Parshas Tazria 5757 - 1997
Outline # 31
Chodshei Hashanah Following the Weekly Parsha
by Rabbi Yaakov Bernstein
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.
Chametz in the Sacrifices
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.
Chodshei Hashanah (Part Nineteen)
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
1 Babbin Court
Text Copyright © 1997
Rabbi Yaakov Bernstein
and Project Genesis, Inc.