The Torah portion Naso is commonly read on the Shabbos following Shavuos. Since the festivals are related to the particular weekly Torah portions in which 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 and where is it alluded to in the portion of Naso?

Before G‑d gave the Torah at Matan 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 Matan Torah healed this rift, and Heaven and earth could then be united. As such, the mitzvos performed before Matan Torah lacked the quality of the mitzvos performed afterwards.3

The same holds true for the commandment of Shabbos. Although the Jews observed Shabbos prior to Matan Torah as well,4 their observance then could in no way compare to their observance once the Torah was given.

Since all past events are revived and rekindled 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 that took place after Shavuos, to wit: it is the first complete Shabbos that we observe as a result of Matan Torah.

Before Matan Torah, the heights of Heaven had yet to descend “below” to earth, 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 on Shavuos, the mitzvos emanated from His Essence. “On High descended below” and man became able to perform mitzvos with the infinite powers G‑d then granted him. Consequently, from that time on, the physical objects used in the performance of mitzvos themselves become G‑dly — and “below ascends on High.”

This is particularly germane to Shabbos: The intrinsic quality of Shabbos — even prior to Matan Torah — is loftier than creation, for Shabbos commemorates the cessationofcreative labor. During the weekday, man’s love for G‑d is limited by man’s inherent limitations — his love of G‑d results from his limited toil and labor in seeking to understand Him.

On Shabbos, however, a Jew is granted a much loftier level of love for G‑d — a “simple love for G‑d that transcends intellect.” This love is much loftier than the rational weekday love that grows from toiland 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 the effect of Shabbos “below,” even the animal soul is transformed.

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

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

The name Gershon is etymologically related8 both to revealing the earth’s produce9 — which in spiritual terms reflects the revelation of one’s latent love for G‑d — and to the “chasing away” of evil;10 two actions that transpire on Shabbos in their most complete manner.

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