Vol 28.03 - Erev Chag HaShavuot Spanish French Audio Video
(5745) "On the fifth day they built an altar and offered a sacrifice on it" (Tal. Shab. 88b); Debate in the view of R' Akiva (Tal Chag 6b) on the essence of the korban Olah that Bnei Yisroel offered in the desert; The special connection to the innovation of Matan Torah and the hint to this in Parshat Bamidbar
1. The Talmud (in the section discussing Matan Torah – Shab. 88a) states:
One must understand:
After “he built an altar etc.”, the Torah tells how Moshe entered the Yidden into the Covenant (Brit). The Yidden accepted the “Book of the Covenant” (Torah) upon themselves by stated “Na’seh v’Nishma”, and Moshe took from the blood (of the Korbanot) “and he sprinkled it on the people, and he said, ‘Behold the blood of the covenant’ etc.”,
It is not straightforward:
Why to the Sages just state that “He built an altar and sacrificed a Korban upon it" and not the continuation – how Moshe entered the Yidden into the Brit?
On the contrary:
When the Sages wish to convey the endeavoring of Moshe Rabbeinu on the fifth of Sivan for which Moshe Rabbeinu did not ascend to the mountain (like in the previous days) – they should have, seemingly, at the very first, stated the aspect of entering Bnei Yisroel into the Brit. For this is a most important aspect in the preparations of receiving the Torah and one can understand how this could defer Moshe’s ascent to the mountain - in addition to that which this takes considerable time.
Whereas, “He built an altar and sacrificed a Korban upon it" is not an elaborate process. And certainly not a new thing which is specifically relevant to Matan Torah. For one finds the aspect of building an altar and offering Korbanot regarding Adam HaRishon, Noach, and the Avot etc. Therefore, why should this be so important (וויכטיק), so much so, that it defers Moshe’s ascent to the mountain?
Another thing is also not straightforward:
From the plain wording of the Talmud, “and he sacrificed a Korban upon it”, it implies that Moshe Rabbeinu himself offered a Korban on the altar that he built. However, it states in the verse “And he sent the youths of Bnei Yisroel, and they offered up burnt offerings etc.”. Namely, that the offering was
(Not through Moshe himself – like the building of the altar where the Torah states, “he built an altar” – rather)
through the youths of Bnei Yisroel.
From this it implies an (great) innovative thing. That with the words “He sacrificed a Korban upon it”, the Talmud means
(Not the Korbanot which are expressly stated in the verse, but rather)
that Moshe himself offered a separate Korban (which is not stated in the verse).
(Accordingly, it is fitting (יומתק) why the Talmud states “Korban” (in the singular) – and not “Korbanot” (in the plural) (like in the verse “burnt offerings . . peace offerings . . bulls”)).
It therefore comes out, that not only does the Talmud not cite the continuation of the episode (of the fifth day) which is stated in the verse – but even more: the Talmud states a new aspect which is not stated in the verse!
From this itself it appears, that the innovation of the fifth of Sivan (with regard to the preparations of Matan Torah, and especially – Moshe’s preparations) manifests itself mainly in the aspect of “He built an altar etc.”.
2. This is also the explanation why Moshe himself, dealt with the building of the altar.
One can understand, why Moshe “sacrificed a Korban upon it” – and did not suffice with the Korbanot which “the youths of Bnei Yisroel” brought. For, as is known, thought and intent at the time of the offering is a crucial aspect in Korbanot. Therefore, there is an importance and special beauty (הידור מיוחד) to a Korban which Moshe himself offered, versus the Korbanot that “the youths of Bnei Yisroel” offered.
However, regarding the building of the altar, and especially not the altar of the Mishkan and Mikdash, and certainly not like a part of them – it is seemingly not more than a preparation (הכשר), which could be done by others (and especially - through Moshe’s aides, the elders of Yisroel, and so forth). Why did Moshe Rabbeinu himself need to deal with the building of the altar?
According to the aforementioned, it is understood:
Since in the building of this altar, there was a special importance with regard to Matan Torah (as will be explained), therefore, it had to be done specifically through Moshe Rabbeinu. (Just like all the aspects regarding the receiving of the Torah were carried out specifically through Moshe).
This is also the reasoning in that which the Talmud adds, “He sacrificed a Korban upon it” – namely that Moshe Rabbeinu himself offered a Korban on the altar
(In addition to that which the offering by Moshe contains a special importance (as aforementioned). In this case it was also manifest in “he built an altar”, for)
For the completeness of an altar is when one offers Korbanot on it.
