Guest post on Shavuos by R Meir Deutsch

Please note the copyright.

The following is a continuation to the article of “Why do we count the Omer”.
We tried there to explain that our sages fixed the date for Shavuoth to the Sixth of Sivan to enable us to call that festival also “Chag Matan Torathenu”.
In the following article I try to find out if our sages did succeed with their aim. Is the Sixth of Sivan “Chag Matan Torathenu”?
As I usually say: beside the sources quoted, the rest are my assumptions. You can either accept them or not.
I would appreciate your comments and opinions.

חג השבועות מאיר דויטש סיוון תשע”ד
© כל הזכויות שמורות

חג השבועות הוא החג היחיד שהתורה אינה נותנת לו תאריך. לא נאמר בו “בחודש השלישי בששה לחודש”. החג נקבע על-ידי ספירה הידועה כספירת העומר. לאחר שבעה שבועות של ספירה מחג המצות חוגגים חג. ידועה המחלוקת בין הבייתוסים ובין חז”ל בעניין הספירה. הראשונים סופרים ממחרת יום השבת שלאחר חג המצות ואנו סופרים למחרת יום ראשון של החג ללא הבדל באיזה יום בשבוע הוא חל. בקביעת חז”ל כי ספירת העומר תתחיל ביום שלאחר חג המצות מקבע את חג השבועות ליום ו’ בסיוון(ראה המאמר על ספירת העומר).

לחג זה גם אין שם ייחודי משלו. בתורה עצמה הוא נקרא במספר שמות.
חג הקציר – בשמות כג הוא: “חג הקציר ביכורי מעשיך אשר תזרע בשדה”.
חג שבועות – שמות לד שמו: “וחג שבועות תעשה לך ביכורי קציר חיטים”.
יום הביכורים – במדבר כח נקרא: “וביום הביכורים בהקריבכם מנחה חדשה”.
חז”ל מוסיפים:
עצרת – שם זה ניתן על ידי חכמינו הרואים בו כנראה המשכו של חג המצות, ואת אותם השבועות שביניהם כימי חולו של מועד (ראה רבנו בחיי בנושא-ויקרא כג, טז). חג השבועות הוא עצרת של חג המצות כמו עצרת שלאחר חג סוכות.
בחג המצות נאמר (דברים טז):
(ז) וּבִשַּׁלְתָּ֙ וְאָ֣כַלְתָּ֔ בַּמָּק֕וֹם אֲשֶׁ֥ר יִבְחַ֪ר ה’ אֱלֹהֶ֖יךָ בּ֑וֹ וּפָנִ֣יתָ בַבֹּ֔קֶר וְהָלַכְתָּ֖ לְאֹהָלֶֽיךָ:
(ח) שֵׁ֥שֶׁת יָמִ֖ים תֹּאכַ֣ל מַצּ֑וֹת וּבַיּ֣וֹם הַשְּׁבִיעִ֗י עֲצֶ֙רֶת֙ לַה’ אֱ – לֹהֶ֔יךָ לֹ֥א תַעֲשֶׂ֖ה מְלָאכָֽה:

אנו רואים כאן כי לחג המצות יש כבר עצרת משלו ביום השביעי. האם הוא צריך עצרת שנייה, נוספת, בתום ספירת העומר?
וחג מתן תורה – שם שאינו מוזכר בתורה אבל רבותינו רואים בתאריך זה את יום מתן תורה.

הבה נבדוק כיצד זה חג מתן תורה.

בשמות יט נאמר: “בחודש השלישי לצאת בני ישראל מארץ מצרים, ביום הזה באו מדבר סיני”.
רבותינו אומרים: בחודש = בראש חודש. חודש השלישי = סיוון.
הגמרא אומרת (שבת פב, ב) כולי עלמה סוברים:
יציאת מצרים ביום ה’.
קבלת תורה ביום שבת.
אני אוהב חישובים. ננסה להגיע עם המשוואה הזו של הגמרא לחג השבועות.

