1. Today is one of the “seven days of compensation:” Anyone who had not brought the obligatory festival sacrifice on Shavuos proper, had these extra days (until the 12th of Sivan) in which to compensate for that omission. The word for “compensation” in Hebrew is “tashlumin,” which also has the meaning “perfection” or “wholeness.” Thus, these days are not only a compensation for the omission of sacrifice on the first day, but possess a distinction of their own, in some respects surpassing that of the first day, “the Season of the Giving of the Torah.”

An example of this is Pesach Sheni, which is the Pesach sacrifice offered in Iyar if for some reason it was not offered in its proper time in Nissan. That is, Pesach Sheni compensates for the omission of the original Pesach. Simultaneously, Pesach Sheni is a festival in its own right, in some respects surpassing the original Pesach. Chassidus explains, for example, that because of its lofty nature, chametz is allowed on Pesach Sheni, whereas even the smallest amount is prohibited on the original Pesach.

So, too, the days of compensation of Shavuos possess qualities that in some respects surpass Shavuos itself (in addition to merely remedying the omission of service on Shavuos).

The days of compensation indicate transcendence of time. Normally, a sacrifice must be offered at a specific time, and “when its time has passed, the sacrifice is void.” That the sacrifice for Shavuos can still be brought after Shavuos (its proper time), in the days of compensation, shows that it transcends time.

This idea is particularly emphasized on Shavuos. The festivals of Pesach and Sukkos are of several days’ duration, whereas Shavuos is only one day. This is because Shavuos is on a plane which transcends any division into time, and therefore is only of one day duration.

The above applies to all the seven days of compensation, which also includes the first day, Shavuos itself. Shavuos itself is also called a day of compensation, although it is the proper time for the sacrifice, for the principal obligation to bring the sacrifice is at the beginning of the day (until midday). If one did not bring the sacrifice at this time, then, even if it was brought afterwards, during the rest of the day, it is considered a compensation for its omission in the principal time when one is obligated to bring it — the beginning of the day.

In addition to the qualities possessed by all the seven days of compensation, the Shabbos in these days (today) has special distinction. An example of Shabbos lending special distinction is the offerings brought by each prince on a different day at the dedication of the Mishkan (which is talked of in today’s parshah). The Midrash states: “The prince of Ephraim brought his offering for the dedication of the altar on the Shabbos day, as it is said, ‘On the seventh day, the prince of the children of Ephraim brought his offering.’“ The Midrash deduces from this the greatness of the princes’ offerings, that “G‑d said ... I honor you that you brought your offering on Shabbos so there should be no interruption in your offerings.”

We see from this that when the seventh day of the princes’ offerings coincided with the seventh day of the week (Shabbos), special distinction is attached. Had the seventh day of the offerings not been Shabbos, it still would have been special, for “all sevenths are precious.” When the seventh day is also the seventh day of the week — Shabbos, extra distinction is conferred. So, too, in our case: Although Shavuos has seven days of compensation, the Shabbos of these seven days is particularly special.

The reason for this: There are two ways of viewing something that extends over a period of days — 1) It is a composite thing formed of a combination of several days; 2) it is one thing, which is expressed over several days. In our case, the seven days of compensation are one concept extended over seven days. Likewise, the 12 days of the princes’ offerings are one concept, which took 12 days to complete. As the Midrash states: “The Torah considers it as if they all offered on the first day, and as if they all offered on the last day” — one concept, with each prince bringing his actual offering in a different day.

The “oneness” of the princes’ offerings is emphasized by Ephraim’s offering on Shabbos, of which G‑d says, “you brought your offering on Shabbos so there should be no interruption in your offerings.” This shows that the “oneness” was so strong that because of it they even offered on Shabbos — for since “the Torah considers it as if they all offered on the first day,” their offerings are regarded as a congregational offering, which takes place on Shabbos.

In other words: There were two aspects to the princes’ offering. Each prince brought his offering as an individual, for the offering came from his own money, not from the tribe’s. Simultaneously, they also possessed the aspect of a congregational offering, and therefore were brought also on Shabbos. The “oneness” of the offerings, then, although present in all the princes’ offerings (i.e. all of them are considered congregational sacrifices), is nevertheless emphasized in Ephraim’s, on Shabbos.

So, too, the “oneness” of the days of compensation is emphasized on Shabbos — that all the seven days are one continuation, without interrupting for Shabbos — i.e. Shabbos is part of the days of compensation. Although the festival sacrifices are not actually offered on Shabbos (unlike the case of the princes, where they did actually offer on Shabbos), Shabbos is still part of the days of compensation — for it is unnecessary to actually offer the compensatory sacrifice on Shabbos. The idea of compensation (for the festival sacrifice) is effected through the greatness of Shabbos alone.

However, this effect is a spiritual, inner one. Because Torah wants that it should also be expressed in actuality, outwardly, the compensatory offering must actually be brought the next day — although its concept has been spiritually effected through Shabbos itself.

