SHAVUOS - חג שבועות

"And behold, Boaz came from Bethlehem, and said to the reapers, 'may the L-RD be with you'. And they answered him, 'may you be blessed of the L-RD' - וְהִנֵּה-בֹעַז, בָּא מִבֵּית לֶחֶם, וַיֹּאמֶר לַקּוֹצְרִים, ה' עִמָּכֶם; וַיֹּאמְרוּ לוֹ, יְבָרֶכְךָ ה" (Ruth 2:4)

(Note: The Hebrew word "עז - Az" means "brazenness", so Bo-Az בועז means "brazenness is in him").

Boaz is called the Tzaddik because he brazenly strengthened himself against the Yetzer Hara. Thus, the verse says that the Tzaddik is coming from Beth-Lehem - the "house of bread", which indicates the highest world (as the Sages teach - "the bread of Torah") - he comes from the highest world and sees that all that he has done in this world has not yet contributed even a hair's breadth toward serving G-d. "And he said to the reapers" - the reapers - or cutters - are the Torah Scholars, because they cut down their involvement in the vanities of this world (like the Sages taught in the Talmud [Nedarim 49] that 'cut down' refers to the Torah Scholars, because they are physically weakened from their toiling in Study). "May the L-RD be with you" to say that this power does not come from yourself, but from Hashem who helps you to reach this level, (as the Sages taught "If G-d did not help him, he would not have been able to") but you on your own have not yet reached this level. "And they said to him 'may you be blessed by the L-RD'" because you have illuminated our eyes and opened within us the flames of arousal to serve G-d, and have let us know that we are still standing on the outside, and we have not yet accomplished anything in this world. This should be sufficient for the understanding. All of this I heard in my youth.

(Sefer Niflaos HaYehudi p. 63)

"These are the words that you should say to the Children of Israel - אלה הדברים אשר תדבר אל-בני ישראל." (Exodus 19:6) Rashi comments on this verse, "not less and not more - לא פחות ולא יותר"

One could say that Rashi was hinting in his holy words that every Jew must be told that he must feel that he is "not less and not more". "Not less" means that a person should never think that he is the worst Jews in the world, or that he, G-d forbid, has no way to repair his life, because then he might, G-d forbid, lose hope from ever repenting. To this, G-d told Moses to tell the Jews "not less", that no one should think he is the worst person in the world, and thereby give up hope on himself, G-d forbid. The fact is that it is definitely in the ability of every Jew to reach total perfection.

Furthermore, G-d wanted Moses to teach the Jews the concept of "not more". This means that no one should think that he is better than anyone else because of his service to G-d, that one should never think that he is a perfect servant of G-d, and come to be haughty or arrogant, G-d forbid. Thus they should always look at themselves to be "not less and not more".

(Divrei Binah, Shavuos p. 43)

"And all the people saw the voices - וְכָל-הָעָם רֹאִים אֶת-הַקּוֹלֹת " (Exodus 20:14)

What does this mean to us through all generations, even today?

To let us understand, we must remember that the Torah is written with the 22 letters of the Hebrew language. There are five parts of the mouth that are used to say these 22 letters. This is what is taught that the secular words of a Torah Scholar must be studied, because they use the five parts of their mouth to bring together the 22 letters of the alphabet used in the Torah. Now, even if we are not on that level to sanctify our speech at all times, we should strive to accomplish this at least when we are studying Torah, to rectify all of our words and bring them into holiness. This is the meaning of "seeing the voices", that we should see to it that all of the words of our voice should be watched and fixed.

