1. One of the main themes of Shabbos is that it effects completion and elevation in the preceding six days. This is what the Torah means when it tells us ‘Vayechulu — the heavens and the earth...were completed.’ It also infers the aspect of pleasurable satisfaction that comes along with this attainment.

At the same time, in order to eat on Shabbos one must prepare before Shabbos. In this aspect, too, the eating on Shabbos constitutes a completion and elevation of the preparatory stages which took place during the preceding week.

Thus, the Shabbos which follows Shavuos, has the lofty quality of serving as the day which carries the aspect of ‘The Season of the Giving of our Torah’ to its loftiest completion. The Shabbos after Matan Torah brings an incalculable uplifting, to the degree of delight.

Although this symbiosis takes place even on the Shabbos which follows other holidays, the Gemara states that everyone agrees that the Torah was given on Shabbos, and therefore there is a special connection in this respect between Matan Torah and Shabbos.

On the subject of ‘festivals of joy,’ Shavuos has a unique aspect of rejoicing, as manifest in the rule that one may not fast on Shavuos. The Alter Rebbe rules in Shulchan Aruch:

It is forbidden to fast a ‘dream fast’ on the holiday of Shavuos, because it is the day on which the Torah was given and we must eat and rejoice on it to show how pleasant and acceptable this day is for the Jewish people. It differs from the other holidays and Shabbos when ‘dream fasts’ are permitted. (Shulchan Aruch HaRav, Laws of Pesach 494:18)

This means that with the giving of the Torah more holiness had to be brought into the physical world through the very simple acts of eating and drinking which may not be suspended or substituted by fasting, and it is in effect even now in the time of the galus. This is in common with the theme of Shabbos which must be enjoyed through festive meals.

Now, on this Shabbos which follows, completes and uplifts the preceding days of Shavuos there is, and should be, an increase in all of these matters. Since G‑d only makes demands according to our ability, when a special day comes and there are greater expectations, we can be sure that G‑d gives us the added powers to carry out His request and mission.

We must therefore utilize all our powers to their fullest potential, so as not to miss any opportunity.

In mitzvos there are practices which one is obligated to seek out to do — and those which only if the opportunity presents itself must one comply with the mitzvah. An example of this would be building a parapet on the roof of a house which must be done, only if you build a house, or, placing a mezuzah on the doorpost — only when you live in a proper house with proper doors (not a tent).

Here, however, we speak of practices connected to Matan Torah and certainly they are vitally and centrally important in every person’s Divine service. So you must seek out every opportunity to show how good and pleasant the Torah is.

This would be similar to the mitzvah of Tzitzis which we spoke about on Shavuos, concerning which the Rambam rules that although the law is that Tzitzis must be put on four cornered garments only when, and if, you have such garments, nevertheless:

Every pious person...should strive to wrap himself in a garment that needs fringes in order to fulfill this mitzvah. (Laws of Tzitzis 3:11)

Since the fringed garment encompasses the person it is analogous to the general body of Torah and mitzvos which collectively encompass the pious person. So too, just as one must strive to fulfill the mitzvah of Tzitzis, we must also strive to carry out all the aspects of the Season of the Giving of our Torah and draw them into the entire year.

On this Shabbos after Shavuos we must make every effort to reach these lofty levels and bring out the intense pleasure of Shabbos and Matan Torah. And also to reveal G‑d’s pleasure: ‘I commanded and My will was done.’ Bring it into action!

Then we will merit the true action — through our righteous Mashiach and through the Holy One, Blessed be He — G‑d will take us out of the galus ‘one by one.’

Then G‑d’s unity will be revealed and all the world will strive to know G‑d. As it says:

For the world will be filled with the knowledge of G‑d as the waters cover the sea. (Yeshayahu 11:9)

Speedily and truly with no delays, truly, now.

2. Why is it that on each holiday we explain and expound the special qualities which raise that holiday above all the others, while during the previous holiday and during the following holiday we exalt them above all the others, including the one that we just established to be the greatest?

Similarly, when the same festival comes around each year we pronounce the special loftier qualities of the holiday when it occurs in just such a setting, as compared to other years.

This dilemma may be dispelled if we keep in mind the Talmudic adage: ‘Of what is your father most observant?’ (Shabbos 118b) Generally speaking, each individual has a particular mitzvah (or mitzvos) which serves as his ‘gateway’ to the other mitzvos. In a like manner the particular setting of the day and date of a festival comprise the ‘gateway’ for all the rest of Torah and mitzvos. At that moment it is the loftiest of all.

