Parshat Shemini – 2010
Please see Shemini 2009 The shalosh regalim, the three major Jewish festivals – 1) Sukkot – when we go out from the solid walls of our homes and enter the makeshift booths remembering the clouds of glory that covered over us on our journey between Egypt and the Land of Israel. 2) Pesach – When we recall being delivered from slavery in Egypt and the miracles G-d performed as He took us out with an outstretched hand. We eat the korban Pesach, matzoh and maror and remove all leaven from our homes. 3) Shavuot – literally means weeks. This is referring to the seven weeks between Pesach and the day of Shavuot. “And you shall count for yourselves from the morrow (the second day of Pesach) seven complete Sabbaths… and then you shall number the fiftieth day.” (Vayikra 22-23:15). This time of weeks represented a spiritual ascent for the Bnei Yisrael as they anticipated receiving the Torah on Sinai. But it had other meanings as well. When the Bnei Yisrael finally entered the Land and were able to actualize the torah by LIVING IT on their soil and working it, the aspect of turning the material into spiritual took on a new significant meaning. Working the Land was a divine commandment, most of us have forgotten this as the thousands of years in exile have dimmed our memories of how it really was to live on the land and perform the many mitzvot connected to the agricultural side of Torah. Shavuot is also known as Chag Habikkurim – the festival of the first fruits.
In Nissan, the light in the Land of Israel increases. As we count the days to Shavuot, the earth becomes warm and the fruits begin to grow and ripen at this time. On the Festival of Bikkurim, the first of the fruits are taken and offered at the Temple in Jerusalem. Specifically the fruits of the seven species- wheat, barley, grapes, figs, olives, pomegranates and dates were all put into a special basket as a token of Thanksgiving to Hashem for the bounty He provided in the Promised Land. Today we feel blessed to be living at a time of history when again, the Land of Israel gives her fruit in abundance. The holiday of Shavuot takes on again, its agricultural significance. This is the connection of the torah (also given on this day) to the Land, making Shavuot the pinnacle of the three festivals. There is always something on the Jewish calendar to be counting. Every season has its special message. This is now the time to consider the bounty Hashem is bestowing on His beloved Land, the Land of Israel. It is truly blessed.
Shabbat Shalom, Leah Goldsmith