Thursday, June 9, 2016

Bamidbar, Shavuoth, the Connection

The parsha of Bamidbar is always read before Shavuoth. This year we read it, the day before Shavuoth, the Fifth of Sivan, which we call Erev Shavuoth.

What is the connection between Bamidbar, Shavuoth and especially Erev Shavuoth, the Fifth of Sivan?

The Talmud tells us, "On the second of Sivan, Moshe, ascended the mountain... On the third he ascended... On the fourth he ascended... On the fifth of Sivan he built an altar and offered a sacrifice."

It is obvious, that Hashem gave the command to build the altar and bring a sacrifice. But why did Moshe have to do it himself, moving stones and constructing it, couldn't it have been done by others? Wasn't it the day before receiving the Torah? Wouldn't his time be better spent, ascending the mountain, reaching new spiritual heights?

We must conclude that only Moshe could have done it, and that it was more important than ascending the mountain.

The day before every Shabbos and Yom Tov is called Erev Shabbos or Erev Yom Tov. It is the time we prepare for Shabbos and/or Yom Tov. But even more than that, it is a time that a ray of holiness of the upcoming holy day is already shining, and is therefore part of the upcoming holy day, which in our case is Shavuoth.

The essence of Shavuoth, is that Hashem himself descended onto Mount Sinai, which before was unheard-of. Yes there were times when Hashem appeared to our forefathers, but those were visions of a lower caliber, not essence, just a mere vision. Hashem himself descending on the physical mountain is what the Torah is all about, and it is at the core of our mission as Jews. To take this physical, mundane world and infusing it with Godliness, uplifting the mundane to make it holy. We do this through performing mitzvahs with physical objects, and by using our day to day activities to aid us in our service to Hashem, thereby, turning our most physical, mundane and rudimentary actions into holy endeavors.

This is also the reason, why Hashem didn't bring us up into the spiritual realms to receive the Torah, rather He chose to do in the physical world on a mountain. To demonstrate, that it is our interaction with the physical that is most important.

Erev Shavuoth, the Fifth of Sivan, is already part of Shavuoth. The command to build the altar and bring a sacrifice is therefore part of the giving of the Torah. Every part of the giving of the Torah, was done with and through Moshe. He had the special soul, that could actualize the process of receiving and implementing the Torah, Hashem's will. Each of us has a part of Moshe in our souls, that gives us a boost of strength, to do our mission, to uplift the physical world, making the world into a place where Hashem's presence could dwell openly.

Building the altar was a clear demonstration, taking stones, which is physical and mundane, and making it into a holy altar. Offering  a sacrifice, an animal, also physical and mundane, on the altar, completed the altar, because now it was actually used for its holy purpose.

Bamidbar means, "in the desert." The Torah was given to us in a desert, where nothing grows and people don't live. Why? Because it is symbolic of the lowest level of the physical and mundane. To show us, that we can and should infuse even the lowest, and most mundane, with holiness.

With this understanding, all of us said, "we will do and we will listen."  By saying "we will do" first, we confirmed that we understood that our purpose was to "do," meaning, to interact with the physical and raise it up.

Shavuoth, Erev Shavuoth, building the altar and Bamidbar are then all conveying the same message. That we can change the world, and make it a dwelling place for Hashem's presence, which we will witness at the conclusion of our mission, with the coming of Moshiach. May he come soon!


  1. Thank you for a well written and clear dvar torah that has inspired me to go into this world and make it a dwelling for Him.

  2. Thank you for emphasizing a very important job we all have in this world. If I could work on being more aware of elevating some of my mundane actions, it can change the focus of the activity and make it much more meaningful.

  3. Thank you for your beautiful and inspiring message. Keep on shining the light of chizuk and encouragement to others and may you and your family be blessed! You are making a vital and important positive contribution in the world!!

  4. Lovely, really. Thank you for the words of inspiration - all the best!!

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  6. Chelek 28 page 15 erev Chag hashvuois