Does this sound too esoteric, too spiritual? Well, in Halachah we know the rule that sometimes in the city of Rav the Halachah was ruled according to the opinion of Rav, while in the city of Shmuel the Halachah followed Shmuel’s opinion, notwithstanding any seeming contradictions.

We may draw an analogy from space (place) to time. At certain times certain conditions prevail which put one thing or another in a position of ascension.

With this in mind let us approach the special quality of this Shabbos which follows Shavuos this year, in relation to its date and Torah portion.

This year Shavuos occurred on Wednesday which put it in the second half of the week, which is called ‘before the Shabbos.’ This indicates a stronger connection between Shavuos and Shabbos than if the holiday occurred during the first half of the week which is called ‘after the Shabbos.’

In the diaspora, where the second day of Shavuos occurred on Thursday, there is a second connection to Shabbos because three days are seen as one (Thurs., Fri., Shabbos). This connection enhances the perfection and uplifting that Shabbos effects in Shavuos.

What about the portion of Naso?

The portion of Naso is always read either on the Shabbos before Shavuos or on the Shabbos following Shavuos — as is the case this year.

What is the special relationship between Shavuos and Naso and what unique significance may be gleaned when Naso follows Shavuos?

Naso signifies ‘raising up,’ Naso es rosh — the head must also be raised up (consequently the whole body will rise).

When we read Naso on the Shabbos following Shavuos then the completion and perfection effected by Shabbos on Shavuos will be even more ‘uplifting.’

Naso’s connection to Shavuos, the Season of the Giving of Our Torah, may be understood from the Midrash which teaches that before Matan Torah there was a decree which forbade that which is above from descending and that which is below from ascending. Matan Torah changed all that, the lofty ones (elyonim) came down on the earth and the corporeal existence may now raise itself to become an object of holiness — sanctified.

Before Matan Torah when one performed a mitzvah with some physical object the object did not become sanctified. After Matan Torah, the observance of mitzvos with physical objects — Tefillin, Mezuzah etc., — makes the objects holy.

So, when Naso is read after Shavuos it builds on the accomplishments of Shavuos and it attains even greater heights — ultimate loftiness and perfection.

There are other aspects of the portion of Naso which may be associated with Shavuos.

In a previous farbrengen we compared the common factors of the Season of the Giving of Our Torah and the practice of the nezirus. Since the vows of the Nazerite bring a certain holiness to the individual, as expressed in the Torah, ‘he is holy to the L‑rd,’ and as explained in Chassidus, it has a similarity to Matan Torah which initiated the principle that physical matters may be sanctified.

In the laws of vows we learn that one may make a promise (neder) to do some good act — however, we are not able to make a vow (sh’vuah) concerning a mitzvah. For a vow is a restriction and one cannot place any restrictions on mitzvos. The Nazerite vows, however, are considered to be a neder and, consequently, there may also be a comparison to Shabbos which adds perfection and loftiness even to the Season of the Giving of Our Torah.

Another subject covered in this week’s Torah portion is the collective sacrifices brought by the tribal princes and the inauguration of the altar which was effected through their offerings. These sacrifices signified an important aspect of communal unity and thereby have a strong connection to Matan Torah which was preceded by the united encampment of the Jewish people — ‘as one man with one heart.’

As in all cases of unity, here, too, we have unity out of diversity, for at Matan Torah Moshe stood alone, Aharon alone, the Kohanim alone etc., and yet they all combined as one man.... Similarly, in the case of the tribal princes, each Nasi brought his offering on a different day, yet the Torah tells us that it was considered as if they all brought their sacrifices on the first and last days, together.

Interestingly, the reacceptance of Torah that took place at the time of the Purim miracle also came as a result of the unity of the one people, ‘young and old, children and women’ on one day. Here again we see an aspect of ascent after Matan Torah just as Shabbos perfects the Season of the Giving of Our Torah.

Finally, at the close of today’s portion the Torah tells how Moshe would enter the Tabernacle to speak with the Holy One, Blessed be He, the classic form of Torah study between the Holy One, Blessed be He, and Moshe. Here again is a connection to the Season of the Giving of Our Torah. Just as the Torah was originally given after the unity of the Jewish people was established, so too was the daily transmission of Torah initiated following the communal sacrifices. This again reiterates the idea of Torah and unity.

