Vol 23.04 - Chag HaShavuot 2           Spanish French Audio  Video

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Talmud Bavli


(5742)  (Tal Pes.68b): All agree in respect to Shavuot (Ateret) we require it to be ‘for you’ too”. Specifically on we do not fast for bad dreams (Shulchan Aruch HaRav O.C 494:18)




1.The holiday of Shavuot is different from the other holidays for it states: “All agree in respect to the Feast of Weeks ‘Azeret that we require it to be ‘for you’ too. What is the reason? It is the day on which the Torah was given.”

Concerning the other Yomim Tovim there is a disagreement whether one could conduct oneself in a manner of “completely to G-d (Kulo L’Hashem - completely to prayer and Torah study) or one requires “Half to G-d” (Chetzio l’Hashem - half eating and drinking etc. and half Torah study). However concerning Shavuot , all agree that “we require it to be ‘for you’ too – that one should rejoice with eating and drinking to show that this day is pleasant and accepted for the Torah was given on it.

And even according to the Halacha that for all the other Yomim Tovim there must be “half to you” (and one must conduct the Yom Tov by rejoicing with eating and drinking) – nevertheless there is a difference between Shavuot and the other festivals.

By the “other Yom Tovs and Shabbats” the law is that: “one may fast for a bad dream (ta’anit chalom - a fast to rectify a bad dream) because even though there is an obligation to rejoice on Shabbat and Yom Tov – since, however one is “anxious (agumah) about his dream . . therefore the fast is a pleasure (oneg) for him.

However on the festival of Shavuot, since “one must eat and rejoice on the festival to show that this day is pleasant and accepted for the Torah was given on it”, one may not fast at all for a bad dream.

In other words, Shavuot has

(not just the obligation to have pleasure (oneg) generally, in which one could obtain this through the “pleasure” of “fasting for a bad dream”) but

An obligation of eating -“one must eat etc. to show that this day is pleasant and accepted etc.”

In essence this is a puzzling matter:

The festivals Pesach and Sukkot are (mainly) a remembrance for physical kindness –

·         The redemption from (the harsh slavery of) Egypt (on Pesach) and

·         “I had the children of Israel live in booths when I took them out of the land of Egypt” (The Clouds of Glory “that surrounded them as shade so they would not be afflicted from the heat and Sun”)

Nevertheless, there could be a situation in which the obligation to rejoice is met not through a physical meal but, on the contrary, through a fast.

Yet specifically Shavuot –

“the day on which the Torah was given”, which is completely an aspect of spritual kindness, the oneg and rejoicing of the festival

must always specifically be connected to physical eating and therefore one is not allowed to fast for a bad dream! And specifically it is because, of this very reason, that this is “the day on which the Torah was given”!

2. To understand this one must first preface the general nature of the obligation to have pleasure (oneg) on Shabbat and Yom Tov:

The main obligation to have pleasure (oneg) on Shabbat and Yom Tov is (fulfilled) specifically through eating and drinking, This is why the halacha is that, although one may fast for a bad dream on Shabbat and Yom Tov (as above), nevertheless, one who actually did so must fast “an additional weekday fast to atone for it (the previous fast)” because, with his fasting for a bad dream (on Shabbat etc.) - he” nullified the main pleasure of Shabbat”

Moreover, the exemption to fast on Shabbat and Yom Tov is only for a dream-fast (or for someone for whom eating on Shabbat causes him pain). But for a fast which one wishes to undertake for another reason, “even if it is for Teshuvah or Chassidus (devotion) and “he takes pleasure in this fast” – it is forbidden, because “one may not exchange the pleasure that the Sages enacted with the three (Shabbat) meals with another pleasure that does not necessarily need to be on Shabbat”

One must understand:

Since the law of Oneg is, not eating for its own sake, but rather because of the inherent pleasure,

 (as it states: “The Mitzvah of the Shabbat meals is only because of pleasure”)

so much so that the oneg of Shabbat and Yom Tov is considered a Mitzvah that is “dependent on one’s volition (da’at)”

(Since one may fast a dream fast “because the fast is a pleasure to him”) –

why then did they establish the obligation of Oneg specifically through eating and drinking?

