Rosh Hodesh Sivan Torah Essay
Looking ahead to the month of Sivan, the most significant and climactic moment is the giving of the Torah at Har Sinai on the 6th day of Sivan, remembered and celebrated as the chag of Shavuot. When studying the narrative of Matan Torah in the text, it is evident that the impact of this event extends beyond the singular day of the 6th of Sivan; the entire month is infused with significance. From Am Yisrael’s arrival to Har Sinai on the first day of the third month, followed by Hashem’s proposal of a covenant and three days of preparation, every step and every element is imbued with importance and meaning.
In Masechet Shabbat 88a it states:
בְּרִיךְ רַחֲמָנָא דִּיהַב אוֹרְיָאן תְּלִיתַאי, לְעַם תְּלִיתַאי, עַל יְדֵי תְּלִיתַאי, בְּיוֹם תְּלִיתַאי, בְּיַרְחָא תְּלִיתַאי
Blessed is the Merciful One who gave a threefold Torah (Torah, Neviim, Ketuvim) to a threefold people (Kohen, Levi, Yisrael) through a third-born (Moshe) on the third day (following the separation of the husbands from their wives) in the third month (from the exodus, Sivan).
The Talmud is highlighting a clear theme of the number three. Wouldn’t the number “one” be more synonymous and appropriately associated with the giving of the Torah? The number one connotes singularity and wholeness. Furthermore, in Shmot 19:2 on the words “וַיִּֽחַן־שָׁ֥ם יִשְׂרָאֵ֖ל נֶ֥גֶד הָהָֽר – And Israel encamped there in front of the mountain”, Rashi comments on the seemingly incorrect usage of the singular form of the word “וַיִּֽחַן – And he camped”, and teaches us that the Sinai experience was the peak of Jewish unity, and the singular form was used to indicate that at the time the Jewish people were “כְּאִישׁ אֶחָד בְּלֵב אֶחָד – as one man with one heart.”
The Lubavitcher Rebbe teaches that unity is indeed the overarching theme of the month Sivan, and the ultimate purpose of the giving of the Torah. The truest form of unity, however, is expressed through the element of triplicity! True unity is when one can recognize oneness amongst diversity. A homogeneous existence is not unity, it’s merely sameness. Unity is when one has encountered more than one form of existence and still perceives that G‑d is the only reality; that is true Oneness of G‑d. There is the concept of “unity” that transcends the idea of strife or division; and there is the concept of “unity” which exists despite division — when two or more divided parties become united.
There is a Beraita that quotes in the name of Rabbi Yishmael the process of deriving new applications from the teachings of the Torah based on thirteen principles of interpretation. The thirteenth principle states:
וְכֵן שְׁנֵי כְתוּבִים הַמַּכְחִישִׁים זֶה אֶת זֶה עַד שֶׁיָּבֹא הַכָּתוּב הַשְּׁלִישִׁי וְיַכְרִֽיעַ בֵּינֵיהֶם
When two Biblical passages contradict each other, the meaning can be determined by a third Biblical text which reconciles them.
One is a thesis. Two is antithesis. Three is synthesis.
The distinction of “three” is that through it, two opposing things are united. Synthesis occurs via a truth that’s big enough to combine two opposing ideas without diminishing either one. This is the power that the Torah bequeaths to us.
The Torah contains and communicates to us the truth and the soul of every object and occurrence in the world. Through Torah we can reach a deeper perspective, for Torah teaches how the world and everything it contains was created by G‑d. That knowledge enables us to appreciate the innate spirituality within the world. The Rebbe concludes this powerful teaching with a poignant reminder that the above constitutes the mission of every Jew. He must realize that his soul has descended into a world of separation, a world where one thing appears different from another. A Jew’s task is not to leave the division as is. Rather, he must internalize the insights of Torah and work to establish unity and oneness. To emphasize this concept and the role Torah has in establishing this unique oneness, the Torah was given specifically in the month of Sivan, the third month, as this aspect expresses the epitome of the Torah’s function and goal of true unity.
Based on two talks delivered by the Lubavitcher Rebbe on Rosh Chodesh Sivan 5739 and on the 29th of Iyar 5742.