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Shavuot (The Feast of Weeks) - שבעות חג

By Rabbi Dr. Hillel ben David (Greg Killian)

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I. Introduction. 1

II. Counting to Love. 4

III. Why Two (2) Loaves Of Bread?. 4

IV. Terms that apply to this day. 5

In the Written Torah. 5

In The Oral Torah. 5

V. The requirements of Shavuot 6

VI. The two loaves. 7

VII. The Sacrifices 9

The wave offering. 9

The burnt offering. 9

The grain offering. 10

The Atonement (covering) 10

Drink offerings 11

The fellowship offering. 11

VIII. An Appointed Time. 12

IX. Firstfruit 13

X. Events that occurred during Shavuot 16

The Torah was given on Shavuot: 16

The Story Continues 17

The Seventy Languages. 18

Wheat and its Meaning. 20

Torah is reaffirmed. 22

The tribe of Benjamin. 23

Avraham celebrated Shavuot: 24

Other Shavuot Events 24

XI. Reading the Megillat Ruth. 25

XII. The Ten Words - The Decalogue. 27

XIII. Customs 32

Torah readings 32

Haftorah readings 33

Staying awake. 33

Musical Instruments and Psalms for Shavuot 35

Reasons for eating Milk foods 35

XIV. Messianic Aspects 38

XV. Observations 40

XVI. The Reading of The Torah. 40

XVII. Betrothal and Marriage. 41

XVIII. From My Teacher 43

 

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I. Introduction

 

שבעות חג, Chag Shavuot, the Feast of Weeks, is a major festival. It’s the second of the three Shalosh Regalim (pilgrimage festivals) that comes exactly fifty days after Passover. It marks the giving of the Torah, by HaShem, to Israel on Mount Sinai 3,323 (in 5771) years ago.

 

THE “BLUEPRINT” FOR CREATION

 

Speaking metaphorically, our Sages tell us that HaShem constantly “gazes into the Torah and creates the world.” The Torah is not only a practical guide for our behavior in daily life, but also on a deeper level it is actually the “blueprint” for creation. Everything that happens in our lives is a manifestation of HaShem‘s wisdom, as expressed in His Torah. As such, Torah represents the very source of our vitality, and the key to the fulfillment of our deepest aspirations.

 

Now although we know that the Torah was given on the 6th of Sivan, during the time when the calendar was fixed by eyewitnesses to the new moon, the fiftieth day, Shavuot, could fall on the 5th, 6th, or 7th of Sivan.

 

Unlike the other festivals, whose calendrical dates are specified in the Torah, Shavuot is not necessarily celebrated on the sixth of Sivan, the anniversary of the Giving of the Torah; it is celebrated on the fiftieth day after the beginning of the counting of the Omer. Thus, before the institution of a fixed calendar, when the first day of each Jewish month was determined by the testimony of witnesses who had seen the new moon, Shavuot could also be celebrated on the fifth of Sivan or on the seventh[1].

 

Nonetheless, now that the calendar is no longer variable, Shavuot always coincides with the 6th of Sivan.

 

Upon examination, one would find that the Torah usually lists exactly what day a festival begins. For example, by Pesach the Torah tells us that:

 

Vayikra (Leviticus) 23:6 On the fifteenth day of this month is the Festival of Matzot.

 

However, come Shavuot we find something different. The Torah writes:

 

Vayikra (Leviticus) 23:15 and you shall count for yourselves from the day after the Shabbat . . . you shall count fifty days and you shall bring a new Mincha offering to HaShem . . . and you shall convoke on this very day - there shall be a holy convocation for yourselves.

 

Why does the Torah not tell us the date of Shavuot? Why does the Torah force us to calculate fifty days from the start of our counting of the Omer to figure out when Shavuot is?

 

The Torah does this to illustrate the centrality of the Oral Law.[2] The Torah terms the starting date for the count of the fifty days “the day after the Shabbat.” The Oral law tells us that this is the second day of Pesach, the ‘Shabbat‘ referred to in the verse being the first day of Pesach. The Tzedukim, Sadducees,[3] who did not give credence to the Oral law, explained this verse differently. They explained it to mean literally the day after the weekly Shabbat. So, they began counting from the first Sunday after Pesach. Now, nowhere does the Torah say to count from the Shabbat during Pesach! So, The Tzedukim had to make up a guess as to when the Shabbat is, after all we have fifty, or so, Shabbats[4] during the year. When we celebrate Shavuot on the day that we do, we are simultaneously affirming our belief in the Oral law. After all, it is only with the clarification that the Oral law provides that we know when Shavuot falls. Shavuot, the festival on which we celebrate the fact that we have the Torah, is the day on which we acknowledge that we received all of the Torah, both oral and written. To be sure that we recognize the entirety of the Torah, HaShem omitted the exact date on which we celebrate from the written Torah. Only by relying upon the Oral law can we celebrate Shavuot in its proper time.

 

In Hebrew, the word ‘Chag Shavuot’ means ‘Festival of Weeks’ and stands for the seven weeks during which the children of Israel prepared themselves for the giving of the Torah. During this time they rid themselves of the scars of bondage and empowered to become a holy nation ready to stand before HaShem. Let’s read what HaShem has to say about it:

 

Devarim (Deuteronomy) 16:9-17 Count off seven weeks from the time you begin to put the sickle to the standing grain. Then celebrate the Feast of Weeks to HaShem your G-d by giving a freewill offering in proportion to the blessings HaShem your G-d has given you. And rejoice before HaShem your G-d at the place he will choose as a dwelling for his Name--you, your sons and daughters, your menservants and maidservants, the Levites in your towns, and the aliens, the fatherless and the widows living among you. Remember that you were slaves in Egypt, and follow carefully these decrees. Celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles for seven days after you have gathered the produce of your threshing floor and your winepress. Be joyful at your Feast--you, your sons and daughters, your menservants and maidservants, and the Levites, the aliens, the fatherless and the widows who live in your towns. For seven days celebrate the Feast to HaShem your G-d at the place HaShem will choose. For HaShem your G-d will bless you in all your harvest and in all the work of your hands, and your joy will be complete. Three times a year all your men must appear before HaShem your G-d at the place he will choose: at the Feast of Unleavened Bread, the Feast of Weeks and the Feast of Tabernacles. No man should appear before HaShem empty-handed: Each of you must bring a gift in proportion to the way HaShem your G-d has blessed you.

 

The standing grain that is cut is barley. The barley to be waved was planted seventy (70) days before Nisan 15. The Talmud describes the planting of the barley:

 

Menachoth 85a How was [the field] prepared? In the first year it was broken up and in the second year it was ploughed twice, and it was sown seventy days before the Passover so that it might be close upon the [increasing strength of the] sun;[5] thus it would bring forth stalks one span long and ears two spans long. It was then reaped, bound into sheaves, threshed, winnowed, cleansed, ground, and sifted, and then brought to the Temple-treasurer.

 

The Torah calls this festival, שבעות חג, Chag Shavuot, the Feast of Weeks. The celebration of this feast begins with the word, count. This word immediately connects this festival with Chag HaMatza, the Feast of Unleavened Bread. Our Sages understood that Shavuot is the Atzeret, or conclusion of Chag HaMatza. The celebration, therefore, begins with an obvious command: COUNT. So, the first part of the celebration is for us to physically count, every day, out loud, with the proper blessing, the number of weeks, and the number of days.

 

Shemot (Exodus) 34:22 And thou shalt observe the feast of weeks, of the firstfruits of wheat harvest, and the feast of ingathering at the year’s end.

 

Vayikra (Leviticus) 23:9-21 HaShem said to Moshe, “Speak to the Israelites and say to them: ‘When you enter the land I am going to give you and you reap its harvest, bring to the priest a sheaf of the first grain you harvest. He is to wave the sheaf before HaShem so it will be accepted on your behalf; the priest is to wave it on the day after the Sabbath. On the day you wave the sheaf, you must sacrifice as a burnt offering to HaShem a lamb a year old without defect, Together with its grain offering of two-tenths of an ephah of fine flour mixed with oil--an offering made to HaShem by fire, a pleasing aroma--and its drink offering of a quarter of a hin of wine. You must not eat any bread, or roasted or new grain, until the very day you bring this offering to your G-d. This is to be a lasting ordinance for the generations to come, wherever you live. “‘From the day after the Sabbath, the day you brought the sheaf of the wave offering, count off seven complete weeks. Count off fifty days up to the day after the seventh Sabbath, and then present an offering of new grain to HaShem. From wherever you live, bring two loaves made of two-tenths of an ephah of fine flour, baked with yeast, as a wave offering of firstfruits to HaShem. Present with this bread seven male lambs, each a year old and without defect, one young bull and two rams. They will be a burnt offering to HaShem, together with their grain offerings and drink offerings--an offering made by fire, an aroma pleasing to HaShem. Then sacrifice one male goat for a sin offering and two lambs, each a year old, for a fellowship offering. The priest is to wave the two lambs before HaShem as a wave offering, together with the bread of the firstfruits. They are a sacred offering to HaShem for the priest. On that same day you are to proclaim a sacred assembly and do no regular work. This is to be a lasting ordinance for the generations to come, wherever you live.

 

On the sixth of Sivan falls the festival of Shavuot, after the counting of the omer for forty-nine days which are seven weeks. This is why it is called “the festival of weeks,” as it says in the Torah:

 

Devarim (Deuteronomy) 16:9-10 Seven weeks you will count... and you will make Shavuot for HaShem, your G-d”

 

Our Hakhamim[6] said: Why did HaShem make Shavuot dependent on the counting of the omer, unlike any other festival? This is because when the Children of Israel were told that they would leave Egypt, they were also told that they would receive the Torah fifty days after leaving, as it says:

 

Shemot (Exodus) 3:12 When you take this nation out of Egypt, you will worship (taavdun) HaShem on this mountain.

 

The extra “nun”[7] in the word taavdun instead of taavodu, is to hint that after fifty days from leaving Egypt, they would receive the Torah on the mountain of Sinai (nun has the numerical value of fifty).

 

II. Counting to Love

 

The book of Bamidbar (Numbers) starts off with a count of the Israelites, in the wilderness of Sinai. The Sages understood that HaShem counted His people to show us how precious we are to Him. In the same way, we count items of value because they are precious to us. The Midrash[8] records that HaShem has counted His people nine times so far. The Midrash says that HaShem will count His people one more time in the days of Mashiach ben David (Yeshua at His second coming).

 

Shavuot, which commemorates HaShem‘s giving of the Torah to Israel, is called the wedding of Israel to HaShem;[9] and on the Shabbat before his wedding, the bridegroom is called to the Torah as a preparation for the wedding.

 

III. Why Two (2) Loaves Of Bread?

 

His Majesty, King Yeshua, said that He was the Bread of Life:

 

Yochanan (John) 6:35 Then Yeshua declared, “I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty.”

 

The message of the two loaves which are waved in the Temple on Shavuot seems to be a reference to the two Messiahs: Mashiach ben Yosef and Mashiach ben David. So the bread represents Mashiach.

 

From Pesach to Shavuot we see several progressions:

 

  1. From barley to wheat.
  2. From matza to bread.
  3. From impurity to purity.
  4. From physical freedom to physical and spiritual freedom.
  5. From Egypt to Mount Sinai.

 

These progressions all are related to Mashiach. On Shavuot we raise the two loaves and parade through Jerusalem. It is as though we are lifting up Mashiach and honoring Him in Jerusalem.

 

 * * *

 

Question: Normally no yeast was allowed as in Shemot (Exodus) 34:25. Notice that the Feast of Weeks required yeast (chametz) in Vayikra (Leviticus) 23:17. Why?

 

Shemot (Exodus) 34:22-28Celebrate the Feast of Weeks with the firstfruits of the wheat harvest, and the Feast of Ingathering at the turn of the year. Three times a year all your men are to appear before the Sovereign HaShem, the G-d of Israel. I will drive out nations before you and enlarge your territory, and no one will covet your land when you go up three times each year to appear before HaShem your G-d. “Do not offer the blood of a sacrifice to me along with anything containing yeast, and do not let any of the sacrifice from the Pesach Feast remain until morning. “Bring the best of the firstfruits of your soil to the house of HaShem your G-d.

 

Possible answer: The wave loaves were leavened because they were the only public peace and thank-offerings of Israel. They were accompanied by burnt and sin offerings; and unlike ordinary peace-offerings, they were considered as most holy. Therefore they were leavened because Israel’s public thank-offerings, even the most holy, are leavened by imperfection and the evil inclination, and they need a sin offering.

 

Also note that the normal unleavened sacrifice was BURNED, whereas the loaves were only WAVED in front of the altar. The OMER as a link between Pesach and Shavuot is marked by an interesting progression from it’s opening to it’s closing ritual. On the second night of Pesach, barley, which is normally animal food, is harvested and the first sheaf is waved before the altar in the Temple (i.e. salvation for the Gentiles). On Shavuot, two loaves of leavened bread, which is normally people’s food, are waved as an offering before the same altar (i.e. salvation for the Jews).

 

Bamidbar (Numbers) 28:26 “‘On the day of firstfruits, when you present to HaShem an offering of new grain during the Feast of Weeks, hold a sacred assembly and do no regular work. Present a burnt offering of two young bulls, one ram and seven male lambs a year old as an aroma pleasing to HaShem. With each bull there is to be a grain offering of three- tenths of an ephah of fine flour mixed with oil; with the ram, two- tenths; And with each of the seven lambs, one-tenth. Include one male goat to make atonement for you. Prepare these together with their drink offerings, in addition to the regular burnt offering and its grain offering. Be sure the animals are without defect.

 

IV. Terms that apply to this day

 

In the Written Torah

Feast of Weeks

Shavuot

Devarim (Deuteronomy) 16:10

 

 

Feast of harvest (cutting)

Chag HaKazir

Shemot (Exodus) 23:16

 

 

Day of Firstfruits

Yom HaBikkurim

Bamidbar (Numbers) 28:26

 

 

Pentecost:

II Luqas (Acts) 20:16

 

 

Day of the Congregation

Yom HaKahal

Devarim (Deuteronomy) 18:16

 

 

The Sixth Day

Bereshit (Genesis) 1:31

 

 

In The Oral Torah

 

Rosh HaShanah of the fruit of the trees

Meggilah 31b

 

Meggilah 31b It has been taught: R. Simeon b. Eleazar says: Ezra made a regulation for Israel that they should read the curses in Leviticus before Pentecost and those in Deuteronomy before New Year. What is the reason? — Abaye — or you may also say Resh Lakish said: So that the year may end along with its curses. I grant you that in regard to the curses in Deuteronomy you can say, ‘so that the year should end along with its curses’. But as regards those In Leviticus — is Pentecost a New Year? — Yes; Pentecost is also a New Year, as we have learnt: ‘On Pentecost is the new year for [fruit of] the tree’.

 

Chag HaAtzeret [10]

Pesachim 68b,

Shabbath 87b,

Mo’ed Katan 19a

 

 

The Solemn Assembly

Pesachim 68b

 

Whenever the Talmud uses the phrase, the solemn assembly, without a further determinant, this always means the Feast of Weeks.

 

Many reasons are given for why Shavuot has the names that it does. The Ta’amei Haminhagim explains that the festival is called “Shavuot” because “Shavuot” means oaths. He explains that when we accepted the Torah, HaShem “promised” not to “exchange” us for any other nation, and we promised HaShem that we would not leave and “exchange” Him. Because of these oaths, the festival which is the anniversary of our receiving the Torah is called Shavuot.

 

Another reason[11] given for the name Shavuot is that this is the festival that occurs after we have finished counting the weeks, the word for weeks being “Shavuot.”

It would seem most appropriate to call the festival “Yom Matan Torateinu” or the “Day of the Giving of our Torah”, after all this is the great event that occurred on this day in the year 2448.

 

Rashi, commenting on Bereshit (Genesis) 1:31, notes that the only day of creation to be called “very good” was ‘The sixth day’ (as opposed to a second day, a third day, etc.), since Shavuot occurs on Sivan 6, and is the only festival to occur on the sixth day of the month. So, Shavuot is alluded to in the creation account as very good.

 

Why is Shavuot also referred to as Chag HaAtzeret? The Ta’amei Haminhagim explains that on all other festivals, there are two types of service to HaShem that we perform. One type of performance is doing the commandments specifically associated with that festival, such as eating matzot on Pesach. The other service is that which we find on all festivals, refraining from “work” or “melacha.” On Shavuot, there really is only one type of service being performed, that being the cessation of work. One of the meanings of the word “atzeret” is “a cessation, a stopping”. Shavuot is called Chag HaAtzeret because it means that it is the Festival of “Cessation” and cessation only, while all other festivals have observances specific to it as well.

 

The Ramban explains that Shavuot is to Pesach as Shemini Atzeret is to Succoth. (Shemini Atzeret is what might be called the eighth day of Succoth, although technically, it is a festival separate from Succoth.) Just as Succoth has a festival called “atzeret” at its end, so too does Pesach have a festival called “atzeret” at its “end.” Hence, the name “atzeret” for Shavuot. (There is an intrinsic connection between the spring festivals and the fall festivals which we have explored in our study titled:  Rains.)

It is important to note that there is no such thing, in scripture, as the “Feast of Firstfruits”. Notice also that the only feast associated with firstfruits is Shavuot. If you read the scriptures carefully, you will notice that the day of the firstfruits is also a Sabbath. This is another clue as to the date of this day (Shavuot).

 

V. The requirements of Shavuot

 

1. It was one of the three times when all young men were required to appear before HaShem. Shemot (Exodus) 23:17, Shemot (Exodus) 34:23, Devarim (Deuteronomy) 16:16

 

2. We are to present an offering of new grain. Vayikra (Leviticus) 23:16, Bamidbar (Numbers) 28:26

 

3. We are to bring two loaves of bread. Vayikra (Leviticus) 23:17

 

4. Hold a sacred assembly. Bamidbar (Numbers) 28:26

 

5. Do no regular work. Bamidbar (Numbers) 28:26, Vayikra (Leviticus) 23:21

 

6. Bread must be brought with seven male lambs, a young bull and two rams as a burnt offering. Vayikra (Leviticus) 23:18

 

7. The sin offering was a male goat. Vayikra (Leviticus) 23:19

 

8. The fellowship offering was two lambs. Vayikra (Leviticus) 23:19

 

VI. The two loaves

 

The leavened bread for Shavuot is made from...

 

Vayikra (Leviticus) 23:17 From wherever you live, bring two loaves made of two- tenths of an ephah of fine flour, baked with yeast, as a wave offering of firstfruits to HaShem.