(Divrei Binah, Shavuos p. 51)

The Custom of Eating Dairy Foods on Shavuos - מנהג אכילת מאכלי חלב בעצרת

It seems that the reason for eating dairy foods on Shavuos is because it is known that the taste of milk depends upon what type of food the animal eats. It is similar by the Holy Torah, for the "taste" of Torah depends upon the holiness of the actions of the person learning the Torah. Evidence to this is the way someone feels when they say a word of Torah. If words of Torah come from a pure body, then one can feel the sweetness and pleasantness of the Torah. This is like what I heard in the name of our Holy Master, the Rebbe R' Zushia, zy"a, that when his Rebbe, our Holy Master the Rebbe R' Dov Ber of Mezritch, began to say words of Torah, even if he didn't say anything so profound yet, but merely recited the verse he was about to expound upon, the Rebbe R' Zushia would fall off of his chair and begin to roll around on the floor, and scream "Did you hear what the Rebbe said!". From this story we see that according to the holiness of a person can one feel the holiness of the Torah. That is why our Rabbis taught to eat dairy foods on Shavuos, to remind a person of this concept. A mnemonic in reference to Shavuos hints to this, "Minchah Chadashah Lah Beshavuoseichem - מנחה חדשה לה בשבועותכם" - "A new offering for your weeks", stands for "MiChaLaV - מחלב" - from milk.

(Divrei Binah, Shavuos p.75)

"On Shavuos (the world is judged) for the fruit of the Trees - בעצרת, על פירות האילן" (Mishnah: Rosh HaShanah 1:2)

This could hint to the fact that Shavuos is a holiday that is like the fruits of the trees. Fruits are, at first, hidden within the tree in potential form. Later, they come out from the potential to the actual, when they grow and become a whole fruit. The holiday of Shavuos is similar to that. Shavuos is like a tree from which all the other holidays sprout, for they are all included in potential form in the holiday of Shavuos, because the source of all the Jewish Holidays is from the giving of the Torah. Later, all of the holidays sprout forth in their full holiness at their appointed season. All of this comes from the Torah, which is the Source of them all. (ed. note: One could say that they are all hidden within the Holiday of Shavuos, the giving of the Torah, and that is why it is a holiday with no special mitzvos, because all of the mitzvos are hidden within it, like fruit is hidden within a tree until its season). This is what the Mishnah is hinting to "on Shavuos for the fruits of the Tree". Understand these words.

(Divrei Binah, Shavuos p. 78)

"Everyone agrees that on Shavuos you also need for yourself - הכל מודים בעצרת דְּבָעִינַן נמי לכם" (Talmud: Pesachim 68b)

I once said outright that the Aramaic word "beinan - בעינן", which sometimes means "needs" is an expression of request. On this holy festival one can request from G-d to do things for yourself, meaning that He should fulfill all of your needs. One should pray that G-d pours down upon him all good blessings. This way one may fulfill the Torah out of the comfort of abundant blessing. Then, nothing will, G-d forbid, stop a person from fulfilling the Torah and the Mitzvos. This is the meaning of "all agree that on Shavuos", which is the holiday celebrating the Giving of the Torah, "you need", or, "you should pray also for yourself". Because when one prays for the sake of fulfilling the Torah and the Mitzvos, he can ask G-d to give him all things he needs for himself. This refers to all of our needs in all things for good. May there be life and peace to the Jewish people for ever, Amen, so may it be His Will.

(Divrei Binah, Shavuos p. 97)

"With my lips I counted all the statutes of Your mouth" - בִּשְׂפָתַי סִפַּרְתִּי-- כֹּל, מִשְׁפְּטֵי-פִיךָ. (Psalms 119:13)

When we bring a new Sefer Torah into a Shul on Shavuos we say, " בִּשְׂפָתַי סִפַּרְתִּי-- כֹּל, מִשְׁפְּטֵי-פִיךָ." - "With my lips I told over (or counted) all the statutes of Your mouth" (Psalms 119:13). The meaning is that through our counting the Omer - "with my lips I counted" - then I am worthy to "all the statutes of Your mouth" - we are worthy to receive the Torah. And that should be enough for the understanding.

(Sefer Zer Zahav - Likutim - in the name of Rebbe Nosson Dovid of Shidlovtza)

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