Vol 38.01 - Beit Sivan Spanish French Audio Video
(5750) Explanation of the lenghthiness of the Alter Rebbe (Shulchan Aruch O.C 494:20) concerning the days betweeen Rosh Chodesh Sivan and Shavuot, and the difference to the wording of the Magen Avraham (ibid)
1) They were appointed a kingdom of priests and a holy people
and their connection to Matan Torah
1. The Alter Rebbe writes in his Shulchan Aruch (in the laws of Chag HaShavuot at the end of the laws of Pesach):
“We are accustomed in these countries not to fast and not to say Tachanun from Rosh Chodesh until the 8th day of Sivan inclusively – namely until after the conclusion of the Yom Tov which is called Isru Chag, because immediately after Rosh Chodesh, Moshe began to deal with the Jewish people regarding the receiving of the Torah.
The source for these words is in the comments of the Rama where he writes:
“We do not say Tachanun from the beginning of Rosh Chodesh Sivan until the 8th day of Sivan – namely until after the conclusion of the Yom Tov which is called Isru Chag”
And the Magen Avraham explains that the reason the Rama wrote: “From the beginning of Rosh Chodesh Sivan” is because:
“Immediately on the 2nd of Sivan Moshe told them to sanctify themselves regarding (the receiving of) the Torah, as it is stated in Daf 98 (page 99 or 97a) of (Tractate) Shabbat”.
And the Magen Avraham continues:
“The Hagaot HaMinhagim (Compendium of customs from R’ Isaac of Tyrnau) writes at the end of the laws of Yom Kippur that three days before Shavuot we do not fast because they are days of Boundary (Yemei Hagbalah). The deduction from that is, that from the 2nd of Sivan one should be allowed to fast yet everyone is accustomed not to fast for the reason that I have written previously”
According to the above, one must examine why the Alter Rebbe specified all the events and the statements of the 4th an 5th day, and he did not suffice with the reason of the Magen Avraham that: “They are days of Hagbalah”?
Specifically since in the previous chapter (of Shulchan Aruch) the Alter Rebbe himself writes that (concerning the permissibility of hair-cutting and marriage) that:
“There are those that are accustomed to cut hair and marry during all the days of the Three days of Hagbalah “, without specifying any qualifications.
And even if one were to say that the Alter Rebbe wanted to specify the nature of the Yemei Hagbalah – it is (still) difficult to understand it, since he elaborates in the account of the statements and specifically the events of each day individually:
“On the 4th he said to them etc. And on the 5th he said to them etc.”
Moreover, it is somewhat inferred that the reason for not saying Tachanun etc. is not because of the essential Mitzvah of Hagbalah and the Mitzvah of separation on Bnei Yisroel. But rather because of the statements (of these Mitzvot ) by Moshe during those days.
(And this comes as a continuation of the first wording of the Alter Rebbe there that: “Moshe began to deal with them regarding the receiving of the Torah” (as will be explained in Par 2)
For even though the style of this wording has its source in the Talmud, as it states:
“(But the Rabbis hold): The New Moon was fixed on Monday etc.; On Tuesday he said to them: ”And you shall be unto Me a kingdom of priests”; On Wednesday he informed them of the order to set boundaries, and on Thursday they separated themselves” -
The reason the Talmud cites this is because of the dispute of R’ Yose and the Rabbanan concerning the “Setting of the New Moon” (The day of the week that Rosh Chodesh fell on). Therefore the Talmud specifies the differences between them (for example: which Mitzvah was stated on which day).
But regarding the words of the Alter Rebbe here (that we do not fast and do not to say Tachanun during these days), it seemingly would have been sufficient to state in an inclusive (straightforward) manner that that these days are “ Yemei Hagbalah “ (for on those days they were forbidden to ascend the mountain and they were commanded to separate)
2. This can be understood by prefacing an additional difference between the wording of the Alter Rebbe and the wording of the Magen Avraham:
The Magen Avraham writes:
Whereas the Alter Rebbe writes:
One could say that with the difference in wording the Alter Rebbe is telling us the nature of these days – for one could explain it in many ways.
One of the ways is:
1. These days (are special because they) are close to Matan Torah.
This is similar to that which is cited by the Magen Avraham regarding every Erev Shabbat and Erev Yom Tov (that they are special because) they possess a glimmer of the holiness of Shabbat and the holiness of Yom Tov.
