Is Shavuos celebrating the day the Torah was given

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Is Shavuos celebrating the day that the Torah was given?[1]

Based on the previous Halacha, the holiday of Shavuos is not dependent at all as to when the giving of the Torah occurred, and it’s just that now, due to the exile, that the date of Shavuos is set on the 6th of Sivan which is the day that the Torah was given. Nevertheless, since in today’s times this is the set date of Shavuos, therefore we say during the prayers of Shavuos “Zman Matan Toraseinu”, as on the 6th of Sivan the Torah was given.[2] [Furthermore, there is also an internal connection between Shavuos, which is the 50th day of the Omer, and Matan Torah, as the Torah is fit to be received on the 50th day of preparation of Sefira.[3] Accordingly, the Holiday of Shavuos is connected with Matan Torah in various matters of Halacha and Minhag, such as the prohibition to fast according to all opinions[4], reading the section of the Aseres Hadibros in Kerias Hatorah, beautifying one’s home with flours and plants, staying awake throughout the night learning, and eating dairy. Some Poskim[5] explain that Hashem did not desire to explicitly inherit a specific date for the commemoration of Matan Torah, as the Torah is everlasting and is a part of a Jews daily life.]

When did Shavuos fall during the year of Matan Torah?[6] Even in the year that the Torah was given, the 6th of Sivan was not the 50th day of count, [and hence did not fall on the holiday of Shavuos]. In that year, the 50th day of count fell on the 5th of Sivan, which was the day before Matan Torah. This is because in that year, there were 52 days between the exodus from Egypt and the giving of the Torah, as both the months of Iyar and Sivan began on the 31st day, and thus the 50th day from when the counting of the Omer began, which is the day after the exodus, fell on the 5th of Iyar.[7] Accordingly, Shavuos was celebrated the day before Matan Torah. However, today the 6th of Sivan is 51 days from the 15th of Sivan, which is the day that the Jewish people left Egypt. Nevertheless, despite the fact that Matan Torah took place on the 51st day of count of the Omer, we still state “Zeman Matan Toraseinu” in our prayers of Shavuos which is only the 50th day of the Omer, being that it is the 6th of Sivan, and on the 6th of Sivan the Torah was given.

 

Q&A

What is the law if one crossed the international dateline during Sefira and went back or forward a weekday? What number Sefira is he to count, and when does he celebrate Shavuos?[8]

Ø  Example 1-Traveled from California To Australia: One traveled from California to Australia on Sunday night, the 15th day of Omer, on an 11:00 PM flight. After 16 hours of flight travel, he arrived in Australia at 3:00 PM Monday California time. However, in Australia, the current time is 9:00 AM Tuesday, and is the 16th day of Omer! [The time difference between California and Australia is approximately 17 hours, with Australia being 17 hours ahead.] When Maariv of Tuesday night arrives, what day of Omer is the traveler to count, the 17th, like Australia, or the 16th like California?

Ø  Example 2-Traveled from Australia to California: One traveled from Australia to California on Monday night, the 15 day of Omer, on an 8:00 PM flight. After 16 hours of flight travel he arrived in California at 12:00 PM Tuesday Australia time. However, in California, the current time is 7:00 PM Monday, and is the 15th day of Omer! [The time difference between California and Australia is about 17 hours, with Australia being 17 hours ahead.] For Maariv of Monday night, what day of Omer is the traveler to count, is he to repeat the 15th like California, or is he to count the 16th like Australia?

Example 1: Some Poskim[9] rule one is to count the 16th day without a blessing and then count the 17th with a blessing, just like Australia. On every subsequent night, he only counts like Australia. Others[10] rule he is to count the 17th, like Australia, without a blessing. So too, on each subsequent night, he is to count without a blessing, being he missed the 16th day of count. The Rebbe[11] rules that one is to hear the blessing from another person[12] and then count the 16th, which is his main count, and then sometime later count the 17th without a blessing. The same applies for each subsequent night, with his California count being his main number of count. In such a case, this traveler is to celebrate Shavuos on the 50th day of his main count, and hence he begins to celebrate Shavuos one day later than the inhabitants of Australia.[13] He is to wear Tefillin on the 6th of Sivan just like a weekday, and is to keep Shavuos on the 7th-8th of Sivan.[14] He does not recite the words “Zeman Matan Toraseinu” in his Shavuos Shemoneh Esrei.[15] 