The effect of the princes’ offerings, because they are considered also as congregational sacrifices, cannot be achieved through Shabbos itself — and therefore they were actually brought on Shabbos. In our case, the compensatory offering is brought by each individual who did not bring the original sacrifice on Shavuos — and therefore it cannot actually be brought on Shabbos.

2. In terms of man’s service to G‑d: Although now, in exile, there is no such thing as compensation for sacrifices, there is present the idea of compensation for one’s spiritual service of Shavuos — prayer (which replaces sacrifices) and Torah study (“the Season of the Giving of Our Torah”). If there was any omission in the spiritual service of Shavuos, it may be compensated for and rectified in the days of compensation — and, as explained previously, it need not just be a compensation, but can make the service richer.

Moreover, even if the service of Shavuos was proper, the very fact that G‑d has granted extra days of compensation indicates that one should utilize this time to increase in his service.

There is, in addition, a special lesson to be derived from the Shabbos of the days of completion. Shabbos elevates and completes the matters of the preceding week. It is the idea of “ta’anug — delight,” which transcends all one’s soul powers. In service to G‑d, this means that the concepts of Shavuos should be carried out not just in a manner of “with all your heart and with all your soul” — service with all one’s soul powers — but in the manner of “with all your might” — with delight, which transcends the soul powers.

Thus, although Shavuos (the “Season of the Giving of Our Torah”) is of itself associated with the idea of delight, for Torah is a “delightful thing” before G‑d, the Shabbos of the seven days of compensation lends added emphasis, for Shabbos also is the idea of delight.

This is why “The Torah was given to Israel on Shabbos” — for both Torah and Shabbos are associated with delight. Thus, when Shavuos is on a weekday (as this year), the association between Shabbos and Torah is expressed on the Shabbos of the days of compensation.

“Deed is paramount”: The Shabbos of the days of compensation is the appropriate time to complete any of the matters of Shavuos, both those which were actually deficient, and those which were proper — which should now be completed in a richer manner.

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3. Ch. 5, verse 9 of parshas Nasso states: “Every terumah (offering) of all the holy things of the children of Israel which they bring to the kohen (priest), it shall be his.” Rashi, quoting the words, “Every terumah etc,” comments: “Rabbi Yishmael said: ‘Do they bring terumah to the kohen? Does he not go around searching after it to the granaries? What, then, does Scripture mean with ‘which they bring to the kohen?’ — These are the bikkurim (first-fruits), regarding which it is stated: ‘You shall bring [them] to the house of the L‑rd your G‑d.’ But I do not know what is to be done with them [once brought to the house of G‑d]. It therefore teaches ‘to the kohen, it shall be his’ — Scripture thereby teaches regarding bikkurim that they should be given to the kohen.’“

The word “terumah” normally refers to that part of a person’s produce which belongs to the kohen. However, says Rashi (in the name of Rabbi Yishmael), it cannot mean that in our verse, for it states, “which they bring to the kohen” — and terumah is not brought to the kohen; the kohen goes searching after it. Therefore, concludes Rashi, the word “terumah” in this verse must refer to a different type of offering which belongs to the kohen — bikkurim, the first-fruits which are brought by the owner to the Bais HaMikdash. Our verse teaches us that these bikkurim brought to the Bais HaMikdash must then be given to the Kohen.

There are, however, several difficulties in this interpretation.

1) Rashi’s proof that this verse refers to bikkurim is, we have explained, that it states, “which they bring to the kohen.” Why, then, when quoting from the verse the words upon which he bases his commentary, does he quote only, “Every terumah etc,” and not the words, “which they bring to the kohen”?

2) The student to which Rashi addresses his commentary understands that terumah should be given to the kohen of the owner’s choice — and that it is improper for a kohen to go to the granaries, thereby practically forcing the owner to give it to him specifically. True, Rashi writes that the kohen goes around “searching after it to the granaries.” The kohen only “searches” for the terumah by standing nearby the granaries, and does not actually enter in the granaries. Nevertheless, even such conduct is unseemly, for he thereby hints to the owner that he wants the terumah. He doesn’t openly say so — but he certainly hints at it!

How, then, can we say that because there are some kohanim who behave unseemly and go searching for terumah, that we cannot say the words, “which they bring to the kohen” refer to regular terumah? Do we change the plain meaning of the word “terumah” to mean bikkurim just because there are some kohanim who behave unseemly and do not wait until the terumah is brought to them?

3) That there are some kohanim who go searching for terumah in the granaries — and therefore the term “bring” cannot apply to regular terumah — is not a sufficiently strong question to cause us to interpret the word “terumah” to mean bikkurim. Although the phrase, “which they bring to the kohen,” implies that the owners bring the terumah from a far-off place (the granary) to the kohen’s residence, it is still possible to interpret it to mean that the owner “brings” it from inside the granary to where the kohen is standing nearby. Although this is a slightly forced interpretation, it is much better than interpreting “terumah” to mean bikkurim — an interpretation totally at variance with the plain meaning. Moreover, such an interpretation begs the question: Why does the Torah write “terumah” and we have to interpret it to mean bikkurim — when it could simply write “bikkurim”?!

