1. The twelfth of Sivan is the conclusion of the “days of completion” [i.e. a person is obligated to bring certain sacrifices on Yom Tov. If, however, he did not do so on Shavuos itself, the Shavuos sacrifices could still be brought in the days following Shavuos till the twelfth of Sivan. These days are therefore called “days of completion.”] The Alter Rebbe writes in the Siddur that Tachnun is not said “from Rosh Chodesh Sivan through the 12th of Sivan, i.e., 5 days after Shavuos, for the sacrifices could still be completed (i.e. made good) throughout seven days.”

The expression used by the Alter Rebbe “throughout seven days” is from the Talmud (Chagigah 17a). But, these seven days include the first day; (i.e. the day of Yom Tov) and the bringing of sacrifices on the first day is when one should bring them, and is therefore not a “completion” or “making good” of something missed out on the first time. Hence the Talmud (and the Alter Rebbe) should say that the sacrifices can be “completed throughout six days — and not “throughout seven days.”

We could perhaps answer that on the first day itself, the main obligation is in the first hour, and the rest of the day is in the category of “completion” — and therefore there are seven days of completion. However, we cannot answer so. The Halachah is that a person who is unable, for some reason, to perform his obligation, is absolved by the Torah. This only applies when the person is unable to discharge his duty at the time when he is obligated to. If, however, he could have performed his duty at the right time and did not do so (i.e. he purposely did not discharge his obligation); and then during the time of “completion” he, for some reason, was unable to do so, the Torah does not consider him absolved — for at the time when he should have done so in the first place, there was nothing stopping him. Hence, if we say that the main time to bring a sacrifice is in the first hour, and the rest of the day is in the category of “completion,” it would mean that if he did not bring it in the first hour, and afterwards something happened to prevent him bringing it during the rest of the day, Torah would not consider him absolved — for during the first hour (the main time in which he is obligated to bring the sacrifice) there was nothing preventing him. And we do not find anywhere a Tanna or Amorah to say such a radical concept! Indeed, commentators explain that the main obligation to bring a sacrifice is during the entire day, until sunset. If so, the question remains: Why does it say there are “seven days of completion?”

The explanation is as follows: The obligation to offer sacrifices is associated with the pilgrimage to the Bais Hamikdosh. The Torah states “They shall not appear before Me empty-handed,” meaning, that when one makes the pilgrimage to see the L‑rd, he is obligated to bring sacrifices. In connection to this, the Rambam states that “One who enters the Azarah (forecourt of the Bais Hamikdosh) on the first day (of the festival) and did not bring a burnt-offering — not only has he not fulfilled a positive precept, but he has transgressed a prohibition, as it states “They shall not appear before Me empty-handed.’”

Thus, if a Jew at the beginning of the first day enters the Azarah and did not bring a sacrifice, and only after a few hours brought a sacrifice — this sacrifice is in the category of “completion.” For since the main obligation to bring a sacrifice is when one first enters the Azarah (which in this case was at the beginning of the day), and he did not do so, then, when he brings it later (even on the first day) it is only in the category of “making good” (“completion”) for that which he did not do earlier (when he first entered). Since we now have a case where a sacrifice brought on the first day is in the category of “completion,” the expression “seven days of completion” is used.

If in this case (entering the Azarah at the beginning of the day without bringing a sacrifice) a person was unable afterwards to bring a sacrifice the rest of the day, the Torah does not consider him absolved, since he intentionally did not offer it at the time of obligation (when he first entered the Azarah).

The reason why we do not find a Tanna or Amorah anywhere to state such a radical case is because it is an extremely rare occurrence — and the Torah addresses itself to the majority. All Jews are considered good (until proven otherwise). Hence, while it is possible for a Jew to forget to bring a sacrifice, it is extremely rare that a Jew would intentionally enter the Azarah without a sacrifice. That is, despite the fact that he brought with him an animal for a sacrifice on his pilgrimage to the Bais Hamikdosh (as indicated from the fact that later during the day he did bring a sacrifice), he first intentionally entered the Azarah without a sacrifice, and then entered a second time with a sacrifice. Such a case is practically non-existent; and since the Torah addresses itself to the majority, no Tanna or Amorah cites such a radical case.

Nevertheless, since because of such a case it is possible to offer a sacrifice on the first day in the category of “completion,” the expression “throughout seven days” is used.

