Yeshiva University • The Benjamin and Rose Berger Torah To-Go
Series • Sivan 5773
The contours of the debate between R. Eliezer and R. Joshua, as interpreted by R. Yohanan, are well known. However, it has generally gone unnoticed that there is something additionally striking about the two verses (one denoting that Yom Tov should be dedicated to God, theother that it should be devoted to human needs), in light of R. Elazar’s restriction of the debate.
Both conflicting verses refer to the two specific
that the Torah designates as
;namely, the seventh day of Pesach (Deuteronomy 16:8) and the eighth day of Sukkot, that is,Shemini Atzeret (Numbers 29:35). The
R. Elazar can be understood, consequently, assaying, “No matter how one resolves the tension regarding the
, withrespect to Shavu‘ot, that is, regarding the day that Hazal designate as
, all agree that onemust designate time on that day for eating and drinking.”R. Elezar thus distinguishes between the laws on the biblical days called
and the day thatthe Rabbis designate as
. But although the Torah does
refer to Shavu‘ot as
,Hazal do. Why? This question leads us to the interpretation of Maran Ha-Rav Joseph B.Soloveitchik,
, on the matter.
The Rav’s interpretation of Hazal’s use of the term
records the following:
These are the days upon which one should not fast: on some of themone should (also) not deliver a eulogy. From Rosh Chodesh Nisan untilthe eighth of that month, during which the qorban Tamid wasestablished firmly, one should not deliver a eulogy. From the eighthuntil the end of the holiday of Pesach (i.e., until the twenty-first of Nisan, during which time the holiday of Shavu‘ot was settled), oneshould neither fast nor deliver a eulogy.
maintained that the mitzvah
of u-sefartem lachem mi-mochorat ha-Shabbat
(Leviticus 23:15), which inaugurates the seven-week period of
, and which isfollowed by
, begins on the first
(literally, “the morrow of the Shabbat”)after the onset of Pesach. Our forefathers, the
, on the other hand, upheld thetraditional rabbinic position that,
refer to Sunday but to theday after Yom Tov, that is, the second day of Pesach, whichever day of the week it happens to fallon. In our rabbinic view, when the Torah
“the morrow of the Sabbath,” it
“themorrow of Yom Tov,” which is in this case the correct interpretation of the biblical term“Shabbat.” Although we consider the position of the
to be transparently erroneous,Hazal struggled for many years to combat their view. When they were finally victorious, they
As noted by Rabbi David Shapiro,
Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik on Pesach, Sefirat Ha-Omer and Shavu‘ot
(Brookline,Mass. and Jerusalem, 2005), p. 195, n. 24. See note two below.
I will be following the presentation of the Rav’s approach found in Rabbi David Shapiro, “The Great DebateBetween the
concerning the Date of Shavu‘ot,” in Shapiro,
Rabbi Joseph B.Soloveitchik on Pesach, Sefirat Ha-Omer and Shavu‘ot
, pp. 183-207. Indeed, in several places I shall be reproducingpassages verbatim. Rabbi Shapiro’s presentation was directly based upon a
that the Rav gave in 1972.
See now, Vered Naom,
(Jerusalem, 2002) p. 53 and p. 57. The passage is quoted twice in theTalmud Bavli: