Thoughts on the Weekly Parshah by HaRav Eliezer Chrysler
Formerly Rav of Mercaz Ahavat Torah, Johannesburg

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Vol. 21   No. 35

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Shavu'os Supplement

A Treasured Nation
(Adapted from the Beis ha'Levi)

"And now if you will surely listen to My Voice and adhere to My covenant, you will be for Me a treasure from all the nations" (Yisro, 19:5).


The Mechilta, commenting on the words "you will be for Me a treasure", explains 'You will be an acquisition to Me and you will study the Torah'.

The Beis ha'Levi asks what the Mechilta means when it says 'You will be an acquisition to Me'?

He opens his explanation by interpreting the two terms 'listening to Hashem's Voice' and 'adhering to His covenant' with reference to the written Torah and the oral Torah, respectively. The former is obvious, the latter, he bases on the Gemara in Gitin (Daf 60), which explains that G-d only made a covenant with Yisrael on account of the oral Torah, as the Torah specifically indicates in Ki Sissa (34:27). Because the oral Torah was given exclusively to Yisrael. Indeed, we find that whereas the gentiles have a connection to the written Torah, they have none to the oral one. Hence the Torah refers to the oral Torah as 'a covenant', and therefore it writes here "If you will adhere to My covenant, you will be for Me a treasure from all the nations". It is this 'covenant' that divides Yisrael from the other nations.

The oral Torah differs from the written one in that, whereas the latter is fixed - even one extra letter invalidates it - the former has no limits. Indeed, every generation sees the appearance of new Dinim which did not exist in the previous one, and whenever a person plumbs the depths of Torah, he finds new concepts of which he was previously unaware.

That is why the PasuK says in Mishlei (2:6) "for G-d will give wisdom from His Mouth " ("will give" in the future, and not "gave" in the past). And that is what the Pasuk in Iyov means when describing the Torah, it writes, "Its measure is longer than the earth and it is wider than the sea" (11:9).

And that is precisely what Yisrael had in mind when they announced at Har Sinai "Na'aseh ve'nishma!" They undertook to do whatever they were told at that juncture and they would obey any instructions that were issued to them later, as Torah evolved, generation by generation.


The question arises, however, as to how such an undertaking could be valid, bearing in mind the ruling of the Rambam that if Reuven undertakes to do whatever Shimon instructs him, he is not obligated to fulfill his undertaking? Surely, that is precisely what Yisrael undertook to do, in which case "Na'aseh ve'nishma" had no validity, particularly with regard to the oral Torah, as we explained!


To answer the question, the author points out that, although undertaking to do whatever one's friend tells one to do is not binding, an agreement to be his servant, is, even though it will result in the same obligation.

The reason for this, he explains, is because, unlike the former, which pertains to something that is limitless, the latter applies to himself, which is specific and limited. And once he becomes his friend's servant, the obligation to carry out whatever he instructs him is automatic.

At Har Sinai, Yisrael did not undertake to do whatever G-d instructed them; they undertook to be subservient to G-d and to His Torah. That is what G-d meant when He said "And you shall adhere to My covenant (the oral Torah) and you will be for Me a treasure from all the nations". This they did by becoming subservient to G-d and by then studying His Torah (as the opening Mechilta explains) in a way that no other nation undertook to do. Indeed, the gentiles have seven Mitzvos, but these are not connected with any oral laws that they have to study. That is an onus - and a privilege - that is reserved for Yisrael exclusively.

* * *

The Two Loaves
(Excerpts from the Rambam,
Hilchos Temidin, Perek 8)

Halachah 1. On the fiftieth day of the Omer is the festival of Shavu'os. On this day one brings a Musaf Offerimg that is equivalent to that of Rosh Chodesh - two bulls, one ram and seven lambs, all of them Olos (Burnt-Offerings), plus a goat as a Chatas (a Sin-Offering). These constitute the Musaf mentioned in Seifer Bamidbar (in Parshas Pinchas). In addition, one brings on this day, a new meal-offering in the form of Two Loaves, together with which one brings one bull, two rams and seven lambs, all Olos, plus one goat as a Chatos and two lambs as a Shelamim (a peace-offering). All of these are mentioned in Seifer Vayikra (in Parshas Emor).