Example 2: Some Poskim[16] rule he is to recount the 15th day without a blessing and then on every subsequent night he counts with a blessing just like California. The Rebbe[17] rules that one is to hear the blessing from another person and then count the 16th, which is his main count, and then sometime later count the 15th without a blessing. The same applies for each subsequent night, with his Australia count being his main number of count. In such a case, this traveler is to celebrate Shavuos on the 50th day of his main count, and hence he begins to celebrate Shavuos one day earlier than the inhabitants of California.[18] He is to keep Shavuos on the 5th-6th of Sivan and put on Tefillin on the 7th of Sivan like a regular weekday.[19] He does not recite the words “Zeman Matan Toraseinu” in his Shavuos Shemoneh Esrei of the 5th of Sivan.[20] 

Does this law apply likewise to a woman, or to a person who was not counting Sefira?[21] Yes. Even if one did not count Sefira, he is to follow the above-mentioned law regarding his date of celebration of Chag Hashavuos.[22]

Avoiding travel:[23] According to all opinions, one is to initially avid traveling during the period of Sefira in a flight pattern that will add or subtract from him a day of Sefira. This applies for both men and women.

Did not cross dateline but diminished or added hours:[24] One who traveled to a western or eastern time zone, and hence shortened or lengthened his day, is to count Sefira with a blessing when nighttime arrives in his destination, irrelevant of whether he had more or less than 24 hours in his previous day’s count.

 

 

Maaseh Shehayah:[25]

One year the 5th of Sivan fell on Friday night, which would be followed by Shavuos on Motzei Shabbos. That Friday night, Rav Yoel Kahn, the renowned Chozer of the Rebbe, discovered that his [Israeli] Shabbos guest had just arrived from Japan and had crossed the international dateline, thus gaining an extra weekday upon his arrival to New York. Rav Yoel told the guest that seemingly tonight was the 50th day of Omer for him, and he is therefore to celebrate Shavuos tonight! This occurred prior to any final decisions being delivered from the Rebbe on this matter and therefore Rav Yoel did not say any conclusive ruling for the guest. It was too late to ask a Rav at that time, so he told the guest to repeat Shemoneh Esrei, and recite Shemoneh Esrei of Yom Tov Shavuos, and then repeat Kiddush for Yom Tov. The next day in Shul, after asking Rabbanim the Shaala, a great commotion broke out amongst the Rabbanim regarding when Shavuos should be celebrated by this guest. There was no clear decision. Rav Yoel suggested to the guest that he should wait on line after Davening, and as the Rebbe passes by he should tell the Rebbe that he was in Japan. He did as he was told and the Rebbe replied to him “Good Shabbos, Good Yom Tov, a happy receiving of the Torah.” This was a clear ruling that the guest should keep Shavuos on Shabbos, and so he followed that year. That night, Motzei Shabbos, the first night of Shavuos, the Rebbe summoned Rav Yoel Kahn and told him to instruct his guest that tomorrow he is to put on Tefillin and keep a regular weekday [the guest was evidently from Israel].

_______________________________________________________

[1] Admur 494:1

[2] Admur ibid; Rivash 96; Peri Chadash 494:1; Chok Yaakov 494:1; See Likkutei Sichos 3:997

Other opinions: The Divrei Nechemia Hashlamos 581 Kuntrus Acharon suggests that the reason we say Zeman Matan Toraseinu in Davening, and connect Shavuos with Matan Torah, is because in truth the Torah was meant to be given on the 50th day of the Omer, which is the Shaar Hanun of Bina, and it is due to alternative factors that in the first year the giving of the Torah was delayed until the next day. Accordingly, each year, on the 50th day of the Omer, the revelations of Matan Torah take effect irrelevant to the day of the month, and therefore even if Shavuos falls on the 5th or 7th of Sivan one is to say Zeman Matan Toraseinu. The Rebbe ibid negates his opinion.