בדיקה בלוח מראה לנו כי חודש ניסן תמיד מלא (30 ימים) וחודש אייר תמיד חסר (29 ימים).
אם טו בניסן הוא יום ה’ הרי א’ אייר הוא יום שבת ולכן א’ בסיוון הוא יום א’.
אם א’ בסיוון הוא יום א’ אז ו’ בסיוון הוא יום ו’ ולא יום שבת שהיא נקודת המטרה שלנו כדי להגיע לסברת רבותינו. אם כן, קבלת התורה או שלא היתה בשבת או לא היתה ב-ו’ בסיוון.

ננסה לפתור בדרך אחרת:
אנו סופרים (ספירת העומר) ממחרת יציאת מצרים. אם יציאת מצרים הייתה ביום ה’ אז נתחיל בספירה באותה שנה ביום ו’.
שבעה שבועות מסתיימים אם כן ביום ה’ ויום החמישים הוא יום ו’.
אם התורה ניתנה ביום השבת הרי יום מתן תורה אינו חל ביום החמישים שהוא שבועות אלא ביום החמישים ואחד שהוא ז’ בסיוון.
בכל החישובים הגענו לאותה תוצאה – או שהתורה לא ניתנה ביום ו’ בסיוון אלא בז’ בו, או שהתורה לא ניתנה בשבת.

את הדיון בנושא אנו מוצאים במסכת יומא ד, ב. כאן כולם בדעה שהתורה ניתנה ביום השבת. הדעות השונות הן אם מתן תורה היה ביום ו’ בסיוון או ביום ז’ בו. הגמרה אומרת:
“דתניא: בששה בחודש ניתנה תורה לישראל, רבי יוסי אומר: בשבעה בו.”
תנא קמא סובר כי התורה ניתנה ב-ו’ בסיוון (תומך בדעה זו גם רבי יוסי הגלילי) וכדי שהחישוב יצא נכון ויגיע למטרתו ש-ו’ בסיוון הוא יום שבת, הוא סובר כי באותה שנה היה חודש אייר מלא (30 ימים ולא 29 ימים) – (ראה שבת פז, ב): “ריש ירחא דאייר שבתא, וריש ירחא דסיון – חד בשבת, קשיא לרבנן! אמרי לך רבנן: אייר דההיא שתא – עבורי עברוה”. כך מנסים לפתור את עניין הלוח שיתאים הן ל-ו’ בסיוון והן שיחול ביום שבת. אבל עתה נוצרה לדעה זו בעיה אחרת, בעייה שהברייתא אינה מזכירה: השאלה של מספר הימים. הרי אם אייר מלא, הימים מחג המצות לחג השבועות וליום מתן תורה מסתכמים ב-51 כאשר לפי התורה חג השבועות הוא ביום החמישים.

לעומת התנא קמא, רבי יוסי סובר כי מתן תורה לא היה בחג השבועות אלא ביום ז’ בסיוון שהוא ביום השבת באותה שנה, ולפי חישוביו עולם כמנהגו נוהג ולוח השנה אינו משתנה, ואין צורך לעבר את חודש אייר של אותה שנה, סופרים מחג המצות לשבועות רק חמישים יום. אבל, לפי חישוביו, יום מתן תורה אינו בחג השבועות אלא הוא יום אחד אחר חג השבועות – ז’ בסיוון. גם רבי עקיבא סובר כרבי יוסי שהתורה ניתנה בז’ בסיוון.

בתפילת “יעלה ויבוא” אנו מזכירים את החג “חג השבועות” אבל למרות קביעה זו של רבי יוסי אנו ממשיכים לקרוא (האם בטעות?) בתפילת שחרית ובתפילת מוסף את חג השבועות “זמן מתן תורתנו”.

יש לציין כי לתושבי חוץ לארץ יש כאן יתרון בחג שבועות לעומת תושבי ארץ ישראל. היושבים בגולה עושים את חג השבועות יומיים, בכך הם מקבלים את חג מתן תורתנו הן בששי בסיוון וכן בשביעי בסיוון, דהיינו גם כדעת תנא קמא וגם כדעת רבי יוסי.

