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4 Sivan 5762 - May 15, 2002 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly









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Opinion & Comment
The Seven Days Of Shavuos: Understanding Isru Chag and Yemei Tashlumin

by Rabbi Daniel Yaakov Travis

Aliyah Leregel

In the times of the Beis Hamikdosh the entire Jewish nation would journey to Yerushalayim to celebrate yom tov in the Beis Hamikdosh. Now one can only try and visualize this extraordinary scenario, and wonder how so many people could possibly be contained within the walls of one building. Our Sages add to our amazement when they revealed to us that despite the vast multitude, there was plenty of space for each one to bow down comfortably (Mishnah Ovos 5,7). In physical terms this is completely inconceivable, for bending down takes up more room then standing upright.

The Beis Hamikdosh existed outside of normal world parameters. One of many miracles which took place there on a regular basis was that there was no concept of space within its walls. Therefore although most of Klal Yisrael were there during the three Regolim, everyone could bow down with plenty of room. In order that this miracle should be appreciated and have its maximum impact, Hashem temporarily suspended it and thus while people were standing up it was crowded. At the instant that people prostrated themselves to Hashem, the Mikdosh reverted to its status of not having space. In this way people truly felt the miraculous nature of their surroundings, and reached an even higher level of inspiration at this crucial moment of their Divine Service (Responsa Chasam Sofer).

Every Yom Tov the Jewish People had the opportunity to experience this and other miracles firsthand. However the essence of yom tov involved performing three mitzvos in the Beis Hamikdosh. The first was "Re'iah" -- to appear in the courtyard of the Beis Hamikdosh. The Torah forbids coming empty- handed, and obligates one to bring a Korbon Re'iah as an Oloh to Hashem.

The second mitzvah of the chag was to bring a Korbon Chagigah, part of which was consumed by its owners and part burned on the mizbeiach. The third mitzvah was simchah. This was actualized via Shalmei Simcha (other korbonos), which were eaten in the Beis Mikdosh (Chagigah 6b; Rambam Hilchos Chagigah 1,1).

The optimal time to bring these korbonos was the first day of yom tov (Rambam Korbon Chagigah 1,5). In most circumstances, if one was unable to bring them on the first day, the Torah permitted tashlumin, to make them up on the ensuing days (Chagigah 9a). This gave six more days of Pesach and seven more days of Sukkos to bring korbonos. Although Shavuos is only one day, the gemora compares it to Pesach and permits one to bring the Korbon Re'iah and the Korbon Chagigah during the ensuing six days (Chagigah 17a). (The mitzvah of simcha was intrinsically connected to the chag itself and could not be made up.)

The Day After Shavuos

How far does the comparison between Shavuos, Peach and Succos go? In truth all six days after Shavuos should be treated as yom tov, for the halachah gives any day that one brings a korbon this status, prohibiting certain melochos, as well as fasting and eulogies (Yerushalmi Chagigah 2,4; Tosafos Chagigah 17b, Mishneh LeMelech, Rambam Hilchos Kli Mikdosh 6:9,10). However our Sages did not see fit to forbid on melochah all six days. Instead the first day after Shavuos was set aside as a Yom Zevuach, a special day of sacrificing (Tosafos Rid , Chagigah 18a). During the other five days, fasting and eulogies were prohibited, but melachah was permitted.

The decision to make the first day after Shavuos a Yom Zevuach was based on a number of factors. Even though the tremendous kedushah of the Beis Hamikdosh provided a strong reason to stay in Yerushalayim, obligations forced many people to return home soon after yom tov ended. If these individuals were not able to bring their korbonos on yom tov itself, they would offer their korbonos on the day after Shavuos (Tosafos Rid, ibid.)

In addition, Beis Shammai did not permit korbon olos to be sacrificed on Shavuos, and always left them for the Yom Zevuach (Chagigah 17a). Beis Hillel ruled that one could bring an oloh on yom tov. Even though the halachah generally follows Beis Hillel, in this case many people were stringent to follow the ruling of Beis Shammai and offer their olos on the day after Shavuos (Shulchan Aruch HaGriz 594). Furthermore even Beis Hillel agreed that if Shavuos fell out on Shabbos one could only start to bring his korbonos the day after Shavuos. As a result of these reasons, the day after Shavuos also became a yom tov.

Tzedukim, Beware!

There is one exception to the above principle as illustrated in the following story. The Jewish People once congregated in Lod on the day after Shavuos to give a eulogy for someone named Alchasa. Rav Tarfon stopped them. The gemora explains that had the Yom Zevuach fallen out on Sunday, he would have given them permission. Since the Tzedukim follow the literal translation of the verse to start counting the Omer the "day after Shabbos," they always celebrate Shavuos on Sunday. If the Yom Zevuach was that day, our Sages made a special decree to permit one to fast and make eulogies in order to show the absolute fallacy of the practice of the Tzedukim (Chagigah 18a).

What is the halachah in our times if Isru Chag falls out on Sunday? Is it permitted to fast and eulogize on the day after Shavuos? The poskim do not differentiate between a case when the day after Shavuos is Sunday or any other day. Since there are not too many Tzedukim today, almost nobody thinks that Sefiras HaOmer should always begin the day after Shabbos. Therefore this practice is no longer necessary, and today fasting and eulogies are prohibited on the day after Shavuos, regardless of the day of the week it is (Levush).