After the conclusion of the Torah reading, in the afternoon we study Pirkei Avos and here again we read in the first chapter ‘Moshe received the Torah at Sinai and transmitted it...’ to all the Jews in all the generations. Having received the Torah this week, on Shabbos we speak of carrying out, and studying the Torah and rising steadily higher.

In practice:

The responsibility rests on everyone to increase qualitatively and quantitatively the study of Torah to the point of increasing Torah by finding innovation and revealing new meaning. This is the individual’s personal share in Torah as we say, ‘give us our share in Torah.’

What about those who are unlearned and ignorant? How can they innovate in Torah. The answer is that in Torah the action is as important as the study, in fact, the study is greater only because it leads to action, and it is expressed through the action.

Sometimes the sincere and devout practices of a simple person, when they are pursued with diligence and wholeheartedness, can serve as an example and lesson to those who are wiser and more learned. When we see small children pray fervently and piously, surely their prayers can have a tremendous, positive impact on much older and wiser adults, as we often see. The simple Jew is thus a Torah innovator! And he truly has his own share in Torah!

Utilize the quality and perfection of the Shabbos day after Shavuos to increase the Divine service of the Season of the Giving of Our Torah, in study and revelation, to your highest ability. Take your power from Moshe who transmitted Torah to all, and as a trusted shepherd, he gave everyone according to his ability. This was the way of Moshe, of Dovid HaMelech and of the Baal Shem Tov, all associated to Shavuos and all true shepherds of Israel.

And may G‑d grant us the fulfillment of the prophecy: ‘Awake and sing, ye that dwell in the dust’ (Yeshayahu 26:19) — Moshe and Aharon among them. Together with Dovid king Mashiach and the Baal Shem Tov with all the Tzaddikim and Nesi’im of Israel up to and including the Previous Rebbe the Nasi of our generation — together with all the Jewish people — in the true and complete redemption through our righteous Mashiach. When the Holy One, Blessed be He, as it were, will also return from exile, and then a new Torah will emerge...very soon and truly, now.

3. In the sacrifices brought by the tribal princes we find that Rashi explains the reasons for certain items:

One silver dish — The numerical value of its letters (of the letters of these two words) is 930, corresponding to the years of Adam Harishon.... The weight thereof was 130 Shekels — in allusion to the fact that when he (Adam) first raised children to maintain the world in existence he was 130 years old.... (Rashi, Bamidbar 7:19)

Several question have been raised on this Rashi:

A — What relationship does the age of Adam bear to the sacrifices of the tribal princes?

B — What is unclear in the simple translation of this verse that motivates Rashi to seek meanings and allusions for the details in the verse?

The plain meaning of these verses accounts for the listing of details so as to emphasize the great value and importance of the princely sacrifices. Because the offerings were precious they were naturally done with much care and attention.

It is also self-evident that we cannot question the reason for any specific amount mentioned in the plain meaning of the verse. For since there had to be some number and measure given, you cannot question why one particular number was chosen.

In Moreh Nevuchim the Rambam states this principle:

..Why were seven rams lambs sacrificed and not eight: the same question might have been asked if there were eight, ten or twenty lambs. So long as some definite number of lambs were sacrificed. It is almost similar to the nature of a thing which can receive different forms, but actually receives one of them. We must not ask why it has this form and not another which is likewise possible, because one should have had to ask the same question if instead of its actual form the thing had any of the other possible forms. Note this and understand it. (Moreh Nevuchim 3:26)

For this reason Rashi need not give any explanation for the sizes and measurements of the Tabernacle and its vessels. And so here we ask what forces Rashi to seek reasons and allusions for these particular details of the tribal offerings.

Another question has been raised: Why does Rashi fail to explain why the tribe of Levi did not participate in bringing sacrifices for the inauguration of the altar?

Assuredly the tribe of Levi was a special tribe, as the Torah itself directs us not to count them among the rest of the people, and Rashi explains: ‘The legion of the King is worthy to be numbered by itself.’ (Rashi, Bamidbar 1:49) If so, how can it be that all 12 tribes participated in the dedication of the altar and Aharon, the prince of Levi, was left out of the inauguration process.

Rashi does not ignore this question completely, because in the beginning of Behaaloscha Rashi says:

When Aharon saw the dedication offerings of the princes he then became uneasy in mind because neither he nor his tribe was with them in the dedication.... (Ibid. 8:2)


1) Why does Rashi wait for the next portion, Behaaloscha, to tell us of Aharon’s emotions — he should mention it where it belongs, in the portion of Naso,


2) Why does Rashi hush it up. He should clamor for some explanation, why indeed was Aharon excluded?