There is a lesson from the concept of “completion” for man’s service to G‑d. “Completion” means both the making good of a deficiency, and also perfection. Even if there is no deficiency in one’s service, one can nevertheless always “complete” it — to make one’s service better until one reaches the peak of perfection.

Offering a sacrifice in man’s spiritual service means to offer one’s soul to G‑d. The Alter Rebbe explains that the verse concerning the offering of sacrifices does not state “When a man from yourselves offer a sacrifice,” but rather “When a man offers from yourself a sacrifice.” This teaches us that a man must offer himself his soul — to G‑d. The concept of “completion” teaches us that even when there is no deficiency in the mode of service consonant to one’s present spiritual level, a person must increase in perfecting his service until reaching the peak of perfection. Despite the fact that in comparison to his present spiritual level his service of offering a “sacrifice” was proper, when one rises to a higher level, a loftier level of service is demanded.

In practical terms: Today, the 12th of Sivan, the conclusion of the days of completion of Shavuos, must be utilized to complete the service associated with the Season of the Giving of our Torah. Although each Jew’s service on Shavuos was certainly complete, he must nevertheless realize that this was relevant only to the 6th of Sivan (Shavuos). And when one rises in stature in the following days, until the 12th of Sivan, he must become ever more perfect. And not only must one rise higher in comparison to his level on the 6th of Sivan, but on each of the days of completion he must rise higher than the previous day. Moreover, even on the 12th of Sivan itself, greater perfection is demanded at the end of the day than at the beginning, for the commandment to “ascend in holiness” applies continuously — not just from one day to the next.

2. The portion of Tehillim said on the 12th of the month talks at length about the concept of Mattan Torah, when “the L‑rd descended upon Mt. Sinai.” It states (66:16-18): “Mountains of G‑d ... the mountain which G‑d has desired for Has abode ... The chariots of G‑d are twice ten thousand, thousands upon thousands; the L‑rd is among them, Sinai in holiness.” This concept is associated with the revelation of the Heavenly Chariot, as it continues to state “You have ascended on high ...”

Since when a Jew learns Torah it is similar to Mattan Torah, all the concepts concerning Mattan Torah stated in this chapter of Tehillim repeat themselves wherever and whenever a Jew learns Torah.

The concept of Mattan Torah is also associated with today’s portion of Chumash — the 5th day of parshas Nasso. It states (Bamidbar 7:1) “And on the day that Moshe ended setting up the Mishkan.” Rashi, noting that the word for “ended” is “kalos” and not “kelos” (as grammatically it should be for the meaning “ended”), says that “on the day the Mishkan was set up, Yisroel were like a bride (“kallah”) who enters the bridal canopy.” That is, since on the day the Mishkan was set up, the concept of “I will dwell within them” was effected, it is similar to a “bride who enters the bridal canopy” — the “bride” being Yisroel and the “bridegroom” G‑d.

The setting up of the Mishkan was the conclusion and completion of Mattan Torah. While Mattan Torah was the beginning of the bringing down of G‑dliness below — “the L‑rd descended on Mt. Sinai,” it was completed by the erecting of the Mishkan — “I will dwell within them.” Just as the expression “bride” is used at the setting up of the Mishkan, so too it is used at Mattan Torah. On the verse “And He gave to Moshe when He had finished speaking with him” Rashi, noting that the Hebrew word for “finished” can be read as “His bride” (“Kechalosoh”), says “the Torah was given over to him as a gift, like a bride to the groom.”


3. At the dedication of the Mishkan, the princes of each tribe brought special offerings. After the Torah tells us the offerings each brought on a separate day (from Rosh Chodesh Nissan until the 12th of Nissan), it tells the sum total of the offering. This last day, after each of the princes had brought his individual offering, has a special distinction compared to the previous days. On each of the previous days, only the offerings of the prince of that day are emphasized; on the last day, after the last prince had brought his offering, the offerings of all the 12 princes were in the Mishkan. In other words, both the individual offering of each prince were then present, and the general concept of the princes’ offerings. Whereas in the previous 12 days, the general idea of all the sacrifices was only in potentia — and was not realized until the last prince had brought his sacrifice on the last day.

This distinction of the last day is relevant to the portion of Torah read on Shabbos, where it records the total of the offerings. But since today is Thursday, it is appropriate to talk of the distinction of the Thursday, when we read about the beginning of the princes’ offerings. Indeed, there is a distinction of the first day compared to the last day in regard to a general matter involved in the offerings.

