֶת there was no such concern. Therefore we see not only where they leaders of Klal Yisroel they where also Bekiem in Kodeshim.