We cannot say that Aharon was excluded because of his own fear that G‑d was in some way displeased with him — because this misapprehension had been cleared up by Moshe on the first day of Nissan when he addressed the people and proclaimed that in fact the Shechinah would come to rest by virtue of Aharon’s service in the Tabernacle. Thus, we have no reason to think that Aharon should be excluded.

The answer to this dilemma may be found in the simplicity of the verses themselves.

The fact that the tribe of Levi was the ‘legion of the King’ does not cause us to question that they should have participated in the dedication offerings — quite to the contrary, it lends proof to the principle that they should not have joined the others.

The theme of the dedication offerings was that the people brought gifts to the Tabernacle. Would it be appropriate that the King’s own legion give itself a gift — does the King bestow a gift on Himself?

The gifts were brought for the use of the Mishkan, in fact, they were set aside for the use of the Levi’im and Kohanim. It would therefore be absurd for the Levi’im to bring gifts to themselves. For this reason, too, the tribe of Levi did not participate in the donations made for the Tabernacle or in the collection of the half-Shekels, which was used for the foundations of the Mishkan and for the communal sacrifices.

An analogy may be drawn from a wedding where the groom and bride do not get involved in the preparations for the wedding. Everyone is busy preparing and doing whatever is necessary for the wedding, yet the celebrants themselves only make the marriage, give the ring, say the blessings, drink the wine, et. al.

This was the case at my own wedding: During the wedding feast the Previous Rebbe arose from his place to circulate among the guests and distribute cups of LeChaim. When I saw this I felt that I could not remain seated while he was standing and giving out the drinks. So I rose from my seat with the intention of joining him and extending a hand to help, to hold the bottle or give out the cups, etc. The Previous Rebbe saw me and motioned to me to remain in my place. Stubbornly I tried again to rise and join him (a Jew is always stubborn) and he again motioned very clearly that I should not leave my seat. I was consequently forced to remain seated — on ‘pins and needles’ — until the Previous Rebbe returned and sat down again in his seat to resume the festive wedding meal.

(The Rebbe smiled!) Today’s five-year-old Chumash student was certainly not at my wedding, nevertheless he saw a similar conduct at his upsherinish (first haircut) when he was three years old.

His father, uncles and friends surrounded him, the Rav may also have been there. They all stood around him but he sat at his place. Why? Simple, he was the celebrant.

So Rashi does not have to tell us why the tribe of Levi was not included — it is self-evident that the King’s legion are the celebrants and have no obligation to bring gifts to the dedication of the altar.

Now, however, Aharon’s uneasy mind is surprising. After all, his tribe was excluded because of their superior standing. Why was he upset? The answer may be found when we read the final verse in Naso:

When Moshe came into the Communion Tent to speak with [G‑d] he would hear the voice.... (Bamidbar 7:89)

Moshe’s entry into the Communion Tent evoked Aharon’s dismay. This is why Rashi does not mention it until the portion of Behaaloscha, and why Rashi does not make a big deal of the exclusion of Levi from the offerings, since it was Moshe’s Torah study with G‑d that engendered a new point that caused Aharon’s chagrin to reemerge.

The Tent of Communion served two purposes — it was the religious center of the Jewish people specifically designated for all sacrifices and associated Divine service and worship. It also served as the place where Moshe learned Torah from G‑d. Aharon himself could only learn Torah from Moshe as Rashi had explained:

Moshe used to learn the Torah from the mouth of the Almighty: Aharon entered and Moshe taught him his lesson. (Rashi, Shmos 34:32)

This was really the cause of Aharon’s uneasy feeling.

Aharon was not jealous of Moshe’s greatness or unique standing with regard to the Torah, for the Torah had already revealed Aharon’s standing in relation to Moshe:

He (Aharon) will be your spokesman...he will be your superior and chief.... (Shmos 4:16 and Rashi, loc. cit.)

Aharon was concerned that he and his tribe did not have a share in preparing the Mishkan to be a place where Torah would be taught to Moshe — by the Holy One, Blessed be He. This bothered him — for all the other princes did have a share in just this function.

So he did not clamor for inclusion — since his exclusion was based on exclusivity, but he did feel bad.

To assuage his feelings Rashi informs us that the Holy One, Blessed be He, told him:

By your life! Your part is of greater importance than theirs for you will kindle and set in order the lamps.

