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Shabbat Parashat Emor 5779

Ein Ayah: The Right Objective and Subjective Time

(condensed from Ein Ayah, Shabbat 9:19-20)

Gemara: [We saw the disagreement as to whether the Torah was given on the sixth or seventh of Sivan.] Everyone agrees that the Torah was given on Shabbat. It says [in the Ten Commandments], “Remember the day of Shabbat to sanctify it” (Shemot 20:7), and it says [at the time of the Exodus] “Remember this day on which you left Egypt” (ibid. 13:3). Just like there (at the Exodus), it took place on the very day described, so too here it took place on the very day [to which it applies – Shabbat]. What do they disagree about? About the day that was set as the beginning of the month.

 

Ein Ayah: The imprint of the spiritual elevation that stems from the divine source of sanctity, which all great ideas and lofty feelings flow from, shines forth with powerful light at its set time, which renews itself, as we see in day-to-day life. The source of this holy light must be at its full peak and glory when the matter it spurs on begins.   

The light of liberation, which is relived with light and life every Pesach since the original one, increasing the liberty of every Jew, takes its power from the divine utterings that were said on the very day of the liberation. From that point, streams of this power flow forth to give life to a great nation for all generations. That is the reason that the statement of “Remember this day on which you left Egypt,” which was to carry the power of the event to all future times and generations, was said on the day that it occurred.

This idea was carried out not only in regard to the liberation, in the spiritual sense that removed the shackles that tied the people to evil and impurity. Rather, it also applies to the liberation that came from the divine revelation from the lofty Heavens, which leads a person to a goal of holy rest, which bases the whole world in a stable grandeur. That is the reason that the Torah was given on Shabbat, the day that is the source of rest and proper indulgence. The command to “remember the day of Shabbat to sanctify it” would not have had the same spiritual impact on the world had it not been pronounced at a time which has the power to provide its light of life to the world. This eternal sign of covenant between Hashem and His nation, which is the essence of the entire Torah and leads the world toward the days of the World to Come (days that are infused with a complete state of Shabbat) must have been given on Shabbat, at the time of the light. That is why all agree that the Torah was given on Shabbat.

The dispute regarding the time of the giving of the Torah was about which day was set as the beginning of the month. There is a display of sanctity that is set and orderly. It keeps to its job, acts independently, and does not change. That is the sanctity of Shabbat, which is the light-producing force that is eternal, set, and unchanging. It provides eternal life for the souls of every generation. In contrast, there is another display that renews itself, but represents that which changes in the eternal “storage house” of special times and events in the world. This is the foundation of the sanctity of time, i.e., the holidays, which depend on man’s setting of the month.

When it comes to the Torah’s relationship with the basis of its power, there is no room for disagreement. The different opinions can relate only to matters that change with time, such as when the temporary sanctity that accompanies the question of when the beginning of the month will fall. That explains why there is agreement that the Torah was given on Shabbat but there was not agreement what day of the month that ended up being on.

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Nir Rephael ben Rachel Bracha
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