In the Torah reading of Thursday, we read about a general offering (in addition to the sacrifices brought by each prince as an individual) brought by the princes for the Mishkan. It was “six covered wagons, and twelve oxen; a wagon for (each) two princes, and an ox for (each) one.” The princes brought this offering together, on the first day of the Mishkan’s dedication.

The distinction of this general offering compared to the general concept of the last day (i.e. the total of the individual sacrifices) is that the total on the last day came into existence only then (when the last prince has offered his sacrifice). In the former case however, since it was brought on the first day, it was present the whole 12 days.

There is a very puzzling matter concerned with this shared offering of the princes on the first day. The reason why the princes were the first to dedicate their offerings at the dedication of the altar was because earlier, when materials for the building of the mishkan were being donated, the people had been so generous that all the materials were donated within two days — and there was nothing left for the princes to donate (except the stones for the breastplate). Hence now, at the dedication, they brought their offerings first.

If so, why did the princes donate only six covered wagons — one wagon from two princes. Could not each one have donated a single wagon himself without having to share half the cost with a fellow prince? They surely had the means to do so: The Talmud tells us that every single Jew (and not just the princes) brought with him 90 donkeys loaded with the gold and silver of Egypt.” And they certainly had the required generosity — as we see that even the ordinary people were so generous that they donated all the Mishkan’s requirements in two days. Why then did each or the princes donate only half the cost of a wagon?

In addition, the purpose of the wagons was “that they may be of service to the work of the Ohel Moed;’ two wagons being given to the sons of Gershon to carry the curtains etc., and the remaining four being given to the sons of Merrori to carry the boards (and the pillars and sockets). There were 48 boards in the Mishkan, which means that each wagon carried 12 boards (besides the pillars and sockets). According to the Talmud’s explanation of the way the boards were loaded on the wagons — consonant to the length and width of the wagons and boards — (some of) the boards were of necessity stacked one on top of each other. If the princes would have each donated a wagon, the boards could have been laid on the wagons without being stacked one on top of the other. Why then did the princes go halves in the wagons?

However, everything has to be perfect; and when one utilizes something, it must be totally utilized. Nothing must be left unutilized, for it not, the non-utilized things are wasted. G‑d also acts in this way, as stated “G‑d did not create anything in this world for naught.” Everything in the world, the smallest creature or planet, has a purpose. We too must act this way, utilizing everything to its ultimate perfection.

Since G‑d did not create anything for naught, this concept was also expressed in the Mishkan, the place where G‑d’s presence was revealed. Since each wagon could carry twelve boards, then, if they would only carry 6 (if the princes would each donate one wagon), only half of the wagon’s potential would be used, and the other half wasted. Therefore, despite the fact that each prince would have been willing and eager to donate a wagon by himself, the realization that the Mishkan had to be perfect prevented them from donating extra wagons which would have caused wastage — the antithesis of perfection.

There is a wonderful lesson to be learned from this in our service to G‑d. Before one starts the individual service of each day, the general lesson in regards to the method of service is that one must utilize fully al/ one’s abilities. Obviously then, one cannot rely upon another’s service, for one’s soul was sent below to fulfill G‑d’s mission — and one must utilize the abilities given by G‑d through one’s own service.

This also teaches us how precious every moment must be to serve G‑d. A Jew may think that since he has already fulfilled his tasks for today — prayed, learned Torah, and performed good deeds — he is allowed to let a few minutes go by without using them for anything constructive. Such a person is told: “I was created only to serve my Maker,” and therefore every moment must be utilized to fulfill the purpose of his creation — serving G‑d. It is only through this that one justifies one’s creation!

Nevertheless, a Jew claims: Surely it is not so bad if in an entire day of service to G‑d, one minute is left without utilization? The answer to this is that G‑d created a Jew in the image of Himself; and just as G‑d did not create anything in His world for waste, so too a Jew is given the ability, (and therefore is obligated) not to even waste one minute.

May it be G‑d’s will that very soon will be fulfilled the promise “to perfect the world under the sovereignty of the Al-mighty.” This is achieved through each Jew perfecting his portion in the world to be ready for the revelation of the “sovereignty of the Al-mighty.” And this service becomes the preparation to the speedy fulfillment of the promise “The glory of the L‑rd will be revealed and all flesh will together perceive it, for the mouth of the L‑rd has spoken it.”