(This itself it can be explained in two ways:
a. The reason it is (special because is) from the perspective of the person (gavra). For since, in order to enable a person keep Shabbat and Yom Tov according to Halacha, one must himself understand (the concept of Shabbat etc.) beforehand, it therefore, is considered a day of preparation which (becomes) subordinate (tafal) and connected to the Shabbat and Yom Tov that follows,
b. The reason it is (special is because it is) from the perspective the ‘object’ (cheftza) – which, in this case, is the actual time of Shabbat and Yom Tov. For Erev Shabbat and Erev Yom Tov possesses, in and of itself, (since it the time that is close to Shabbat etc.) a glimmer of the holiness of Shabbat and Yom Tov. (Therefore this day also is made a day of preparation regarding the person, in which he is obligated to perform all the specific commandments (chiyuvim) and customs that pertain to Shabbat and Yom Tov
Yet regarding every Erev Shabbat and Erev Yom Tov, the aforementioned only applies to the day itself (Erev Shabbat) which precedes Shabbat (From midday onwards, where one does not say Tachanun or even regarding the entire day which is called “Erev Shabbat” and “Erev Yom Tov” where according to some, one does not say Tachanun even on the morning of Erev Yom Tov).
However regarding Chag HaShavuot, the time of the Giving of our Torah, the effluence and effect (Hashpa’ah v’peulah) is (not just on the Erev of the Yom Tov, but also) from Rosh Chodesh onwards. For then (Yisroel came to the Sinai desert) and Yisroel encamped there against the mountain, prepared to receive the Torah (as is explained in the Midrash)
2. (The second method is that) these days have within them, on their own accord, a special nature and boundary of: “Days of receiving the Torah”.
Therefore they are separate and have a unique quality, in and of themselves (where we do not fast and we do not say Tachanun)
On a somewhat different perspective:
Matan Torah contains two aspects:
For even though the ‘receiving of the Torah’ is a result of the giving of the Torah, and its period is subsequent to the giving - on a deeper level, one could say that the receiving of the Torah began before the Matan Torah, and that it is an aspect of its own accord. And this the special quality of these days – ‘days of receiving the Torah’.
3. One could say that this is the difference between the wording of the Magen Avraham and that of the Alter Rebbe:
Therefore the Magen Avraham just cited that these days are’ Yemei Hagbalah’ and he did not specify what occurred on each day, for it was already emphasized that these days are a single continuation of the days of preparation for Matan Torah.
However, since the Alter Rebbe holds that (immediately after Rosh Chodesh) they are days of ‘receiving the Torah’, each day produced a different aspect in the receiving of the Torah.
In other words, on each day there was a “new receiving” from Moshe Rabbeinu – for on each day there was a different endeavor by Moshe in the “aspect of receiving of the Torah”
4. One could say that these three things in the receiving of the Torah:
1. That they became kingdom of priests
2. The boundary (Hagbalah) and warning not to ascend the mountain
3. The separation (Prisha) from their wives.
are correlated to three things which have their example in Matan Torah:
The aspect of Matan Torah, according to the simple understanding (pshat) is - the descending of the Divine Presence to this world (matah), and the revelation of the Shechina.
And the purpose of Matan Torah is - in the words of Rambam – that “The entire Torah was given to make peace in the world”. It has already been explained elsewhere that the“peace/Shalom” that is produced in the world through Torah is not (just) peace between people (created beings), but peace between G-d, as it were, and the world. As the sages state that Yisroel is called “Shelomit/peace” from that which: “They made peace between Me and My world” through their receiving the Torah.
Regarding peace (in general) there are two expressions (tenuot):
1. Abstinence from dispute
2. Actions that promote unity and connection
The same applies to the “peace” (that is made through Torah) “between Me and between My world”
That is accomplished through:
1. Negation of things that are contrary to G-dliness. In general ,this is accomplished through the Negative Commandments.
2. Performance of things that are the will of G-d which are the Positive commandments
And corresponding to this are the three aspects that are in ‘Receiving of the Torah’:
in a manner that causes expiry of the soul out of spiritual rapture (Kelos Hanefesh),
similar to Nadav and Avihu where they “came close before G-d and died”,
but rather the intent of the Torah is, as written: “He created it not a waste (but rather), He formed it to be inhabited” – to make the world an abode for G-d in this world (tachtonim).
