Parshas Tazria 5757 - 1997
Outline # 31
Chodshei Hashanah Following the Weekly Parsha
This issue is dedicated to our dear friends of the Community of Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic -- who have raised the banner of our ancient heritage. Your invigorated interest has surely aroused Interest Above! May you continue to grow from strength to strength!
The Noam Elimelech discusses an unusual affinity: The marriage of the good and evil inclinations.
"You shall love G-d with all your heart" -- the Talmud explains, "with both parts of the heart, the good inclination and the bad inclination." Some interpret that the 'service' with the bad inclination is simply to ignore it. The Noam Elimelech, however, suggests that the bad inclination can also be taught to serve G-d. A person would truly unify his own nature, if he could overcome the inner struggle, and convince the bad inclination that it, too, can be satisfied by the service. The tzadikim (righteous leaders) are those who have reached this inner unity, have blended and molded the various aspects of their nature, and inclined them entirely toward the service of the Creator.
Most people serve G-d with their good inclination only. The tzadikim put all of their energies into the holy service, thus releasing the nuclear power of the soul.
However, there is danger here. Perhaps the 'heat' of the dark side will overtake the tzadik? This is a symbolic meaning of the verse: "When a man has a growth in his skin, and the skin becomes healed..." The growth in the skin is a blemish -- the service is being performed for an ulterior motive -- but the skin becomes healed. The tzadik surely will recognize his blunder, and make up for it.
Although no chametz is eaten at Pesach, following the festival, it becomes permitted. At Shavuos -- fifty days later -- a special Todah offering is brought. Every thanksgiving offering during the year involves chametz, but the Shavuos offering involves two special loaves of bread. The same chametz that had been forbidden during Pesach, now becomes the essential ingredient of the Shlamim -- offering of completeness. "I have created the evil inclination; I have created the Torah as its remedy (lit. 'spice')." [Kiddushin 30b] Through Torah, even the dark side can be sublimated. Since Shavuos commemorates the Giving of the Torah, it is fit at that time to give special thanks, even for the chametz.
At the beginning of the service, we discipline ourselves. But the disciplined person may be only half a person. The complete individual is one who has so dedicated himself that he is fully alive, fully at one with love of life, love of fellow man, love of Hashem.
The holiday of Shavuos is fifty days after Pesach. Unique among the Jewish holidays, it is not based on a date of the calendar at all. In ancient times, Shavuos could occur on the fifth, sixth or seventh of the month of Sivan, depending on the lengths of the intervening months.
Within fifty days, the entire diaspora would certainly have heard when Rosh Chodesh Nissan occurred. It now becomes very problematic to explain why there are two days of Shavuos in the diaspora, since there would not have been any doubt regarding the calendar. The Chasom Sofer (Orach Chayim 145) concludes that the two days of Shavuos were never due to doubt, but a definite decree.
Shavuos, by tradition, commemorates the receiving of the Torah. This is also difficult; see Rivash (t. 96), Asarah Ma'amoros (Choker Din, part 2, ch. 15) and Magen Avraham (s. 494). The Torah was given on the fifty-first day, not the fiftieth! This should have been the day after Shavuos.
Mysteriously, Asarah Ma'amoros and Magen Avraham explain that "Shavuos: the time of the giving of the Torah" refers to the second day of Yom Tov. This is strange, because we normally understand the second day of Yom Tov to be due to doubt...
The Munkatcher Rav, in Sha'ar Yisachar (vol. 1, 135), connected the pieces together. The second day of Shavuos, according to Chasom Sofer, was never due to doubt, but a definite decree. It corresponds to the giving of the Torah at Mt. Sinai...
Incidentally, Rav Sa'adya Ga'on held that two days of Yom Tov were a Halacha L'Moshe M'Sinai --Oral Law Given to Moshe. Rav Hai Ga'on disagreed, but held that the two days were decreed by the early prophets -- and that the original decree still stands! (Teshuvos Hage'onim). (Rivash, ibid. mentioned that Yom Tov had not yet begun at Mount Sinai).
Haaros -- insights presented in a novel manner -- are meant to stimulate or provoke, but are by no means conclusive. Readers are encouraged to look up original sources. Since there are many factors that might be taken into consideration, actual questions regarding Jewish Practice should be addressed to the appropriate authorities.
Rabbi Yaakov Bernstein
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Spring Valley, NY 10977
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Text Copyright © 1997 Rabbi Yaakov Bernstein and Project Genesis, Inc.
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Last Revision: January 27, 1997