 

An ephah is a measure of Egyptian origin and contained ten omers (an omer is about two quarts, so it would be approximately four quarts of flour). Two- tenth of an ephah (4 quarts x 4 cups/quart) is about sixteen cups of fine flour.

 

The two loaves were rectangular, 4 x 7 handbreadths, and four finger breadths high ( 12” x 21” x 3”)[12].

 

Those were BIG loaves of bread.

 

Notice that the receiving of the Ruach HaKodesh, the Holy Spirit, and two loaves of bread are associated with Saul at the time of his anointing. Notice how many parallels there are between the events in Saul’s day and the events at Sinai:

 

I Samuel 10:1-7 Then Samuel took a flask of oil and poured it on Saul’s head and kissed him, saying, “Has not HaShem anointed you leader over his inheritance? When you leave me today, you will meet two men near Rachel’s tomb, at Zelzah on the border of Benjamin. They will say to you, ‘The donkeys you set out to look for have been found. And now your father has stopped thinking about them and is worried about you. He is asking, “What shall I do about my son?”‘ “Then you will go on from there until you reach the great tree of Tabor. Three men going up to G-d at Bethel will meet you there. One will be carrying three young goats, another three loaves of bread, and another a skin of wine. They will greet you and offer you two loaves of bread, which you will accept from them. “After that you will go to Gibeah of G-d, where there is a Philistine outpost. As you approach the town, you will meet a procession of prophets coming down from the high place with lyres, tambourines, flutes and harps being played before them, and they will be prophesying. The Spirit of HaShem will come upon you in power, and you will prophesy with them; and you will be changed into a different person. Once these signs are fulfilled, do whatever your hand finds to do, for G-d is with you.

 

We will see that this association of the giving of the Ruach HaKodesh on Shavuot again when we examine the Messianic aspects of this festival.

 

The Talmud indicates that the bringing of this offering supersedes the Sabbath:

 

Shabbath 131a R. Hiyya b. Abba said in R. Johanan’s name: Not in respect of everything did R. Eliezer rule that the preliminary preparations of a precept supersede the Sabbath, for lo! the two loaves are an obligation of the day, yet R. Eliezer did not learn them from aught but a gezerah shawah. For it was taught, R. Eliezer said: Whence do we know that the preliminaries of the two loaves supersede the Sabbath? ‘Bringing’ is stated in connection with the ‘omer, and ‘bringing’ is stated in connection with the two loaves: just as with the ‘bringing’ stated in connection with the ‘omer, its preliminaries supersede the Sabbath, so with the ‘bringing’ stated in connection with the two loaves their preliminaries supersede the Sabbath. These must be free, for if they are not free one can refute [this analogy]: as for the ‘omer, [its preliminaries supersede the Sabbath] because if one finds it [already] cut, he must cut [other sheaves]; will you [then] say [the same] in the case of the two loaves, seeing that if one finds [the wheat therefore] cut he does not cut [any more]? in truth they are indeed free. [For] consider: it is written, then ye shall bring the sheaf of the first-fruits of your harvest unto the priest: what is the purpose of ‘from the day that ye brought’? Infer from it that it is in order to be free. Yet it is still free on one side only, while we know R. Eliezer to hold that where it is free on one side [only], we deduce, but refute? — ‘Ye shall bring’ is an extension.

 

The Talmud / Mishna also indicates when these two loaves should be eaten:

 

Menachoth 100b MISHNA. THE TWO LOAVES WERE EATEN NEVER EARLIER THAN ON THE SECOND DAY AND NEVER LATER THAN ON THE THIRD DAY. HOW IS THIS EXPLAINED? [NORMALLY] THEY WERE BAKED ON THE DAY BEFORE THE FESTIVAL AND EATEN ON THE FESTIVAL, THAT IS, ON THE SECOND DAY. IF THE FESTIVAL FELL ON THE DAY AFTER THE SABBATH, THEY WOULD BE EATEN ON THE THIRD DAY.

 

These loaves had to be eaten within the Temple:

 

Chullin 133b And these are they: Ten [that are to be eaten] within the precincts of the Temple, four [that are enjoyed] in Jerusalem, and ten [that are given to them] within the borders [of the Land of Israel]. The ten [that are to be eaten] within the precincts of the Temple are: the sin-offering of an animal, the sin-offering of a bird, the guilt-offering for a known sin, the guilt-offering for a doubtful sin, the peace-offerings of the congregation. the log of oil of the leper, the two loaves, the shewbread, the remnant of the meal-offerings, the remnant of the ‘Omer. The four [that are enjoyed] in Jerusalem are: the firstling, the firstfruits, that which is taken away as a heave-offering from the thank-offering and from the ram of the Nazirite, and the hides of the [most] holy sacrifices.

 

The Sefer HaChinuch[13] describes how this offering was brought:

 

Three “se’in” (a seah is a measure, and se’in is plural for seah) of wheat, the first of the new crop, were gathered. The wheat was then rubbed and beaten as preparation for grinding. Then, the wheat was ground. Two issaron measures of flour were taken and sifted numerous times. A challah/loaf was made from each issaron of sifted flour. These loaves were to be leaven, unlike flour offerings brought on the altar, which were forbidden to be chametz (leavened). They were then baked according to certain size specifications. After they were baked, they were brought together with one bull, two rams, and seven lambs, which were all an “olah” offering - and offering which was to be burnt on the altar, and not eaten. In addition, it was brought with a goat, a “chatat” offering (an offering usually brought for atonement) and two lambs as a “shelamim” (peace) offering, an offering which was eaten with the Sh’tei HaLechem (two loaves). Before they were eaten, the two breads and the shelamim offering were waved in a process called “tenufah.” After the offerings were waved, the Kohanim[14] ate them.

The Midrash also brings us some insight regarding the loaves:

 

Midrash Rabbah - Ruth IV:2 SO NAOMI RETURNED, AND RUTH THE MOABITESS HER DAUGHTER-IN- LAW WITH HER, WHO RETURNED OUT OF THE FIELD OF MOAB (I, 22). [People pointed to her saying] ‘This is the one who returned from the field of Moab!’ AND THEY CAME TO BETHLEHEM IN THE BEGINNING OF THE BARLEY- HARVEST (ib.). R. Samuel b. Nahman said: Wherever the words barley-harvest occur in Scripture, they refer to the harvest of the Omer. Wherever the words wheat- harvest occur, it refers to the Two Loaves.[15] If it states simply harvest it may be applied to both.

 

Midrash Rabbah - Bamidbar (Numbers) VII:8 The Land of Israel is holier than all other lands. Wherein does its sanctity consist? In that from there is brought the ‘Omer, the firstfruits, and the Two Loaves[16]; this is not the case with the other lands.

 

VII. The Sacrifices

 

Bamidbar (Numbers) 18:8-14 Then HaShem said to Aaron, “I myself have put you in charge of the offerings presented to me; all the holy offerings the Israelites give me I give to you and your sons as your portion and regular share. You are to have the part of the most holy offerings that is kept from the fire. From all the gifts they bring me as most holy offerings, whether grain or sin or guilt offerings, that part belongs to you and your sons. Eat it as something most holy; every male shall eat it. You must regard it as holy. “This also is yours: whatever is set aside from the gifts of all the wave offerings of the Israelites. I give this to you and your sons and daughters as your regular share. Everyone in your household who is ceremonially clean may eat it. “I give you all the finest olive oil and all the finest new wine and grain they give HaShem as the firstfruits of their harvest. All the land’s firstfruits that they bring to HaShem will be yours. Everyone in your household who is ceremonially clean may eat it. “Everything in Israel that is devoted to HaShem is yours.

 

The wave offering

 

The wave offering was two loaves of bread of firstfruits.

 

Vayikra (Leviticus) 23:20 The priest is to wave the two lambs before HaShem as a wave offering, together with the bread of the firstfruits. They are a sacred offering to HaShem for the priest.

 

The two (2) loaves of firstfruits bread and the two (2) lambs.

 

This offering differs from all other festivals in that the breasts of the lambs and the loaves were waved together, where on all other festivals the breasts were waved alone.[17]

 

Vayikra (Leviticus) 23:18 Present with this bread seven male lambs, each a year old and without defect, one young bull and two rams. They will be a burnt offering to HaShem, together with their grain offerings and drink offerings--an offering made by fire, an aroma pleasing to HaShem.

 

The burnt offering  

 

The burnt offering was seven (7) male lambs, each a year old with it’s grain and drink offering. One (1) young bull with it’s grain and drink offering. Two (2) rams with it’s grain and drink offering.

 

The seven male lambs were offered only at:

 

Rosh Chodesh

Bamidbar (Numbers) 28:11

Chag HaMatzah

Bamidbar (Numbers) 28:19

Shavuot

 

Yom Teruah

Bamidbar (Numbers) 29:2

Yom HaKippurim

Bamidbar (Numbers) 29:8

the seventh day of Succoth

Bamidbar (Numbers) 29:32

Shemini Atzeret

Bamidbar (Numbers) 29:36

 

The one (1) young bull was offered at:

As a regular burnt offering

Vayikra (Leviticus) 1:5,

Shavuot,

consecrate the priests

Shemot (Exodus) 29:1, Bamidbar

(Numbers) 8:8,

The dedication of  the altar that Solomon built -

Bamidbar (Numbers) 7:15,

Yom Teruah

Bamidbar (Numbers) 29:2, and

Yom HaKippurim

Bamidbar (Numbers) 29:8.

 

The two (2) rams were used to / at:

Consecrate the priests

Shemot (Exodus) 29:1,

Bamidbar (Numbers) 8:8,

Shavuot,

The dedication of the altar that Solomon built

- Bamidbar (Numbers) 7:15,

On each day of Succoth -

Bamidbar (Numbers) 29:13,14,17,20,23,26,29,32.

 

The grain offering

 

The grain offering was:

 

With the two (2) bulls: three-tenths (3/10) of an ephah mixed with oil,

 

with the one (1) ram: two-tenths (2/10) of an ephah mixed with oil,

 

with the seven (7) lambs: one-tenth (1/10) of an ephah mixed with oil.

 

The three-tenths of an ephah is associated with any bull burnt offering:

 

Rosh Chodesh - Bamidbar (Numbers) 28:12,

Chag HaMatzah - Bamidbar (Numbers) 28:20,

Shavuot - Bamidbar (Numbers) 28:28,

Yom Teruah - Bamidbar (Numbers) 29:3,

Yom HaKippurim - Bamidbar (Numbers) 29:9,

Succoth - Bamidbar (Numbers) 29:14.

 

Why does the meal offering consist of two-tenths of fine flour for the one lamb rather than just one-tenth? The one lamb represents the nation. Two-tenths, the plural, indicates that it is a nation consisting of individuals rather than merely one whole. Since the Torah describes the plurality of the nation via flour, their staple food and the basis to their national prosperity, it implies that the nation can only be considered rich if everybody has their own “one-tenth”[18].

 

Many people are lacking their “one-tenth”. As a result, even though as a nation we might appear to be ‘rich’, in reality, we are still ‘poor’. It is incumbent upon those of us who have their own one-tenth, to help others attain theirs. Once that happens, the nation will truly be able to call itself ‘rich’.

 

Bamidbar (Numbers) 28:30 Include one male goat to make atonement for you.

 

The Atonement (covering)

 

The atonement (covering) was one (1) male goat.

 

The atonement goat was required exclusively at:

Chag HaMatzah          - Bamidbar 28:22,

Shavuot                       - Bamidbar 28:30,

Yom Teruah                - Bamidbar 29:5, and

Yom HaKippurim       - Bamidbar 29:11.

 

Bamidbar (Numbers) 28:31 Prepare these together with their drink offerings, in addition to the regular burnt offering and its grain offering. Be sure the animals are without defect.

 

     Drink offerings

 

Bamidbar (Numbers) 28:14 And their drink offerings shall be half an hin of wine unto a bullock, and the third part of an hin unto a ram, and a fourth part of an hin unto a lamb: this is the burnt offering of every month throughout the months of the year.

 

˝ Hin per Bullock.

1/3 Hin per Ram.

Ľ Hin per Lamb.

 

Note that the drink offering is proportional to the size of the animal.

 

* * *

 

Devarim (Deuteronomy) 16:9-10 Count off seven weeks from the time you begin to put the sickle to the standing grain. Then celebrate the Feast of Weeks to HaShem your G-d by giving a freewill offering in proportion to the blessings HaShem your G-d has given you.

 

The Talmud says that the sacrifices commanded by HaShem could be brought for seven days after Shavuot:

 

Rosh HaShana 4b What exposition then do R. Meir and R. Eliezer b. Jacob give of the words ‘on the feast of unleavened bread and on the feast of weeks and on the feast of tabernacles‘ ? — They require them for the same purpose as R. Eleazar b. Oshaia. For R. Eleazar b. Oshaia said: How do we know that [a sacrifice due but not brought on] Pentecost[19] can be made up for during the next seven days? Because it says, On the feast of unleavened bread and on the feast of weeks and on the feast of tabernacles. Just as [a sacrifice not brought on the first day of] the feast of Passover can be made up for during the next seven days,[20] so [a sacrifice not brought on] the Feast of Weeks can be made up for during the next seven days.

 

The fellowship offering

 

The fellowship offering was:

 

Two (2) lambs, each a year old. Shavuot is the only festival to have a “congregational”, or public, fellowship offering:

 

Vayikra (Leviticus) 23:19 Then sacrifice one male goat for a sin offering and two lambs, each a year old, for a fellowship offering.

 

The goat sin offering was brought at:

 

When a leader sins unintentionally - Vayikra (Leviticus) 4:23,

General sin offering - Vayikra (Leviticus) 9:3,

Shavuot,

Dedication of the altar - Bamidbar (Numbers) 7:15

For unintentional sin - Bamidbar (Numbers) 15:24,

Rosh Chodesh - Bamidbar (Numbers) 28:15,

Chag HaMatzah - Bamidbar (Numbers) 28:22,

Yom Teruah - Bamidbar (Numbers) 29:5,

Yom HaKippurim - Bamidbar (Numbers) 29:11,

Succoth - Bamidbar (Numbers) 29:16,

Daily sin offering in Ezekiel’s temple

- Ezekiel 43:25,

Pesach in Ezekiel’s temple - Ezekiel 45:23.

 


 

THE MUSSAF OFFERINGS

 

OLAH / BURNT OFFERING

CHATAT / SIN OFFERING

VERSES

(Bamidbar)

DAY

BULLS

RAMS

LAMBS

GOAT

28:9-10

Shabbat

0

0

2

0

28:11-15

Rosh Chodesh

2

1

7

1

28:16-25

Pesach (every day)

2

1

7

1

28:26-31

Shavuot

2

1

7

1

29:1-6

Rosh Hashana

1

1

7

1

29:7-11

Yom HaKippurim

1

1

7

1

29:12-16

Succoth – day 1

13

2

14

1

29:17-19

Succoth – day 2

12

2

14

1

29:20-22

Succoth – day 3

11

2

14

1

29:23-25

Succoth – day 4

10

2

14

1

29:26-28

Succoth – day 5

9

2

14

1

29:29-31

Succoth – day 6

8

2

14

1

29:32-34

Succoth – day 7

7

2

14

1

29:35-38

Shemini Atzeret

1

1

7

1

  1. A second set of offerings is brought on Shavuot. It consists of 2 loaves and an olah of 1 bull, 2 rams, 7 lambs, a chatat of 1 goat, and a shelamim of 2 lambs (Vayikra 23:15-22)
  2. The offerings of Rosh Chodesh are also brought on Rosh HaShanah.
  3. A second goat – chatat (sin offering) is also offered on Yom HaKippurim (Vayikra 16:9)

 

 


VIII. An Appointed Time

 

Bamidbar (Numbers) 28:1-2 HaShem said to Moshe, “Give this command to the Israelites and say to them: ‘See that you present to me at the appointed time the food for my offerings made by fire, as an aroma pleasing to me.’

 

This is the “moed“ the appointment.

 

What is the point that the Torah is making by calling this an “appointment“?

 

Those who carefully read the Torah can see that there are hints that the reason for a festival is NOT because of a certain historical event. In fact, it appears that the historical events that took place on a festival, took place because that was the time of the year dedicated to that type of event! Lets consider a few examples: Lot fed the two angels matza. Then at midnight, Lot and his family were delivered from Sodom while the enemies of HaShem were destroyed. Doesn’t this sound a bit like Pesach? (Despite happening more than 400 years before Sinai!) In the same way, the giving of the Ruach HaKodesh, the Holy Spirit, in II Luqas (Acts) 2, seems to indicate that Sivan 6, is the time when HaShem has decreed that events like the giving of the Torah, and its associated manifestations, are to occur. This spiral of time is repeated over and over again. Each year we again see events that are associated with that particular time of the year. This means that every year we should look for events related to the giving of the Torah and it’s covenant, to happen at the time of Shavuot! It is for this reason that I have often wondered if the events of Jeremiah 31:31ff, would take place at Shavuot.

 

This is the “Mikra” the rehearsal meeting.

 

Bamidbar (Numbers) 28:26-27 “‘On the day of firstfruits, when you present to HaShem an offering of new grain during the Feast of Weeks, hold a sacred assembly and do no regular work. Present a burnt offering of two young bulls, one ram and seven male lambs a year old as an aroma pleasing to HaShem.

 

4744 miqra’, mik-raw’; from 7121; something called out, i.e. a public meeting (the act, the persons, or the place); also a rehearsal:-assembly, calling, convocation, reading.

 

So we have a divine appointment to hold a rehearsal-meeting.

 

IX. Firstfruit

 

Lets start by looking at a promise that HaShem made in regard to firstfruits:

 

Proverbs 3:9 Honor HaShem with your wealth, with the firstfruits of all your crops; Then your barns will be filled to overflowing, and your vats will brim over with new wine.

 

The Sages taught that “firstfruits” could be brought anytime between Shavuot and Succoth:

 

Rosh HaShana 4b R. Eleazar reporting R. Hoshaia, said regarding the [ceremonies of] first fruits that [the omission] to place them [before the altar] is a bar [to their release], but the [omission of the] recital is not a bar. But did R. Eleazar [actually] say that? Did not R. Eleazar reporting R. Hoshaia say that if a man had set apart [his] first fruits before the Feast [of Tabernacles] and the Feast passed [without these fruits having been presented before the altar] they are left to rot? Now what [is the implication here]? Is it not that [they are to be left to rot] because it is no longer the period for the recital over them? If then you suppose that the [omission of the] recital is not a bar, why are they to be left to rot? — In accordance with [the principle enunciated by] R. Zera, for R. Zera said: Wherever the conditions for mingling [oil with the flour for a meal-offering ] are present, the [omission of the] mingling is not a bar; but where the conditions are not present the [omission of] mingling is a bar.