חג שבועות, חג הקציר וחג הביכורים שמח.

picture from the incredible tide

Author: pitputim

I'm a computer science professor in Melbourne, Australia although my views have nought to do with my employer. I skylark as the band leader/singer for the Schnapps Band. My high schooling was in Chabad and I continued at Yeshivat Kerem B'Yavneh in Israel.

7 thoughts on “Guest post on Shavuos by R Meir Deutsch”

  1. What is his point? Nothing he writes is at all obscure, but he doesn’t seem to have a conclusion.

    Yes, matan torah was on the 51st day of the omer. (Except according to the opinion at the end of the sugya in Shabbos that yetzias mitzrayim was on a Friday.) Everyone knows that. So what?

    Before the modern calendar, there was never a guarantee that Shavuos would be on the 6th of Sivan, the day the Torah was given. Often it would be then, but sometimes it would be on the 5th or the 7th. Again, who doesn’t know that, and so what? (I seem to recall that Dovid Hamelech’s yortzeit is on the 7th of Sivan; evidently that year Shovuos fell on the 7th.)

    There’s probably a drosho to be found in the fact that both of our Torah celebrations — Shovuos and Simchas Torah — are attached to yomim tovim that Hashem had already given us for other reasons. But he doesn’t seem to be making this point.

    So what point is he making?

    PS: He also seems to assume that it’s a great dochak to suppose that a month deviated from its modern length. Why? It’s almost as if he doesn’t know that the modern calendar, with its fixed lengths of months, is only ~1600 years old. But surely he must know that.

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    1. Dear Milhousevh,

      You came to a conclusion as of the date of Matan Torah. You write that Matan Torah was on the 51st day of the Omer (not that there is such a thing, because we count only 49 days. I assume that you mean the 7th of Sivan). You came to that conclusion but still say on the 6th day of Sivan in your prayers Zman Matan Toratenu, or don’t you.
      I do favour Rabbi Yossi’s and Rabbi Akiva’s conclusions, as they seem more accurate in my view, but I do not take sides. I gave a REMEZ to this thought of mine by writing:
      למרות קביעה זו של רבי יוסי אנו ממשיכים לקרוא (האם בטעות?) בתפילת שחרית ובתפילת מוסף את חג השבועות “זמן מתן תורתנו”.
      About calendars, I refer you again to “Why do we count the Omer”, where I elaborated the topic. I referred the readers to that article, as I try not to repeat myself. From your writing, I assume, you did not read it.
      About what you write in your PS. ” He also seems to assume that it’s a great dochak to suppose that a month deviated from its modern length.” Where did you get that from? Did I write or mention any Dochak? Deviation of a month at that time was possible. We already said that Shavuoth may fall (at that time) on the 5th, 6th or 7th of Sivan.

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      1. You came to a conclusion as of the date of Matan Torah. You write that Matan Torah was on the 51st day of the Omer (not that there is such a thing, because we count only 49 days. I assume that you mean the 7th of Sivan).

        No, I don’t mean the 7th of Sivan at all! I mean the 51st day of the Omer. Yetzias Mitzrayim was on a Thursday, and Matan Torah was 7 weeks and 2 days later. Thus it was the 51st day, no matter what the date happened to be. This is not some sort of chiddush, it’s common knowledge. For some reason nobody seems to mention the conclusion of the sugya in Shabbos, which quotes a source that says yetzias mitzrayim was on a Friday. (And yes, there certainly is a 51st day of the Omer, just as there is a 50th day, which is Shavuos. For that matter there is also a 100th day and a 317th day, and even a 10000th day from any specific Omer, but nobody keeps track of them because they are meaningless.)

