Monday Iyar 26, 5777 / May 22, 2017 (41st day of the Omer)
The holiday of Shavuot is in ten days. The holiday begins, Tuesday night, May 30. Shavuot is celebrated one day in Israel and two days in the Diaspora. Thus, in Israel the holiday is Tuesday night (May 30) & Wednesday (May 31). In the Diaspora it also extends into Thursday (June 1).
Shavuot commemorates one of the most important events in Jewish history; the Giving of the Torah at Mount Sinai. The Torah was given 3329 years ago, in the Hebrew calendar year 2448.
Shavuot in Hebrew means "weeks." Shavuot is the only holiday for which the Torah did not establish a specific day of the month. It is celebrated on the 50th day, after counting the Omer for a period of seven weeks.
Q. The three festive holidays; Pesach, Shavuot and Sukkot are in the spring, summer and fall.Why are there no festive holidays in the winter?
A. In the days of the Holy Temple it was a mitzvah for Jews living in Israel to make a pilgrimage to Jerusalem for the festive holidays and celebrate there. Our sages explain that G-d didn't want to make it difficult for the people to have to go to Jerusalem during the winter, so He didn't assign any holidays during the cold and rainy winter months.
Q. On Shavuot G-d gave us the Torah. What is the meaning of the word, "Torah"?
A. "Torah" means to "teach" and to "guide". The Torah teaches and guides us how to conduct our lives in accordance with G-d's will. Torah is the purpose of creation.
Q. The Ten Commandments are first recorded in the Torah in the Book of Exodus (chapter 20). They total 620 letters. What is the significance of this number to the Torah?
A. In the Torah there are 613 commandments (mitzvot). In addition to these mitzvot, the sages have added another seven mitzvot, which together make 620. The 620 letters in the Ten Commandments alludes to the fact that all the mitzvot are rooted and enshrined in the Ten Commandments.
Fifty years ago, on this day, Monday morning, the 26th of the Hebrew month Iyar, is when the Six Day War broke out. I was a student in Israel at that time and personally witnessed the great miracles. Two days later, on that ever memorable Wednesday, the 28th of Iyar, the old city of Jerusalem, the Kotel and many other holy places were finally freed and returned to their rightful owners - the Jewish people. I can still hear the sound of the Shofar at the Kotel and the paratroopers exclaiming, “Har Habayit Beyadeinu” – “The Temple Mount is in our hands!” May it be in our hands forever! Amen.
HAVE A VERY GOOD, HAPPY, HEALTHY AND SUCCESSFUL DAY
Friday Iyar 23, 5777 / May 19, 2017 (38th day of the Omer)
Shabbat we will read the last two Parshiot of the book of Leviticus, B’har & Bechukotei.
This Shabbat we recite the special blessing for the new month, Sivan. Rosh Chodesh will be Thursday night and Friday. In the Pirkei Avot, we study the fifth chapter.
At the end of Parshat Bechukotei, the Torah commands that ten percent of one’s herd of cattle and sheep should be holy unto G-d. It was given every year to the kohen-priest.
The Torah says that the procedure for giving tithes from one’s herd of cattle was as follows. The cattle had to go through in a single line and every tenth animal was marked with a die. Then all the ones marked with the die were rounded up and given to the Kohen.
Q.Why does the Torah require that it be done exactly this way. One could simply count all the animals and then give away one tenth?
A.A Chassidic Rebbe once visited one of his disciples, a very wealthy man, but a miser who never gave any charity. The Chassid was very happy to welcome his Rebbe into his mansion. He gave the Rebbe a tour of his home, which was decorated with the most expensive furniture etc.
At every beautiful piece of furniture and painting the Rebbe stopped and asked the Chassid, “Is this really yours?” “Yes it is,” answered the Chassid. This went on for a long time. Finally, the Chassid asked his Rebbe, “Why do you keep on asking me the same question, “Is all this really yours?”
The Rebbe was waiting for the question. “You see in the Parsha the Torah says that the way to give tithes from the animals is to have them go through a single line and count them; one, two three.. etc and every tenth was marked to be given away to charity. Why didn’t the Torah say, Give ten percent?
The answer is simple. Imagine if he has 1000 sheep and he has to give away 100 of them, it may be difficult for him. But this way, the owner counts: Onebelongs to me; twobelong to me; threebelong to me; fourbelong to me; fivebelong to me; sixbelong to me; sevenbelong to me; eightbelong to me; ninebelong to me. Now, psychologically it’s not so difficult to give the tenth one away.
“The same is with you,” explained the Rebbe. “I kept on asking you if all of this belongs to you.. I wanted you to realize how much G-d blessed you with.. How much YOUhave.. So, it’s only right that you should also help your brethren in need..” The Rebbe’s sincere words had their effect and the Chassid became a very generous man.
Now we understand why the Torah wanted the owner to give his animal tithes in this manner. This way he will appreciate his great blessings and will give his tithes happily.
Montrealcandle lighting time: 8:05 / Shabbat ends: 9:19