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Tuesday, May 14

The Weekly Shtikle - Shavuos

In the gemara (Pesachim 68) there is a discussion as to how one is to conduct himself on yom tov. One opinion is to either devote the whole day to HaShem (in prayer and learning etc.) or the whole day to one's self (eating etc.)  The other is that yom tov is to be split in half, half to HaShem and half to one's self. However, on Shavuos, everyone agrees that we require devotion to one's self. Why? Because it is the day that the Torah was given to Bnei Yisroel. The Beis HaLevi asks a relatively obvious question. Would it not be more fitting to dedicate the day that we received the Torah entirely to spirituality and service of HaShem? Why is this a reason to eat?

He answers that we are taught that when HaShem was going to give us the Torah, the angels argued over whether man was more deserved than the angels to receive the Torah. Moshe argued that since the angels don't have a physical body, they can not fulfill physical mitzvos that require a body. With this argument Moshe defeated the angels. Therefore, it is appropriate that we celebrate by showing how we differ from the angels and why we deserved the Torah in the first place. This cannot be done by prayer, learning and service of HaShem for even angels could do that. Rather, we must celebrate by eating which angels cannot do.

Also, we see from a different source that one of HaShem's claims against the angels' argument  was that they ate milk and meat at the house of Avraham which even the smallest Jewish child knows is wrong. Therefore, there is a custom to eat milk and then meat on Shavuos to engross ourselves in the relevant halachos of cleaning out the mouth between milk and meat and other mitzvos involving the body to once again show why we deserved to receive the Torah. 

R' Chaim Kanievsky has an interesting observation on the above gemara. Surely, everyone is compelled to agree that we must devote time to ourselves on Shavuos. If it were otherwise, that we don't require any devotion to ourselves but rather all to HaShem in the form of learning, how would it have been possible for B'nei Yisrael to have fulfilled this the year they received the Torah? The Torah wasn't given until the day so until then they must have been engrossed in devotion of the self for devotion to HaShem wasn't fully possible yet.

Have a Chag Samei'ach!

Eliezer Bulka
WeeklyShtikle@weeklyshtikle.com

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