THE TANACH STUDY CENTER/ In Memory of Rabbi Abraham Leibtag
Shiurim on Chumash & Navi by Menachem Leibtag
SHAVUOT AND MATAN TORAH / QUESTIONS FOR PREPARATION
Even though we all know that the holiday of Shavuot
commemorates the events of Matan Torah, for some reason, in the
Torah's presentation of Shavuot we find no mention of that event!
The following questions deal with this topic and will help you
prepare for this week's shiur. You can also use them for self
study on Shavuot.
THE BIBLICAL SOURCES
1. Read carefully the following sources, which includes every
instance when Shavuot is mentioned in the Torah:
A. Shmot 23:14-17 / 34:22-24;
B. Vayikra 23:15-21;
C. Bamidbar 28:26;
D. Devarim 16:9-12.
In each of the above sources, what is the:
* NAME for this holiday;
* DATE (or time of year) of Shavuot;
* REASON for celebrating Shavuot;
* MITZVAH which we are commanded to observe.
[Is this mitzvah UNIQUE to Shavuot? If so, explain why.]
[Can you explain why the Torah never specifies the
exact (lunar) date on which we must celebrate
[On an 'agricultural note'. In the land of Israel, the
wheat usually becomes ripe around the month of May and its
harvest usually lasts about 5 weeks.]
2. In any of these above sources, does the Torah mention any
connection between Shavuot and Matan Torah?
If not, can you explain why?
Does the agricultural reason for celebrating Shavuot provide
sufficient reason for celebrating this holiday fifty days after
Pesach? What is the agricultural reason for celebrating Shavuot?
Can your explain why this requires a holiday of thanksgiving?
WHEN DID MATAN TORAH TAKE PLACE?
3. Does Chumash ever mention the precise day on which Matan Torah
took place? [Review Shmot chapter 19 as you answer this
question.] If not, is there enough information provided to make
a rough estimate? [Be sure to relate to Shmot 19:1-2, see Rashi.]
What can be inferred from Shmot 24:15-16 in regard to the
time which elapses at Ma'amad Har Sinai?
[See the various commentaries concerning when in Sivan
those 'seven' days transpired.]
4. Given that Yom Kippur [= 10 Tishrei] marks the date on which
Moshe came down from Har Sinai with the second Luchot, and based
on the description of the events of chet ha'egel in Sefer Devarim
9:9->10:11 (note the mention of forty days in 9:9,18,25 & 10:10),
work 'backwards' in order to determine a more precise date for
when Matan Torah took place!
BIBLICAL DATING & COMMEMORATION
5. Does the Torah tell us the precise date of when Bnei Yisrael
left Egypt? Is that date commemorated?
How many specific mitzvot are there in the Torah which
commemorate Yetziat Mitzrayim?
In contrast, how many specific mitzvot commemorate Matan
In this regard, is the Torah's relationship to the event of
Matan Torah different that Yetziat Mitzrayim? If so, how?
Can you suggest a reason why it may be different?
[See Rashi Shmot 19:1! Relate this to the Midrash of"ben
Zomah" in the Haggadah of Pesach concerning our daily
obligation to 'remember' the events of Yetziat Mitzraim.]
6. In the Torah's presentation of the other two "shalosh r'galim"
(i.e. chag ha'matzot and chag ha'succot), we do find mention of
a certain historical aspect (see Shmot 13:3-7, Vayikra 23:43) in
addition to their agricultural perspective. In what manner is
Shavuot different? [Is its historical aspect ever mentioned?]
Can you suggest a reason why?
7. Carefully review Vayikra 23:10-19. Note the connection between
the korban haOMER and the korban SHTEI ha'LECHEM.
Note the special korban that comes with the "shtei
ha'lechem" (see 23:17-19), especially the centrality of the
korban shlamim which is 'waved' ["tenufah"] with the SHTEI
Is there any other holiday (or any other time during
the year) when the "tzibur" offers a korban SHLAMIM?
[Don't spend too much time looking, the answer is NO!]