 

The Talmud also indicates that we should not delay in the bringing of the firstfruits.

 

The Torah tells us that the first fruits of our land must be brought up to HaShem‘s house, the Temple in Jerusalem. When the first fruits of the season emerged, the farmer would go into his field, wrap a red ribbon around that fruit and dedicate it to HaShem.

 

If the Jew came to Jerusalem during Shavuot, as part of his obligation to appear before HaShem in the Beit HaMikdash during the three pilgrimage festivals, then he would bring the first fruits of the season at that time. But if he did not reach Jerusalem at that time he would still be able to bring his first fruits during the summer, until Succoth. It was an extremely joyous event for all of the people in Israel. The bearers of the fruits were greeted by the residents of Jerusalem with song and dance and were escorted to the Holy Temple where their fruits were handed over to the Kohanim. They were then waved in six directions as an offering to HaShem.

 

At this time, from Shavuot until Succoth, the Jew would read a special section from the Torah declaring his appreciation to HaShem for all of the bounty that He had bestowed upon him. It went like this: “An Aramean tried to destroy my forefather. He descended to Egypt and sojourned there, few in number, and there he became a nation, great, strong, and numerous. The Egyptians mistreated us and afflicted us, and HaShem heard our voice and saw our affliction, our travail, and our oppression. HaShem took us out of Egypt with a strong hand and with an outstretched arm, with great awesomeness, and with signs and with wonders. He brought us to this place, and He gave us this Land, a Land flowing with milk and honey. And now, behold! I have brought the first fruit of the ground that You have given me, Oh HaShem!”

 

From Succoth until Chanukah, one could still bring his first fruits, but was not allowed to read the special portion mentioned above. They are brought from the seven species with which the land of Israel is blessed: Wheat, Barley, Grapes, Figs, Pomegranate, Olives and Date honey. Preferably one had to bring these species in separate baskets, however, if that was not possible then it could be brought even in one basket. One would fill his basket in the following order starting from the bottom and moving up, all the time making sure that there be a separation between every layer: Barley, Wheat, Olives, Date honey, Pomegranates, Figs and finally Grapes. A pair of Turtledoves were hung upon the basket as an offering, and another pair of Turtledoves were brought as a gift to the Kohanim or priest. The Kohanim would divide the Bikkurim amongst themselves. The mitzva of bringing the first fruits to Jerusalem only applied as long as there was a Temple standing.

 

Bereshit (Genesis) 1:1 In the beginning G-d created the heaven and the earth.

 

This verse could also be translated:

 

Bereshit (Genesis) 1:1 For the sake of the things called first, G-d created the heavens and the earth.

 

Bikkurim, firstfruits are one of the things called ‘first‘.

 

The Mishna says, in Rosh Hashana 1, Mishnah 2, that the world is judged at four periods in the year: On Pesach, for grain; on Shavuot, for the fruit of the trees; on Rosh Hashanah, all the inhabitants of the world pass before Him, like flocks of sheep, as it is said, “He who fashions the hearts of them all, Who understands all their doings”; and on Succoth, they are judged for water.

 

On Rosh Hashana we can begin to appreciate moed as an appointment with time itself, not with events; moed relives the primal potential of which the event was only an expression. The Din of potential on Rosh Hashana is consummated in its details at the nexus of moed:

 

All the Din[21] is on Rosh Hashana, but the decree of the Din is sealed at the proper time:

 

on Pesach regarding the grain,

on Shavuos regarding the fruit,

on Succoth regarding the water...[22]

 

For each moed touches potential embodied in a particular section of the Garden of Possibilities, a Garden of Time whose totality we revisit on Rosh Hashana. [23]

 




X. Events that occurred during Shavuot

 

   Sivan 6    Moon is in Aryeh.

       Hag Shavuot  Leviticus 23:15-16

       Pentecost Acts 2:1

       The Day of the Firstfruits / Yom HaBikkurim  Numbers 28:26

       The Day of the Congregation / Yom HaKahal  Deuteronomy 18:16

       Feast of Harvest / Hag HaKazir Exodus 23:16  

       Feast of Weeks / Hag Shavuot  Exodus 34:22

       New Year for trees - Trees are judged.  Meggilah 31b

       Death of  Abel - Bereishit Rabbah (chap. 22)  (might have been Kislev 25)

       Enoch ascended to heaven. Ginzberg, Legends of the Jews 1:137

       The Tower of Babel is built, language is confused.  Genesis 11, Soncino Zohar, Bereshith, Section 1, Page 31b

       Abraham defeats the 5 kings and gives tithes to Melchizedek. Genesis 14

       Issachar is born.  Bnei Issachar

       Yocheved hides Moses after a 6 month and one day pregnancy - day 87. Artscroll Mesorah on Shavuos, page 61.

       Moses is drawn out of the water (Nile) by Pharaoh's daughter.  Sefer Matamim, Midrash Rabbah - Exodus I:24

       The Torah was given at Sinai (first Shabbat in Sivan). Exodus 19:1-11, Exodus 24:1-8, Shabbath 86b                           

       People prepare to meet God at Mt. Sinai, day 3.

       The Ketubah was "signed" at Sinai (2448 BCE). Exodus 19:1-11                            

       Israelites eating quail for 30 days – Day 13. Meam Loez Shlach

       This is the day for the priests to draw near to teach the Torah.  Numbers 17:12 - 18:24

       All males to appear before the Lord in JerusalemDeuteronomy 16:16

       The tribe of Benyamim gets wives.  Judges 21

       David was born on Shavuot and died on Shavuot'. Bechor Shor, Shabbat 30b

       King David dies.  Jerusalem  - Chagigah 2,3.

       The wedding of King Solomon allegorically refers to Messiah and Israel. Song of Songs 3:11

       Asa renewed the covenant. II Chronicles 15:8-15

       John the Baptist preaches preparation, in those days, w/judgement for the trees.  Matthew 3:1-12

       Yeshua prays all night.  Luke 6:12

       Yeshua keeps the feast. John 7:37

       The Holy Spirit comes (Babel is reversed)! Acts 2:1

       Paul reaffirms the law. Acts 20:16 + Acts 21:17 - 22:1

       James reaffirms the law for gentiles. Acts 20:16 + Acts 21:17 - 22:1

       Paul's stays in Ephesus until today because he has an open door and opposition.  1 Corinthians 16:8 

       The convenant made at Sinai will be "renewed".  Jeremiah 31:31-40

       God is betrothed to Israel. Hosea 2:14-23, Jeremiah 2, Jeremiah 31:31-32

       Torah section, in the festival cycle, is Exodus 19:1 - 20:23; Numbers 28:26-31. Haftorah is Ezekiel 1:1-28; 3:12.

 


The Torah was given on Shavuot:

 

Shemot (Exodus) 19:1-11 In the third month (new moon) after the Israelites left Egypt--on the very day (the new moon)--they came to the Desert of Sinai. After they set out from Rephidim, they entered the Desert of Sinai, and Israel camped there in the desert in front of the mountain. Then Moshe went up to G-d (on the second day), and HaShem called to him from the mountain and said, “This is what you are to say to the house of Jacob and what you are to tell the people of Israel: ‘You yourselves have seen what I did to Egypt, and how I carried you on eagles’ wings and brought you to myself. Now if you obey me fully and keep my covenant, then out of all nations you will be my treasured possession. Although the whole earth is mine, You will be for me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.’ These are the words you are to speak to the Israelites.” So Moshe went back and summoned the elders of the people and set before them all the words HaShem had commanded him to speak. The people all responded together, “We will do everything HaShem has said.” So Moshe brought their answer back (on the third day) to HaShem. HaShem said to Moshe, “I am going to come to you in a dense cloud, so that the people will hear me speaking with you and will always put their trust in you.” Then Moshe told HaShem what the people had said. And HaShem said to Moshe, “Go to the people and consecrate them today and tomorrow. Have them wash their clothes And be ready by the third day (which was the sixth day of Sivan), because on that day HaShem will come down on Mount Sinai in the sight of all the people. This is the first consecration of the people (other than the consecration of the first born) - so that they could approach G-d.

 

Notice that the Torah never said, explicitly, that the Torah was given on Shavuot. Neither does it say that the Torah was given on vuv Sivan (Sivan 6). Never the less, a careful reading of the above passage shows that the Torah was given on Sivan 6, on Shavuot.

 

The Story Continues

 

Shemot (Exodus) 19:12-25 Put limits for the people around the mountain and tell them, ‘Be careful that you do not go up the mountain or touch the foot of it. Whoever touches the mountain shall surely be put to death. He shall surely be stoned or shot with arrows; not a hand is to be laid on him. Whether man or animal, he shall not be permitted to live.’ Only when the ram’s horn sounds a long blast may they go up to the mountain.” After Moshe had gone down the mountain to the people, he consecrated them, and they washed their clothes. Then he said to the people, “Prepare yourselves for the third day. Abstain from sexual relations.” On the morning of the third day there was thunder and lightning, with a thick cloud over the mountain, and a very loud trumpet blast. Everyone in the camp trembled. Then Moshe led the people out of the camp to meet with G-d, and they stood at the foot of the mountain. Mount Sinai was covered with smoke, because HaShem descended on it in fire. The smoke billowed up from it like smoke from a furnace, the whole mountain trembled violently, And the sound of the trumpet grew louder and louder. Then Moshe spoke and the voice of G-d answered him. HaShem descended to the top of Mount Sinai and called Moshe to the top of the mountain. So Moshe went up And HaShem said to him, “Go down and warn the people so they do not force their way through to see HaShem and many of them perish. Even the priests, who approach HaShem, must consecrate themselves, or HaShem will break out against them.” Moshe said to HaShem, “The people cannot come up Mount Sinai, because you yourself warned us, ‘Put limits around the mountain and set it apart as holy.’” HaShem replied, “Go down and bring Aaron up with you. But the priests and the people must not force their way through to come up to HaShem, or he will break out against them.” So Moshe went down to the people and told them.

 

So, just as the Kohen Gadol had to fill the Holy of Holies with incense smoke before he could enter, HaShem had to cover the mountain with smoke before Moshe and the people could approach, Vayikra (Leviticus) 16:12-13.

 

Leadership was appointed:  The people, at Har Sinai, heard only the first two “words” then Moshe was appointed, by “fire“ to listen for the people. Cf. Shemot (Exodus) 19:18 with Shemot (Exodus) 20:21.

 

In II Luqas (Acts) 2, we see the Apostles being appointed as leaders, by “fire“.

 

The giving of the Torah:

 

Shemot (Exodus) 20:1-21 And G-d spoke all these words: “I am HaShem your G-d, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery. “You shall have no other G-ds before me. “You shall not make for yourself an idol in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, HaShem your G-d, am a jealous G-d, punishing the children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing love to a thousand [generations] of those who love me and keep my commandments. “You shall not misuse the name of HaShem your G-d, for HaShem will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name. “Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to HaShem your G-d. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your manservant or maidservant, nor your animals, nor the alien within your gates. For in six days HaShem made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore HaShem blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy. “Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land HaShem your G-d is giving you. “You shall not murder. “You shall not commit adultery. “You shall not steal. “You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor. “You shall not covet your neighbor’s house. You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his manservant or maidservant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.” When the people saw the thunder and lightning and heard the trumpet and saw the mountain in smoke, they trembled with fear. They stayed at a distance and said to Moshe, “Speak to us yourself and we will listen. But do not have G-d speak to us or we will die.” Moshe said to the people, “Do not be afraid. G-d has come to test you, so that the fear of G-d will be with you to keep you from sinning.” The people remained at a distance, while Moshe approached the thick darkness where G-d was.

 

The Revelation at Mount Sinai was a tumultuous awe-inspiring experience. The entire universe, our Sages say, trembled with the piercing sound of the ram’s horn. Thunder and lightning filled the skies. Then – silence --. Not a bird chirped. No creature spoke. The seas did not stir. Even the angels ceased to fly, as the voice was heard: “I am HaShem your G-d ...”

 

The Seventy Languages

 

The Torah was delivered in all seventy languages:

 

Midrash Rabbah - Shemot (Exodus) V:9 9. AND HaShem SAID TO AARON: GO INTO THE WILDERNESS TO MEET MOSHE (IV, 27). Thus it says: G-d thundereth marvelously with His voice (Job XXXVII, 5). What means ‘thundereth’? When HaShem gave the Torah on Sinai, He displayed untold marvels to Israel with His voice. What happened? HaShem spoke and the Voice reverberated throughout the world. Israel heard the Voice coming to them from the south so to the south they ran to meet the Voice. From the south, it changed round to the north, so they ran to the north. From the north it shifted to the east, so they ran to the east; but from the east it shifted to the west, so they ran to the west. From the west it shifted to the heavens. But when they raised their eyes heavenwards, it seemed to proceed from the earth, so they glanced to the earth, as it is said: Out of heaven He made thee to hear His voice, that He might instruct thee; and upon earth He made thee to see His great fire; and thou didst hear His words out of the midst of the fire (Deut. IV, 36). Then did the Israelites say one to another: But wisdom, where shall it be found (Job XXVIII, 12). The Israelites were inquiring: ‘Whence cometh HaShem, from the east or south?’ as it is said: HaShem came from Sinai, and rose from Seir unto them (Deut. XXXIII, 2), and it is written G-d cometh from Teman (Hab. III, 3). It says: And all the people perceived the thunderings (Ex. XX, 15). Note that it does not say ‘the thunder ‘,but ‘ the thunderings’; wherefore R. Johanan said that G-d’s voice, as it was uttered, split up into seventy voices, in seventy languages, so that all the nations should understand. When each nation heard the Voice in their own vernacular their souls departed, save Israel who heard but who were not hurt.

 

II Luqas (Acts) 2:1-21 When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them. Now there were staying in Jerusalem G-d-fearing Jews from every nation under heaven. When they heard this sound, a crowd came together in bewilderment, because each one heard them speaking in his own language. Utterly amazed, they asked: “Are not all these men who are speaking Galileans? Then how is it that each of us hears them in his own native language? Parthians, Medes and Elamites; residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya near Cyrene; visitors from Rome (Both Jews and converts to Judaism); Cretans and Arabs--we hear them declaring the wonders of G-d in our own tongues!” Amazed and perplexed, they asked one another, “What does this mean?” Some, however, made fun of them and said, “They have had too much wine.” Then Peter stood up with the Eleven, raised his voice and addressed the crowd: “Fellow Jews and all of you who live in Jerusalem, let me explain this to you; listen carefully to what I say. These men are not drunk, as you suppose. It’s only nine in the morning! No, this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel: “‘In the last days, G-d says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams. Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days, and they will prophesy. I will show wonders in the heaven above and signs on the earth below, blood and fire and billows of smoke. The sun will be turned to darkness and the moon to blood before the coming of the great and glorious day of HaShem. And everyone who calls on the name of HaShem will be saved.’

 

Peter implies that the “last days“ began with this Shavuot. It looks like the signs in the heavens will begin on Shavuot. Since this is the beginning of the wheat harvest, this is also the beginning of the time for the “tares” to be cast into the fire! It is very important to notice that the target audience, in II Luqas (Acts) 2, is in Jerusalem specifically to celebrate the Feast of Weeks!

 

We will look at this passage again when we examine the Messianic aspects of this festival.

 

We have an interesting passage in the Nazarean Codicil which points back to the “church“, or ecclesia, in the wilderness. This is the Nazarean Codicil’s earliest reference, in time, to the church. A careful reading shows that those who constitute the church are the children of Israel. (Note: A careful reading would suggest that the gathering should be a “Holy convocation” at Har Sinai, rather than a “congregation”.)

 

II Luqas (Acts) 7:37-40 This is that Moshe, which said unto the children of Israel, A prophet shall HaShem your G-d raise up unto you of your brethren, like unto me; him shall ye hear. This is he, that was in the church [ecclesia] in the wilderness with the angel which spake to him in the mount Sinai, and [with] our fathers: who received the lively oracles to give unto us: To whom our fathers would not obey, but thrust [him] from them, and in their hearts turned back again into Egypt, Saying unto Aaron, Make us G-ds to go before us: for [as for] this Moshe, which brought us out of the land of Egypt, we know not what is become of him.

 

Shemot (Exodus) 12:37-38 The Israelites journeyed from Rameses to Succoth. There were about six hundred thousand men on foot, besides women and children. Many other people went up with them, as well as large droves of livestock, both flocks and herds.

 

We see this same group of Jews and Gentiles in:

 

Devarim (Deuteronomy) 29:9-15 Carefully follow the terms of this covenant, so that you may prosper in everything you do. All of you are standing today in the presence of HaShem your G-d--your leaders and chief men, your elders and officials, and all the other men of Israel, Together with your children and your wives, and the aliens living in your camps who chop your wood and carry your water. You are standing here in order to enter into a covenant with HaShem your G-d, a covenant HaShem is making with you this day and sealing with an oath, To confirm you this day as his people, that he may be your G-d as he promised you and as he swore to your fathers, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. I am making this covenant, with its oath, not only with you Who are standing here with us today in the presence of HaShem our G-d but also with those who are not here today.

 

This covenant was made “with those standing there” and also “with those who are not standing here”, therefore this Sinaitic Covenant has two sides, like the two loaves: One for the Jews of that day and one for the Jews of every age. See also: Noachides.

 

The Talmud records that HaShem spoke seventy languages at Sinai, that the whole world might comprehend His Torah:

 

Shabbath 88b: R. Johanan said: What is meant by the verse, HaShem giveth the word: They that publish the tidings are a great host? Every single word that went forth from the Omnipotent was split up into seventy languages. The School of R. Ishmael taught: And like a hammer that breaketh the rock in pieces, just as a hammer is divided into many sparks, so every single word that went forth from the Holy One, blessed be He, split up into seventy languages.

 

The Nazarean Codicil also connects the seventy languages to Shavuot:

 

II Luqas (Acts) 2:1-6 And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance. And there were dwelling at Jerusalem Jews, devout men, out of every nation under heaven. Now when this was noised abroad, the multitude came together, and were confounded, because that every man heard them speak in his own language.

 

It is written, that the number of nations is seventy, in:

 

Devarim (Deuteronomy) 32:8 When the Most High gave the nations their inheritance, when he divided all mankind, he set up boundaries for the peoples according to the number of the sons of Israel.