(and “one may not exchange the pleasure “that the Sages enacted etc. with another pleasure”)

Seemingly, they should not have attached any condition or common ritual (kavua) for everyone. Rather everyone should be able to fulfill the Mitzvah of Oneg by doing what he gets pleasure from?

It is true that the enjoyment of most people involves food and drink (eating meat and drinking wine). But this is not absolute (machriah). Because for a minority there is another form of pleasure (for example – those that have pleasure from fasting for Teshuvah). For them , this (eating etc.) is not called pleasure

3. The explanation for this is:

Torah and Mitzvot were given to the Yidden as they were souls specifically enclothed in bodies.

 (as it states (regarding Moshe Rabbeinu's retort to the angels' claim that the Torah should not be given to the Yidden and should remain with them): “Do you have a mother and father?”)

And the reason is because of the rectification (tikkun) which Mitzvot accomplish in a person.

(as the sages state “Mitzvot were not given except to refine (l’tzareif) beings”)

Thus they (Mitzvot) were not given for the soul’s sake (for the “soul itself does not require rectification”), but rather for the body.

This is in order to enable (also) the body of a Yid to be gathered up by and permeated with the holiness of Mitzvot.

Therefore it is understood that, that which the Torah states that, Shabbat (or Yom Tov) must be a time of Oneg for Yidden (“to you”) does not mean that (just) the soul should have (spiritual) pleasure from the day of Shabbat (and Yom Tov), but rather that (also) the body should feel pleasure because it is the day of Shabbat (and Yom Tov). And on the contrary, the main intent of the Mitzvah is specifically (to include) the body

And since the natural pleasure from a body is from eating and drinking, therefore Torah states that the obligation of Oneg is specifically through eating. Because specifically in this manner, it is manifest that the pleasure of Shabbat is inclusive (metzareif), that it really permeates (nemt durch) the body.

However a fast of Teshuvah (etc.) is not an enjoyment (oneg) for the body (but rather a (spiritual) pleasure for the soul). And this is even when a Yid has achieved (a level) where his body does not feel any pain from the fast. Or more so, even when the body feels a particular pleasure due to the soul’s having pleasure.

Like the way “Good tidings make the bone fat” literally. 

This however is not a pleasure that the body has from itself

(that he should have pleasure from the tidings or from a fast)

 but rather this is from the rulership (by nature or through Avodah) of the soul over the body, which is contrary to its nature, even for a body that is connected and holy.

And therefore one may not, on Shabbat and Yom Tov, conduct such a fast (such as a fast of Teshuvah etc.) even when “one has pleasure from this fast”, but one must celebrate the Shabbat (misaneg) specifically with food and drink which are pleasures of the body.

And because of this reason, the Halacha is so even for a dream-fast on Shabbat (and Yom Tov). For even though it has been exempted – one still requires an atonement (if one fasted) since he ” nullified the main pleasure of Shabbat”

4. And one could say that that this is also the reason for this (according to Remez –allusion).

For even though Shulchan Aruch cites (in regards to fasting for a dream) other situations when there is an exemption not to eat or to fast on Shabbat (since this is a pleasure for him) –

Like in a situation where “food is injurious to a person and therefore it is pleasure for him not to eat” or one who is used to fasting “every day and eating on Shabbat is painful for him because it is a change in routine”

Nevertheless, the Talmud just mentions (explicitly) the exemption of a dream-fast. From this it is understood that the foundation for the other exemptions is the Halacha of a dream-fast.

From this one learns that the Mitzvah of Oneg Shabbat (and Yom Tov) is not an obligation to eat, in and of itself, but rather because of the pleasure therein. Therefore when one has pleasure from refraining from eating, one may fast.

One could say that the reason that the Sages picked, in stating the exemption, specifically (the case of a) dream-fast is in order to hint that the source of the exemption for fasting on Shabbat

(for whatever reason) –a situation which prevents a Yid from enjoying food and drink -

is taken from it because it is a situation of (spiritual) “dreaming” i.e. sleep and hiddenness and galut of the soul in the body. And more so - of the sleep and concealment of actual Galut.

as is cited in Torah Or on the verse: “we were as sleeping” that just as a dream can connect two opposites in one context, (because during a dream one’s consciousness (sechel) is suspended (nistalek) and there remains just the power of imagination (koach haMedameh), so too this also occurs to Yidden during the time of Galut. Namely that due to the cloaking and concealment of Galut, it is right in their eyes that that they can have “two opposites”:

  • During prayer being in a state of true awakening (hisorerus), making a good reolution etc..
  • After prayer, forgetting, so much so, that they can act contrary to that which he resolved at the time of prayer

Yet, how could this be for a Yid?