* * *

The questions of the silver plate and Adam’s age may be understood when we look back to a previous Rashi:

That day received ten crowns (was distinguished in ten different ways): it was the same day as was the first day of creation, the first day on which the princes offered etc., as it is set forth in Seder Olam. (Ibid. 7:12)

The five-year-old Chumash student peruses the chapter of the offerings of the princes and finds nothing said of the first day of creation; he is puzzled. What is the connection? So Rashi tells us that the numerical equivalent of the two words ‘silver plate’ is equal to Adam’s years. Adam, being the goal of creation encompasses all aspects of creation. Rashi then goes on to speak of when Adam brought offspring into the world, when he was 130 years old. For the goal of creation is to guarantee the continuation of the world by bringing a new generation into the world.

Rashi then concludes:

Seventy Shekels — corresponding to the seventy nations that descended from Noach’s sons. (Ibid. 7:19)

For the world would not be complete and whole without the seventy nations.

There is however another question regarding that verse itself. What motivated Rashi to seek an explanation for the verse which simply states that on the first day the offering was brought by...?

It would seem simple and plain to translate the verse as it is stated.

The answer for this question is that in the previous verse we are told:

Let them present their offerings for the altar’s dedication one prince each day. (Bamidbar 6:11)

Now Rashi feels that it would be sufficient to simply begin the next verse by saying: ‘The one to bring his offering...was Nachshon son of Aminadav.’ It would have been self-evident that he was the one who brought his offering on the first day. The Torah did not have to state the words, ‘On the first day.’

So Rashi starts off without mentioning the problem by simply stating the special qualities of that first day.

Having said that it was the first day of creation and the first day of the tribal sacrifices it becomes evident that there is a connection between the two — for that reason Rashi later brings the explanation that the numerical equivalent of the silver plate was equal to Adam’s age.

He had mentioned that there were ten crowns given to the day, he then went on to list those two which are really relative to the details of what happened that day and he adds, ‘as is described in Seder Olam.’

Rashi does not deem it appropriate to quote this exposition of Seder Olam in every place where one of the ten occurrences are related in Scripture — only here, because of the superfluous ‘First day.’ He realized that the Torah wanted us to know what was so special about that day and he tells us that they represented ‘ten crowns’ for all the occurrences were of great importance, similar to ‘crowns.’

* * *

4. The Alter Rebbe writes in his Siddur that we do not say the penitential prayers,

From Rosh Chodesh Sivan until (and including) the 12th of the month, that is five days after Shavuos, for the holiday has seven days of completion.

From here we derive that these are auspicious days — we do not say the penitential prayers because whatever good they may effect is done automatically by virtue of the special day. Therefore, it is appropriate that during this time we should add to all the actions and Divine service of Shavuos so as to complete and perfect it in a rich manner.

These efforts should be expended in the three pillars of Torah, prayer and acts of loving-kindness upon which the world stands, as we learned in today’s chapter of Avos.

Clearly, Torah is appropriate, for Shavuos is the Season of the Giving of Our Torah.

Prayer, too, is connected to Matan Torah for the declaration, ‘We will do and we will listen,’ represented a state of self-nullification which is attained in prayer. Furthermore, at the time of Matan Torah the souls of the Jewish people ‘flew away’ and had to be returned, which points to self-sacrifice, as the Baal Shem Tov teaches, this is reached in intense kavanah during prayer.

And acts of loving kindness. About Shavuos the Torah says:

You shall then celebrate the festival of Shavuos to your L‑rd, presenting a hand-delivered offering according to the extent of the blessing that G‑d your L‑rd has granted you. (Devarim 16:10)

The Torah uses the term ‘hand...offering’ and Chassidus explains that this is higher than the offerings of the heart which are dependent on the emotions of the heart — here the hand continues to distribute charity without restriction — straight from the soul.

This must also be instilled in the youth — all three areas of Torah, prayer and good deeds — by placing a chumash, siddur and charity box in their rooms which will remind them of the mitzvah of tzedakah.

When you place a pushkah in the room of a small child his curiosity will be awakened, especially if it has pictures on it. He will check out the pushkah and find that it has a slot; he will be more curious to know what can go into the slot. He is impatient, and you will give him a coin to put into the box and in that way you train him to give tzedakah.

May we also have the true ‘time of completion’ during these days — of the sacrifices — and all aspects of Shavuos that we missed, because we still do not have the Bais HaMikdash, may they all appear with the coming of our righteous Mashiach and we will kindle the lights of the Menorah with the true and complete redemption, quickly and truly in our days.