(This is the theme of the aspect of “the repletion of the altar (קיץ המזבח), i.e., burnt-offerings sacrificed when the altar would otherwise be idle”. For one must not allow the altar to be “idle” (בטל) from Korbanot – since the completeness of the altar is when one offers Korbanot upon it).
Therefore, in order that the “altar” that Moshe “built”, should be with completeness, it is connected with (Moshe Rabbeinu himself) “offering a Korban upon it”
3. This aforementioned aspect, that the altar that Moshe built had a special importance with regard to Matan Torah – is also found regarding the Korbanot which were offered on the altar.
On the verse:
“It is a daily burnt-offering, which was performed on Mount Sinai” (Num. 28:6)”,
the Talmud brings the homily of R’ Akiva:
“It was sacrificed when they stood at Mount Sinai and its sacrifice never ceased”.
Namely, that the Korban Tamid was already offered on “Har Sinai”.
“The burnt-offering that Yisroel sacrificed in the desert (on the altar that Moshe built) at Mount Sinai was the daily burnt-offering” (Tamid).
(And from then on “it never ceased”)
This is as Tosafot cites the homily of the Sifri, “it was done at Har Sinai before (the giving of) the Torah, in other words, on the fifth day when the altar was built”.
This is seemingly not understood:
It is known that even the Mitzvot “before the word of G-d” (was revealed at Mount Sinai) (לפני הדבור) are fulfilled (not due to the word and command that was before Matan Torah, but rather) “because G-d commanded us through Moshe Rabbeinu (at Sinai)”.
Therefore, however can it be, that the Torah, and the Written Torah itself) should attribute the Tamid which is offered for generations to the Olat Tamid that was performed at Har Sinai – “which was performed at Har Sinai before the giving of the Torah?
One could say and it is probable to say, that although this was “before the Torah was given”, nevertheless, since it was the day of the fifth of Sivan, which was an (immediate) preparation to Matan Torah, it already possessed a status of (the Olat Tamid of) after Matan Torah. So much so, that one says regarding the Olat Tamid of the generations, that it is (the same Olah) that “was performed at Har Sinai“.
This itself is the reason why the Torah emphasizes “which was performed on Mount Sinai” – for with this, the Torah teaches this itself, namely that the Olah that was offered on the fifth of Sivan had the status of “Har Sinai”, Matan Torah.
4. This, that the Olat Tamid of the fifth day of Sivan had the status of “Har Sinai” (Matan Torah) is also relevant to Halacha:
“The burnt-offering that Yisroel sacrificed in the desert”,
there is a dispute whether it “requires skinning and cutting into pieces” (הפשט וניתוח), or not. The Talmud states that it is dependent in the dispute between R’ Yishmael and R’ Akiva:
“General statements were said at Sinai and the details (of the Mitzvot) were said (at a later time) in the Tent of Meeting”,
it follows that at that time, the laws (“details”) of skinning and cutting into pieces, were not stated.
“Both general statements and the details (of Mitzvot) were said at Sinai (and later repeated in the Tent of Meeting)”
That it “required skinning and cutting into pieces”, for even the “details” (including the details of skinning and cutting into pieces) were already stated at Sinai.
It is seemingly puzzling:
This Olah was brought, according to both two opinions on the fifth of Sivan, before Matan Torah. Therefore, what difference does it make whether “details were stated at Sinai” regarding the manner of the offering of the Olah, that took place before Matan Torah?
One must therefore say that this is because the Olah of the fifth of Sivan already possessed the status of “Har Sinai” (Matan Torah).
Therefore, according to R’ Akiva who maintains that “Both general statements and the details (of Mitzvot) were said at Sinai - together with the command (and specific directive) to bring an Olat Tamid on the fifth of Sivan - that also the “details”
(including also the laws of skinning and cutting into pieces)
were stated. For even the commands of the fifth of Sivan are included in the “general statements and the details (that) were said at Sinai”.
5. If these words are correct – one can say the reasoning of this.
Regarding the aspect of Erev Shabbat and Erev Yom Tov (that on the day before Shabbat and Yom Tov, there begins the preparation for Shabbat and Yom Tov) –
That, in order for a person to keep Shabbat and Yom Tov properly, it requires a preparation from his part. The person must be prepared to accept the aspects of Shabbat and Yom Tov. This is similar to the statement of the Sages:
“One who toils on Shabbat eve will eat on Shabbat; but one who did not toil on Shabbat eve etc.”
However, in this itself (in the holiness of Shabbat and Yom Tov which begins on Erev Shabbat and Yom Tov) there are many levels.
