by Zvi Akiva Fleisher

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The Mogein Avrohom on Shulchon Oruch O.Ch. #494 asks why Shovuos takes place on the sixth and not the seventh of Sivon. There is a disagreement in the gemara Shabbos 87a-b about which date the Torah was given, which hinges upon a technical ruling in the laws of purity and impurity. The final halachic ruling, which sides with the more stringent opinion as stated in Y.D. 196:11, would require an extra day of preparation for receiving the Torah. This would force us to say that the Torah was given on the seventh day of Sivon and not on the sixth.

The Mogein Avrohom raises a second question. The gemara Shabbos 87b says that everyone agrees that the bnei Yisroel left Egypt on a Thursday, and everyone agrees (86b) that the Torah was given on a Shabbos. This also proves that the Torah was given on the 51st day after the second day of Pesach. How then do we say "zman matan Toroseinu" on the sixth of Sivon, which is only the 50th day after the second day of Pesach?

The K'hilas Yitzchok answers in the name of Rabbi Chaim haKohein Rappaport in his responsa Mayim Chaim #15, with the Tosfos on the gemara Rosh Hashonoh 27a d.h. "k'man matzlinon." The gemara there says that the text of our Rosh Hashonoh prayers "zeh ha'yom tchilas maa'secho" is according to the opinion of Rabbi Eliezer who says that the world was created in the month of Tishrei.

Tosfos asks that in reality we side with Rabbi Yehoshua who posits that the world was created in the month of Nison. Rabbeinu Tam finally answers that although we side with Rabbi Yehoshua, we can still attribute the creation to the month of Tishrei, since Hashem entertained the idea of creating the world during the month of Tishrei, although the actual creation took place in Nison. We see from here that the plan of Hashem is considered as if it had physically taken place. (I understand this in the following light: A person can plan a project but many things can stand in the way of its coming to fruition; he might change his mind, obstacles might stand in the way, etc.

Not so with Hashem. The actual creation is secondary, as all that He wishes to do is assured. There is no stopping Hashem. "Lo ish u'ven odom v'yisnechom " (Bmidbar 23:19). In reference to Hashem, the decision to do something is primary. The decision of Hashem is as good as done.)

Similarly, Hashem was ready to give the Torah one day earlier, but Moshe added a day and Hashem agreed to wait (as per gemara Shabbos 88a and Y'vomos 62a). We therefore attribute the giving of the Torah to the day that Hashem was ready to deliver it, the sixth of Sivon.

Actually, the Baalei Tosfos in the Hadar Z'keinim ask the Mogein Avrohom's question in parshas Emor (23:16) and answer that since the Torah was given only one day later, it is appropriate to say "zman matan Toroseinu," meaning in the proximity of the time of the giving of the Torah.


The Rambam in hilchos kiddush hachodesh 5:5 says that although today we don't have the doubt that existed at the time of the court's announcing the new moon necessitating having an extra day of Yom Tov in the Diaspora, nonetheless, we still continue with the custom of having two days, to maintain the customs of our forefathers.

The Chasam Sofer in his responsa O.Ch. #145 asks why we keep two days of Shovuos in the Diaspora. Even during the times when the court decided when the new month would begin, through the system of sighting and testimony of witnesses, there was never a doubt as to which day was Shovuos. The Torah gives us no date for the holiday of Shovuos, only stating that it takes place fifty days after the day of the Omer offering. By the time the month of Sivon came, everyone already knew when the month of Nison had begun, and knew exactly when Shovuos would take place. The Chasam Sofer says that the extra day of Shovuos for the Diaspora was instituted to align it with the other holidays, and not because of any doubt. He concludes that since there is no basis for this extra day because of any doubt, it is stricter than a second day of Pesach, Sukos, or Shmini Atzeres (Simchas Torah). He therefore ruled that on the second day of Shovuos it is not permitted to have a divorce written and sent from an ailing childless husband who was close to death, to his wife, to avoid her requiring "chalitzoh," even though the surviving brother lived far away, and there was a realistic fear of her never being allowed to marry.