Thus, the question is: Why does Rashi choose to interpret the word “terumah” as referring to bikkurim, and not just retain its literal meaning (with the slightly forced interpretation that “which they bring to the kohen” means bringing from a nearby place (inside the granary to outside to the kohen), and not from a far-off place).

We cannot say that we need to interpret this verse as referring to bikkurim to know what should be done with the bikkurim once they have been brought to the Bais HaMikdash — for in parshas Korach (Bamidbar 18:13), Scripture explicitly states that bikkurim belong to the kohen.

The Explanation:

The confusion in Rashi’s interpretation can be traced to a mistake on the part of the printer who printed Rashi’s commentary. It is customary that the words of the verse which Rashi quotes at the beginning of his commentary — as the words on which he will comment — are printed in large type (to differentiate them from his actual commentary). Rashi sometimes quotes words from the verse in the middle of his commentary. Because the printer did not realize these words were part of the quote (since they were in the middle, not at the beginning of the commentary), he did not print them in large type.

In our case, the words, “which they bring to the kohen” which are in the middle of Rashi’s comment, are words which Rashi intended as a quote from the verse. By mistake, the printer did not print these words in large type. Thus, Rashi should really read as follows: “[beginning of quote] Every terumah etc, which they bring to the kohen [end of quote] — These are the bikkurim, regarding which it is stated: ‘You shall bring to the house of the L‑rd your G‑d’ ... Scripture thereby teaches regarding bikkurim that they should be given to the kohen.” And, as an interpolation in the middle of his comment, Rashi explains why we cannot interpret “terumah” literally — for “Do they then bring terumah to the kohen? Does he not go searching after it to the granaries?”

In other words: Our first question of why Rashi does not (also) quote the words, “which they bring to the kohen,” if it is the basis of his commentary that “terumah” means bikkurim, has been resolved — for he does quote it. It was the printer’s error that it was not printed as a quote (in large type). And Rashi quotes these words in the middle and not the beginning of his commentary, for he wishes to interpolate the reason why terumah cannot be interpreted literally.

The second question, that it seems unreasonable to change the plain, literal meaning of a verse because there are some kohanim who behave unseemly, is likewise easily resolved. The student to whom Rashi addresses his commentary has previously learned, from Rashi himself, that to go searching to the granaries is not unseemly conduct. Yaakov, when he bestowed blessings upon his sons, said of Shimon and Levi (Bereishis 49:7) “I will divide them in Yaakov and I will scatter them in Israel.” Rashi explains that, “There are no poor men, scribes, or teachers of children save of Shimon’s tribe, so that they should be scattered. And the tribe of Levi, Yaakov made him to go around to the granaries for the terumahs and the tithes; he assigned his dispersion honorably.” We see, then, that Rashi says the fact that kohanim (who are of the tribe of Levi) search out their terumah in the granaries is not unseemly, but is an honorable thing.

The third question, that it seems better to adopt the only slightly forced interpretation of, “which they bring to the kohen,” as meaning they bring it from a nearby place, than to completely change the meaning of “terumah” to refer to bikkurim, is answered by Rashi quoting the author of this interpretation, Rabbi Yishmael. For Rashi only quotes his source when we can learn something from knowing who he is.

The Talmud (Chullin 49a) states of Rabbi Yishmael that “Yishmael who is a kohen supports kohanim.” Rashi explains there that, because Rabbi Yishmael is a kohen, “he constantly helps them (kohanim) and makes it easier for them.” That is, whenever possible, Rabbi Yishmael interprets Scripture, halachah, etc., in a way that helps kohanim.

In our case, if the word “terumah” would be interpreted literally, we would not know that bikkurim belong to the kohen, as Rashi explains that although it says, “You shall bring [bikkurim] to the house of the L‑rd your G‑d,” “I do not know what is to be done with them.” Now that “terumah” has been interpreted to mean “bikkurim,” we learn that bikkurim must be given to the kohen — which is obviously very helpful to kohanim. That is why Rabbi Yishmael, who as a kohen supports kohanim, prefers to interpret “terumah” as referring to bikkurim.

Although later on, in parshas Korach, we learn explicitly that bikkurim belong to the kohen, nevertheless, since Rabbi Yishmael constantly tries to help kohanim, he cannot wait until parshas Korach, and interprets in our parshah that “terumah” means bikkurim.

That Scripture (according to Rabbi Yishmael) repeats the command to give bikkurim to the kohen (once here, and again in parshas Korach) is no problem, for we find other instances where a command is repeated. In our case, the reason is to stress the precious nature of the mitzvah of giving bikkurim to the kohen.