        Whether it was the 6th of the 7th of Sivan is the machlokes in the gemara, and the halacha is like the rabanan that it was the 6th. Yachid verabim halacha kerabim. That’s why, nowadays, since Shavuos is always on the 6th, we say “zman matan toraseinu”. When it was on the 5th or the 7th they probably didn’t say that. But that’s completely irrelevant to how many days it was from the Omer.

        So tell me, what is the point of your article? You list several well-known facts, but don’t draw any sort of conclusion from them.

        About what you write in your PS. ” He also seems to assume that it’s a great dochak to suppose that a month deviated from its modern length.” Where did you get that from? Did I write or mention any Dochak?

        I got it from the fact that in the introduction to your article you refer to the modern calendar as an established fact, that should be assumed to have held then. Then you treat the gemara’s statement that according to the rabanan that Iyar had 30 days as some kind of astounding chidush; and then when you discuss R Yosi’s opinion you note that according to him there is no need to lengthen Iyar, as if it’s something we should be reluctant to do. In other words, as if it were a dochak. But the plain fact is that it isn’t. Before the modern calendar a 30-day Iyar was just as likely as a 29-day one (though normally it would be expected to follow a 29-day Nissan).

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        1. Dear R’ Milhousevh,

          We count the days from Chag Hamatzoth to Chag Hashavuoth to fix a date for Chag Hashavuoth which has no date in the Bible. This counting terminates once we have reached our goal. It is not a diary and is not connected for fixing a date for anything else. Why on earth would I want to continue counting after Shavuoth? I could have my wedding on the 33rd day of Omer (Lag Ba’Omer). Did you celebrate your Bar-Mitzva on the 5000th day of Omer? (Excuse me for using your kind of wording).

          I presented the facts as seen by me. I gave a clue that Rabbi Yossi and Rabbi Akiva, who say that Matan Tora was on the 7th of Sivan are more logical in my humble view. Do I have to come to a conclusion? I left it to the reader to come to his conclusion. Each reader with his own conclusion. I do not dictate conclusions.

          I see that you posted a comment in “Why do we have to count the Omer”. As nobody is going back to read the old articles, and as there is no indication on the PITPUTIM page that a new comment was posted there, I shall try and give my reply to that comment of yours here.
          I agree with your quote of the Rambam. Maybe I had to be more precise. I should have written Rabotenu and not Chazal. The Omer was brought to the Beth Hamikdosh, and there was surely a tradition already at that time.

          I think that a correct definition of Mipi Ha’Shmuah is:

          א. מסורת הנמסרת מדור לדור (ראה פרקי אבות ואחרים)
          ב. דברים שנתקבלו מנביאי ישראל
          ג. דברים שנתקבלו מרבותינו

          or as Danny says: ” תורה שבעל פה […] a received tradition. ”
          I came to this definition from the Rambam himself. He writes in the first chapter of Hilchos Mamrim, that deals, amongst others, in Mipi Ha’Shmuah,
          זו הקבלה שקיבלו איש מפי איש””
          and in the introduction to the Ha’Yad Ha’Chazaka he says:
          בכל דור ודור ראש בי”ד או נביא שהיה באותו הדור כותב לעצמו זכרון השמועות ששמע מרבותיו והוא מלמד בע”פ לרבים.
          As a man of the book you surely know that when Moshe went to heaven (Mnachot 29,b) he asked to be shown the Beth Hamidrash of Akiva ben Yosef. He was sitting there and listening and did not know what they were talking about. Only when he heard Akiva’s reply to a question: “Halacha l’Moshe Mi’Sinay” he quieted down.

          Have you got a different definition for Mipi Ha’Shmuah?

