“וַיְדַבֵּר יְהוָֹה אֶל משֶׁה בְּמִדְבַּר סִינַי בְּאֹהֶל מוֹעֵד בְּאֶחָד לַחֹדֶשׁ הַשֵּׁנִי בַּשָּׁנָה הַשֵּׁנִית לְצֵאתָם מֵאֶרֶץ מִצְרַיִם לֵאמֹר” “Hashem spoke to Moshe in the Sinai Desert…on the first day of the second month, in the second year…” (Bamidbar 1:1). Sefer Bamidbar opens with Moshe and Aharon being commanded to conduct a census of Bnei Yisrael. The medrash explains the special significance for which the pasuk needs to include the exact date when the census took place. (We have discussed the reasons for the census itself in previous years.) In Halacha, there are two stages to marriage. The first stage is called Erusin, betrothal, where the bride and groom were officially dedicated to each other but were not yet officially married. The second stage is known as Nisuin when the marriage becomes official.
Chazal explain that when Hashem gave us the Torah on Har Sinai, it was as if he did Erusin with us. However, the marriage was not official till the Mishkan was completed a month before this census was conducted. The reason the Torah includes the date of the census is to represent the Kesubah, the marriage document which requires the date of the wedding to be written on it. At this time, our relationship with Hashem became official.
The Kli Yakar adds to this mashal the fact that this census took place eleven months after the Torah was given. A bride was typically given ten months between Erusin and Nisuin to prepare herself financially for marriage. For this same reason, Hashem gave us ten months between Matan Torah and the official dedication of the Mishkan, so that we should have time to adorn ourselves with the Torah which we were given as a wedding gift. The eleventh month was based on the gemarah (Kesubos 8a) that the celebration of a wedding could extend up to thirty days (or more) after the chuppah. A second way of calculating is instead of starting from the actual giving of the Torah, start instead from when we received the Luchos, which comes out to exactly ten months before the census.
This simple and entertaining mashal has special significance as we approach Shavuos. From our standpoint, we must view the Torah not only as our guide to the world and the source of our closeness to God, which is already significant enough, but as a gift, the something which solidifies our relationship with our Creator! The same way a bride admires the presents she receives from her groom, so too must we look upon the Torah with that same admiration and longing. From Hashem’s perspective, our acceptance of the Torah is our confirmation that we are committed to our relationship with him. As long as we consider it important, Hashem will consider his relationship with us to be important as well. As we celebrate Shavuos and reaffirm our acceptance of the Torah, let us keep this in mind. If we value our relationship with Hashem, we must view the Torah as that idea which solidifies our connection to Him. The same way a bride and groom treasure theirs. Then we may truly bring our relationship with Hashem to its’ fullest potential.
Shabbat Shalom and Chag Sameach!
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