Halachah 2.

The Two loaves can only be brought from Eretz Yisrael and from the new produce. However If one cannot find new produce, one may bring from the old.

Halachah 3.

To prepare it, They would bring three Sa'ah of new wheat, which they would rub and beat, as they did with all Menachos (meal-offerings). Then they would grind it well into fine flour, and sift from it two tenths of a Sa'ah using twelve sieves.

The remainder would be redeemed and could be eaten by anybody. It was subject to Chalah but Patur from Ma'asros.

Halachah 6.

They would take the two tenths of flour and knead them one at a time and bake them one at a time.

Halachah 7.

The kneading and the arranging would be done outside the Azarah but the baking, inside - like all Menachos.

Halachah 8.

Their preparation did not override Yom-tov, let alone Shabbos, but one baked them on Erev Yom-Tov, as the Pasuk writes "It alone (i.e. Ochel Nefesh) shall be done for you " - "for you", 'and not for G-d'.

Halachah 9.

If Erev Yom-Tov fell on a Shabbos, they would bake the loaves on Erev Shabbos and they would subsequently be eaten on the third day after baking - on Yom-Tov. The Torah explicitly writes that they must be Chametz. What did they do? They brought yeast from another source and placed it inside the tenth of flour, thereby causing it to rise.

Halachah 10:

The Chalos were oblong-shaped, each Chalah being seven Tefachim long , four Tefachim wide and fout finger-breadths tall.

Halachah 11.

The waving of the loaves together with the two loaves of the Shelamim: They brought the two lambs and waved them alive . If they waved one at a time they were Yotzei. Then they would Shecht and skin them. The Kohen would then take the chest and the right calf from each lamb and place them beside the two loaves. He would put his hands underneath and wave them all together in the east (side of the Azarah), in the location where all the waving was performed - in all four directions, up and down; If he waved them one by one, he was Yotzei.

Following that, he would burn the Eimurim (the parts of the sacrifice that required burning), and the remainder of the meat was eaten by the Kohanim. As for the two Chalos, the Kohen Gadol took one, and the remaining one was divided up among the (twenty-four) groups of Kohanim (all of whom served on Yom-Tov). Both the meat and the loaves had to be eaten on that day up to midnight, as was the Din by all Kodshei Kodshim.

* * *

From the Ba'al ha'Turim
(Parshas Emor)

Whenever the word "Olos" appears in the Parshah of Mo'ados, says the Ba'al ha'Turim, it is written without the second 'Vav' - except for Shavu'os, where it is written with a 'Vav', a hint that the Torah was given on the sixth of Sivan. This fact is not only not mentioned, it is also disputed by Rebbi Yossi in Shabbos, who maintains that it was given on the seventh.


Furthermore he points out, by each and every Yom-Tov, the Torah uses the word "Chag" - except for Shavu'os! Based on the fact that the word is associated with the Korban Chagigah, which one was obligated to bring on each of the Shalosh Regalim, he attributes this to the fact that Shavu'os was the only Yom-Tov on which the Chagigah could actually be brought not on Yom-Tov itself.

That would occur if, for whatever reason (perhaps because of Tum'ah), the owner did not manage to bring the Chagigah on the first day. He would then have the 'Shiv'as yemei tashlumin' to make up for the deficiency. Now on Pesach and on Succos, this would have entailed bringing it on Chol ha'Mo'ed, which is in effect, a Yom-Tov, and it is only on Shavu'os that he would have been forced to bring it on one of the subsequent seven days - which were not a Yom-Tov.


And finally, although the Torah mentions the obligation to sacrifice a sin-offering in the form of a goat on Shavu'os, it stops short of actually referring to it as a sin-offering as it does on every other Yom-tov,. A hint, the Ba'al ha'Turim explains, that the Torah atones for those who study it, in which case an atonement per se is not necessary .

* * *

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