All of these halachos apply when the Beis Hamikdosh stood and it was possible to bring the korbonos of the chag. Although some poskim suggest that even today melochoh should be prohibited the day after Shavuos (Birkei Yosef 494,4) the halacha is that only fasting and eulogies are forbidden (Shulchan Oruch 494,3; Mogen Avraham; Aruch HaShulchan).

Six Days After Shavuos

Some poskim suggest that all six days after Shavuos are so much a part of the chag that if one forgot to recite the brochoh of Shehecheyonu the first day, it could be said during these six days (Chol Yaakov 473,1).

We can understand that during the times that the Beis Hamikdosh stood one could recite Shehecheyonu all seven days, for even after Shavuos one could still bring korbonos. Today that we lack the Beis Hamikdosh, what connection do these six days have to Shavuos? How could one possibly recite Shehecheyonu during these days?

The Maharil Diskin suggests that even during our times there remains one mitzvah of the chag that we can do during these days; Kabolas Pnei HaRav -- going to visit one's rebbi (As cited in Moadim Uzmanim 6,317). Although some poskim suggest that with the destruction of the Beis Hamikdosh, since we can no longer "greet" Hashem during the Moed, there is also no mitzvah to "greet" one's rebbi (Nodeh BiYehudah), many poskim disagree. Therefore if one was not able to visit his rebbi during Shavuos, he may fulfill this mitzvah during the ensuing six days.

Although the halachah does not follow the view that Shehecheyonu can be recited after yom tov, the consensus of the poskim is that these six days are to be treated as a semi-yom tov (Elia Raba, Pri Megodim, Sha'ar HaTzion 473). Therefore many have the minhag not to recite Tachanun during these days (Mishneh Berurah 131,36).

The Day After Pesach and Succos

The day after the yom tov of Pesach and Shavuos is also very significant. Just as erev yom tov has kedushah, for the upcoming chag spills over into the weekday and sanctifies it, so too on the day after yom tov the overwhelming kedushah of yom tov overflows into the following day (Ari zal as cited in Responsa Torah Lishmoh [of the Ben Ish Chai] 140). This kedushah was especially discernible after celebrating yom tov in the Beis Hamikdosh, when all of the olei regel returned home in a state of complete ecstasy after spending yom tov in Yerushalayim and the Beis Hamikdosh (Chidushei Chasam Sofer on Shulchan Oruch 494).

In deference to the elevated nature of this day, our Sages instituted Isru (literally a day "connected" to the) chag. They equated eating and drinking on that day to building a mizbeiach and offering a korbon on it, and found a hint to this in the verse (Tehillim 118,27), "Isru Chag ba'avosim -- Bind the Chag with fat animals (i.e. a tasty banquet) and it will be as if you brought them until the corners of the mizbeiach" (Sukkah 45b according to Rashi's second understanding).

Many Rishonim do not mention that one is obligated to observe Isru Chag (Riff, Rambam, Rosh). They may explain the above gemora to be referring to eating and drinking during yom tov (Birkei Yosef 494 according to the first understanding of Rashi in the gemora in Sukkos 45b). This is also the implication of the Shulchan Oruch (494,3) who only mentions the prohibition against fasting and eulogies in reference to the day after Shavuos which was designated as a day of sacrificing (Mogen Avraham 494).

Ashkenazi poskim rule that the minhag to prohibit fasting and eulogies applies after Succos and Pesach as well (Rema 429,2; Mishneh Berurah 494,6). Therefore the Novi tells us that Jewish People once congregated on the twenty-fourth of Tishrei for a eulogy (Nechemia 9,1). The reason that they did not do so on the twenty- third because that was Isru Chag of Succos (Shibulei Haleket 262 citing Yerushalmi Avodoh Zora 1,1). Many have the minhag to have a larger seudah than normal on Isru Chag (Rema ibid.)

Some suggest that Isru Chag originated as an effort to equate the practice of Jews in Israel with those living in Chutz La'aretz where two days of yom tov are observed. The custom later spread outside of Israel as well (Sdei Chemed, Klalim 1, Pa'as Hasedah 154). Others write that although Isru Chag should theoretically not be celebrated outside of Israel, those that have the minhag to celebrate Isru Chag in Chutz La'aretz should do as their ancestors did (Tosafos Rid, Chagigah 18a).

Fine Dining

The gemora (Succos 45b) equates eating on Isru Chag with building a mizbeiach and sacrificing on it. How can something so easy as enjoying a tasty meal have such lofty ramifications?

Our Sages tell us that after the destruction of the Beis Hamikdosh, a person's table brings atonement (Chagigah 27a). Inviting needy guests is equated to offering a korbon (Rashi ibid.) Although we cannot bring sacrifices today, someone who makes an effort to have guests at his table is viewed as if he actually offered a korbon on the mizbeiach (Response Banyan Shlomo 32).

"When one eats and drinks on yom tov he is obligated to provide for the needy and impoverished. Someone who locks the doors of his house and eats with his family without providing for the downtrodden, has not fulfilled simchas yom tov, rather he has merely satisfied his stomach. (Rambam Hilchos Yom Tov 6,18)." In the merit of the mitzvos of hachnosas orchim and tzedaka may we merit to see the rebuilding of the Beis Hamikdosh speedily, in order that we should be able to fulfill all of the korbonos and mitzvos in their full splendor, Amen.

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