web analytics
July 29, 2014 / 2 Av, 5774
Israel at War: Operation Protective Edge
 
 
Judaism
Sponsored Post
IDC Advocacy Room IDC Fights War on Another Front

Student Union opens ‘hasbara’ room in effort to fill public diplomacy vacuum.



Why Two Days For Shavuot?

Cohen-Rabbi-J-Simcha-NEW

Question: Why is Shavuot celebrated as a two-day Yom Tov? The Bible clearly states that Shavuot comes after counting 49 days starting on “the morrow after the Sabbath,” which the Talmud explains is the day after the first day of Pesach. Since everyone knows the date of the first day of Pesach (even in the olden days, the news regarding the exact date of Rosh Chodesh Nissan would have reached everywhere by the time Shavuot arrived), what need is there to celebrate Shavuot for two days?

Answer: To answer this question, we must first explain how the Jewish calendar works today and how it used to work before Mattan Torah.

Nowadays, every day in the calendar starts at night. First instance, Iyar 23 starts on the evening of May 22, 2014, and continues into May 23, 2014.

Some maintain that the Jewish calendar works in this manner based on the Biblical description of creation (Genesis 1). At the conclusion of each day, the Torah says, “And it was evening and it was morning.” In other words, evening preceded day.

Others, however, argue that this verse is a mere description, not an instruction manual on how to organize the Jewish calendar. Indeed, another biblical description places morning before evening: “While the earth remains, seed time and harvest and cold and heat and day and night shall not cease” (Genesis 8:22).

Rav Pinchus HaLevi Hurowitz (1730-1805, author of the Panim Yafot) suggests that the source for how we organize the Jewish calendar is Leviticus 23:22: “From evening to evening shall you celebrate your Sabbath.” This verse, which places evening before morning, concerns the observance of Yom Kippur. It is a specific imperative detailing the actual time parameters of the holiday.

Rav Hurowtiz, however, argues that before Mattan Torah the Jewish calendar operated on the assumption that morning is the beginning of the day. Rav Yaakov Kaminetsky (Emet L’Yaakov, Parshat Bo, 280, 281) offers proof for this thesis. It is a well-known tradition that Avraham established Shacharit, Yitzchak established Minchah, and Yaakov established Maariv. If the Jewish day starts at night, though, we would expect Avraham, as the first of the Patriarchs, to have established Maariv, not Shacharit! The fact that he established Shacharit indicates that the Jewish day used to start in the morning. The verse in Psalm 92, “L’hagid baboker chasdecha v’emunatcha balaylot,” which places morning before night, indicates the same thing. (This psalm predates Mattan Torah.)

(The above would explain why halacha gives priority to the Shabbat day meal over the Friday night one if one has a limited number of delicacies. We are reminding ourselves how Shabbat was observed before Mattan Torah.)

Now that we understand that the Jewish calendar used to operate differently, we can explain why we celebrate Shavuot for two days. Nowadays, we start counting Omer on the evening following the first day of Pesach, but before Mattan Torah we started counting the following morning. In other words, the 50th day used to start later (the next morning) and end later. To celebrate Shavuot according to both Jewish calendars (pre- and post-Mattan Torah)and to symbolically remember the change that took place on Mattan Torah, we celebrate Shavuot for two days (Chatam Sofer).

(Note: Based on this explanation, Jews in Israel should also celebrate Shavuot for two days. Perhaps, they don’t because they never celebrate Yom Tov for two days and didn’t want to make an exception.)

About the Author: Rabbi Cohen, a Jerusalem Prize recipient, is the author of eight sefarim on Jewish law. His latest, “Jewish Prayer the Right Way” (Urim Publications), is available at Amazon.com and select Judaica stores.


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

No Responses to “Why Two Days For Shavuot?”

Comments are closed.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Current Top Story
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
Bibi: ‘Death From Above, Death From Below’ Will Not Continue
Latest Judaism Stories
Weiss-072514

Just as the moon waxes, wanes and renews itself, so has the nation of Israel renewed itself through the millennia.

126_masei_web

Parshat Masei: Rabbi Fohrman addresses the age-old question, are we our brother’s keeper?

Hertzberg-072514

When Germany invaded neutral Belgium on August 4, England declared war on Germany. Thus, by the end of the first week of August all the major powers of Europe were at war.

Winiarz-072514

The Talmud teaches that the Beis HaMikdash was destroyed because of baseless hatred.

When taking any major step in life it is a good idea to carefully re-evaluate one’s past.

Ours is a small and intensely vulnerable people. Inspired, we rise to greatness. Uninspired, we fall

The enormity of Hiram’s accomplishments crazed him and deluded him into self-deification.

When Hashem first thought (if it could be) about creating the world, the middah of din was in operation.

Hallel On Purim?
“Its Reading Is Its Praise”
(Megillah 14a)

If the only person available to perform the milah on the eighth day is a person who is not an observant Jew, the milah should be postponed until a devout mohel is available.

It is apparent from the Maharsha that he does not see galus as atoning for killing accidentally; otherwise, this Gemara would not bother him.

It was found to be a giant deer tick living in her head – with its claws in her scalp.

While daydreaming about finding the perfect job, I never expected to be rewarded in spades for my aforementioned experience.

We are all entrusted with the mission of protecting our fellow Jews

Today, we remain Hashem’s nachal.

More Articles from Rabbi J. Simcha Cohen
Cohen-Rabbi-J-Simcha-NEW

Question: At Birkat Kohanim, who says the phrase, “Am k’doshecha ka’amur”?

Cohen-Rabbi-J-Simcha-NEW

Question: How can one determine whether someone is a true disciple of a rav, Rebbe, or rosh yeshiva?

Question: Does halacha agree with the Supreme Court decision of Roe v. Wade permitting women to have abortions?

Question: When someone puts on a talit to lead services, should he recite a berachah?

Question: A number of synagogues feature bar mitzvah celebrations for elderly Jews. Is this proper?

Hashem understood their complaint and therefore selected the ritual mitzvah of sukkah to test them.

Question: Why is Shavuot celebrated as a two-day Yom Tov?

Question: Can one fulfill the mitzvah of Sefirat HaOmer via shome’a k’oneh (listening to someone else say the necessary words without saying anything oneself)?

    Latest Poll

    Do you think the FAA ban on US flights to Israel is political?






    View Results

    Loading ... Loading ...

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/judaism/halacha-hashkafa/why-two-days-for-shavuot/2014/05/22/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: