Pearls of Rashi – Chag Hashavuos II

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On the first day of the upcoming festival of Shavuos, we read the Torah’s narrative of the giving of the Torah. In preparation to this, the Torah says that[1] “They (the Jewish nation) journeyed from Rephidim, and arrived in the desert of Sinai. They encamped in the desert, and Yisroel encamped there opposite the mountain.” Rashi cites the words from the verse “and Yisroel encamped there.” He explains that they camped “as one man with one heart. However, all of the other encampments were with complaints and with strife.”

Rashi seems to be explaining the significance of the encampment of the Jewish Nation in anticipation of receiving the Torah. The Torah’s description here than the description of their encampments throughout the remainder of their forty years in the wilderness. Here the Torah uses the word encamped in the singular; at other times the Torah uses the same word in the plural[2]. The fact that it is used in the singular here, teaches us that they were of a single mind when they camped at Mount Sinai; “as one man with one heart.” Rashi contrasts this with the other encampments of the Jewish people, which were all “with complaints and with strife.”

What lesson can we take from this? This world is called a “public domain[3].” In the public domain, we see many different people and objects. Each of these is very different from each other[4]. This is especially obvious in the realm of human beings. Our Sages tell us[5] that “not one person is comparable to another.” Each person is involved in activities that are not at all comparable to those of his fellow. Many people are involved in activities which totally contradict those of his fellow.

The way to unite the world is through revealing the truly one G-d. He totally transcends the limitations of the world. How can His presence be revealed here? It can only happen through those two things which are also above the world’s limitations; namely Torah and the Jewish Nation.

Rashi, teaching us Peshat, tells us this very thing. As the Jews prepared to receive the Torah they became as one person. This is brought about through the “spark,” the essence of the Jewish soul. This is what truly makes the Jews “as one person with one heart.”

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

Rabbi Shmuel Mendelsohn

Adapted from Likkutei Sichos Volume 21, Pages 100 – 107

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 Yisro, Shemos 19:2.

[2]. Unlike English, Hebrew verbs are either singular or plural. To use our verse as an example, in English the verb would be “camped.” One would need to specify who camped in order to know whether it was singular or plural. “He camped” would be singular, and “they camped” would be plural. In contrast Hebrew, the verb itself would either be singular or plural. Generally, when discussing encampments of the Jewish People in the wilderness, the Torah says “Vayachanu – ויחנו,” meaning “and they camped,” i.e. in plural form. In our verse, the Torah says “Vayichan – ויחן,” meaning “and he camped.”

[3]. See Tanya, at the end of Chapter 33.

[4]. See Likkutei Sichos, Volume 15, Page 47.

[5]. See Talmud Sanhedrin, 37, a.


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