That on the day of Shabbat or Yom Tov, in which it is a Mitzvah to celebrate it (l’Ongo) with food and drink, his body withholds him from the pleasure? –

And it is not speaking here about one who acts contrary to Torah, G-d forbid, but rather one who endeavors to act according to Torah. Yet, his body is not fitting to receive this specific pleasure -

However, this is because he is in a state and condition of a “dream” (the concealment of Galut)

He really is a Jew that conducts himself according to Torah. But in tandem with this, there is a concealment which does not allow the pleasure of Shabbat to permeate him, to a degree where his body should also (properly) “feel” (derher) that it is Shabbat.

If he would not have this concealment, then the holiness

(“He sanctified it” - vaYikadesheihu)

of the time, which is Shabbat (or Yom Tov) would effect that his body would realize that today he should have pleasure from food (even though during the other days of the year, it is an opposite manner). Because Shabbat is a day which brings pleasure in all aspects.

However, since the aspect of Torah is to preclude (issues) and find advice (Eitzot) even for someone who finds himself in a state of “dreaming”,

As it states regarding Torah that its actions are to “separate between the impure and the pure”

For seemingly pure and impure are opposites. So why does one need to rely on Torah to separate them? However, it is because this lesson and aid of Torah, is also for one who is in a state of sleep and dreaming, and who can, therefore, mix two opposites such as pure and impure. Yet Torah regards even him (lozt zich arup), and separates between pure and impure

 therefore Torah also gives advice for one whose body, because of concealment, prevents him from eating on Shabbat and Yom Tov – and allows him to fast. For in his current situation, this is his pleasure.

5. According to the aforementioned, one could also understand the difference between Shavuot and “the other Shabbats and Yom Tovs”

The innovation of the revelation of G-dliness at the time of Matan Torah compared to the other revelations of the holidays and times, is that Matan Torah permeated (durchgenumen) the entirety of Creation. As it states that the sound of the Giving of the Torah was heard from all the four compass points and above and below. So much so that a “bird did not chirp etc. and an ox did not low etc. , the world was quiet and silenced”. And more so: the sound of the Ten Commandments was absorbed even in the inanimate parts of the world (as has been explained at length which is why there was no echo of the sound of the Ten Commandments)

And since Matan Torah was the revelation of G-d Himself (Atzmut uMahus) as He, as it were, placed Himself (Areingegeben) in Torah. As the sages state that the word “Anochi” (“I am” – the beginning of the Ten Commandments – Matan Torah) is an acronym for “Ana nafshi kasavis yahavis” (I have imbued My soul, in the words). Namely that “Anochi mi SheAnochi”, G-d Himself (atznut) says that He imbues (kasavis yahavis) His essence (nafshi) into Torah.

And since G-d is truly omnipotent (bli gevul), there is no place that is devoid of G-d. Which is why Matan Torah permeated the entirety of Creation.

Accordingly, it is also understood why one may not fast a dream-fast on Shavuot because this is the “day on which the Torah was given

Since Shavuot is the “day on which the Torah was given” which permeated the entirety of Creation without boundary, the joy of Shavuot must also be unbounded, so much so that there should not be any place in the person where the happiness of Matan Torah does not extend.

By other Yomim Tovim, since they are connected with lights and revelations (Orot uGiluim – i.e., lower levels of spirituality), there can therefore be room for the concealment of a “dream” state which prevents and obstructs the happiness of Yom Tov.

However regarding the happiness of Torah, concealment does not apply. It permeates all levels, always.

Even in the lowest levels, one discerns that the aspect of Matan Torah is: “pleasant and accepted”.  

And therefore it (the happiness) extends even into the “world of dreams”, into eating. That even when one has a dream which sadly would prevent his body from enjoying the pleasure of food – the happiness of Shavuot accomplishes, that even for him it is a happiness, because for him it is “pleasant and accepted for the Torah was given on it.’

M’Sichas Yom Beis d’Chag HaShavuos 5724



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