Pearls of Rashi – Chag Hashavuos

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This week on Friday and Shabbos (outside of Eretz Yisroel) we will celebrate the Festival of Shavuos. This important holiday is also called the Time of the Giving of Our Torah. Due to the holiday, we do not read the regular Torah portion. Therefore, I find it appropriate to examine a Rashi related to the Torah’s discussion of Hashem giving us the Torah.

Originally, when Hashem commanded Moshe to take the Jews from Egypt, He told him[1] “… when you take the people out of Egypt, you will worship G-d on this mountain.” In other words, the entire purpose of the exodus from Egypt was in order for Hashem to ultimately give us the Torah.

The Torah reading for the first day of Shavuos is the first time that the Torah tells us of the “Ten Commandments.” This is what we will read on Friday. It is based on the order in which events took place[2]. It is repeated once again at the end of the 40 years of wandering in the wilderness. There Moshe repeats these commandments to the Jews who are on the verge of entering the Holy Land[3].

There are a number of differences between both versions of these commandments. The most noticeable of which is found in the commandment to keep Shabbos. In our Torah reading it says to[4]Remember the day of Shabbos to sanctify it.” At the end of the 40 years[5] it says to “Keep the day of Shabbos day to sanctify it…” How can we reconcile these two versions? Which word did Hashem say; remember or keep? Rashi explains that both words were spoken simultaneously.

This can be understood with a story of one of the Alter Rebbe’s Chassidim. This Chossid was extremely pious, nevertheless, he was also unlearned. He would daven each of the three daily prayers at great length, reciting each word with great love and care. This was true, despite the fact that it was unclear whether or not he even understood the meaning of the prayers.

One of his fellow Chassidim asked him to explain this. Davening at length means that one prays with (while thinking about) a deep concept. What was he concentrating on?

He responded that he once heard his Rebbe say the following. “The words remember and keep were both said with one utterance (word). With each and every word we utter, we must both remember and keep the oneness of G-d.”

That was how he prayed. May we all learn from him, to fill the oneness of Hashem in every aspect of our lives.

I wish one and all a good Shabbos! May we all merit to receive the Torah with joy and to internalize it.

Rabbi Shmuel Mendelsohn

Adapted from Likkutei Sichos Volume 14, Page 224

מוקדש לזכות כ”ק אדמו”ר נשיא דורנו מליובאוויטש

חיילי “צבאות השם” חיים ועדן עודד שיחיו מאריס
נדפס ע”י הוריהם
הרה”ת ר’ מנחם מענדל וזוגתו מרת חי’ מושקא שיחיו מאריס

[1]. Parshas Shemos, Shemos 3:12.

[2]. Parshas Yisro, Shemos 20:2-14.

[3]. Parshas Vo’eschanan, Devorim 5:6-18.

[4]. Parshas Yisro, Shemos 20:8

[5]. Parshas Vo’eschanan, Devorim 5:12.

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