 

Bereshit (Genesis) 46:26-27 All those who went to Egypt with Jacob--those who were his direct descendants, not counting his sons’ wives--numbered sixty-six persons. With the two sons who had been born to Joseph in Egypt, the members of Jacob‘s family, which came into Egypt, were threescore and ten.

 

Wheat and its Meaning

 

The wheat would represent people, when in the form of leavened bread it would represent The Body of Mashiach, The Word of G-d.

 

Yeshua told a parable about a wheat harvest:

 

Matityahu (Matthew) 13:24-30 Yeshua told them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field. But while everyone was sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and went away. When the wheat sprouted and formed heads, then the weeds also appeared. “The owner’s servants came to him and said, ‘Sir, didn’t you sow good seed in your field? Where then did the weeds come from?’ “‘An enemy did this,’ he replied. “The servants asked him, ‘Do you want us to go and pull them up?’ “‘No,’ he answered, ‘because while you are pulling the weeds, you may root up the wheat with them. Let both grow together until the harvest. At that time I will tell the harvesters: First collect the weeds and tie them in bundles to be burned; then gather the wheat and bring it into my barn.’”

 

The tare would therefore represent the wicked and the wheat would represent the righteous.

 

Matityahu (Matthew) 3:8-12 Produce fruit in keeping with repentance. And do not think you can say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ I tell you that out of these stones G-d can raise up children for Abraham. The ax is already at the root of the trees, and every tree that does not produce good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire. “I baptize you with water for repentance. But after me will come one who is more powerful than I, whose sandals I am not fit to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire. His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing floor, gathering his wheat into the barn and burning up the chaff with unquenchable fire.”

 

The “threshing” seems to be associated with the removal of the “inedible” from HaShem‘s people.

 

Shemot (Exodus) 9:29-32 Moshe replied, “When I have gone out of the city, I will spread out my hands in prayer to HaShem. The thunder will stop and there will be no more hail, so you may know that the earth is HaShem‘s. But I know that you and your officials still do not fear HaShem G-d.” (The flax and barley were destroyed, since the barley had headed and the flax was in bloom. The wheat and spelt, however, were not destroyed, because they ripen later.)

 

Here we have the wheat NOT destroyed when HaShem was punishing Egypt. This is another picture of HaShem‘s people.

 

In II Luqas (Acts) 2:1, we have a strange word inserted in the text. The word “fully” seems superfluous in a document that carefully conserves every word. Lets look at the Strong’s definition and then see if we can explain why it is there:

 

II Luqas (Acts) 2:1 And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place.

====================================

4845 sumpleroo, soom-play-ro’-o; from 4862 and 4137; to implenish completely, i.e. (of space) to swamp (a boat), or (of time) to accomplish (pass. be complete):-(fully) come, fill up.

 

Some have speculated that the use of “fully” may indicate that the Shavuot of the Pharisees and the Sadducees had both finally come. This seems untenable in light of the fact that Mashiach commanded us to follow the Pharisees and not the Sadducees.

 

Though it is generally customary to recite the arbit (evening) prayers somewhat earlier than usual on Erev Yom Tov, the first night of Shavuot, however, arbit is delayed till after the appearance of the stars. Seven whole weeks are to elapse counting from the second day of Pesach till the advent of Shavuot. And, if the sanctity of Yom Tov is `accepted’ before the forty-ninth day is concluded, the days-of-the-counting will not have been whole. Similarly, the Shavuot Kiddush is not recited till certain nightfall. These customs seem to be behind the term ‘fully’. In other words, Shavuot has fully come when we have fully counted the previous 49 days, we have prayed Arbit (the evening prayers), and the Yom Tov is fully come.

 

It is customary to remain awake through the night for study of Torah and the reading of the Tikkun-for-the-Night-of-Shavuot (the study that is done to rectify the sin of our fathers who over slept that fateful morning). Special care should be exercised not to slumber during the shacharit prayers, the Torah reading, and especially during mussaf, which ‘seals’ the Omer period. (The reference is to the ‘new-gift-offering‘ brought on Shavuot morning upon the termination of the Omer-count days). This, too, may be the reasoning behind the statement: And when the day of Pentecost was fully come ...

 

Torah is reaffirmed

 

Paul reaffirmed the Torah and the council reaffirms it’s decision at the Feast of Weeks:

 

II Luqas (Acts) 20:16 Paul had decided to sail past Ephesus to avoid spending time in the province of Asia, for he was in a hurry to reach Jerusalem, if possible, by the day of Pentecost....

 

Hakham Shaul is hurrying to get to Jerusalem by Shavuot. This suggests that he arrived before Shavuot. When he gets to Jerusalem, we see, in II Luqas 15 and II Luqas 21:17 –22:1, a Bet Din Gadol (the Sanhedrin) is convened to adjudicate a dispute. This Bet Din must be meeting just before Shavuot. The re-affirmation of the validity of Torah, by the Bet Din Gadol, strongly links this passage with the events at Har Sinai:

 

II Luqas (Acts) 15:1-21 And certain men which came down from Judea taught the brethren, [and said], Except ye be circumcised after the manner of Moses, ye cannot be saved. When therefore Paul and Barnabas had no small dissension and disputation with them, they determined that Paul and Barnabas, and certain other of them, should go up to Jerusalem unto the apostles and elders about this question. And being brought on their way by the church, they passed through Phenice and Samaria, declaring the conversion of the Gentiles: and they caused great joy unto all the brethren. And when they were come to Jerusalem, they were received of the church, and [of] the apostles and elders, and they declared all things that God had done with them. But there rose up certain of the sect of the Pharisees which believed, saying, That it was needful to circumcise them, and to command [them] to keep the law of Moses. And the apostles and elders came together for to consider of this matter. And when there had been much disputing, Peter rose up, and said unto them, Men [and] brethren, ye know how that a good while ago God made choice among us, that the Gentiles by my mouth should hear the word of the gospel, and believe. And God, which knoweth the hearts, bare them witness, giving them the Holy Ghost, even as [he did] unto us; And put no difference between us and them, purifying their hearts by faith. Now therefore why tempt ye God, to put a yoke upon the neck of the disciples, which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear? But we believe that through the grace of the Lord Yeshua Mashiach we shall be saved, even as they. Then all the multitude kept silence, and gave audience to Barnabas and Paul, declaring what miracles and wonders God had wrought among the Gentiles by them. And after they had held their peace, James answered, saying, Men [and] brethren, hearken unto me: Simeon hath declared how God at the first did visit the Gentiles, to take out of them a people for his name. And to this agree the words of the prophets; as it is written, After this I will return, and will build again the tabernacle of David, which is fallen down; and I will build again the ruins thereof, and I will set it up: That the residue of men might seek after the Lord, and all the Gentiles, upon whom my name is called, saith the Lord, who doeth all these things. Known unto God are all his works from the beginning of the world. Wherefore my sentence is, that we trouble not them, which from among the Gentiles are turned to God: But that we write unto them, that they abstain from pollutions of idols, and [from] fornication, and [from] things strangled, and [from] blood. For Moses of old time hath in every city them that preach him, being read in the synagogues every Sabbath day.

 

This next passage deals with Nazirite vows which would not be handled on the Festival Sabbath of Shavuot, never the less it is closely connected thematically with the events at Har Sinai. II Luqas (Acts) 20:16, also suggests that it is taking place just before Shavuot:

 

II Luqas (Acts) 21:17 - 22:1 When we arrived at Jerusalem, the brothers received us warmly. The next day Paul and the rest of us went to see James, and all the elders were present. Paul greeted them and reported in detail what G-d had done among the Gentiles through his ministry. When they heard this, they praised G-d. Then they said to Paul: “You see, brother, how many thousands of Jews have believed, and all of them are zealous for the law. They have been informed that you teach all the Jews who live among the Gentiles to turn away from Moshe, telling them not to circumcise their children or live according to our customs. What shall we do? They will certainly hear that you have come, So do what we tell you. There are four men with us who have made a vow. Take these men, join in their purification rites and pay their expenses, so that they can have their heads shaved. Then everybody will know there is no truth in these reports about you, but that you yourself are living in obedience to the law. As for the Gentile believers, we have written to them our decision that they should abstain from food sacrificed to idols, from blood, from the meat of strangled animals and from sexual immorality.” The next day Paul took the men and purified himself along with them. Then he went to the temple to give notice of the date when the days of purification would end and the offering would be made for each of them.

 

The tribe of Benjamin

 

The decision, of the Elders, to relent on their vow to prohibit their daughters to the tribe of Benjamin was made on Shavuot. The men ‘took’ their wives on Tu B’Ab.

 

Judges 21:15-24 The people grieved for Benjamin, because HaShem had made a gap in the tribes of Israel. And the elders of the assembly said, “With the women of Benjamin destroyed, how shall we provide wives for the men who are left? The Benjamite survivors must have heirs,” they said, “so that a tribe of Israel will not be wiped out. We can’t give them our daughters as wives, since we Israelites have taken this oath: ‘Cursed be anyone who gives a wife to a Benjamite.’ But look, there is the annual festival of HaShem in Shiloh, to the north of Bethel, and east of the road that goes from Bethel to Shechem, and to the south of Lebonah.” So they instructed the Benjamites, saying, “Go and hide in the vineyards and watch. When the girls of Shiloh come out to join in the dancing, then rush from the vineyards and each of you seize a wife from the girls of Shiloh and go to the land of Benjamin. When their fathers or brothers complain to us, we will say to them, ‘Do us a kindness by helping them, because we did not get wives for them during the war, and you are innocent, since you did not give your daughters to them.’” So that is what the Benjamites did. While the girls were dancing, each man caught one and carried her off to be his wife. Then they returned to their inheritance and rebuilt the towns and settled in them. At that time the Israelites left that place and went home to their tribes and clans, each to his own inheritance.

 

Asa and the people renewed the covenant (notice the role of the Spirit):

 

II Chronicles 15:1-12 The Spirit of G-d came upon Azariah son of Oded. He went out to meet Asa and said to him, “Listen to me, Asa and all Judah and Benjamin. HaShem is with you when you are with him. If you seek him, he will be found by you, but if you forsake him, he will forsake you. For a long time Israel was without the true G-d, without a priest to teach and without the law. But in their distress they turned to HaShem, the G-d of Israel, and sought him, and he was found by them. In those days it was not safe to travel about, for all the inhabitants of the lands were in great turmoil. One nation was being crushed by another and one city by another, because G-d was troubling them with every kind of distress. But as for you, be strong and do not give up, for your work will be rewarded.” When Asa heard these words and the prophecy of Azariah son of Oded the prophet, he took courage. He removed the detestable idols from the whole land of Judah and Benjamin and from the towns he had captured in the hills of Ephraim. He repaired the altar of HaShem that was in front of the portico of HaShem‘s temple. Then he assembled all Judah and Benjamin and the people from Ephraim, Manasseh and Simeon who had settled among them, for large numbers had come over to him from Israel when they saw that HaShem his G-d was with him. They assembled at Jerusalem in the third month of the fifteenth year of Asa’s reign. At that time they sacrificed to HaShem seven hundred head of cattle and seven thousand sheep and goats from the plunder they had brought back. They entered into a covenant to seek HaShem, the G-d of their fathers, with all their heart and soul.

 

Refer to Devarim (Deuteronomy) 29 for the covenant that was renewed at Sinai.

 

Avraham celebrated Shavuot:

 

In Bereshit (Genesis) 14 notice the word “Chedorlaomer” which literally means: “until the omer“. Thus we see an allusion to the time of the year when this event took place.

 

 


 

Other Shavuot Events

 

Sivan 6th Moon is in Aryeh.

 New Year for trees - Trees are judged. Megilah 31b

 Death of Abel - Bereshit Rabbah (chap. 22) (might have been Kislev 25)

 Enoch ascended to heaven. Ginzberg, Legends of the Jews 1:137

 The Tower of Babel is built. Bereshit (Genesis) 11

 Abraham defeats the five kings and gives tithes to Melchizedek. Bereshit (Genesis) 14

 Issachar is born. Bnei Issachar

 Yocheved hides Moshe after a six month and one day pregnancy-day 87. Artscroll Mesorah on Shavuot,

 Moshe is drawn out of the water (Nile) by Pharaoh’s daughter. Sefer Matamim

 The Torah was given at Sinai. Shemot (Exodus) 19:1-11, Shemot (Exodus) 24:1-8

 People prepare to meet HaShem at Mt. Sinai, day 3.

 The Ketubah was “signed” at Sinai (2448 BCE). Shemot (Exodus) 19:1-11

 This is the day for the priests to draw near to teach the Torah. Bamidbar (Numbers) 17:12 - 18:24

 All males to appear before HaShem in Jerusalem. Devarim (Deuteronomy) 16:16

 The tribe of Binyamin gets wives. Judges 21

 David was born on Shavuot and died on Shavuot’. Bechor Shor, Shabbat 30b

 King David dies. Jerusalem Talmud - Chagigah 2,3.

 The wedding of King Solomon allegorically refers to Mashiach and Israel. Song of Songs 3:11

 Asa renewed the covenant. II Chronicles 15:8-15

 John the Baptist preaches preparation, in those days, w/judgment for the trees. Matityahu 3:1-12

 Yeshua prays all night. Luke 6:12

 The sermon on the mount is given. Matityahu (Matthew) 5,6,7

 Yeshua chooses his apostles (“one of those days”, i.e. Omer days). Luke 6:12-17

 Yeshua delivers the sermon on the mount (“one of those days”, i.e. Omer days). Luke 6:12-49

 Yeshua heals the centurion’s servant because he has not seen such great faith in Israel. Luke 7:1-10

 Yeshua keeps the feast. John 7:37

 The Holy Spirit comes (Babel is reversed)! II Luqas (Acts) 2:1

 Paul reaffirms the law for Gentiles. II Luqas (Acts) 20:16 + II Luqas (Acts) 21:17 - 22:1

 James reaffirms the law for Gentiles. II Luqas (Acts) 20:16 + II Luqas (Acts) 21:17 - 22:1

 Paul’s stays in Ephesus until today because he has an open door and opposition. 1 Corinthians 16:8

 The covenant made at Sinai will be “renewed”. Jeremiah 31:31-40

 HaShem is betrothed to Israel. Hosea 2:14-23, Jeremiah 2, Jeremiah 31:31-32

 


XI. Reading the Megillat Ruth

 

The reading of Ruth on Shavuot is done because:

 

1. The timing of its events occurred ‘at the beginning of the barley harvest,’ and this period is also the time of Shavuot’ (Abudraham).

 

2. `The reading of Ruth on Shavuot is a reminder of the stand at Mt. Sinai, to the seven previous Noachide Laws. The numerical value of Hebrew letters which comprise the word Ruth is six hundred and six‘ (Teshu’ot Chen). When we add the seven Noachide laws, we get 613, the number of Commands received at Mt. Sinai.

 

Since we had a large mixed multitude of Noachides standing at Har Sinai, there seems to be a re-interpretation of these seven laws in light of the Torah Shebalpeh, the Oral Torah, revealed at Har Sinai. The Sages insist that the Noachides are bound by Torah Shebalpeh and the authority it confers on Jewish Judges.

 

3. ‘From her very birth, Ruth was worthy of accepting upon herself the yoke of mitzvot; and the very letters of her name bear witness to it. The letters for Ruth add up to six hundred and six which together with the seven Noachide Laws add up to six hundred and thirteen‘ (the Gaon of Vilna).

 

4. ‘Our fathers had the status of converts when they accepted the Torah (in order to enter the covenant they were required to undergo circumcision and immersion as is the case with converts). In honor of Ruth who was a convert and became the mother of Israel’s royal family, we say, ‘When we received the Torah, we were all converts’ (Agan).

 

5. Megillat Ruth was written by the Prophet Samuel, to indicate the genealogy of Kind David for Ruth the Moabite. We learn from the writing of this Megilah that there was Divine assent in the matter, for the end of the Megilah recounts David’s ancestry and David was born on Shavuot and died on Shavuot (Bechor Shor).

 

6. Just as the process leading to our receiving the Torah was filled with pain and trying times, so too the path that Ruth took to receiving the Torah was filled with the same[24].

 

7. The story of Ruth is read at the time of the giving of the Torah so that we might know that the written Torah and the Oral Torah, are together one Torah, and one is not Possible without the other. For David, the anointed of HaShem unto all generations, was descended from a Moabite woman, and his legitimacy depended on the Oral Torah - which declared that only a Moabite man was prohibited from entering the fold of Israel - but not a Moabite woman. On the foundations of the House of David, the whole people of Israel is supported. All this could only come about through the authority of the Oral Torah.

 

Notice what the Torah says:

 

Devarim (Devarim (Deuteronomy)) 23:3 No Ammonite or Moabite or any of his descendants may enter the assembly of HaShem, even down to the tenth generation.

 

And:

 

Yevamoth 77b Doeg submitted to them all those objections and they eventually remained silent, he desired to make a public announcement against him. Presently [an incident occurred]: Now Amasa was the son of a man, whose name was Ithna the Israelite, that went in to Abigal the daughter of Nahash, but elsewhere it is written, Jether the Ishmaelite! This teaches, Raba explained, that he girded on his sword like an Ishmaelite and exclaimed, ‘Whosoever will not obey the following halachah will be stabbed with the sword; I have this tradition from the Beth din of Samuel the Ramathite: An Ammonite but not an Ammonitess; A Moabite, but not a Moabitess’! Could he, however, be trusted? Surely R. Abba stated in the name of Rab: Whenever a learned man gives directions on a point of law, and such a point comes up [for a practical decision], he is obeyed if his statement was made before the event; but if it was not so made he is not obeyed! Here the case was different, since Samuel and his Beth din were still living.

 

And:

 

Yevamoth 69a ‘R. Simeon b. Gamaliel said: Whenever you may marry his daughter, you may marry his widow etc.’ What is the practical difference between R. Jose and R. Simeon b. Gamaliel? ‘Ullah replied: The difference between them is the case of an Ammonite and a Moabite proselyte. And both of them derived their respective views from none other than [the disqualification] of a widow by a High Priest. R. Jose reasons thus: As with a High Priest who married a widow, his seed is disqualified and he himself causes disqualification, so does any other person cause disqualification only when his seed is disqualified. R. Simeon b. Gamaliel, however, reasons thus: As with a High Priest who married, a widow, all his seed is disqualified and he himself causes disqualification, so does only such a person cause disqualification, all whose seed is disqualified; an Ammonite and a Moabite are, therefore, excluded since not all their seed are disqualified. For a Master said: An Ammonite, but not an Ammonitess; a Moabite, but not a Moabitess.