Do you think that this point should be significant?!
8. Note as well in those psukim (see 23:17) that the SHTEI
ha'LECHEM are to be baked "chametz", as opposed to every other
type of flour offering in the Mikdash which must be "matzah".
[See Vayikra 1:11!]
Would you say that this is significant? How?
Does this suggest a thematic connection to chag ha'matzot"?
In general, how do the special agricultural mitzvot of
the "shalosh regalim" relate to the nature of the
historical events which they commemorate?
9. The FIRST time in Chumash where we find that Bnei Yisrael
collectively offer a korban SHLAMIM is at Har Sinai, at the very
same ceremony where they enter a covenant and declare "na'aseh
v'nishmah" (see Shmot 24:4-8)!
Can you relate this event to the special korban SHLAMIM
which is offered on Shavuot with the SHTEI ha'LECHEM?
Note that there is another instance when Bnei Yisrael
offered a SHLAMIM - at the dedication ceremony of the Mishkan
["b'yom ha'Shmini" - see Vayikra 9:1-5). Read those psukim, and
note how these korbanot mark the return of the SHCHINA to the
camp of Bnei Yisrael, and thus serve as a "tikun" for chet
Can you relate this special korban to the korbanot described
in Shmot 24:4-6 at "brit na'asseh v'nishma"?
How does the dedication of the Mishkan relate to Matan
Torah? (See previous shiurim on Parshiot Terumah &
10. Note as well that the other special korbanot brought on "Yom
Ha'Shmini" (the seir l'chatat of the Am and "par chatat" of
Aharon etc.) find a parallel in the korban tzibur offered on Yom
Kippur (see Vayikra 16:1-5, compare with 9:1-5). Relate this to
the connection between Matan Torah and Yom Kippur (the day Moshe
descended Har Sinai with the second luchot!).
Use this parallel to explain how the two aspects of the "yom
ha'shmini" ("korban chatat" - as atonement for chet ha'egel, and
"korban shlamim" for re-creating Ma'amad Har Sinai), relate to
our annual celebration of both Yom Kippur and Shavuot!
11. Read Devarim 4:9-15, and its context with 4:5-8. See Ramban
on 4:9 and his opinion that this pasuk should be considered a
MITZVAH. See also Ramban in his "hasagot" to the sefer ha'mitzvot
of the Rambam - Lo'Taaseh - hasaga #2!.
Relate the primary points raised by this Ramban to the above
questions on how Bnei Yisrael are to commemorate Matan Torah.
b'hatzlacha, v'limud na'im
for 'EXTRA CREDIT'
1. Recall from our shiurim on Sefer Shmot that had Bnei Yisrael
been worthy for their redemption, the process of Yetziat Mitzraim
theoretically could have been much quicker, and Bnei Yisrael
could have gone directly from Mitzraim to Har Sinai [i.e. the
'three day journey to worship God in the desert'].
Had this been the case, approximately on what date would
have Matan Torah taken place? [Remember that Matan Torah also
required three days of 'preparation' - see Shmot 19:9-11.]
Had that been the case, would Shavuot still have been
celebrated in the land of Israel? If so, on what day?
2. Recall how Parshat Emor (Vayikra perek 23) included the most
detail concerning the special mitzvot of each chag. Let's say the
this parsha DID include the historical aspect of Shavuot (i.e.
to remember Matan Torah). Where in this 'parshia' would you have
expected this historical aspect to be mentioned? [Relate to
23:15-22, especially pasuk 22!]
Does pasuk 22 belong where it is? Is there any similar
pasuk anywhere else in Vayikra perek 23?
Where does pasuk 22 belong (see Vayikra 19:9)?
Now, read Vayikra 19:1-18, noting the use of the phrase
"Ani Hashem", and the parallel between these mitzvot and
the dibrot! Where is this 'shared pasuk' with Parshat Emor
located? Could there be a hidden connection here to Matan
Torah, and its relation to keeping the mitzvot in the Land?