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The Week After Shavuot

Iyar 5782 | May 2022

Three times a year, the Jewish people are commanded to make the pilgrimage to the Beit Hamikdash in Jerusalem, on Pesach, Sukkot, and Shavuot, collectively known as the Shalosh Regalim. Pesach and Sukkot both involve a week-long celebration, with Yom Tov at the beginning and end and Chol Hamoed in the middle, whereas Shavuot is just one day.

However, upon closer examination, we find that there is an aspect of Shavuot that extends for a week.

The Mishnah in Chagigah (1:6) teaches that those who did not bring their offerings on the first day of Sukkot have the rest of the week to make them up. The same is true of Pesach. The Gemara in Masechet Rosh Hashanah (4b) teaches that while the six days following Shavuot are no longer Chag, one who did not bring their korban on Shavuot has the rest of the week to do so, just like the other festivals. The Gemara presents two ways to derive this law.

One opinion is that this law is learned from the verse: ““On the festival of Passover, and on the festival of Shavuot, and on the festival of Sukkot” (Deuteronomy 16:6).

Rabbi Meir and Rabbi Eliezer Ben Yaakov see this verse as comparing the festivals, and learn that just as Pesach has seven days for bringing the offerings, Shavuot has seven days in which to bring the offerings.

On the other hand, the Tanna Kama and Rabbi Shimon learn this from the law that Shavuot follows both “fifty days” and “seven complete weeks” (Leviticus 23:15). They compare this to Rosh Chodesh, where the Torah says to count the length of a month by days, and then sanctify Rosh Chodesh as one unit of that time, a single day. So too, the sanctity of Shavuot should be according to the unit of time which was counted – both by days and by weeks. In fact, the festival is called Chag haShavuot, the holiday of weeks. Therefore, Shavuot is sanctified not only for one day but also for a full week, which means that one has the full week to bring the offerings.

The poskim discuss other possible implications of this status of the week after Shavuot. Chok Yaakov claimed that one who forgot to say Birkat Shehechiyanu on the first day of Shavuot may do so in the following six days, as is true for Pesach (473:1). Aliyah Rabbah (494) disagrees. The Pri Megadim rules that one should not say Shehechiyanu after the first day, based on the principle that we don’t say blessings in cases of doubt (תע”ג א).  On the other hand, the Bayit Chadash says that this principle does not generally apply to Shehechiyanu; Shehechiyanu is an expression of joy, and as long as one feels joyful, one may say the blessing.

Another halachic ramification of the karbanot being brought during these days may be Tachanun, the supplication said most mornings after the Amidah. On special celebratory days we don’t say Tachanun. The Rema does not include the days following Shavuot in his list of these days (O.C. 131:7). However, the Mishnah Berurah (36) writes that there were communities with the custom to not say Tachanun for the six days following Shavuot, because of the makeup offerings that could be brought during these days.

The Tzemach Tzedek asked his grandfather, Rabbi Shneur Zalman of Liadi, about  the significance of the days following Shavuot. He answered with a parable: When a merchant goes to a big fair and makes many purchases, he doesn’t return home right away. He takes a few days to go through the items and pack them up safely to ensure that nothing will be lost or stolen on the way.  Only once they are bundled securely does he return home. Similarly on Shavuot, we received the most precious merchandise, the Torah. We need to take a few days to carefully wrap it up so that we won’t lose it.

Matan Torah was the ultimate experience of Divine revelation. How do we move forward after such a monumental event?

The story of Matan Torah in Sefer Shemot is followed by a commandment to build an altar of earth (20:21). This teaches that the sublime experience at Har Sinai must be translated into something grounded – the daily ritual and daily tasks of avodat Hashem. God promises that in turn, “in every place where I cause My name to be mentioned I will come to you and bless you.”

As the merchant, who takes the time to pack up his wares, we need to take these days to gather up our experience and understand how we take it forward into our lives. Matan Torah and Chag Hashavuot are not just a one day event. Rather, “They are our life and they lengthen our days, and on them we will meditate day and night.”

Fran Miller

is studying in the second cohort of Hilkhata, Matan’s Advanced Halakhic Institute and she is the coordinator of Shayla. She is a graduate of the Yoatzot Halacha program at Nishmat, and Migdal Oz's advanced Talmud program. She holds a B.A. in Judaic Studies from Stern College and B.Ed. from Herzog Teacher’s College. Fran teaches adults and post-high school students in person, online, and in midrashot. She lives in Mitzpeh Yericho with her husband and three children.