The gemara Shabbos 88a and Y'vomos 62a says that although the words of Hashem seemed to indicate that the Torah would be given two days later, Moshe added on a day through his own calculation. Hashem agreed with him as we find that the Holy Spirit descended upon Har Sinai and Hashem spoke to the bnei Yisroel one day later. Why indeed was Hashem so cryptic, and why didn't He clearly say that there should be a THREE DAY preparation period? The Tiferes Shlomo (the holy Admor of Radomsk) answers that Hashem wanted to teach the bnei Yisroel that all matters of the Torah require the interpretation of our Rabbis. This lesson is strikingly poignant when the actual date of the giving of the Torah hinged upon Moshe's understanding, as the literal words of Hashem seemed to indicate otherwise.


1. The Ram"o in O.Ch. 494:3 says that by eating dairy and then meat, we must have another bread to accompany the meat meal. This is in commemoration of the two breads of the new crop of wheat, which were brought to the Sanctuary on Shovuos.

2. The Mishnoh Bruroh O.Ch. 494:12 says that since the bnei Yisroel were restricted from eating non-kosher foods at Har Sinai on Shovuos, they could not heat food in their cooking vessels, as the flavour of the non-kosher items would be absorbed into that which was prepared. They had no choice but to eat cold dairy products.

3. The Kol Bo says that the Torah is compared to milk and honey in Shir Hashirim 4:11, "Dvash v'CHOLOV tachas l'shoneich."

4. The Mogein Avrohom O.Ch. 494:6 quotes a Zohar (parshas Emor page 27b) who says that the seven week preparation period from the beginning of the Omer until Shovuos is like the seven day period in which a woman prepares herself for purification from her "niddoh" status. The gemara B'choros 6b says that the menstrual blood which remains deteriorates and turns to milk.

Shovuos is the state of returning to purity from the detrimental effects of Egypt. We likewise symbolically consume dairy products to show we have reached a stage of purity.

5. The Nachal K'dumim and Matteh Moshe say that regarding Shovuos the Torah says, "Chadoshoh LaShem B'shovuoseichem" (Bmidbar 28:26), whose first letters spell CHOLOV.

6. The N'zirus Shimshon says that CHOLOV has the numerical value of 40, and the Torah was given over in its entirety to Moshe during a period of 40 days and nights.

7. The N'zirus Shimshon says that after three days of abstaining from marital relations, the bnei Yisroel were permitted to return to their wives on Shovuos. Dairy products are helpful in increasing a man's ability to reproduce (gemara Yoma 18a).

8. The Ziv Haminhogim says that immediately after mentioning Shovuos as the holiday on which one brings the first-ripened offerings to the Beis Hamikdosh, it mentions the law of not cooking meat with milk, "Reishis bikurei admos'cho tovi beis Hashem Elokecho, lo s'va'sheil g'di bacha'leiv imo" (Shmos 23:19).

9. The Ziv Haminhogim says that milk can only be stored in simple earthenware vessels. If stored in silver or golden vessels, it spoils very quickly. Likewise, the Torah resides with one who is not haughty, but rather, is modest (Yalkut Shimoni on Megilas Rus remez #597). See a strikingly similar point in gemara N'dorim 50b.

10. The Sefer Matamim says that we know that Moshe was placed among the bull rushes when he was three months old. He was found by Bisyoh the daughter of Paroh who attempted to have him nurse from an Egyptian wet-nurse.

Moshe refused, as since his holy mouth would eventually communicate directly with Hashem, he would only nurse from a bas Yisroel. This occurred on the 6th of Sivan, three months after his birth. We likewise consume kosher dairy products on that date.

11. The Sefer Matamim says that upon accepting the Torah, the bnei Yisroel had a status of a newborn person. Newborn babies feed exclusively on milk.

12. Rabbi Pinchos of Koritz says that milk is symbolic of humbleness. On the day of the receiving of the Torah we eat humble food to indicate that we receive the Torah while acting humbly. (It was common to sit on the ground while hearing a Torah lecture during the era of the Mishneh and gemara.)