[3] See Divrei Nechemia ibid and Likkutei Sichos 3:997; The Divrei Nechemia Hashlamos 581 Kuntrus Acharon suggests that the reason we say Zeman Matan Toraseinu in Davening, and connect Shavuos with Matan Torah is because in truth the Torah was meant to be given on the 50th day of the Omer, which is the Shaar Hanun of Bina, and it is due to alternative factors that in the first year the giving of the Torah was delayed until the next day. Accordingly, each year, on the 50th day of the Omer, the revelations of Matan Torah take effect irrelevant to the day of the month, and therefore even if Shavuos falls on the 5th or 7th of Sivan one is to say Zeman Matan Toraseinu. The Rebbe ibid negates his opinion, although explains that there are two aspects of Matan Torah, one personal and the second global. The personal Matan Torah is on one’s 50th day of count, irrelevant of the date of the month. The global Matan Torah however only takes place on the 6th of Sivan each year, irrelevant to one’s day of count. The personal Matan Torah represents that time that one is fit to receive the Torah while the global Matan Torah represents when Hashem actually gives the Torah.

[4] See Pesachim 68b “Everyone agrees that on Atzeres one needs Lachem, as this is the day the Torah was given”

[5] Aruch Hashulchan 494:2

[6] Admur ibid; M”A 494:1; Chok Yaakov 494:1; See also Admur 468:22 “As on the day of Shavuos, before Matan Torah, a spirit called Tavuach came and said that if the Jewish people do not accept the Torah he will slaughter them, their blood and flesh. Therefore, there is an everlasting danger in every generation to let blood on this day, which is Erev Shavuos.”; See Aruch Hashulchan 494:1

[7] The proof: As the Jewish people left Egypt on a Thursday, and the Torah was given on the third month on Shabbos which is the 6th of Sivan. [There are thus 52 days between the 15th of Nissan and the 6th of Sivan.] This is because both Nissan and Iyar were Malei months that year, and since the 15th of Nissan was on Thursday, it ends up that the first of Iyar was on Shabbos, 16 [17] days after the exodus. Likewise, the 1st of Sivan was on Monday, which was 46 [47] days from the exodus. Shabbos was the 6th of Sivan which was 52 days since the exodus, and the 51st day of the Omer. [Admur ibid]

[8] See Likkutei Sichos 3:997; Igros Kodesh 3:119; 17:153, 265, 358; Sichas and letters of the Rebbe printed in Shulchan Menachem 3:18-28; Piskeiy Teshuvos 489:6

[9] Mishneh Halachos 10:121

[10] Betzel Hachachmah 5:96-97; Beir Moshe 7 Elektri 90

[11] Likkutei Sichos 3:997 views his own count as main/only count; Igros Kodesh 3:119 [views both counts as true Safek]; 17:153  and 265 [Says to count both days] [printed in Shulchan Menachem ibid]

[12] Igros Kodesh 3:119 [must count without a blessing]; 17:153 [Tzaruch Iyun if may say blessing] and 265 [Best to hear blessing from another], printed in Shulchan Menachem ibid

The reason: The Rebbe ibid writes that one is to hear the blessing from another being that there is room to doubt which day of Sefira it is for him and it requires further analysis if one can say a blessing on a questionable count.

[13] Likkutei Sichos 3:997; Igros Kodesh 17:153 and 265 [brought in Shulchan Menachem ibid]; See Kinyan Torah 5:46

The Rebbe’s opinions: In the first letter that the Rebbe wrote on this subject in Igros Kodesh 3:119, the Rebbe is left in doubt as to which day of Sefira he must count and hence suggests that one is to celebrate Shavuos due to doubt on the same days as his location, although is to put on Tefillin on the first day of Yom Tov, count the 49th day of Omer, and not get an Aliya on either day. However, in a later talk, published in Likkutei Sichos ibid, the Rebbe concluded that his main count is his personal count and hence he must celebrate Shavuos on his personal date, which is a day later than Australia. This ruling was later emphasized in letters in Igros Kodesh 17:153 and 265 although the Rebbe concluded there by sending the asker to receive this ruling from at least two other Rabbanim. 

The reason: As the Torah set Shavuos for the 50th day of Sefira, and not on the 6th of Sivan [Admur 494:1; Chok Yaakov 494:1] and hence if one’s 50th day falls before or after the 6th of Sivan, that is when he is to celebrate Shavuos, irrelevant of the day of celebration of his current location. Tzaruch Iyun from Admur 600:1 in parentheses who writes that in times of Kiddush Hachodesh they would send emissaries to notify the public of the day of Rosh Chodesh Sivan. This implies that Shavuos is set to the 6th day of Sivan and not the 50th day of count, as otherwise, what necessity is there for them to know which day was the 1st of Sivan, either way they will keep Shavuos on the 50th day from the 16th of Nissan. Vetzaruch Iyun!

