Unique Aspect of Shavuot

Unique Aspect of Shavuot

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By: Rav Shalom Rosner

In Parshat Emor we encounter a list of the holidays, including Rosh Hashana, Yom Kippur, Pesach, Shavuot and Succot.  With respect to all but one holiday, the Torah states the date of the holiday, followed by the mitzvot associated with that holiday.  For example:



  • Pesach:



֨ ֥ ֙ ֣ ֔ ֥ ֖ ֑ ֥ ֖ ֥ :


And on the fifteenth day of that month is the Festival of Matzot to the Lord; you shall eat matzot for a seven day period.


We are first instructed that Pesach falls on the 15th of Nissan and then commanded to eat matzot. 



  • Succot:



֛ ֥ ֖ ֑ ֨ ֜ ֗ ֤ ֙ ֔ ֧ ֛ ֥ ֖ :( :)


 


֨ ֜ ֣ ֗ ֨ ֤ ֙ ֣ ֔ ֥ ֖ ֑ ֗ ֛ ֥ ֖


֥ ( :)


 


Speak to Bnei Yisrael, saying: On the fifteenth day of this seventh month, is the Festival of Succot, a seven day period to the Lord. (Vayikra 23:33)


 


And you shall take for yourselves on the first day, the fruit of the hadar tree, date palm fronds, a branch of a braided tree, and willows of the brook, and you shall rejoice before the Lord your God for a seven day period. (Vayikra 23:39).


 


We are first informed that the holiday of Succot is on the 15th day of the seventh month, and only later instructed to take the daled minim on that day.


 



  • Rosh Hashana:



֛ ֥ ֖ ֑ ֨ ֜ ֣ ֗ ֤ ֙ ֔ ֥ ֖ : (:)


 


Speak to Bnei Yisrael, saying: In the seventh month, on the first of the month, it shall be a Sabbat for you, a remembrance of [Israel through] the shofar blast a holy occasion. (Vayikra 23:24)


We are first informed of the date of Rosh Hashana and then commanded to blow the shofer on that date. 


However, with respect to the holiday of Shavuot we are instructed of the required actions, waving of the omer, prior to being provided with the date of the holiday.  In fact, no date appears! Rather we are told to count seven weeks in order to declare the holiday and offer the appropriate sacrifice (korban Ha’omer). 


 


 



  • Shavuot



֞ ֤ ֙ ֣ ֔ ֣ ֗ ֤ ֙ ֣ ֔ ֖ ֑ ֥ ֛ ֥ ֖ :( :)


֤ ֙ ֣ ֔ ֙ ֣֔ ֖ ֑ ֥ ֖ ֥ : (:)


Speak to Bnei Yisrael and say to them: When you come to the Land which I am giving you, and you reap its harvest, you shall bring to the kohen an omer of the beginning of your reaping. (Vayikra 23:10)


And you shall count for yourselves, from the morrow of the rest day from the day you bring the omer as a wave offering seven weeks; they shall be complete. (Vayikra 23:15)


In fact, in Parshat Pinchas, when the sacrifices of each holiday are enumerated, Shavuot is presented in a similar manner. 


֣ ֗ ֨֜ ֤ ֙ ֔ ֖֑ ֨֙ ֣ ֔ ֥ ֖ ֥ ( :)


On the day of the first fruits, when you offer up a new meal offering to the Lord, on your festival of Weeks; it shall be a holy convocation for you, and you shall not perform any mundane work. (Bamidbar 28:26)


In Parshat Pinchas as well, initially we are informed of the mitzva of the day and only subsequently that it is a holiday and work is prohibited. 


Why is the presentation reversed with respect to Shavuot?  In addition, why is the term used?  It has created a controversy among the nation – it would have been much clearer to refer to Pesach rather than Shabbat, so what is the term Shabbat used?  Moreover, we are instructed to waive the Korban – that is not required with all sacrifices.  Why is tnufa required in connection with the sacrifice on Shavuot? 


Infusing the Mundane with Holiness


Rav Eliyahu Blumensweig (V’Hithalachi Bitochechem) offers a significant insight.  Shabbat is declared by God. He created the world in six days and rested on the seventh. The actual date of the other holidays is determined by God as well (although we determine the calendar). However, the holiday of Shavuot is determined by man and his actions.  Perhaps that is why the mitzvot of the day precede its date.  Only once the mitzvot are fulfilled can one arrive at the true essence of the holiday. If one does not perform mitzvot and lacks appreciation of the Torah, the holiday of Shavuot, when the Torah was given to Bnei Yisrael lacks significance. We need to act to sanctify the holiday.  Matan Torah- the giving of the Torah, is only possible with a willing a worthy recipient! 


Shabbat and Pesach – Divine; Shavuot- Mundane


The term used is – to highlight the contrast between the holiday of Pesach – like Shabbat, where God’s supernatural powers were evident and the holiday of Shavuot, where we need to infuse holiness into the mundane.  Korban Ha’omer is brought from barley, symbolizing basic food typically eaten by animals (similar sacrifice offered by a Sota), leading up to fruit brought to the Mikdash on Shavuot, which is celebrated by man.   On Pesach we refrain from chametz and eat simple matzah.  On Shavuot, as part of our offering we include Hametz, possibly to underscore man’s required addition to the basic recipe, again symbolizing man’s necessity to act in order to grow and properly receive the Torah. 


Tnufa- Shake Us Up


Whereas on Pesach we witnessed down below miracles from above, the days of the omer require us raise our earthy matters with sanctification.   To transform from passive by-standers to active participants in observing God’s commandments. That is why the Korban Omer undergoes a waving –tnufa– we need to uplift ourselves and our actions to be worthy of receiving the Torah.  May we utilize these seven weeks to properly prepare for Shavuot and truly appreciate the essence of the day.


 


 

Shiur ID: 9404

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Rav Shalom Rosner
Rav Shalom Rosner
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Rav Shalom Rosner
Rav Shalom Rosner
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Rav Shalom Rosner
Rav Shalom Rosner
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Rav Shalom Rosner
Rav Shalom Rosner
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Rav Shalom Rosner
Rav Shalom Rosner
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Rav Shalom Rosner
Rav Shalom Rosner
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