In the time immediately preceding Shabbat, there is an aspect of adding, “from the mundane to the holy”.
In the words of the Sages, Shabbat is (like a “wolf” which) “tears both what is before him and what is behind him”). As has been learned at length, this means that the aspect of adding to Shabbat (תוספת שבת) is not (just) a law incumbent upon the person – that he must add from the mundane to the holy (accepting upon himself an additional time of Shabbat). Rather, this comes from Shabbat and is an addition in Shabbat itself. Shabbat “tears” from before it and after it. For the holiness of Shabbat spreads to the time that is closest to it.
Even before – the time of Erev Shabbat (and Yom Tov) after midday (Chatzot) when one may not recite Tachanun – this is accomplished (not due to the preparation of the person, but rather) because the holiness of Shabbat and Yom Tov already illuminates at that time, in a manner that it negates the aspect of reciting Tachanun.
Similarly, it is regarding the entire day of Erev Shabbat and Yom Tov – that the reason that it is called, according to Torah, with the title “Erev Shabbat” is because on this day there already begins the aspect of Shabbat and Yom Tov.
(In the style of Torat HaChassidut) the “revelations” (גילויים) of Shabbat and Yom Tov already illuminate. There is a “semblance” of them on Erev Shabbat and Yom Tov).
6. From this it is understood with regard to each Yom Tov and also as it was the first time. For each Yom Tov has its “Moed” “its appointed time in the year) – that the aspects of the Yom Tov have already begun upon its “erev”.
This is similar to what we find regarding Chag HaPesach. Namely, that the time of the offering of the Korban Pesach
(of which the verse states: “you shall say, It is a Pesach sacrifice to the L-rd, for He passed over etc.”)
is on the fourteenth of Nisan, even though “G-d‘s passing over” started on the night of the fifteenth of Nisan (when the holiday of Pesach begins).
It is similarly, with regard to Matan Torah of the sixth of Sivan. Already on the fifth of Sivan, Erev Matan Torah, there began the aspects of Matan Torah.
This is the reasoning why the Korbanot of the fifth of Sivan could have the status of the Korbanot that were after Matan Torah. Due to that when, at that time, the status and revelation, and the accomplishment of Matan Torah had already begun.
According to this, it is also understood why the Talmud states, “on the fifth day he built the altar etc. “ and does not mention that Moshe entered the Yidden into the Brit etc.”:
The deeds that Moshe and the Yidden performed to enter the Brit (like saying Na’seh v’Nishma, and the sprinkling of the blood etc.) were just the preparation on the part of the Yidden, which made them prepared to receive the Torah.
However, this is not a “part” (טייל) of Matan Torah itself. Matan Torah comes from Above, in the manner of a gift, from the part of the Giver (G-d).
However, in the altar that Moshe built (and the Korban that he offered upon it) it already reflected (אנגעזען) the (example) of the accomplishment of Matan Torah itself.
Therefore, this is a critical innovation of the fifth of Sivan, erev Matan Torah.
7. However, it requires an explanation:
Why did the aspect of Matan Torah (which was already on erev Matan Torah) specifically manifest itself in the aspect of,“He built an altar and sacrificed a Korban upon it”, and not in another aspect?
From this it is understood, that in this, a crucial point of Matan Torah is conveyed.
One could say that the explanation of this is:
The purpose of Matan Torah is, that through this, the power was given to transform worldly objects (cheftza) into objects of holiness.
In the well-known wording – to carry out the intent of Creation to make an abode for G-d in the lower realms (בתחתונים). That one should refine the “physicality of the body and the world”. So much so, that it can receive the “revelation of G-d’s light that is illuminated to Yisroel through the Torah“.
(With this the Alter Rebbe explains why one does not fulfill the Mitzvah of Torah study (תלמוד תורה) with thought itself. Rather, there must be the aspect of speaking Torah. For the purpose of the Mitzvah of Torah study is to draw down the “G-dly light” on the body and the Animal Soul. This is accomplished specifically through the utterance of the lips, which is deed).
This very aspect (of refining the physicality of the world) is expressly manifest in the aspect of the altar and the Korbanot. For one takes physical stones and one makes an altar for G-d. Similar to this are Korbanot, where one takes a physical animal and through its being offered upon the altar brings it close and elevates it from the mundane until it becomes revealed holiness.
Therefore, the revelation of Matan Torah on the eve of Matan Torah is manifest in the aspect of “He built an altar and sacrificed a Korban upon it”.
