The Torah portion Naso is commonly read on the Shabbos following Shavuos. Since the festivals are related to the Torah portions in whose time they fall,1 it is understandable that within Naso there is an allusion to the special qualities of this Shabbos.

What is special about this Shabbos; where is it alluded to in the portion of Naso ?

Before G‑d gave the Torah at Mattan Torah , there was a “rift” between Heaven and earth: “Those who were on high could not descend below; those who were below could not ascend on high.”2 Mattan Torah healed this rift; Heaven and earth could then be united. Thus, the mitzvos performed before Mattan Torah lacked the quality of the mitzvos performed afterwards.3

The same holds true for the commandment of Shabbos. Although the Jews observed Shabbos even before Mattan Torah ,4 their observance then could not compare to their observance once the Torah was given.

Since all past events are “reawakened” at the time of year during which they first occurred,5 we understand that the Shabbos following Shavuos is an echo of the first Shabbos after Shavuos , to wit: it is the first complete Shabbos observed as a result of Mattan Torah.

Before Mattan Torah , “on high” had yet to descend “below,” and the performance of mitzvos was limited by a person’s individual capacity. As a result, it was impossible to infuse the objects with which one performed mitzvos with the infinity of holiness.

When G‑d gave the Torah to the world, the mitzvos emanated from His essence. “On High descended below” and man became able to perform mitzvos with G‑d-given power. Consequently, the physical objects used in the performance of mitzvos themselves become G‑dly — “below ascends on High.”

This is particularly germane to Shabbos: The intrinsic quality of Shabbos — even prior to Mattan Torah — is loftier than creation, for Shabbos commemorates the cessation of creative labor. This is why a Jew is granted on Shabbos “a simple love for G‑d that transcends intellect.” This love is much loftier than the rational weekday love that grows from toil and labor.6

This higher degree of love transforms a person and his animal soul, so that he ceases to desire those things he desires during the rest of the week.

Thus, Shabbos is intrinsically lofty in two aspects: Shabbos is itself “on high,” i.e., Shabbos is illumined by a degree of holiness that cannot be attained through man’s service alone; and with regard to “below,” on Shabbos even the animal soul is transformed.

These inherent qualities notwithstanding — qualities remarkably similar to the achievement of Mattan Torah — there is still no comparison between the sanctity of Shabbos before Mattan Torah and the sanctity it achieves afterwards.

This unique quality, mirrored every year in the Shabbos following Shavuos, is alluded to in the portion of Naso, which states at the outset: “Count Gershon’s descendants….7

The name Gershon is etymologically related8 both to the bringing out of produce9 — in spiritual terms, revealing one’s latent love for G‑d — and to the “chasing away” of evil.10 These two actions bear a remarkable similarity to what transpires on Shabbos.

Based on Likkutei Sichos Vol. VIII pp. 49-60.