          I will not elaborate on Mipi Ha’Shmuah, just a few anecdotes. In Baba Metziah 59,b the whole Bet Din heard the Bat Kol from heaven (quite a Shmiah), but they did not accept it. We know the story of Akavya Ben Mahalalel in Eduyot chapter 5 Mishnah 7. He himself did not change his mind on the 4 things, but told his son to go back on them and accept the new Da’at Rabim (the new Shmuah) – now we have two Shmuoth.
          In Sanhedrin 88,a we see:

          ” ר’ אלעזר אומר אפילו הוא [זקן ממרה] אומר מפי השמועה, והן [החכמים] אומרים כך נראה בעיננו, נהרג כדי שלא ירבו מחלוקות בישראל.”
          I know that are others who oppose him, but I want to point out R’ Elazar’s opinion. We see here that even the Mipi Ha’Shmuah does not help the poor Zaken from being executed.
          Why do we have a Tora She’Biktav and a Tora She’Ba’alPe? There are opinions that the written law cannot be changed, but the oral law has not been written, so that future generations can add changes. You can see a clue of it in the introduction of the Rambam mentioned above. Each one writes it for himself, but transmits it to the public orally.
          Whatever I wrote has nothing to do with belief in the Tora she B’al Pe.

          Why should one not quote from the Sefer Hayovlot. It gave another view to the differences between our sages (or as you quote the Rambam – Mipi Hashmuah) and the Beytuses. It could actually bridge between the two. We know now that that calendar is not perfect (ours is neither). It is just information, not Halacha. Would I be allowed by you to quote the Babylonian Calendar? I did, and in my humble opinion, our modern calendar is based on it. As I said:
          (לוח השנה הבבלי שימש כנראה את אבותינו שבעצם אימצו אותו. בלוח זה שמות החודשים דומים לחודשים שלנו, וגם הבבלים הוסיפו אדרו שני בלוח במחזור של 19 שנים.)

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          1. I’m afraid what you are preaching is pure apikorsus. Torah shb’al Peh does not mean, ch”v, what our teachers made up! Anything they made up of their own accord is not Torah, and as no authority. We have an expression, when one is absolutely sure that their interpretation on some point is correct, that “even if Yehoshua bin Nun will tell me differently I will not accept it”. Because Yehoshua has no more right to make things up than I do. Only if Yehoshua tells me that he heard it from Moshe, who heard it from Hashem, will I accept it. And that is what Torah sheb’al Peh means — the halachos that Moshe taught, and were handed down from then.

            Moshe also handed down the rules by which these laws could be reconstructed if they were lost, and indeed those rules came in handy in the days of Osniel ben Knaz, and again after the days of Hillel and Shammai, when many of the halachos were lost and had to be reconstructed. But this is only valid if we are honestly trying to reconstruct what the law is, not when we are consciously making up what we would like the law to be. That is fraud, it is megaleh ponim batorah shelo kehalacha, and one who does this is a rasha from whom one may not learn anything.

            You have completely distorted the story of Moshe and R Akiva. Moshe saw R Akiva deriving halachos in ways that he could not understand, and teaching Torah entirely without reference to him, and he felt useless. He felt that his role in the transmission of Torah had been superceded, and he was no longer necessary. Then there came a question that R Akiva could not answer logically, a halacha that he could not derive from a posuk, and he answered “this is simply a halacha that we received from Moshe Rabbenu, and without that transmission we would not know it”. And that is what reassured Moshe; now he knew that his role would remain vital in the transmission of Torah even in R Akiva’s day, that even R Akiva would have to acknolwedge a debt to him.

            Specifically with regard to the calendar, the Torah tells us hachodesh hazeh lochem, that we are to fix our calendar according to the moon. And that has been the principle that has driven our calendar from that day to this. By direct observation when possible, by calculation when not, but always following the moon. This is what Chazal tell us it means, and one who denies that is not an Orthodox Jew, and has no part in the Next World. We are authorised to make slight deviations, to make a month 30 days even if we know the moon has been seen, or to make it 29 even if we know it hasn’t been seen, but that is the extent of our authority. We are certainly not authorised to institute a fixed solar calendar!

            Your claim that we adopted the Babylonian calendar is nonsense. We adopted the month names, not the calendar itself! The Rambam says in Hilchos Kiddush Hachodesh that Moshe was given the general rules for calculating the calendar when it can’t be determined by observation; this was essentially our modern calendar, though not necessarily identical in every detail.