8. With this, one can also understand why the aspect of “He built an altar and sacrificed a Korban upon it” is a reason why Moshe “did not ascend” (to the mountain) and deferred his ascent.
Moshe should have built an altar (“twelve pillars corresponding to the twelve tribes of Yisroel”) with all the details in conjunction with bringing Bnei Yisroel into the Brit.
However, he could have found time during that day to ascend to the mountain (at least for a short time) before this?
(This is similar to the fourth day, where Moshe (after descending from the mountain) had time to:
The aspect in this is:
The innovation of the “erev” (and preparation) to Matan Torah is manifest
(Not in the acts of “ascending” above the mountain, but the opposite)
specifically in the “descent” and the effect in the object of the world, as aforementioned.
This Avodah in “the lower realms”- building an altar (from physical stones) and offering a physical animal on the altar.
Similar to that which the general aspect of Matan Torah was in a manner that,
“G-d descended on Mount Sinai and gave the Torah . . specifically on the earth”.
“He was able to lift Yisroel above to the heavens to give them the Torah in heaven”.
“intent of giving the Torah is that there should be the Avodah of refining below”.
9. The rule that: “One (always) reads (the Parsha of) Bamidbar Sinai before Atzeret” is well-known.
The connection between “Bamidbar” to “Atzeret” is a visible connection, as the Sages state
(on the verse “And from the wilderness they went to Mattanah”( וממדבר מתנה))
many reasons why this “gift” (מתנה) of Torah is connected specifically with the “desert” (מדבר).
In this, there is a specific connection between Parshat Bamidbar to erev Shavuot (the fifth of Sivan). To note: that in this year (5745) Shabbat Parshat Bamidbar occurs on the fifth of Sivan:
One of the aspects in desert which brings out this “gift” of Torah, is in the words of the Sages:
“If a person makes himself humble like this wilderness, upon which everyone treads, Torah will be given to him as a gift” –
This is the aspect of Bitul.
Where does one fine this aspect, revealed and emphasized at Matan Torah? This is the aspect of the prefacing of Na’seh v’Nishma, which depicts complete Bitul to G-d (“making oneself like the desert”). For saying “Na’seh v’Nishma” was (as aforementioned) on the fifth of Sivan.
However, according to what was explained above, that the main innovation of the fifth of Sivan (with regard to Matan Torah) is in that which “He built an altar and sacrificed a Korban upon it”, one must say that that also this aspect is connected with the “desert”.
The explanation of this is:
The reason that that the Torah was specifically given in the desert, is as the Sages state,
(in addition to the “properties” of the desert which must be in the person - the person “makes himself like this desert etc.“, and so forth), also))
in the object of Torah. it is free (ownerless) to all like the desert. Moreover, in Avodat HaAdam similar to the place of the desert.
The intent of Matan Torah is (as aforementioned) that in Torah, there was given the power to make from the worldly object – an object of holiness. To make an abode for G-d in the lower realms. “Lower realms” means (as the Alter Rebbe explains),
“(This world) is the lowest in degree; there is none lower than it in terms of concealment of His light . .So much so that it is filled with Kelipot and Sitra Achra, which actually oppose G‑d”.
Therefore, Torah was given in the desert. For a desert - which is uninhabited by a person ( אדם העליון ) - is a place of Kelipah and the Sitra Achra. This is the aspect of Torah, to transform the “desert” of this world to an abode for G-d.
This is the innovation of the fifth of Sivan, that already on the eve of Matan Torah, there began the Avodah of “refining” the desert of the Other Side (דלעו״ז), by taking from the stones (אבנים) in it and making them into an altar for G-d.
10. This contains a lesson for each and every person:
When the day of the fifth of Sivan approaches each year – (as it states:) These days are remembered and made ( נזכרים ונעשים ). One must know that the preparation to Matan Torah must state (not in a motion of wanting to separate oneself from the world, but on the contrary) in transforming the physicality of the world into an abode for G-d.
The power for this is taken from Moshe Rabbeinu (who built the altar and offered upon it a Korban) – the level of Moshe Rabbeinu which exists in “each and every soul of the house of Yisroel”. He gives the power that even when one is standing at the fifth of Sivan, even before Matan Torah –
In the level of Matan Torah in this year, it is given anew and in a manner of it should be new in your eyes, a gift which is in the level of ascending in holiness compared to the previous year.
It should be the “He built an altar and sacrificed a Korban upon it” through which one carries out the intent of Creation – to make the world and abode for G-d.
M’Sichas Shabbat Parshat Bamidbar (Erev Chag HaShavuot) 5731
Night of Erev Chag HaShavuot 5743
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