(א) הלכות ראש חודש
ושמעתי מאחי הר"י טעם לדבר לפי שהמועדי' נתקנו כנגד אבות פסח כנגד אברהם דכתיב (בראשית יח) לושי ועשי עוגות ופסח היה שבועות כנגד יצחק שתקיעת שופר של מתן תורה היה בשופר מאילו של יצחק: סוכות כנגד יעקב דכתיב (בראשית לד) ולמקנהו עשה סוכות וי"ב ראשי חדשי השנה שגם הם נקראים מועדים כנגד י"ב שבטים וכשחטאו בעגל נטלו מהם ונתנו לנשותיהם לזכר שלא היו באותו חטא:
I heard from my brother that the holidays were established to correspond to the forefathers--Abraham, baked cakes (Gen. 18), hence Pesach, Isaac, is associated with the ram's horn of the Akeida, which sounded at matan torah, hence Shavuout, Jacob, made booths for his flock (Gen. 34) hence, Sukkot and the twelve days of Rosh Chodesh corresponded to the twelve tribes...but when the twelve tribes sinned at the Eigal it was taken from the men of the tribes and given to the women, because they did not participate.
The Tur cites reasons why each holiday corresponds to one of the Avos, but, only Yitzchak's holiday, Shavuos, lacks a possuk. Why does the Tur bring a possuk for the other two but not for Yitzchak?
Furthermore, both the Shulchan Aruch and Mishneh Torah lack a formal section denoting Hilchos Shavuos. Does Shavuos play second (or even third) fiddle to Pesach and Sukkos or is it much more than we realize
ושמרת את החוקה הזאת למועדה מימים ימימה (שמות יג, י). דהנה ברגלים, פסח, שבועות, סוכות, נחקק הארה לכל השנה בעולם, שנה, נפש, דפסח הוא בזמן, כי אין בין חמץ למצה אלא משהו, דהיינו שיעור מיל. ושבועות הוא בנפש קבלת התורה. וסוכות הוא בעולם שהם משפיעין לכל השנה.
Exodus 13,10. “You are to observe this statute at its appointed time, year after year.” On the three pilgrimage festivals, Passover, Shavuot, and Sukkot this illumination is firmly engraved for the remainder of the year. The essence of Passover is in the minute difference between חמץ and מצה consisting of the time it takes to walk one mile (18 minutes) during which an unleavened dough if unattended will be turned into a leavened dough. The essence of Shavuot consists of it being the anniversary of the Jewish people’s finest moment, the moment when they enthusiastically accepted the gift of the Torah. The essence of Sukkot consists of it being the source of all the blessings that ensure our economic existence and well being during the year then unfolding.
Pesach is our transition to becoming ready for marriage, Sefiras Ha'omer is the dating period, Shavuos is the wedding and Sukkos is the rest of our lives together with Hashem.
We relive one of our finest moments by celebrating our wedding anniversary with Hashem
וכן הוא אומר (שיר השירים ג, יא) צאינה וראינה בנות ציון במלך שלמה בעטרה שעטרה לו אמו ביום חתונתו וביום שמחת לבו ביום חתונתו זה מתן תורה וביום שמחת לבו זה בנין בית המקדש שיבנה במהרה בימינו:
Shlomo Hamelech's mother, the Bnei Yisrael, crowned him king by accepting the Torah as their own. Without the Jews accepting the Torah, the world would be without purpose. Without our acceptance, the essence of the world would be made void. Shavuos can thus be seen as the one event that holds the world together. It also fully evolves the Jews from slave nation into religious champions, thus thrusting them into their new role, and, more importantly, Jews must now figure out how to exercise their new role as an Or La'Goyim- a light unto the nations.
Akeidat Yitzchak, written by the Spanish rabbi Isaac ben Moses Arama (c. 1420 – 1494) , is a collection of philosophical sermons on the Torah. The book is composed of 105 “gates” with each gate containing a sermon. Each sermon discusses a philosophical idea that comes from the chosen texts and a commentary that tries to solve the problems in the text. Akeidat Yitzchak was first published in 1522 in Salonik
At Sinai we were given three imperatives. anochi, I am the Lord; lo yihyeh, have no other deities; zachor et yom hashabbat lekadsho, remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy. It is these three commandments that remind us that there is a hashgachah peratit, personal Divine Providence that guides our lives here on earth. Ever since Eve had sinned, true freedom has been denied man since the yetzer hara, evil temptation has gained entry into man through her to all subsequent generations, leaving us with less than a fifty-fifty chance to totally defeat the temptation to do evil. But now, after Sinai, that chance had been restored. This is the meaning of Rabbi Eleazar who said that from now on we are the architects of our own evil if we choose the wrong path. Between the time of Eve and Sinai, men were fatalists to whom doing good made no sense, since they were convinced that history was decreed and the future unalterable. As long as the belief existed that all had been pre-ordained, all good and evil emanated from Heaven. Only when the Jewish people were disabused of the idea that all had been pre-ordained, did good and evil, reward and punishment truly become man's choice.
We have now come full circle in analyzing Shavuos- at first it seemed as though it was just a chag by asssociation, something that is just kinda lumped in with Pesach and Sukkos as the forgotten Regel. However, in our later sources, we have tended to see Shavuos as this amazing wedding day that vaults Bnei Yisrael into a nation of power, choice and strength.
So, which is it?
I believe the answer lies in a fundamental point in studying Torah: when one learns Torah, he must not just study the teaching, but also the teacher.
The sources that lump in Shavuos with other holidays are primarily halachic codification. The Arba Turim, composed of Rabbi Yaakov ben Asher (the Rosh), the Rambam and Rav Yosef Cairo sought to codify and simplify Jewish law down to the exact minutia. For their writing purpose, it would make no sense to devote an entire section of laws to a day, albeit a holiday, that serves as the one time wedding. Sure, it’s nice to recall it, but for how long can one actually recall a wedding that happened thousands of years ago?
However, when looking at the sources that laud Shavuos as this holiday full of mirth and pride, the works themselves tend to be more “flowery.” These texts focus on the spiritual side of Judaism and fleshing out topics into their essence to gain the true understanding of the day.
Additionally, I would like to pose something that as a 19 year old I have no idea about: do you consider your wedding day to be the highlight of your marriage?
I honestly hope you answered no.
When we enter into relationships with other, we don’t enter because we are guaranteed a certain result, we enter them because we see the promise of building a better future with this person, and echoing the Akeidas Yitzchak “becoming the architects of our own future.” If the day we enter a relationship is so much better than the day we are currently living in that relationship, that relationship needs work.
Shavuos serves as a reminder of the beginning of our eternal relationship with Hashem. We entered this relationship with such gusto we couldn’t sleep the night before - just like tonight. But looking back on this wedding anniversary for thousands of years, we can’t see it as just a great celebration - we need to use the wedding to remind us of the true passion we have for Judaism, for Hashem, for Torah, for our friends, for our shuls, for our amazing land of Israel. And that is why the Halachic works, who seek to bring meaning into our daily lives, use Shavuos as the staple that reminds us of our once level of excitement, and how to bring that into our daily lives.