            As for quoting that heretical book Sefer Hayovlot, it’s not even clear where one gets a heter to read it in the first place. I’m not saying one shouldn’t read it, but at least one has to be aware when one does so that one may have to account for this Later. To bring a proof from it as if it were a valid source from which to challenge sifrei kodesh is not the way of a Jew; as I quoted from the gemara, “ani meivi lecho ra’ayo min hatoroh, ve’atoh meivi li ra’ayo min hatipshim?!”

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            1. Thank you for the title you bestowed on me.

              IM KOL HAKAVOD. Before you quote me, please make sure that I said it.
              You write: By suggesting that R Yosi was right you are challenging a halacha in Shulchan Aruch!
              I have written: Rabbi Yossi and Rabbi Akiva, who say that Matan Tora was on the 7th of Sivan are more logical in my humble view.

              Are the two statements the same? Am I challenging a Halacha?

              I decided to deal with your last comment here and give you the privilege of the “last word” on that page.

              You refer to an “expression” which you twist to Tora She Bal’Pe – it is written in Chulin 124a:
              אי אמר לי יהושע בן נון משמיה לא צייתנא ליה
              I just want to point out how this was used by the רי”ד :
              (שו”ת הרי”ד סימן א)
              אך זה יש כי כל דבר שאינו נראה לי מתוך הספר אי אמרה יהושע בן נון לא צייתנא ליה (חולין קכד, א), ואיני נמנע מלכתוב מה שנראה לי כי כך דרך התלמוד לא נמנעו דרך אחרוני האמוראים מלדבר על הראשונים וגם על התנאים, וכמה משניות סתרו מעיקרם וכמה דברי רבים בטלו ופסקו הלכה כיחיד כל שכן שבדבר זה חולקי’ רבנים גדולים ויש לנו לתור ולחקור מתוך הספר הראיות ברורות ולראות כמי ההלכה נוטה, ואין בנו כח ודעת לשקול בפלס הרים מי גדול מחבירו, הילכ’ נניח הרבנים ההמה עליה’ השלום בכבודם ונחזור לבינת הספרים לראות להיכן הדין נוטה.”
              As we can see, for Halacha, in his opinion, we go back to the wisdom of the BOOKS and research them. Torah she’Bidfus.
              By the way, we can see also that he points out that we do not always go after the majority in Piske Halacha.

              I gave my definition of Mipi ha’Shmuah. You do not have to accept it or agree with it. It is my definition.

              The story of Moshe and Rabbi Akiva is in the Bavli. You can add to the story your Kitre Otiyot, but this would be YOUR story not the story in the Talmud.

              We fix our months, not the calendar, according to the moon. The calendar is fixed by the moon and by the sun. The TWO Meorot were created Lemoadim vle’Shanim.
              If you live in the Britannic Gola you will see in the Sidur at the Birchos Hashonim in Shmone-Esre before, Vten Tal Umatar, written (I am quoting from the Singer Prayer Book): “From the 4th December until the first day of Passover…” . Have you ever asked yourself why do they have the 4th December and not a Hebrew date?

              Sefer ha’Yovlot – I did not bring any PROOF from it. You can skip reading that part so that you “may not have to account for this Later”.

              The Babylonian Calendar – If we did not adopt it, or from it, then they, the Babylonians, probably adopted our calendar. If, according to your statement, they had the months, and we copied only their names (including Adaru Sheni), what was their calendar like? Did they have the Machsore Hashanim, Shanim Me’Ubarot and Adaru Sheni? It cannot be that they had only names of months but no calendar.

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          2. In addition to all the above, the halacha was decided long ago like the chachamim and against R Yosi. By suggesting that R Yosi was right you are challenging a halacha in Shulchan Aruch! When do you observe the fast of the fourth month? On the 17th of Tammuz, or the 18th? For the 17th of Tammuz to be the 41st day after the 7th of Sivan, Sivan would have had to have 31 days, which is impossible.

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