Tuesday, June 7, 2011

The Breads and the Lambs of Shavuos

The Rema, zt”l, explains why we bring the breads and two sheep on Shavuos.
He wrote, “The two sheep brought on Shavuos represent the shnei luchos habris as well as the dual declaration, נעשה ונשמע, through which we merited them. The two breads brought along with them allude to the oral Torah which corresponds to every element of the written Torah.
“This explains the halachah that if the shtei halechem are brought without the two lambs they are accepted, but not vice versa. This teaches that the main thing is the oral Torah. One who delves in the oral torah and neglects the written Torah is considered to be in a post facto state of completion. But the person who delves only in the written Torah is compared to one who has no G-d, as our sages revealed. This is also why the two lambs must be alive while they are waved together with the breads. Yet the lambs are also waved since one who does not know the written Torah is sorely lacking. Clearly the written Torah is truly essential, otherwise why did Hashem give it to us?
“Since the sacrifices brought on Shavuos symbolize the intrinsic wholeness of the Jewish people when we delve into the written and oral Torah, there is no sin offering brought in the mussaf of Shavous. The reason we wave the lambs and breads in all six directions is to allude to the revelation at Sinai. On that great day Hashem’s voice was heard resonating from all directions. This is why the chest and foreleg of the lambs were waved again; this alludes to the waving of other sacrifices.
He concluded, “We wave both the foreleg—which alludes to actions—and the chest, which is called the חזה in Hebrew. The chest is where the heart is. It is called חזה, which also means vision, to teach that one perceives the Divine through a pure heart. We wave both to teach that a talmid chacham has to be תוכו כברו—his actions and his heart must both be directed only to Hashem.”

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