13. Until Matan Torah milk from a live animal was prohibited. A ben Noach has seven mitzvos including "eiver min hachai." Milk from a "chai" was likewise prohibited. Only after the Torah was given were we taught through certain verses that milk is permitted (see gemara B'choros 6b). I was bothered for many years by the verse in Breishis 18:8 which says that Avrohom served butter and milk to his guests. We see from here that a ben Noach was permitted to consume dairy products even before the Torah was given. A possible answer is that he served them dairy products that were taken from a dead animal.

14. The Bnei Yisos'chor says that milk embodies the characteristic of "chesed" (possibly because although taken from an animal, it does not require slaughtering of the animal), and the Torah is called "chesed" in Mishlei 31:26, "v'soras chesed al l'shonoh." He adds that in T'hilim 92:3 it says "L'hagid Baboker Chasdechoh." The first letters of these three words spell CHOLOV.

15. Rabbi Shimshon of Ostropolia brings a Medrash Shochar Tov on T'hilim 8:3 on the words "Mipi ol'lim v'yonkim yosadto oze" which says that the angels requested that Hashem not give the Torah to mere mortals, but rather leave it in the heavenly realms for the angels. Hashem responded that the angels had already transgressed the Torah when they came to Avrohom and ate a combination of meat and milk (Breishis 18:8). To show that we deserve the Torah, we eat both dairy products and meat products, and are careful not to mix the two. This is mentioned in the Bo'eir Heiteiv O.Ch. 494 s.k. 7.

16. Rabbi Shimshon of Ostropolia gives another reason. In T'hilim 68:16 and 17 Har Sinai is called "har GAVNUNIM." Literally this means a mountain which protrudes as by a hunch-back, as we find in Vayikroh 21:20, "O gi'bein." However, "har GAVNUNIM" can also be translated "mountain of CHEESE," as in the word G'VINOH. Just as cheese was a liquid that curdled and solidified, so too Har Sinai petrified upon having the Holy Torah given upon it. Possibly this theme can be expanded. The gemara Avodoh Zoroh 3a on the words in Breishis 1:31 "Yom HAshishi" explains why there is a definitive Hei as a prefix to the word shishi. It refers to the sixth of Sivon, the date on which the bnei Yisroel would accept the Torah 2448 years later. The whole creation of the world was in jeopardy, as Hashem would turn it back into nothingness if the bnei Yisroel would not accept the Torah. The world's existence hinged upon the acceptance of the Torah. We find that the "m'leches Shabbos" of "boneh," building, is only a Torah transgression when the item which was built has permanence. The Rambam in hilchos Shabbos 10:13 says that if one curdles milk on Shabbos, turning it into cheese, he has desecrated the Shabbos with an act which is under the heading of "boneh."

How appropriate to call Har Sinai "har GAVNUNIM," mountain of cheese. The existence of the world was in jeopardy until the bnei Yisroel accepted the Torah, and only then was the world afforded permanency. This juncture in history was the true "binyan" of the world. This is symbolized by the making of cheese, the hardening of a shapeless flowing object into an object of solidity and permanence.

17. The Otzar Haminhogim says that the 365 negative precepts correspond to the days of the solar year. The 66th mitzvoh is to not eat meat and milk that were cooked together. Counting Rosh Chodesh Nison as the first day of the first month (Shmos 12:2), the 66th day is Shovuos. Therefore we eat both dairy and meat products, but are careful not to mix them.

18. Possibly another reason might be that the Torah says, "V'chol Chacham Leiv Bochem yovo'u v'yaasu eis kol asher tzivo Hashem" (Shmos 35:10). This might allude to the keeping of all of the Torah, "eis kol asher tzivoh Hashem." The first letters of the words "Chacham Leiv Bochem" spell CHOLOV.