[14] See Likkutei Sichos 3:997

[15] Likkutei Sichos 3:997

Other opinions: The Divrei Nechemia Hashlamos 581 Kuntrus Acharon suggests that the reason we say Zeman Matan Toraseinu in Davening, and connect Shavuos with Matan Torah is because in truth the Torah was meant to be given on the 50th day of the Omer, which is the Shaar Hanun of Bina, and it is due to alternative factors that in the first year the giving of the Torah was delayed until the next day. Accordingly, each year, on the 50th day of the Omer, the revelations of Matan Torah take effect irrelevant to the day of the month, and therefore even if Shavuos falls on the 5th or 7th of Sivan one is to say Zeman Matan Toraseinu. The Rebbe ibid negates his opinion.

[16] Betzel Hachachmah 5:96-97; Beir Moshe 7 Elektri 90

[17] Likkutei Sichos 3:997 views his own count as main/only count; Igros Kodesh 3:119 [views both counts as true Safek]; 17:153 and 265 [Says to count both days] [printed in Shulchan Menachem ibid]

[18] Likkutei Sichos 3:997; Igros Kodesh 17:153 and 265 [brought in Shulchan Menachem ibid]; See Kinyan Torah 5:46

The Rebbe’s opinions: In the first letter that the Rebbe wrote on this subject in Igros Kodesh 3:119, the Rebbe is left in doubt as to which day of Sefira he must count and hence suggests that one is to celebrate Shavuos due to doubt on the same days as his location, although is to put on Tefillin on the first day of Yom Tov, count the 49th day of Omer, and not get an Aliya on either day. However, in a later talk, published in Likkutei Sichos ibid, the Rebbe concluded that his main count is his personal count and hence he must celebrate Shavuos on his personal date, which is a day later than Australia. This ruling was later emphasized in letters in Igros Kodesh 17:153 and 265 although the Rebbe concluded there by sending the asker to receive this ruling from at least two other Rabbanim. 

The reason: As the Torah set Shavuos for the 50th day of Sefira, and not on the 6th of Sivan [Admur 494:1; Chok Yaakov 494:1] and hence if one’s 50th day falls before or after the 6th of Sivan, that is when he is to celebrate Shavuos, irrelevant of the day of celebration of his current location. Tzaruch Iyun from Admur 600:1 in parentheses who writes that in times of Kiddush Hachodesh they would send emissaries to notify the public of the day of Rosh Chodesh Sivan. This implies that Shavuos is set to the 6th day of Sivan and not the 50th day of count, as otherwise, what necessity is there for them to know which day was the 1st of Sivan, either way they will keep Shavuos on the 50th day from the 16th of Nissan. Vetzaruch Iyun!

[19] See Likkutei Sichos 3:997

[20] Likkutei Sichos 3:997

Other opinions: The Divrei Nechemia Hashlamos 581 Kuntrus Acharon suggests that the reason we say Zeman Matan Toraseinu in Davening, and connect Shavuos with Matan Torah is because in truth the Torah was meant to be given on the 50th day of the Omer, which is the Shaar Hanun of Bina, and it is due to alternative factors that in the first year the giving of the Torah was delayed until the next day. Accordingly, each year, on the 50th day of the Omer, the revelations of Matan Torah take effect irrelevant to the day of the month, and therefore even if Shavuos falls on the 5th or 7th of Sivan one is to say Zeman Matan Toraseinu. The Rebbe ibid negates his opinion.

[21] Answer of Rebbe to Nitei Gavriel 35:9; Shulchan Menachem 3:25

[22] The reason: As the Holiday of Shavuos is not dependent on the actual counting of the Omer, but rather on the physical occurrence of 50 days. [Likkutei Sichos 3:997]

[23] Igros Kodesh 20:112 and 148; Answer of Rebbe, brought in Nitei Gavriel 35 footnote13

[24] Beir Moshe 7 Elektri 90; Kinyan Torah 5:46; See Mikraeiy Kodesh Pesach 2:63; See Igros Kodesh 26:250 who leaves this matter with a Tzaruch Iyun

[25] Heard from Rav Yoel Kahn in a published interview he had with Living Torah, available here http:::www.chabad.org:therebbe:livingtorah:player_cdo:aid:3346483:jewish:Crossing-the-Line.htm

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