Sunday, May 20, 2012

Convalescence and Full Recovery

The Avnei Nezer, zt”l, provides a deep explanation of Pesach, Sefirah and Shavuos. “The Zohar explains why we absolutely refrain from chometz on Pesach, yet we specifically bring an offering of chometz on Shavuos. This can be understood with a parable of a king whose only son was very sick. The doctors said that the king’s son should eat a healing diet to help him recover. But when the son became well again, there was no need for him to confine himself to eating according to such a restricted plan. The Avnei Nezer explained, “The same is true regarding chometz. On Pesach we are ill and must eat matzah to heal us. But after the splitting of the sea, we are no longer vulnerable to chometz and can now bring it up on the altar. We can understand this in view of the words of the Ramban in Devarim 29:17. As is well known, chometz is likened to the yetzer hara. On Pesach we are likened to an ill person who cannot absorb foods that are difficult to digest. By Shavuos we are so completely recovered that we can serve Hashem with our yetzer hara. “In light of this we understand why the Lechem Hapanim—which was set up on Shabbos—must be matzah and may not be chametz. Although Shabbos is higher than Shavuos, it has a dual purpose. It is the pinnacle of the week that passed. But it is also the source of the blessings for the week to come, as we find in the Zohar. The showbread is set up on Shabbos to stay until the next week and is the source of material bounty for the next week, as the Ramban writes in Parshas Terumah. Clearly, this does not allude to the first aspect of completion of the week gone by. Lechem Hapanim, in its bearing of the blessing of the coming week, must be matzah to signify that it represents a new beginning which has not yet come to culmination. Shavuos is the culmination of Pesach and the Sefirah. Since it alludes to completion, we bring the offering of the two breads specifically from chometz.”

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