19. The Medrash Shochar Tov on T'hilim 68:16 says that at the time of the giving of the Torah the Temple Mount moved from its location in Yerusholayim and came to Har Sinai to be present at the giving of the Torah. This alludes to the need of the Beis Hamikdosh, besides the acceptance of the Torah, whose creation was needed to bring the full presence of the "sh'chinoh" into klal Yisroel. "V'osu li mikdosh v'shochanti b'sochom" (Shmos 25:8). King Shlomo actualized the building of the Beis Hamikdosh. Regarding this the verse says, "Choshak Livnos B'Yerusholayim" (M'lochim 1:9:19 and Divrei Hayomim 2:8:6). The first letters of these three words spell CHOLOV.

The Medrash Rabboh Yisro 29:1 on the words in T'hilim 29:4, "Kol Hashem bakoach," says that this refers to the voice of Hashem emanating from Har Sinai at the time of the giving of the Torah. The M.R. says that had the verse said "kolos," voices, rather than the singular form, this would indicate that all the statements heard were on an equal plane. However, since the singular form "kol" is used, it indicates that each person heard a voice which was uniquely befitting for him, expressed by the M.R. as "L'fi kocho shel kol echod v'echod." There is a clear message for us from this M.R. Obviously each person heard that which he was able to grasp and comprehend. This depended totally upon the preparation done by each individual during the days from the exodus until the giving of the Torah. Likewise, we must prepare for our own annual receiving of the Torah on Shavuos by making ourselves a vessel befitting to receive and store the Torah. The Haksav V'hakabolloh at the end of parshas Mishpotim on the words "aish ocheles" (Shmos 24:17) derives the same theme.

The Talmud Yerushalmi Rosh Hashonoh 4:8 says, "Rabbi M'sharshioh says in the name of Rabbi Idi, 'Why is the word CHATOS not mentioned by the sacrifices of Shovuos, although it is mentioned by the sacrifices of every other holiday?

This teaches us that Hashem says that one who fully accepts upon himself the yoke of Torah is considered as if he had never sinned in his lifetime."

There is a difficulty with this statement, as there is the mention of CHATOS by the sacrifices of Shavuos in parshas Emor 23:19, "Va'asi'sem s'ir izim echod L'CHATOS."

Rabbeinu Chaim Paltiel answers this by saying that although the word CHATOS is found in parshas Emor, the word L'CHAPPER is not found with it. Other holidays have both words mentioned.

I have difficulty understanding this because the gemara only says that the word CHATOS is not stated, and Rabbeinu Ch. P. says that the combination of CHATOS and L'CHAPPER is the intention of the gemara. Also, we find CHATOS without L'CHAPPER by both Sukos and Shmini Atzeres in parshas Pinchos. An explanation would be very appreciated.

A possible answer to the word CHATOS appearing in parshas Emor might be that the statement of the gemara is limited to the "mussofim" of the holidays which come specifically as holiday additions, and not other sacrifices which come for other purposes. The CHATOS mentioned in parshas Emor is an accompaniment to the two breads that are brought as a Chodosh offering to permit bringing grain from the new crop as a Korban Minchoh. This is not to be included in the statement of the gemara.

The Meshech Chochmoh in parshas Pinchos says that there is a special reason that the word CHATOS is appropriate in relation to the accompaniment to the "shtei ha'lechem." We have the unusual expression of "l'chatos laShem" by the mussof sacrifice of Rosh Chodesh. The gemara Chulin 60b says that there is an allusion to an atonement for Hashem through the Rosh Chodesh offering because when the moon renews itself, it is a reminder that Hashem diminished the size of the moon. It was once equal in size to the sun. The Meshech Chochmoh explains that the atonement is not for the diminishing. That was justified, as explained in the above-mentioned gemara. It is needed because had the sun and moon remained equal in size, then those who might have had a propensity to take on the sun as a deity would have been discouraged by seeing that the sun had an equal, the moon. Now that the sun is larger, there is more latitude for making this mistake and Hashem is partly responsible, thus necessitating an atonement, kavyochol.

Similarly at the time of bringing of the new crop of wheat which is the main staple of life for humans, there is also a fear of people over-attributing powers to the sun which brought about the growth and maturing of wheat and all other vegetables and fruits. Therefore it is again in place to mention the word CHATOS. However, we see from this insight of the Meshech Chochmoh that it is only in relation to the "shtei ha'lechem" and not to the holiday.


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