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Shavuot

By Guest Rabbi

Shavuot, so called because it marks the culmination of the seven weeks of counting the Omer, also alludes to the shavuot (oaths) which exist between Hashem and Bnei Yisrael.

According to Ohr Hachaim Hakadosh, two oaths were made on this holiday of Shavuot: 1) Hashem swore that he would never exchange us for another nation, and 2) we vowed never to forsake Hashem for a foreign deity.

The way that the days of the Omer connect Pesach with Shavuot is comparable to the relationship between the names of Hashem, Havaya and Adnut. The name Adon- ai corresponds to Shavuot where the giving of the Torah was done through Gevurah/strength, midat Hadin- attribute of judgement. Using this concept Hazal were able to link Shavuot with Yitzhak Avinu as he exemplified strength.

Avraham Avinu is linked with pesach as his great virtue was Hesed- loving kindness, the attribute embodied in pesach.

Succot is identified with Yaakov Avinu as the pasuk says “and Yaakov journeyed to succot” which the Zohar says alludes to the holiday of Succot.

We can also deduce that the numerical value of Succah is 91, the same as the 2 names of Havaya and Adnut. Yaakov Avinu’s greatest quality was Tiferet  -glory, which encompasses the unity of these 2 names loving-kindness and judgement.

The Devekut – cleaving of Bnei Yisrael to Hashem is attained during the days of the Omer, by remedying character faults. One of the reasons why we refrain from festivity during this period is because of the lack of honour exhibited between the students of Rabbi Akiva. The word Kavod – honour can also be read as kaved – heavy, which refers to recognizing another person as significant and appreciating that person’s unique spirit. The primary concern during the days of the Omer is to develop Lev Tov (numerical of 49), the quintessence of all attributes.

Shavuot is also known as Chag Habikurim – Holiday of the first fruits, which teaches us the connection between Torah and nature, since the entire creation of this world was according to the Torah. On Shavuot which is the time of baking the newly harvested wheat into bread, Bnei Yisrael received the Torah, the food of the soul.

Kabbalistically wheat symbolizes knowledge and wisdom. Chitah – wheat has a numerical value of 22, alluding to the 22 letters of the alphabet, the basis of speech, which represents knowledge and wisdom.

This recognition can be found before a man makes a blessing, Berach – Bless is constructed from the word Bikurim – first fruits. Offering the first fruits of the season expresses man’s complete faith in Hashem.

The Mishna in Pirkei Avot (4:21)says:

Rabbi Eliezer said: jealousy, lust and pride remove man from the world.

The Chiddushei Harim explains that the Shalosh Regalim atone for these three. Pesach makes up for lust, as we eat poor man’s bread, the simplest most base of all foods. This is our main staple for a week, demonstrating how we marginalise our desires, purely because Hashem asks us to.

Shavuot atones for jealousy, as we say that the Torah was given with a good eye, as opposed to the evil eye, which caused the deaths of R’ Akiva’s students. The acceptance of the Torah shows how the Jews were not looking at what they could get from others, as this was a unique opportunity that Hashem had offered them.

Succot atones for pride, as it commemorates our reliance on the clouds Hashem surrounded us with in the desert. This also shows how we forego our independence, in that we remember our reliance on Hashem.

As stated in the passuk “on the sixth day, the heavens and the earth were completed”;

On the sixth day of Sivan the Torah was given.

Chag Sameach

 

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