 

And:

 

Yevamoth 76b GEMARA. Whence are these laws inferred? — R. Johanan replied: Scripture stated, And when Sail saw David go forth against the Philistine, he said into Abner, the captain of the host: ‘Abner, whose son is this youth Lord? And Abner said: ‘As thy soul liveth, O King, I cannot tell’. But did he not know him? Surely it is written, And he loved him greatly; and he became his armour bearer! — He rather made the inquiry concerning his father. But did he not know his father? Surely it is written, And the man was an old man in the days of Saul, stricken in years among them; and Rab or, it might be said, R. Abba, stated that this referred to the father of David, Jesse. who came in with an army and went out with an army! — It is this that Saul meant: Whether he descended from Perez, or from Zerah. If he descended from Perez he would be king, for a king breaks for himself a way and no one can hinder him. If, however, he is descended from Zerah he would only be an important man. What is the reason why he gave instructions that enquiry be made concerning him? — Because it is written, And Saul clad David with his apparel. being of the same size as his, and about Saul it is written, From his shoulders and upward he was higher than any of the people. Doeg the Edomite then said to him, ‘Instead of enquiring whether he is fit to be king or not, enquire rather whether he is permitted to enter the assembly or not’! ‘What is the reason’? ‘Because he is descended from Ruth the Moabitess’. Said Abner to him, ‘We learned: An Ammonite, but not an Ammonitess; A Moabite, but not a Moabitess! But in that case a bastard would’ imply: But not a female bastard?’ — ‘It is written mamzer [Which implies] anyone objectionable’. ‘Does then Egyptian exclude the Egyptian woman’? — ‘Here it is different, since the reason for the Scriptural text is explicitly stated: Because they met you not with bread and with water; it is customary for a man to meet [wayfarers]; It is not, however, customary for a woman to meet [them]’.

 

XII. The Ten Words - The Decalogue

 

The “Ten Words”, the Decalogue, are translated into Greek as Deka LOGOS - which can also mean ten ideas or ten prophetic words.

 

Shemot (Shemot (Exodus)) 20:1-17 And HaShem spoke all these words, saying:

 

1. I am HaShem thy G-d, who brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.

 

2. Thou shalt have no other G-ds before Me. Thou shalt not make unto thee a graven image, nor the form of anything that is in the heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. Thou shalt not bow down to them, nor be induced to serve them; for I HaShem thy G-d am a zealous G-d, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children, upon the third and upon the fourth generation of them that hate Me; but showing loving-kindness unto the thousandth generation that love Me and keep My commandments.

 

3. Thou shalt not take the name of HaShem thy G-d in vain; for HaShem will not hold him guiltless that takes His name in vain.

 

4. Remember the Sabbath and keep it holy. Six days shalt thou labor and do all thy work; but on the seventh day, a Sabbath unto HaShem thy G-d, thou shalt not do any work, neither thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, nor thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates. For in six days HaShem made heaven and earth, the sea and all that is therein, and He rested on the seventh day; wherefore HaShem blessed the Sabbath day and hallowed it.

 

5. Honor thy father and thy mother, that thy days may be long upon the land which HaShem thy G-d gives thee.

 

6. Thou shalt not murder.

 

7. Thou shalt not commit adultery.

 

8. Thou shalt not steal.

 

9. Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor.

 

10. Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s house, thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor anything that is thy neighbor’s.

 

Together, all of HaShem‘s people, they proclaimed: “We will do and we will listen” (Shemot (Exodus) 24:7). Each year on the festival of Shavuot, this historic event is relived as we commit ourselves anew to observing the Torah.

 

Pairing

 

In Pesikta Rabbati 21.18-19 (Braude, Pesikta Rabbati 1:443-46) it is said that the Decalogue should be paired off with the ten words [va-yomer, “and (G-d) said,” occurs ten times in the story of creation] whereby the world was created.

 

1.         “I HaShem am your G-d”, is paired with, “And G-d said: Let there be light”, Bereshit (Genesis) 1:3, and of light Scripture says elsewhere: “HaShem shall be unto thee an everlasting light”, Isaiah 60:19

 

2.         “You shall have no other G-ds beside Me”, is paired with:, “And G-d said, “Let there be an expanse in the midst of the waters, that it may separate water from water” (Bereshit (Genesis) 1:6). The Holy One, blessed be He, said, “Make a separation between Me and between idolatry, which in the verse: “They have forsaken Me, the fountain of Living waters, and hewed them out cisterns” (Jeremiah 2:13) is implied to be stored and stagnant [waters].”

 

3.         “You shall not swear by the name of HaShem your G-d”, is paired with, “G-d said, Let the water ... be gathered into one area” (Bereshit (Genesis) 1:9). The Holy One, blessed be He, said, “The waters accord Me honor and restrain themselves; and will you not accord Me honor in not swearing by My name falsely?”

 

4.         “Remember the Sabbath day”, is paired with, “And G-d said, let the earth sprout vegetation” (Bereshit (Genesis) 1:11). For the Holy One, blessed be He, stated that however little you feast on the Sabbath you will still be regarded as one who honors it. Remember that the world was created in the hope that man would not sin; and men can live without sinning because they can subsist if necessary only on grasses and herbs that the earth puts forth.

 

5.         “Honor your father”, is paired with, “G-d said, Let there be lights in the expanse of the sky” (Bereshit (Genesis) 1:14). The Holy One, blessed be He, said, “Behold, for thee I created two lights, thy father and thy mother. Take care in the honor due them.”

 

6.         “You shall not murder”, is paired with, “G-d said, Let the waters bring forth swarms”, (Bereshit (Genesis) 1:20). The Holy One, blessed be He, said, “Be not like those fish, the big ones that swallow the little ones, as is intimated in the verse, “Wherefore ... holdest Thou Thy peace ... and makest men as the fishes of the sea?” (Habakkuk 1:13-14).

 

7.         “You shall not commit adultery”, is paired with, “G-d said, Let the earth bring forth every kind of living creature” (Bereshit (Genesis) 1:24). The Holy One, blessed be He, said, “Behold I created for thee thy mate. Each and every one should cleave to his mate, to his own kind.”

 

(Note: in the eighth “word”, the Sages have a tradition from Sinai, Sanhedrin 86a, that indicates that we are dealing with “Man stealing”, i.e. kidnapping, not simple theft. This can also be adduced from the fact that the seventh “word” and the ninth “word” carry the penalty of death. The only theft which carries the penalty of death, is kidnapping.)

 

8.         “You shall not steal”, is paired with, “G-d said, See I give you every seed bearing plant” (Bereshit (Genesis) 1:29). Thus we learn that corporations and governments may not “kidnap” seed and hold it for ransom. Seed must be available, without genetic modifications, for the average farmer. Thus we may not jeopardize lives by withholding seeds.

 

9.         “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor, etc.”, is paired with, “And G-d said, Let us make man in our image” (Bereshit (Genesis) 1:26). The Holy One, blessed be He, said, “Behold for thee I created thy neighbor in My likeness. And thou, by such acts as call for punishment, wouldst swallow and make an end of thy neighbor. Do not then bear false witness against thy neighbor.”

 

10.       “You shall not covet”, is paired with, “G-d said, It is not good for man to be alone, I will make a fitting helper for him” (Bereshit (Genesis) 2:18). The Holy One, blessed be He, said, “Behold, I created a mate for thee. Let each and every one of you cling to his mate. Let not a man of you covet the wife of his neighbor.”

 

* * *

 

The chain of events surrounding the giving of the Torah is very difficult to follow, because, according to Rashi’s understanding, the verses are not arranged chronologically, and a number of jumps must be made in order to reconstruct the sequence of events. The difficulties begin with the fifth aliya of Yitro (the sequence of events surrounding Yitro himself is a separate issue), and continue until the end of Ki Tissa.

           

The following outline should help to understand the order of events:

 

1.         On Rosh Chodesh Sivan, the new moon of the third month, the Jews arrived at Midbar Sinai. (19:1; cf. Rashi).

 

2.         Early the following morning, the 2nd of Sivan, Moshe went up Mt. Sinai for the first time. He was instructed to offer those at the mountain the opportunity of accepting the Torah, and of becoming a holy people. (19:3-6).

 

3.         That same day Moshe descended and assembled the elders and passed on the message. The entire people responded in unison that whatever HaShem says, they will do. (19:7-8).

 

4.         On the morning of the 3rd of Sivan Moshe again ascended the mountain to bring the people’s response to HaShem. (19:8; cf. Rashi).

 

5.         On this occasion he is told that HaShem will speak to him from a thick cloud in the presence of the people, which will establish the authenticity of Moshe’s prophecy forever. (19:9).

 

6.         Moshe’s descent, as well as his subsequent conversation with the    people is not described in the verses, but is inferred by Rashi from HaShem‘s response. The people insist on hearing from HaShem directly         (Rashi 19:9).

 

7.         On the 4th of Sivan Moshe returned to the mountain to bring the people’s request to HaShem. (The latter half of 19:9). This is the same ascent mentioned in Parshat Mishpatim, where we learn that Moshe, Aharon, Nadav, Avihu, and the elders were all to ascend, but only Moshe was to approach the cloud. (24:1-2; cf. Rashi ad loc.).

 

8.         During this same encounter, HaShem informs Moshe that if the people insist on hearing for themselves, they must purify themselves for three days, the 4th, 5th and 6th, in order to receive the Torah on the 6th. In addition, Moshe is to instruct the people how close they may approach the mountain during the revelation, and for how long the restriction is to last. (19:1013; cf. Rashi).

 

(Nazarean note: This is like, Sefirat HaOmer, the counting of the Omer, where we purify ourselves, day by day, to receive the Torah: “On the third day!” As it is said on the third day He, The Living Torah, will rise us again! – Marqos [Mark] 9:31)

 

9.         Still on the 4th of Sivan, Moshe descends, and informs the people of the command to purify themselves for three days. According to Rabbi Yose, Moshe interpreted the three days as complete days, delaying Matan Torah until the 7th of Sivan. (19:14-15; cf. Rashi).

 

10.       This is the same conversation with the people described in Mishpatim, when Moshe reminds the people of the seven Noachide laws, and the laws received at Mara. The people agree to keep all HaShem‘s commandments. Moshe writes down all of the Torah from Bereshit until this point. (24:3-4; cf. Rashi).

 

11.       On the 5th of Sivan Moshe builds an altar at the base of the mountain. Offerings are made. Moshe reads the book he has written to the people, who respond, “We will do and we will hear”. The blood of the sacrifices is sprinkled on the altar on behalf of the people. (24:4-8; Rashi ad loc. and cf. Rashi 19:11).

 

12.       On the 6th of Sivan, or the 7th according to Rabbi Yose, Moshe As for the others, Moshe will speak and HaShem will amplify his voice. (19:16-19: Rashi).

 

13.       HaShem reveals his throne upon the mountain and summons Moshe. Moshe is told to warn the people again not to approach the mountain. Moshe protests that the people have already been warned. HaShem tells him that he must do so nevertheless. Then he is to return to the mountain. Aharon and the first born, who are the priests at this point, are to approach, each according to his level. (19:20-24; Rashi).

 

14.       Moshe descends and passes on the information. (19:25).

 

15.       Moshe’s return to the mountain, together with Aharon, Nadav, Avihu and the elders, is described in Mishpatim. During Matan Torah, Nadav, Avihu and the elders gazed inappropriately. Their punishment is postponed until another occasion, in order not to detract from Matan Torah. (24:9-11; Rashi).

 

16.       The Matan Torah itself, the ten statements, is in Yitro. All of the ten were said in a single word (Note: If this is understood, then we can understand how Lekha Dodi, which we sing before Shabbat: “Shamor ve Zakhor ve dibur echad”, “Keep and Remember in one word”, with regard to Shabbat.), then HaShem returned to explain each one individually. (20:1-14; Rashi).

 

17.       The people heard the first two explained, but then were overwhelmed and request that Moshe tell them the rest himself. (20:15-17; Rashi ad loc. and cf. Rashi 19-19). This is an understatement! The Midrash[25] records that they all died!

 

So, it might be reasonable to ask: Why did the people die, and why was Moshe able to hear without dying?

 

It seems that the people had not properly prepared, during Sefirat HaOmer, and Moshe had. The people had not ridded themselves of the impurity of Mitzrayim (Egypt), while Moshe had.

 

18.       At this point Moshe enters into the thick cloud, and the people back off. (20:18).

 

19.       This last event is described in detail in Mishpatim. After Matan Torah, Moshe is commanded to approach HaShem, and to remain with him to receive the stone tablets. Moshe ascends, accompanied part way by his disciple, Yehoshua. Aharon and Chur are left in charge. (24:12-14).

 

20.       At this point six days are mentioned, during which the cloud is present on the mountain, before Moshe is invited to enter. Rashi brings two opinions:

a) These are the previous six days, the seventh being Matan Torah itself, after which he is invited to enter the cloud. Or

b) These six days begin after Matan Torah, and comprise the first six days out of the forty. (24:15-18; Rashi).

 

21.       This ascent took place on the 7th of Sivan. (Rashi 32:1). Moshe remains on the mountain for forty days and nights. (24:18).

 

22.       During these forty days Moshe receives the laws commanded at the end of Yitro and the bulk of Mishpatim. (20:19-23:33).

 

23.       The end of the forty days is described in Ki Tissa. When he is finished speaking, HaShem gives Moshe the tablets. (31:18).

 

Nazarean Note[26]: After the forty day testing, we see “The Call of the first Disciples” in Yochanan (John) 1:35-51,1 Luqas (Luke) 5:1-11; 6:14a, Marqos (Mark) 1:16-20, 3:16, and Matityahu (Matthew) 4:18-22; 16:17-18. This “call” mirrors the call of the Torah At Har Sinai, i.e. Moshe brings the Tablets of Stone (the call of Torah – to become separate, to become priests) after forty days, and Mashiach calls his Talmidim forty days after His Testing. This calling involves two parts:

  1. HaShem give the Torah and
  2. Man responds to the Torah and becomes a Talmid Hakham (Rabbi).

 

R. Eliezer said: A man has naught else [to do] on a festival save either to eat and drink or to sit and study. R. Joshua said: Divide it: [devote] half of it to eating and drinking, and half of it to the Beth HaMidrash. Now R. Johanan said thereon: Both deduce it from the same verse. One verse says, a solemn assembly to HaShem thy G-d,[27] whereas another verse says, there shall be a solemn assembly unto you:[28] R. Eliezer holds: [That means] either entirely to G-d or entirely to you; while R. Joshua holds, Divide it: [Devote] half to G-d and half to yourselves. (Mnemonic: ‘abam.)[29] R. Eleazar said: All agree in respect to the Feast of Weeks [‘azereth][30] that we require [it to be] ‘for you’ too. What is the reason? It is the day on which the Torah was given.[31] Pesachim 68b

 

24.       On the 16th of Tammuz the people came to the mistaken conclusion that Moshe was overdue. The golden calf is made. Aharon declares a festival to HaShem for the next day. (32:1-5; Rashi).

 

25.       They get up early on the morning of the 17th of Tammuz to worship the calf (32:6).

 

26.       HaShem tells Moshe to descend because of the calf. Moshe descends, casts down the tablets and breaks them. He grinds up the golden calf and makes the people drink it. The Levites are ordered to kill the idolaters. (32:7-29).

 

When a Psychiatrist prescribes gold to his patients, it is because the patient has a grave psychiatric disorder, like a split personality. In other words the worshiping of the golden calf had rendered the people mentally ill, they had developed a split personality. Therefore, Moshe prescribed gold for the people to drink.

 

27.       On the 18th of Tammuz Moshe ascends the mountain to seek atonement for the people. HaShem says that from now on the Shechinah will not be with them. Moshe informs the people. Moshe continues to speak with HaShem in his tent, which he has moved out of the camp. (32:30-33:11).

 

28.       Moshe pleads that the Shechinah should go with them. HaShem agrees. Moshe asks to see HaShem‘s kavod (glory), and HaShem agrees. Moshe is instructed to carve two new tablets, and prepare to return to the mountain the next morning. (33:12-34:3)

 

Nazarean note: Why does Moshe insist that the Shechinah should lead the people? Why does Yehoshua, in Joshua 5:15ff, allow the Children of Israel to be led by an angel?

 

We learn that the Shechinah, the Ruach HaKodesh – the Holy Spirit, is The Guide for the wilderness, and Mashiach, The Angel, is The Guide for entering the land. Moshe knows that the people are yet not ready to enter the land, therefore he insists that the Shechinah lead them. Yehoshua, on the other hand, knows that the people are ready to enter the Land. Therefore, we learn that people should master the Torah before entering the Land of Israel. Hakham Tsefet, Peter the Apostle, says the same when he says that we are lively stones being built in the Bamidbar, in the wilderness, into a Temple (I Peter 2:5).

 

29.       On Rosh Chodesh Elul, Moshe once more ascends the mountain. He is instructed in the thirteen attributes of mercy, and warned that we must not make covenants with the Canaanites, but we must shatter their altars. (34:4-17; Rashi does not inform us of the date of the ascent, but he does tell us that Moshe ultimately descends on Yom HaKippurim, the 10th of Tishri (Rashi 34:29), and we are told that he was on the mountain for forty days (34:28)).

 

31.       From this point on, the verses are in order. Moshe is instructed to carve the words on the tablets. He remains on the mountain for forty days and nights, as he did before. He descends with the second tablets on Yom Kippur, his face glowing with “rays of splendor”. (34:27-35; Rashi).

 

* * *

 

Shavuot is the only festival on which the authorities all agree that we are obliged to satiate our bodies with food and drink, as well as to fill our souls with Torah. Pesachim 68b

 

This indulgence in fine foods is a reminder that Torah is as relevant to this world and it’s material pleasures as it is to the World to Come (Olam HaBa). Torah is the key to understanding the holy function of the “mundane”. This is symbolized by the waving of the Two Loaves, bread grown on earth, towards Heaven. Not until the Torah, summarized in the Decalogue, was given, however, could creativity truly flourish. Thus the first two millennia are called in the Talmud, two thousand spiritually uncreative years:

 

Avodah Zarah 9a The Tanna debe Eliyahu taught: The world is to exist six thousand years; the first two thousand years are to be void; the next two thousand years are the period of the Torah, and the following two thousand years are the period of the Mashiach. Through our many sins a number of these have already passed [and the Mashiach is not yet].