And this is the meaning, in the esoteric sense (Pnimiyut) of: “Beware of ascending the mountain etc.“
For there must be deed (asiyah), to transform (la’asot) the world to be according to the directives of the Torah (similar to Positive commandments)
For this is not a Mitzvah but rather a description of fact (metzius) that Bnei Yisroel became a kingdom of priests similar to the Kohanim that serve (G-d), even so much as to be like High Priests (As it states in the Baal HaTurim).
And this is as it was when the Torah was given, that these two aforementioned particulars in the actions of the Torah are a result of the descent of the Shechina to this world (matah)
5. Since Moshe, at the beginning of his dealing with them regarding the receiving of the Torah stated to them: “And you shall be unto Me a kingdom of priests etc.” - it is logical to say that these three as aspects are alluded to in this very statement (“And you shall be unto Me etc.):
(As it is known, that the entire aspect is alluded to in the beginning of the aspect)
The explanation is:
And this correlates to the Mitzvah of Hagbalah, whose aspect is: “Beware of ascending the mountain etc. For the Avodah of a person must be to draw down holiness into physical objects and aspects of the world, “an abode for G-d, specifically in this world (tachtonim).
6. These days are remembered and practiced every year (nizkarim v’na’asim). From this (verse) it is understood that it refers also to the time of the Giving of our Torah, in every year. For in every year there is a ‘giving of the Torah’ anew and in a greater manner. Thus, in order to receive the Torah on Chag HaShavuot, the aforementioned preparations must begin on Rosh Chodesh Sivan, similar to the way it was at the first giving of the Torah.
This means, that:
in addition to that which, all preparations must be similar and comparable to the thing that one is preparing for, and in our case this refers to increasing Torah study in these days –
There also must be a glimmer of the specific preparations that were performed at the first occurrence.
And as it is understood simply:
Since the events and revelations of these days have an effect and are drawn down now, for this very reason, nowadays, we do not fast and we do not say Tachanun.
Accordingly, the 2nd of Sivan, on which Moshe said to them: “And you shall be unto Me a kingdom of priests etc.” – is a special day that awakens a person to: “set himself aside and stand before G-d to serve Him and minister to Him and to know G-d”, so much so that: “he is sanctified as holy of holies”.
And this awakening and desire must be so much that it enjoins the warning and Hagbalah: “Beware of ascending the mountain etc. “
And this is because their actions in the Avodah of: “And you shall be unto Me a kingdom of priests etc.” instills within them a desire to “know G-d”, to enter into the holy, to enter into the orchard (pardes) in a manner of expiry of the soul (Kelos Hanefesh). And regarding this we say that it must specifically be in a manner of “entering in peace”, “setting boundaries for the mountain”
Therefore we immediately afterwards warn that there must specifically be the Mitzvah of Separation. For even though there is the path of “enclothement” (hislabshus) in the aspects of the world, which guard the person from expiry of the soul, nevertheless specifically the Avodah of “return” (Shuv), namely dealing with the aspects of the world.
(Like the well-known story of the And the Malach (R’ Avraham son of R’ Dov Ber of Mezerich, known as the Malach/Angel), that due to their study of the esoteric aspects of Torah (Pnimiyut) reached the level of expiry of the soul- and it was necessary to eat a “bagel” with butter in order to prevent his soul from detaching from his body).
In our case there must specifically be Separation. Namely, even from permissible things and also things that (at certain times) are a Mitzvah. For in proximity to Matan Torah there must be separation from all things connected to the body, and the person should be entirely immersed and connected with the preparation to Matan Torah.
And just as this applies to one’s personal Avodah, the same applies to the Avodah with one’s fellow, and with greater measure. For the beginning of the preparation to Matan Torah was on Rosh Chodesh Sivan, for on that day they came to the Sinai desert and they encamped there against the mountain , “as one man with one heart”.
Therefore even in the days of preparation to Matan Torah in each year, one must not suffice with each one preparing himself individually during these days to Matan Torah. But rather one must influence Bnei Yisroel around him, that even they should prepare themselves, with a proper preparation, to Matan Torah, according to the particulars mentioned in Shulchan Aruch.
And through this, all Bnei Yisroel together, as “one man with one heart”, will accept the Torah on the day of Matan Torah, with happiness and Pnimiyut.
(Mitzvah’Sichas Shabbat Parshat Bamidbar (Beit Sivan) 5747,
4th of Sivan 5749)
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