 

From when are the two thousand years of the Torah to be reckoned? Shall we say from the Giving of the Torah at Sinai? In that case, you will find that there are not quite two thousand years from then till now [i.e., the year four thousand after the Creation], for if you compute the years [from the Creation to the Giving of the Torah] you will find that they comprise two thousand and a part of the third thousand; the period is therefore to be reckoned from the time when Abraham and Sarah had gotten souls in Haran for we have it as a tradition that Abraham was at that time fifty-two years old. Now, to what extent does our Tanna encroach [on the other thousand]? Four hundred and forty-eight years! Calculate it and you will find that from the time when they had gotten souls in Haran till the giving of the Torah there are just four hundred and forty-eight years.

 

The Torah is composed of two parts: the written law and the oral law. The written Torah contains the Five Book of Moshe. Together with the written Torah, Moshe was also given the oral law which explains and clarifies the written law. It was transmitted orally from generation to generation and eventually transcribed in the Mishna, the Gemara, the Midrash, and the Zohar (corresponding to the four books of Torah which belong to Israel). It is impossible to understand the written Torah without the oral Torah.

 

Throughout the generations, HaShem‘s people have studied these works, commenting upon them, clarifying their meanings, deriving practical applications of these principles and codifying the laws derived from them. Thus, a continuous chain of tradition extends throughout the generations, connecting the scholars of the present day to the revelation at Mount Sinai (including the Books of the Nazarean Codicil, the New Testament, which are also part of the Oral Torah).

 

XIII. Customs

 

The order of prayer and Kiddush (wine blessing) is the same for Shavuot as for the other two Shalosh Regalim, (the three pilgrim festivals), with specific reference made however, to `this festival of Shavuot, the time of the giving of our Torah.’ During mussaf, the `additional-sacrificial-offerings’, the `new-gift-offering‘ for Shavuot are mentioned as is the passage Uveyom HaBikkurim. Hallel is likewise said in whole, in accord with the practice followed during the other two Shalosh Regalim.

 

The Hallel was sung:

 

 Psalms 113, 114, 115, 116, 117, 118

 

Torah readings

 

The Annual and Triennial Torah readings are interrupted for the festivals. The following are the festival readings:

 

Shemot (Exodus) 19:1 - 20:23

{First Day}

 

Devarim (Deuteronomy) 14:22 -16:17 {Second Day - Sabbath}

 

Devarim (Deuteronomy) 15:19 -16:17 {Second Day - weekday}


Maftir: Bamidbar (Numbers) 28:26 - 31 {Both Days}

 

Haftorah readings

 

Yehezekel (Ezekiel) 1:1-28, 3:12

{First day}

 

Habakkuk 2:20 - 3:19

{Second Day}

 

The Book of Ruth is also read.

 

Many have the practice of standing for the reading of the Ten Words, Aseret HaDibrot, this practice is very strongly challenged by some authorities - Hakham Ovadia Yosef seems to be the most vocal opponent of this practice.

 

ERUV TAVSHILIN

 

When a Festival occurs on Thursday or Friday, one should make an Eruv Tavshilin on the day preceding the Festival.

 

That is, he should take bread (or Matza) prepared for Shabbat as well as a highly regarded cooked food, such as meat or fish, hand it over to another person through whom he grants a share of this Eruv to the entire community.

 

The Eruv Tavshilin should be done on Thursday, before the lighting of the Yom Tov candles.

 

Decorations

 

It is customary to decorate the synagogues and home with greens. And some decorate the Torah scrolls with roses. If the greens were not prepared

before Shavuot, it is forbidden to use unprepared leaves, though they were cut before Shavuot, for decoration. If the greens were however prepared for the sake of the festival, but were not arranged out of forgetfulness, they may be arranged on Yom Tov. It is customary to decorate your houses and synagogues with green plants because:

 

1. We want remember how things were at the time the Torah was given. We know that Har (mount) Sinai was full of greenery, as HaShem had to give a warning to the nation of Israel that “also your sheep and cattle should not graze by this mountain[32]. In order to remember that time, we too have greenery, so we remember how things were at the time we received the Torah.[33]

 

2. Our Sages taught that on Shavuot judgment is rendered regarding the trees of the field. To focus our attention on trees we put them inside.

 

3. They are a remembrance of the decorations on the baskets of firstfruits brought to the Beit HaMikdash, the Temple - may it be rebuilt now, on Shavuot. When the Beit HaMikdash is rebuilt we will again bring our firstfruits on Shavuot.

 

4. They remind us of baby Moshe in his basket on the Nile, which according to tradition was found on Shavuot.

 

There is a custom of placing tree branches and boughs about the ‘Teva (Bima)’ (Synagogue pulpit) in the Synagogue, to recall that Shavuot is the time of judgment for the fruit of the trees, so that prayers might be uttered in their behalf. The Gaon of Vilna however, suspended this custom in many communities since it had become an established practice in Gentile religious festival usage.

 

Staying awake

 

The Arizal writes:  “Know that whoever does not sleep at all on this night and is involved in learning Torah, he is promised that he will complete the year and that no harm will befall him.”[34]

 

A Kabbalistic custom from the sixteenth century is to stay up the whole night studying Torah. The Rama[35] explains that we do this because the Israelites at Sinai, who according to tradition slept late that morning and had to be awakened by Moshe. The Torah was given at daybreak. To compensate for their behavior it is customary to stay up the entire first night of Shavuot studying Torah. This custom is called “Tikkun Lail Shavuot.” One of the things traditionally studied on Shavuot night is a compilation of parts of both the Written and the Oral Torah, entitled Tikkun Leil Shavuot. This compilation was organized centuries ago. One noticeable feature of the compilation is that in it, each book in the Written Torah (Tanakh) is begun and concluded, as well as each of the six books of the Mishna. The reason for this stems from a teaching which we see applied in the Kedusha said as part of Mussaf on Shabbat. In the Kedusha, we recite “Shema Israel” and we conclude that portion of Kedusha with “Ani HaShem Elokeichem.” Not coincidentally, these two verses are also the first and last verses of the Shema prayer. The reason why it appears in Kedusha is because during our exile in Persia, the king forbade the saying of Shema. In order to circumvent the decree, the first and last verses of Shema were added to Kedusha, so it would be considered as if we had said the whole Shema prayer, although not violating the king’s decree. Similarly by Shavuot, we learn the beginning and end of each part of the Torah, so by the end of the night, it is as if we had learned the Torah in its entirety.[36]

 

Nazarean note: The ten virgins, in Matityahu (Matthew) 25:1-13, picture this Tikkun of erev Shavuot: The oil is the Shechinah and the virgins stayed awake all night And the ones that had oil for all the night, could receive the Torah at daybreak. The foolish ones are “asleep“.

 

(Rabbi Shimeon used to sit and learn Torah at night when the bride joined with her spouse. It is taught: The members of the bride’s entourage are obligated to stay with her throughout the night before her wedding with her spouse to rejoice with her in those perfections (tikkunim) by which she is made perfect. [They should] learn Torah, Prophets and Writings, homilies on the verses and the secrets of wisdom, for these are her perfections and adornments. She enters with her bridesmaids and stands above those who study, for she is readied by them and rejoices in them all the night. On the morrow, she enters the canopy with them and they are her entourage. When she enters the canopy, the Holy One, blessed be He, asks about them, blesses them, crowns them with the bride’s adornments. Blessed is their destiny.)

 

A lesser known custom is to recite the whole book of Psalms by staying up late the second night of Shavuot. This is because of the tradition that King David was born and died on Shavuot.

 

In The Synagogue

 

Akdamut which is read in Ashkenazi synagogues on Shavuot, is not read by Sephardi Congregations. However, Megillat Ruth, Azharoth, which is a poem enumerating the 613 mitzvot and Tehillim (Psalms) are read over the two days of Shavuot, in Sephardi congregations..

 

Part of AKDAMUT:

 

Were the sky of parchment made,

a quill each reed, each twig and blade,

could we with ink the oceans fill,

were everyone a scribe of skill,

the marvelous story of G-d’s great glory

would still remain untold.

 

(Effortlessly-created With the breath of the letter Heh)

 

The poem Akdamut is read on the morning of Shavuot before the Torah reading. Every line ends with the syllable `ta’, which consists respectively of the last and the first letters of the Aleph-Beit. The allusion is to the endlessness of the Torah. As soon as we reach the final letter `Tav’, we immediately start to dwell again on its infinite depth with the first letter, ‘Aleph’.[37]

 

This reading would be followed by reading the ten commandments found in Shemot (Exodus) 20:2-17.

 

Azharoth

 

Musical Instruments and Psalms for Shavuot

 

Sukkah 53b  MISHNA. THEY BLEW NEVER LESS THAN TWENTY-ONE BLASTS IN THE SANCTUARY AND NEVER MORE THAN FORTY-EIGHT. THEY PLAYED NEVER ON LESS THAN TWO HARPS, OR MORE THAN SIX, NOR EVER ON LESS THAN TWO FLUTES OR MORE THAN TWELVE. ON TWELVE DAYS IN THE YEAR WAS THE FLUTE [HALIL] PLAYED BEFORE THE ALTAR: AT THE KILLING OF THE FIRST PASSOVER-SACRIFICE, AT THE KILLING OF THE SECOND PASSOVER-SACRIFICE, ON THE FIRST FESTIVAL DAY OF PASSOVER, ON THE FESTIVAL DAY OF THE FEAST OF WEEKS, AND ON THE EIGHT DAYS OF THE FEAST [OF TABERNACLES]. AND THEY DID NOT PLAY ON A PIPE [ABUB] OF BRONZE BUT ON A REED PIPE, BECAUSE ITS TUNE IS SWEETER. NOR WAS ANY BUT A PIPE SOLO USED FOR CLOSING A TUNE. BECAUSE IT MAKES A PLEASANT FINALE. THEY WERE SLAVES OF THE PRIESTS. ACCORDING TO R. MEIR. R. JOSE SAID: THEY WERE OF THE FAMILIES BETH HAPEGARIM, BETH-ZIPPORUA AND FROM EMMAUS, FROM WHICH PRIESTS WOULD MARRY [WOMEN]. R. HANINA B. ANTIGONOS SAID: THEY WERE LEVlTES.

 

It is customary to practice immersion in a mikveh (ritual bath) on Erev Shavuot (the eve of the feast of Shavuot), for one is obliged to purify himself at the advent of a Yom Tov. There are some who practice immersion also on Yom Tov. morning, in remembrance of Israel’s purification during the `days-of-abstinence,’ prior to their receipt of the Torah.

 

Nazarean note: Here we have a hint as to when Mashiach was immersed by Yochanan the baptizer. Yochanan’s preaching on Teshuva (Matityahu 3:2), or Tikkun, seems to be on Sefirat HaOmer, the counting of the Omer. This can be understood when we realize that there are only two periods of time, in the year, when we actively repent and work on ourselves: Sefirat HaOmer and the period from Elul 1 till Yom HaKippurim. These two periods reflect the bimodality of the Hebrew year. Sefirat HaOmer matches the circumstances of the Nazarean Codicil in that Yeshua goes into the wilderness for forty days of testing immediately after His immersion. If He did this on Yom HaKippurim, He would not be able to go up to Jerusalem on Chag HaSuccoth as Torah commands. Therefore, we can surmise that Yeshua was immersed, as observant Jews are today, just prior to Shavuot.

 

The descent of the dove (the emblem of the Ruach HaKodesh, the Holy Spirit), the Bath Kol, and The Voice from Heaven, saying: “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased”, all allude to the events at Har Sinai. At Sinai, the Torah ministered, in Matityahu, the Living Torah ministered.

 

Reasons for eating Milk foods

 

Reasons for eating Milk foods include:

 

1. Shavuot is an extension of Pesach and its conclusion. Just as we eat two cooked dishes on Pesach in memory of the Paschal-Lamb and the Chagigah offering of Pesach, we likewise eat two cooked foods on Shavuot; one a milk dish, and the other a meat dish. before we begin our meat meal, we should have dairy foods. This way, when we continue our meal and have meat, we will need another loaf of bread to eat with it. This will result in our having two loaves of bread on our table, which is a remembrance of the two loaves that were offered in the Temple on Shavuot. The Mishna Berurah adds to this that one should make the first loaf dairy by adding butter to it, so that it will be absolutely necessary to have a second loaf when eating the meat portion of the meal. Since one may not eat from the same loaf of bread with both meat and milk dishes, this custom is a memorial of the two, large, leavened, loaves of breads brought on Shavuot[38].

 

(A caveat - before one undertakes having milk and meat at the same meal, one should make sure that they act in accordance with proper Halachah - only meat can be eaten after dairy. Dairy cannot be immediately eaten after meat. Also, all vestiges of the dairy meal should be removed from the table before the meat is served. As there are many other applicable laws with varying levels of complexity, many people no longer eat both milk and meat and the same meal. Some eat only dairy at the meal, or they eat two separate meals, one after another, the first being dairy, the second being meat. For any questions as to how one should conduct themselves, they should speak to their local Hakham.)

 

Nazarean note: The book of the Bereans (Hebrews), also makes a point of milk and meat. A careful look at this passage reveals several hints that relate directly to Har Sinai and the giving of the Torah:

 

Bereans (Hebrews) 5:12 – 6:3 For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which [be] the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat. For every one that useth milk [is] unskillful in the word of righteousness: for he is a babe. But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, [even] those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil. Therefore leaving the principles of the doctrine of Mashiach, let us go on unto perfection; not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works, and of faith toward God, Of the doctrine of baptisms, and of laying on of hands, and of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment.

 

What is the contrast, here, between meat and milk in Bereans (Hebrews) 5:12-14? To understand this, we need to first ask: What are the first principles of the oracles of G-d (v12)? In other words what came before the oracle at Har Sinai? The Sages teach us that the seven laws of Noach came first. After we have mastered these seven, it is expected that we will go on to observe all 613, see Bereans 6:1.

 

From this we learn that the “milk” are the seven laws of Noach.

 

So then what is Meat? Bereans 5:12 indicates that with the meat we are to become teachers who are able to make Talmidim, disciples. The only way this can be done is to lay a hold of the 613 commands plus the Torah Shebalpeh, the Oral Torah. Remember that it is the Oral Torah which also must be taught to those who accept that seven laws of Noach.

 

From this we learn that the “meat” is Torah – Torah Shebiktav and Torah Shebalpeh, the Written Torah and the Oral Torah..

 

Therefore, first we eat the milk “loaf of bread” – the seven laws of Noach; then we eat the meat “loaf of bread” – Torah Shebiktav and Torah Shebalpeh, the Written Torah and the Oral Torah.

 

Earlier in this paper, I noted that in Bereshit (Genesis) 11, where we read about the tower of Babel, we see that all the wicked have their language confused. Since Hebrew was the original language, we can conclude that the righteous are those who still speak Hebrew, i.e. the Shemites: Shem, Eber, Avraham, Lot, … and the their families. Now go back and look at Bereans (Hebrews) 5:10.

 

Bereans (Hebrews) 5:10 Called of God an high priest after the order of Melchisedec.

 

Who is this Melech Tzadik (Melchisedec)? The Sages teach us that this was the title for a man whose name is Shem (Midrash Rabbah - Genesis XLIV:7). Again, we have a connection between Bereans chapter 5 and the events at Har Sinai.

 

2. The day when Moshe was drawn out of the water was the 6th of Sivan, and he was willing to be nursed only by a Hebrew woman. Therefore we recall this merit of his, through eating of milk foods on the same day[39].

 

Nazarean note: Here we have another hint as to when Mashiach was immersed in front of Yochanan the Baptizer.

 

3. Till the giving of the Torah, the Jews were permitted to eat meat of animals which were not kosher as well as meat of animals that had not been slaughtered in accord with the laws of shechita. After the giving of the Torah, shechita and the laws of forbidden foods were prescribed for them. Since all their utensils and dishes thereby became prohibited and they were unable to make them kosher, they could only eat dairy foods[40].

 

Nazarean note: Again this is explained and hinted in Bereans 5:12-14 And 6:1-3, as we explained above.

 

4. The Numerical value of the Hebrew letters which constitute the Hebrew for Milk, chalav, add up to forty, corresponding to the forty days spent by Moshe on Mount Sinai[41].

 

Nazarean note: Recall that “milk” is also a hint to the seven laws of Noach. The laws of Noach test us to see if we are ready to follow HaShem‘s Torah. When we have completed this testing, the laws of Noach – the milk, we go on to the meat, the Torah – Torah Shebiktav and Torah Shebalpeh, the Written Torah and the Oral Torah. Recall that the Bet Din Gadol, the Sanhedrin, commanded that Gentiles start with the laws of Noach. As they attend Synagogue on the Shabbat, they learn Torah, Moses, in order to grow to the point where they can eat meat:

 

II Luqas (Luke) 15:21 For Moses of old time hath in every city them that preach him, being read in the synagogues every Sabbath day.

 

This progression was the expected course. The problem in Bereans (Hebrews) 5, was stagnation. The Talmidim were not learning and going on. That is why chalav (milk) = forty days of testing in Bamidbar, the wilderness, by Mashiach.

 

5. In the Kol Bo[42] it states: “There is an established custom to eat honey and milk on the Festival of Shavuot since the Torah is compared to honey and milk, as it is written ‘Honey and milk beneath your tongue‘“.

 

6. The Magen Avraham[43] states another reason, based on the Zohar, that the seven weeks which the Jews counted before receiving the Torah are analogous to the seven clean days counted by a woman in preparation for purification from the state of Niddah; and it is a principle of halachah that milk results from the decomposition of blood.

 

7. The TORAT Chayim on Bava M’tzia[44] writes that the custom is observed so that the angels should see how carefully we observe the halachot of separation of meat and milk (to eat first the dairy then to clean and rinse the mouth, together will all other rules), so that there should be no accusation from above, as there was at the time of the giving of the Torah that the Torah should not be given to man but to the angels.

 

* * *

 

Does HaShem “hate” His festivals?

 

Isaiah 1:10-18 Hear the word of HaShem, you rulers of Sodom; listen to the law of our G-d, you people of Gomorrah! “The multitude of your sacrifices--what are they to me?” says HaShem. “I have more than enough of burnt offerings, of rams and the fat of fattened animals; I have no pleasure in the blood of bulls and lambs and goats. When you come to appear before me, who has asked this of you, this trampling of my courts? Stop bringing meaningless offerings! Your incense is detestable to me. New Moons, Sabbaths and convocations--I cannot bear your evil assemblies. Your New Moon festivals and your appointed feasts my soul hates. They have become a burden to me; I am weary of bearing them. When you spread out your hands in prayer, I will hide my eyes from you; even if you offer many prayers, I will not listen. Your hands are full of blood; Wash and make yourselves clean. Take your evil deeds out of my sight! Stop doing wrong, Learn to do right! Seek justice, encourage the oppressed. Defend the cause of the fatherless, plead the case of the widow. “Come now, let us reason together,” says HaShem. “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool.

 

Notice that HaShem did not say that he hated the feasts and the new moon, but rather, He hated “your” feasts and “your” new moons!

 

What is the difference between HaShem‘s Feasts and “YOUR” feasts? The difference is whether we celebrate them according to the Torah – according to the halachah (the way of walking), as given at Har Sinai, or we celebrate them some other way. I would suggest that if we follow halachah, that they are HaShem‘s feasts. If we don’t then they are our feasts.

 

The last place we see Pentecost is in:

 

I Corinthians 16:2-9 On the first day of every week, each one of you should set aside a sum of money in keeping with his income, saving it up, so that when I come no collections will have to be made. Then, when I arrive, I will give letters of introduction to the men you approve and send them with your gift to Jerusalem. If it seems advisable for me to go also, they will accompany me. After I go through Macedonia, I will come to you--for I will be going through Macedonia. Perhaps I will stay with you awhile, or even spend the winter, so that you can help me on my journey, wherever I go. I do not want to see you now and make only a passing visit; I hope to spend some time with you, if HaShem permits. But I will stay on at Ephesus until Pentecost, Because a great door for effective work has opened to me, and there are many who oppose me.

 

Why is this collection before Shavuot? What is the connection between Shavuot and a collection?

 

At Har Sinai, the Jewish people were separated from all the other peoples to receive Torah. A Torah that demands tzedaka, giving money to charity. Therefore, when we give tzedaka, we observe Torah and are separated from the world, just as we were at Har Sinai.

 

II Luqas (Acts) 11:26 And when he had found him, he brought him unto Antioch. And it came to pass, that a whole year they assembled themselves with the church, and taught much people. And the disciples were called “alms givers” (Christians) first in Antioch.

 

The older manuscripts have Xrestos - ie. alms givers i.e.. Tithing is the opposite character quality to that which was found in Sodom and Gomorrah. In Antioch, the Righteous Gentiles started tithing and being alms givers for the first time in history! And this of course in gratitude for the gift of Ruach HaKodesh, the Holy Spirit and Torah, which links us back to Har Sinai. So that when these Righteous Gentiles sent their tithes to help the poor in Israel, they became. so to speak, the first fruits to be sanctified.

 

XIV. Messianic Aspects

 

What prophecies relate Mashiach ben Yoseph to Shavuot?

 

We are getting to know how the prophecies regarding Pesach, relate to Mashiach ben Yoseph (Yeshua), and we are beginning to get a glimpse of the connection between Mashiach ben Yoseph and Succoth, so, what connections are there between Mashiach ben Yoseph and Shavuot? Lets start with a very familiar Shavuot event:

 

II Luqas (Acts) 2:1-11 And when the day of Shavuot was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance. And there were dwelling at Jerusalem Jews, devout men, out of every nation under heaven. Now when this was noised abroad, the multitude came together, and were confounded, because that every man heard them speak in his own language. And they were all amazed and marveled, saying one to another, Behold, are not all these which speak Galileans? And how hear we every man in our own tongue, wherein we were born? Parthians, and Medes, and Elamites, and the dwellers in Mesopotamia, and in Judea, and Cappadocia, in Pontus, and Asia, Phrygia, and Pamphylia, in Egypt, and in the parts of Libya about Cyrene, and strangers of Rome, Jews and proselytes, Cretes and Arabians, we do hear them speak in our tongues the wonderful works of G-d.

 

This Shavuot event was clearly at the heart of Mashiach ben Yoseph‘s command:

 

Luqas (Luke) 24:49 And, behold, I send the promise of my Father upon you: but tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be endued with power from on high.

 

From Pesach to Shavuot is the period known as Sefirat HaOmer, the counting of the Omer. This is a period when the whole Community of Israel counts according to the command of HaShem:

 

Vayikra (Vayikra (Leviticus)) 23:15-17 And ye shall count unto you from the morrow after the Sabbath, from the day that ye brought the sheaf of the wave offering; seven Sabbaths shall be complete: Even unto the morrow after the seventh Sabbath shall ye number fifty days; and ye shall offer a new meat offering unto HaShem. Ye shall bring out of your habitations two wave loaves of two tenth deals: they shall be of fine flour; they shall be baken with leaven; [they are] the firstfruits unto HaShem.

 

From these passages we learn that this expectant counting, which accompanies the work of character building, is a period of preparation for receiving the Torah and the designating of leadership. This ordination bears fruit in the souls that seek the covenant on Shavuot.

 

Nazarean note: Our Sages understood that the Torah was delivered, at Mount Sinai, in seventy languages to all of the nations. They understood that the Spirit of HaShem appeared as a tongue of fire which went out from the stone tablets to each of the children of Israel and asked if they would accept this covenant. When the answer was “yes” the tongue went back and helped carve the ten words. Does this remind you of II Luqas (Acts) chapter 2? So why was the Torah delivered in 70 languages? The most obvious answer is because there were a “great multitude” of peoples besides the descendants of Jacob. But, in a larger sense, HaShem is delivering the Torah to the whole world.

 

(Targum Pseudo Jonathan for: Shemot 20:2 The first word, as it came forth from the mouth of the Holy One, whose Name be blessed, was like storms, and lightnings, and flames of fire, with a burning light on His right hand and on His left. It winged its way through the air of the heavens, and was made manifest unto the camp of Israel, and returned, and was engraved on the tables of the covenant that were given by the hand of Mosheh, and were turned in them from side to side: and then called He, and said: Sons of Israel My people, I am the Lord your God, who brought you out free from the land of Mizraim, from the house of the bondage of slaves.)

 

Therefore, II Luqas (Acts) 2 seems to be a confirmation of new leadership – by fire, just as Moshe was confirmed as the leader at Mt. Sinai amidst the fire.

 

We can see that the fire conveys smikha (ordination), i.e. the baptism by fire.

 

* * *

 

The sermon on the mount, in Luqas (Luke) 6:12-49, seems to be an event which took place on Shavuot from its similarity to the events at Sinai. We also see a key word phrase to connect them:

 

“In those days...”, Luqas 6:12, that is, in the days of the counting of the Omer.

 

Even as Shavuot is called the “Day of the Congregation” so also did Mashiach call His “congregation” on this day.

 

Notice, in the above scripture, that there are people from all over. This is probably due to the fact that this was a pilgrimage festival.

 

Even as the Torah was given on Sinai on Shavuot, so, also did Yeshua explain the law on Shavuot.

 

Luqas (Luke) 6:12-49 sounds like a passage that occurred during Sefirat HaOmer, the counting of the Omer, or indeed even at Shavuot

 

XV. Observations

 

It is often said that there is a bit of Shavuot in Yom HaKippurim, because the second tablets were given on Yom HaKippurim. We can also say the reverse as well; that there is a bit of Yom HaKippurim in Shavuot, being that a cheshbon ha-Nefesh (soul searching) is necessary on Shavuot to see if we have succeeded in genuinely rejoicing in receiving the Torah.

 

* * *

 

HaShem chose not to give the Torah in Nisan or Iyar, for the Mazal of Nisan is a lamb and the Mazal of Iyar is a bull and neither is capable of singing praise. Rather, He gave the Torah in Sivan, for the Mazal of Sivan is twins, who have hands with which to clap and legs with which to dance.[45] Also because twins point to the two Torot (Torah Shebiktav and Torah Shebalpeh) of the same essence but different like twins. As well as the two loaves and the dual nature of MashiachMashiach ben Yosef and Mashiach ben David.

 

XVI. The Reading of The Torah

 

Every man, woman and child, including young infants, should attend services at least on the first day of Shavuot and hear the Torah reading of the Ten Commandments.

 

The Torah records that the tablets were written on both sides:

 

Shemot (Exodus) 32:15 Moshe turned and went down the mountain with the two tablets of the Testimony in his hands. They were inscribed on both sides, front and back.

 

Megilah 2b-3a, shows that Moshe had known of the word-end form of the letters. The tradition stated that two letters, ‘mem’ and ‘samech,’ had hung in the tablets miraculously[46]. The letters engraved in the tablets of stone had been bored completely through. To bore holes completely through stone is not in itself unheard of. The letters mem and samech, though, are rectangular and circular, respectively. if they were bored completely through, how would the ‘doughnut hole’ insert of the letter remain in the stone? Answered the Talmud: The insert had “hovered miraculously.” This had been cited as proof that Moshe had used the word-end form of the letters, for only the word-end form is completely four-sided. So, too, it is proof that Moshe knew of the letters as we use them today. Only the contemporary Ktav Ashurith letters have a ‘mem’ and ‘samech’ which are completely four-sided!

 

The tablets were of hard stone, yet they rolled up!

 

Midrash Rabbah - The Song of Songs V:19 19. HIS HANDS [ARE AS RODS OF GOLD]. This refers to the tablets of the covenant, as it says, And the tables were the work of G-d (Ex. XXXII, 16). RODS (GELILE) OF GOLD: this refers to words of Torah of which it is said, More to be desired are they than gold, yea, than much fine gold (Ps. XIX, 11). R. Joshua b. Nehemiah said: They [the tablets] were of a miraculous nature: they were of hard stone, and yet they rolled up (niglalin).R. Menahema said in the name of R. Abun: They were hewn from the orb of the sun. How were they inscribed? Five commandments on one tablet and five on the other, as it says, HIS HANDS ARE AS RODS OF GOLD: this follows the view of R. Hanina b. Gamaliel, who adduced the verse, And He wrote them upon two tables of stone (Deut. IV, 13). The Rabbis say there were ten on each tablet, as it says, And He declared unto you His covenant, which He commanded you to perform, even the ten words; and He wrote [all of] them upon [each of] two tables of stone (ib.). R. Simeon b. Yohai said: There were twenty on each tablet, as it says, ‘And He wrote them upon two tables of stone’1-that is, twenty on each. R. Simeon said: There were forty on each stone, as it says, Tables that were written on both their sides; on the one side and on the other (Ex. XXXII, 15)--in a square.

 

XVII. Betrothal and Marriage

 

We have previously shown that Shavuot is a mikra, a rehearsal. This suggests that we are rehearsing for an “opening night”, a time when we put our rehearsing to practical application. It seems to me that we need to understand the significance of this “opening night”. We need to have a glimpse into the future to try to understand why we are rehearsing.

 

In this study we examined the names that were given to this festival. These names provide a bit of a glimpse into the future of Shavuot. The Hakhamim called Shavuot the “day of congregational unity”. This suggests that all Israel will be ONE on this day. They will be united into a single entity: The Body of Mashiach.

 

Romans 7:4 Wherefore, my brethren, ye also are become dead to the law by the body of Mashiach; that ye should be married to another, even to him who is raised from the dead, that we should bring forth fruit unto God.

 

The Torah was a marriage (erusin – betrothal) covenant between those who had already agreed to a marriage covenant. This covenant defines the rule of behavior for the bride.

 

Many Sephardic synagogues celebrate Shavuot as the wedding (erusin or betrothal) between HaShem and Israel, as the episode of Sinai is described by many commentaries. Most Sephardic siddurim have a special text of the Ketubah that includes the list of the 613 mitzvot. That text is read along with the tenaim (conditions of matrimony), when the Torah is taken from the Ark on Shavuot morning.

 

The Torah is the Ketubah or marriage covenant which defines the responsibilities of the bride and groom. If the bride and groom were perfect, there would be no need of a Ketubah, but because of transgressions, we have a Ketubah.

 

In Talmudic times the erusin (similar to an engagement or betrothal) would take place up to a year in advance of the nisuin (the actual marriage). At the erusin (literally “forbidden,” as in the bride and groom were forbidden to others) the couple signed a document of agreement; the bride accepted an item of value from the groom, usually a coin or a ring; and the blessing over the wine was recited. The couple were legally married but did not consummate the marriage and lived separately for up to a year, during which time the couple prepared a home for their new family. The nisuin was a festive ceremony when the groom escorted the bride to his home. Blessings were recited over wine and the couple were left alone together to consummate the marriage.

 

Shavuot was the betrothal.

 

Shavuot and the Book of Ruth are linked together by the theme of marriage.

 

The revelation at Sinai was a wedding. It is written (Song of Songs 3:11), “His mother crowned him on the day of his wedding.” This is the revelation at Sinai. (Taanit 4:8 – 26b)

 

Vayikra (Leviticus) 23.15 You shall count for yourselves…

 

The Mystics see the revelation at Mount Sinai as a mystic union between the Holy One Blessed Be He (the groom) and the Knesset Israel, the Mystic Community of Israel (the bride). The outcome of this union is the conception by Israel of the Torah. For conception to be effective, the union must take place when Israel is receptive to divine seed or thought. A woman is fertile from approximately seven days after menstruation, so she counts seven clear days before union with her husband. By analogy, the Community of Israel is deemed to be in a state of purity on the first day of Pesach, from which day seven clear weeks are counted in anticipation of the Mystic Union. (cf. The Zohar, Emor)

 

Tikkun Leil Shavuot On the basis of the shared number seven, the Zohar drew a comparison between a woman’s menstrual cycle and the period of forty-nine days between Passover and Shavuot. After a woman stops bleeding, she must still count another seven days before she is deemed ritually clean: “When she becomes clean of her discharge, she shall count off seven days, and after that she shall be clean (Leviticus 15:28).” By analogy, the Israelites in Egypt were mired in impurity. The Exodus did not effect a total cleansing. To receive the Torah they had to count another seven weeks, after which they were deemed wholly pure.

 

As so often in the Zohar, the intensity of the religious experience can only be conveyed in erotic terms. Both periods of waiting terminate in intimacy. At the end of the additional seven days in the evening, a married woman undergoes a ritual immersion in the mikveh in order to spend the night once again with her husband. Tikkun Leil Shavuot is the functional equivalent, a ceremony of cleansing followed by union, symbolically between the male and female aspects of HaShem, historically between HaShem and Israel. In short, the Zohar shifted the imagery of Shavuot from covenant to marriage, making the night before a time of preparation, of adorning the bride with ornaments worthy of her royal consort (Zohar III, 97a).

 

* * *

 

Midrash Rabbah - Exodus XV:31 THIS MONTH SHALL BE UNTO YOU. Another interpretation: It can be compared to a king who betrothed a woman and promised her but few presents in writing; but when he actually took her unto himself, he promised her many more presents as her husband. Similarly, this world is like the betrothal, for it says: And I will betroth thee unto Me in faithfulness (Hos. II, 22).1 Hence He gave them only the moon, as it says: THIS MONTH SHALL BE UNTO YOU. The actual marriage ceremony (Between HaShem and Israel. The idea is that one acquires the Torah by study and devotion. At first, one possesses it only partially, like a betrothed; but the time will come when its teaching shall completely have taken possession of the heart and mind, like the married woman.) will take place in the Messianic days, as it says: For thy Maker is thy husband (Isa. LIV, 5), and then He will hand over everything to them, as it says: And they that are wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament; and they that turn the many to righteousness as the stars for ever and ever (Dan. XII, 3).

 

Midrash Rabbah - Exodus XXXIII:7 Another explanation of ‘morashah’. Do not read the word as ‘morashah’ but me’orasah (betrothed), for just as a bridegroom, so long as he has not married his betrothed, is a visitor at the house of his father-in-law; after he has married her, her father comes to her. Thus before the Torah was given to Israel ‘Moses went up unto God’ (Ex. XIX, 3),2 but after the Torah had been given, God said to Moses: ‘And let them make Me a sanctuary, that I may dwell among them’ (ib. XXV, 8). Another explanation: Do not read ‘morashah’ but ‘me’orasah’ (betrothed); this is to teach that the Torah was betrothed to Israel, as it says, And I will betroth thee unto Me for ever (Hos. II, 21). Whence do we know that the Torah is like the wife of another to the heathen? Because it says, Can a man take fire in his bosom, and his clothes not be burned? Or can one walk upon hot coals, and his feet not be scorched? So he that goeth in to his neighbor’s wife; whosoever toucheth her shall not go unpunished (Prov. VI, 27 ff).

 

Midrash Rabbah - Numbers XII:8 Hiyya son of Abba, teaches that the golden clasps in the Tabernacle looked like stars set in the sky. In the day of his espousals (S.S. III, 11). This alludes to the revelation at Sinai which was, as it were, a wedding ceremony (Between HaShem and Israel.); as is borne out by the text, Betroth them (E.V. ‘ sanctify ‘. The same word denotes both.) to-day and tomorrow (Ex. XIX, 10). And in the day of the gladness of his heart (S.S. Ioc. cit.). This alludes to the giving of the law, as may be inferred from the text, And He gave unto Moses, when He had made an end (kekallotho) of speaking with him... the two tables, etc. (Ex. XXXI, 18), for the written form is ‘kekallatho’ (as his bride). Another explanation is that ‘In the day of his espousals‘ alludes to the Tent of Meeting, while ‘In the day of the gladness of his heart‘ alludes to the permanent Temple. How do we know that the Tent of Meeting symbolized a wedding? Because it is written, AND IT CAME TO PASS ON THE DAY THAT MOSES HAD MADE AN END (KALLOTH) OF SETTING UP THE TABERNACLE (VII, 1); the written form is ‘kallath’ (bride of) and the verse means, ‘On the day when the bride (I.e. the Torah.) entered the bridal chamber.’

 

XVIII. From My Teacher

 

What Shall We Do?

What Does It Mean To Be A Nazarean Jew?

By: Hakham Dr. Yosef ben Haggai

 

One of the unknown correlations between the festival of Shavuot and the events that transpired in 2 Luqas (Acts) Chapter 2, is an obscure but pivotal bridge Torah passage which many seem to miss or even discount. However, in this Shiur, I shall point to the tremendous underpinnings that 2 Luqas Chapter has upon this particular Torah text, as well as being one of the main themes projected through page after page in the Nazarean Codicil. Let us for a moment systematically describe the events that lead to the account of 2 Luqas Chapter 2, the events that took place, and the outcomes of that event. In doing so, I remind all to understand that this approach is of a necessity a Judaic one, and viewed from an entirely Hebraic rabbinical perspective.

 

The reason for the event: Just before the ascension of His Majesty King Yeshua Ha-Mashiach to the Heavens (2 Luqas 1:9-11), His Majesty the Master Hakham commands his Talmidim Hakham (Rabbinical Students) to:

 

2 Luqas (Acts) 1:4-5 And being synagogued with him, he commanded them from Yerushalayim not to depart, but to await the promise of the Father, which you heard of me. For Yochanan indeed immersed you with water, but you will be immersed with the spirit of Holiness not after many days.

 

Now, if I have trained diligently and thoroughly a group of Talmidim Hakham (Rabbinical Students) and I am about to depart for a long, long time, what would be expected of me? Of course, Smikha (Rabbinical Ordination)! So from a strictly logical perspective we would expect that this immersion in the spirit of Holiness would be equivalent to a Rabbinical Ordination.

 

Now, if my calculations do not fail this was said on or very close to Lag B’Omer which we celebrated not many days ago. Thus the expression “not after many days” (2 Luqas 1:5) indeed would have been understood clearly as a Gemara hint pointing to the coming festival of Shavuot. Therefore, a connection is established between Smikha (Rabbinical Ordination) and the festival of Shavuot.

 

Now the Talmidim (Rabbinical students) interject, Master, we have been your faithful Rabbinical students but please tells us before you leave “will you as Mashiach restore again self-rule to Bnei Israel?” (2 Luqas 1:6) The question hints also at “What will be our place as Hakhamim in the Messianic Kingdom that you are about to establish now?”

 

The answer from the Master Hakham is swift to his Talmidim Hakham -

 

2 Luqas (Acts) 1:7 And he said to them, not yours it is to know the duration of time or ages which the father placed in his own authority.

 

This reminds us of the Torah text “The secret things belong HaShem, our G-d” (Devarim 29:28). In other words the kingdom certainly will be restored to Israel. When? That is none of your business. As Hakhamim you will bring this process about by teaching Torah (Matityahu 28:19-20) and by establishing reputable courts of Torah justice, Batei Din (Matityahu 6:33) throughout all the world. This is important since from these two passages we understand what the office of a Rabbi (Hakham) is, not a Pastor, not a Priest, but a Torah Scholar and a Judge.

 

After this brief interruption of what the Master Hakham was saying. The Master Hakham continues explaining:

 

2 Luqas (Acts) 1:8 but you will receive power, having come the spirit of Holiness upon you, and you will be to me witnesses both in Yerushalayim and in all Judaea and Samaria and to uttermost part of the earth.

 

Now instead of your ruling the world as the Gentiles do by the power of the gun, or by political power, you will rule the earth through both a didactic and judiciary program starting in Yerushalayim. But first you will need to receive power from the spirit of Holiness. Now, question: Do we have a precedent in the Tanakh where a Prophet shares of the spirit by which he was anointed as a confirmation of Smikha (Rabbinical ordination)?

 

The Pivotal Torah Passage

 

I propose that undergirding this brief introduction in 2 Luqas Chapter 1 and the whole of Chapter 2, is none other than Bamidbar 11:24-30. In this portion we read about the Smikha (ordination) of the seventy Elders (the Hebrew word Elder always denote the modern term Hakham) and how the spirit that had been imparted on Moshe Rabeinu was caused to emanate from him and be bestowed upon the Seventy Hakhamim (a whole Sanhedrin).

 

Let us look and compare some of the phrases used in this passage and those used in 2 Luqas, Chapter 2.

 

a) The miracle of HaShem‘s presence.

 

Bamidbar 11:25 - HaShem descends in the cloud and it envelops Moshe Rabeinu and the seventy Elders.

 

2 Acts 2:2 - a sound from heaven like as a rushing mighty wind envelops the Temple.

 

On this pasuk (verse) from the Torah Hakham Samson Raphael Hirsch comments: “and HaShem descended ... and spoke with him” The text does not tell us the words that HaShem uttered to Moshe on this occasion. Was this omission, perhaps intended to make clear to all further Sanhedrins that not everything that HaShem said to Moshe is recorded in Scripture? Was this meant to remind them that the field of competence for which they had been appointed at that moment was the Oral Law, that Word of HaShem which was to remain unwritten, handed down only by word of mouth?

 

b) The Emanation of the spirit from one Hakham to many.

 

Bamidbar (Numbers) 11:25 He caused the spirit that had been imparted on Moshe to emanate, and He (HaShem) bestowed it upon the seventy Elders.

 

2 Luqas (Acts) 2:3 And appeared to them divided tongues of as fire, and sat upon each one of them

 

Now there may well be a connection here with the beginning of Parasha Beha’alotekha (Bamidbar 8:1ff.) concerning the lighting of the Menorah and the tongue of fire coming out of each candlestick. But also the connection here of the spirit emanating from Moshe towards the seventy elders, contrasted with the spirit that was in Mashiach emanating from the heavens, now towards his Talmidim Hakham.

 

c) The Result

 

Bamidbar 11:25 - When the spirit rested on them (the 70 Elders) they began (Hebrew: YITNABEU - “were made” or “were impelled”) to prophesy without ceasing.

 

2 Luqas (Acts) 2:4 And they were all filled with the spirit of Holiness and began to speak with other languages as the as the spirit gave them to utter forth.

 

Now it is important to note that one of the requirements according to Chazal, our Sages, of members of the Sanhedrin was the ability to speak not only in Ivrit, but also in several other languages of the seventy Gentile Nations. This point again reconfirms that the major theme of this event at the Beit HaMikdash (the Temple) was a Smikha, and with this Mashiach indicating to the people of Israel that the legal authority amongst the Jewish people was to be transferred from the Kohanim (Priests) to the Rabbinate until his return.

 

What other important theme also undergirds this event at the Temple? The clue to this most important question is given to us in Bamidbar (Numbers) 11:29:

 

“I only wish that all of HaShem‘s people would have the gift of prophecy! Let HaShem grant His spirit to them all!”

 

In other words, that the pedagogic objective of the miracle at the Temple, by which the Talmidim of His Majesty King Yeshua HaMashiach received Smikha indicated that the goal of every Nazarean should be to be indentured under a Hakham, become a Talmid Hakham and at some point become Hakhamim themselves. Look at this statement of Hakham Shaul:

 

“Faithful is the Torah, if any stretches forward (makes sacrifice and studies) to attain overseership (the Rabbinate) a good work he is desirous.”

 

Now, this is evidence enough that what Hakham Shaul is alluding with the phrase “if any stretches forward” is an echo of Moshe’s words “would G-d that all of HaShem‘s people were prophets.” That is, the intention here is that every man ought to keep stretching forward towards the goal of receiving Smikha.

 

A further piece of evidence leading to this conclusion are the words of Hakham Yochanan as recorded in:

 

1 Yochanan (John) 3:1 “See what Ahavah (steadfast love) has given to us the Father that B’ne Elohim we should be called.”

 

Now, again the phrase “B’ne Elohim” has been literally translated as “Children of G-d,” but the title of a Hakham is also “Ben Elohim” (son of G-d to indicate his role as a Judge), a title which is also given by G-d to Melech David and to His Majesty King Yeshua HaMashiach as Chief of all Hakhamim. Thus the above pasuk states that Ha-Shem, Most blessed be He, has given to us so much Ahavah that he calls and expects every Nazarean Jew to become a Hakham a genuine Ben Elohim.

 

And after this Event They Started a Church, Nu?

 

Good question, Christians teach so, but we know that the church started at Sinai (Acts 7:38). So what did the Nazareans start, a new religion, a new denomination, or what? In 2 Luqas 3:41 we read that by the end of Shavuot that year at the Temple 3,000 male Jews and Converts were added. But the question still remains added to what?

 

Again we have many hints in 1 Luqas 2:42, which when carefully read, more aptly describes a Yeshivah to train future Hakhamim than it does a Church, a new religion, or a new Jewish denomination. Yes 3,000 Jews that day decided to drastically turn their lives around and matriculate in that Great Nazarean Yeshivah using as their classrooms the various courts within the Temple grounds.

 

Conclusion[47]

 

In summary, Shavuot is not only a festival by which we receive the Torah afresh from HaShem, Most Blessed be He, but also a festival that reminds us year by year what should be our goal in life, to sit at the feet a genuine Jewish Rabbi (Hakham) a Torah Scholar like Gamaliel[48], and work hard, stretching ourselves towards receiving Smikha[49] and becoming Hakhamim.[50] Truly then we shall gradually see the fulfillment of the words of the prophet Yiremeyahu (Jeremiah), “They will no longer teach each man his fellow, each man his brother saying, ‘Know HaShem!’ For all of them will know Me, from their smallest to their greatest, the Word of HaShem, when I will forgive their lawlessness and will no longer recall their sin“ (Yiremeyahu 31:33).

 

May you all have a very good Chag Sameach on Shavuot, and much Torah study and decide like the valiant 3,000 Jewish men on that day of Shavuot to turn around their lives and stretch forward towards the goal of receiving Smikha as a Hakham!

 

Halachot

 

Clear Halachah, and Halachic decisions according to the order of the Shulchan Aruch, according to the decisions of Maran The Rishon Letzion, Rabeinu Ovadia Yosef Shlita.

 

It is a custom of Israel to eat dairy foods on the festival of Shavuot. The reason for this custom is because, on the festival of Shavuot, all the parts and commandment of the Torah were revealed to Israel (As Rav Sa’adyah Gaon wrote, that the ten commandments include all the commandments of the Torah). Thus, when Bnei Israel returned from Mount Sinai, they were not able to cook and eat meat because the meat needed much preparation: slaughtering with a knife checked for nicks, checking the meat, picking out the fat, salting, and rinsing the meat to remove the blood. They also could not cook meat in their old vessels, because they cooked foods in them before the giving of the Torah that were not kosher, such as meat and milk together. Thus, they had to eat dairy foods whose preparations do not require as much work, and in memory of that, we also eat dairy foods. There are those who have a custom to eat milk and honey on Shavuot, because our holy Torah is compared to milk and honey, as it says (Shir HaShirim 4:11) “Honey and milk under your tongue.”

 

Even though we have the custom of eating dairy foods on Shavuot, it is also a commandment to eat meat on the festival of Shavuot as well, for there is no joy without meat and wine. It is also proper to be stringent and eat the meat of an animal, for there is no joy without the meat of an animal. If he does not want to eat animal meat, or if animal meat is bad for his health, or if he is nervous that the animal is not “halak“ “glatt” (without lesions on the lung), then he should eat the meat of a bird. One must be careful not to eat dairy foods within six hours of eating meat; instead he should eat the dairy foods first and after wiping and rinsing one‘s mouth properly, he may eat meat. There are those who have the custom of eating meat on the night of Shavuot and dairy for the meal on the day of Shavuot. Every person should be careful not to drink too much wine and meat, especially on the night of Shavuot when it is likely to cause an interruption in the learning of Torah all that night. He should also be wary of silliness and light-headedness, which is not true joy but vanity. We are only commanded to have joy in which there is worship of HaShem.

 

It is a custom of Israel to stay awake all night on the night of Shavuot, and to learn Torah the whole night until dawn. This is said in the holy Zohar[51]: “The early pious ones would not sleep the whole night, but would deal in Torah and say: Let us inherit this inheritance of holiness for us and our children in two worlds.” It also says in the holy Zohar that all those stay up on this holy night and are joyous on it, are marked down and written in the Book of Memories, and HaShem blesses them with seventy blessings and crowns of the upper world. About them it is said: “Then those who fear HaShem talked one to another, and HaShem heard and listened and wrote in the Book of Memory for those who fear HaShem and value His name.” The later sages based the custom of staying awake the whole night of Shavuot on what is written in the Midrash (Shir HaShirim Raba 1:56) about the verse: “while the king is sitting.” The nation of Israel slept the whole night of the receiving of the Torah, and since the sleep of Shavuot is pleasant for a man and the night is short, they kept sleeping two hours into the day. G-d came to Mount Sinai and found them asleep! About this Yeshayahu criticized them: “Why have I come and there is no man? I have called and no one answers?” Then He began to awaken them with sounds and lightning and a heavy cloud on the mountain and the very strong sound of the shofar and the whole nation in the camp trembled. Moshe woke them up and brought them to Mount Sinai, as it says “Moshe brought the nation to greet HaShem from the camp.”

 

Why were they asleep?

 

Because they were expecting to be like any other prophet who receives their prophecy while asleep. They had no idea that they would be awake when they confronted HaShem.

 

Bamidbar (Numbers) 12:6 To the prophets among you when I appear I reveal Myself only in a vision, and speak in a dream.

 

HaShem’s communication was direct to Moshe when he was in a wake state and not in a sleep-state. All prophets, other than Moshe, were only able to receive their prophetic vision while in a sleep/dream state.

 

Rav Dessler explains that the Jewish people had specifically gone to sleep the night before in advance of the giving of the Torah, specifically to receive It the next morning. They had every reason to assume that was the way to do it, and Moshe Rabbeinu had every reason to assume that they were correct in their assumption.

 

Who would have thought that 3,000,000 Jews would experience HaShem on the level of their leader, while conscious and in control over their senses?

 

 

* * *

 


This study was written by

Rabbi Dr. Hillel ben David

(Greg Killian).

Comments may be submitted to:

 

Rabbi Dr. Greg Killian

4544 Highline Drive SE

Olympia, WA 98501

 

Internet address: gkilli@aol.com

Web page: http://www.betemunah.org/

 

(360) 918-2905

 

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[1] See Rosh HaShanah 6b; Shulchan Aruch HaRav 494:1; Likkutei Sichot, Vol. III, p. 997 ff.

[2] Rabbi Akiva is the essence of the Oral Law. Moses brings the written Law down to the world; Rabbi Akiva is the nucleus around which the Oral Law is transmitted and generated within the world.

There are many parallels between Moses and Rabbi Akiva (Sifrei, Devarim 357; both lived 120 years...); but Moses comes from within, Rabbi Akiva from without (he is the offspring of converts; Moses descends from Jacob, Rabbi Akiva from Esau). Jacob is the root of the Written Law, Esau is the root of the Oral Law (Genesis 25:28 ki tzayid b'piv). Jacob and Esau are twins; at one level Esau is the firstborn, at another Jacob fulfils that destiny. (This is also the root of Moses’ apparent inability to understand the Torah of Rabbi Akiva and his suggestion that the Torah be given through Rabbi Akiva; in fact, in a very deep way, it was.)

[3] There were several groups who followed the lead of the Saducees in denying the Oral Torah including the Karaites.

[4] Sabbath – Shabbat is how we would transliterate the Hebrew word - שבת.

[5] When the sun’s rays would have a beneficial effect upon the sowing.

[6] Hakhamim (Lit. Wise One) is how Sefardic Jews refer to their Rabbis.

[7] The Hebrew letter Nun (נ) has the value of fifty (50).

[8] Tanchuma, Ki Tissa, 9; Bamidbar Rabbah 2, 11; Pesikta de Rav Kahana, Parshat Shekalim.

[9] Taanit, 26b.

[10] ‘Azereth’ means detention, gathering, concluding feast. ‘Azereth in general designates ‘Azereth Pesach’, i.e., Shabuoth (the Feast of Weeks, Pentecost) to be distinguished from Shemini ‘Azereth, the concluding festival of Succoth. Azereth, lit., ‘the closing’; the Feast of Weeks being regarded as the closing festival to Passover.

[11] Aruch HaShulchan

[12] Menachoth 97a; Yad, Temidim 8:10 3.

[13] The Book of (mitzvah) Education, by Rabbi Aharon HaLevi of Barcelona.

[14] Kohanim (Heb.) = Priests

[15] Lev. XXIII, 17. The Two Loaves of Shewbread were of wheat.

[16] V. Lev. XXIII, 10 ff 17; Num. XXVIII, 26.

[17] Menachoth 15a - In the thank-offering the breast was waved before HaShem (Lev. VII, 30) but not in conjunction with the bread-offering; on the Feast of Weeks, however, the lambs were waved together with the loaves (ibid. XXIII, 20).

[18] Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch

[19] ‘Azereth.

[20] This is learnt from the words, And ye shall keep it as a feast to HaShem . . . seven days (Ex. XII, 14, 15). V. Chag. 9a.

[21] Judgment

[22] Rosh Hashana 16a

[23] This section is an excerpt from: Patterns in Time, Vol.1 - Rosh Hashanah, by Matis Weinberg

[24] The Magen Avraham (490:8)

[25] Midrash Rabbah - Exodus XXIX:9

[26] I heard this from my teacher, Hakham Dr. Yosef ben Haggai.

[27] Deut. XVI, 8

[28] Num. XXIX, 35

[29] A mnemonic is a word or phrase, whose letters or words respectively each stand for a tithe or catchword of a subject, strung together as an aid to the memory. Here ‘a _ ‘azereth’ B _ Shabbath; M _ Purim.

[30]Lit., ‘the solemn assembly‘ — without a further determinant this always means the Feast of Weeks.

[31] Therefore we must demonstrate our joy in it by feasting.

[32] Shemot 34:3

[33] The Levush

[34] Mishneh Berurah 494:1

[35] Orech Chayim 494

[36] Sefer Minhagei Yisrael Torah

[37] Rabbi Yaakov Asher Sinclair

[38] Rabbi Moshe Isserles - Rama

[39] Sefer Matamim

[40] Ge’ulat Israel

[41] Rabbi Shimshon of Ostropol

[42] 52

[43] 494:6

[44] 86 s.v. d’kama kama

[45] The Book of Our Heritage by Eliyahu Kitov.

[46] According to tradition, the letters on the tablets of Moshe were cut completely through the stone, and therefore a letter which was wholly closed could keep in place only by a miracle. Hence the mem to which R. Hisda refers must have been wholly enclosed; which shows that such a mem must have been used already by Moshe. This objection against R. Jeremiah is valid only if we suppose him to have been speaking of the closed forms of the letters, which is not necessarily the case. Cf. Shab. 104.

[47] From my Teacher, His Eminence Hakham Dr. Yosef ben Haggai.

[48] II Luqas(Acts) 22:3

[49] Smikha (Hebrew: סמיכה, “leaning [of the hands]”), also semichut (Hebrew: סמיכות, “ordination”), or semicha lerabbanut (Hebrew: סמיכה לרבנות, “rabbinical ordination”) is derived from a Hebrew word which means to “rely on” or “to be authorized”. It generally refers to the ordination of a rabbi within Judaism. In this sense it is the “transmission” of rabbinic authority to give advice or judgment in Jewish law. Although presently most functioning synagogue rabbis hold Smikha by some rabbinical institution or academy, this was until quite recently not always required, and in fact many Haredi rabbis may not be required to hold a “formal” Smikha even though they may occupy important rabbinical and leadership positions.

[50] Hakhamim (plural of Hakham) is the title Sefardim give to their Rabbis.

[51] Emor 98a