Builders and Shavuot
by Ray Peacock
This is based on a Chabad article, Chumash and Shulchan Aruch and my thoughts So what do Builders have to do with Shavuot?
The last time I spoke it was about the way the Jewish Builders constructed the Mishkan in the sedrot of Vayahkel and Pekudei but this was after the receiving of the 10 commandments! BUT hold this thought and we'll come back to it by the end!
So back why Builders and Shavuot. The Law of Bar Metrah or the "Laws of a Neighbour" states that notwithstanding our right to sell our property (land, farm, house etc) as we please we must first offer it to our neighbour!!!
The Shulchan Aruch devotes almost a entire chapter to property law based around doing right to your fellow man which is derived from Devorim 6:18 in Parsha Va'eschana as follows:
"You shall do what is morally right and what is good in the eyes of Hashem so that it will be good for you and you shall come and you shall possess the land that is good that Hashem swore to your forefathers"
Which Rashi equates to "arbitrate and compromise and be generous by not asserting you full rights".
So again how does this link to Builders to Shavuot?
Well let's now introduce the "fight" let's make it debate based on the Rashi above between Moshe and the Angels on who should be given the Torah
The Gemora Shabbos (88b) relates:
When Moshe ascended to the heavens the angels protested to Hashem "what is a human being doing amongst us?"
Hashem replies "He is here to accept the Torah."
Then the angels said "such a heavenly treasure you wish to grant to lowly humans,"
Hashem prompts Moshe to answer them. "Indeed, what is written in the Torah? I am Hashem who has redeemed you from Egypt."
Moshe Continues to confront the Angels "Have you ever been enslaved in Egypt? Do you live amongst idol worshipers that you need the commandment 'you shall not have any other G-d'? Do you have parents? Is there jealousy between you? Do you engage in the world of business? " etc etc
The Angels back down and accept this argument.
BUT on what basis did the Angels object to the Torah being given to lowly humans? Well on the basis they were the nearest neighbours and they should have had first refusal!
The link is now established between Builders and Shavuot!
BUT why did the angels back down. Well the law of Bar Metrah works as follows:
1. The law only applies to fixed (tied to the earth) rather than moveable objects - the Torah was given physically is in the latter
2. The law does not apply to gifts - and Hashem gifted us the Torah
3. Property can be given or sold to relatives - the Jews were considered as the children of Hashem
4. Moshe was elevated to a status equivalent to the Angels and thus had an equal right to the Torah
5. Moshe was in partnership with Hashem and thus the law doesn't apply
BUT none of these are mentioned in the above Gemora!!! So why then? Maimonides (Laws of Neighbours 12:5) reviews a case in which the builder wants to sell housing land BUT the neighbour wants the land it to expand his farm. In this case the neighbour receives no preference as it's not for its' original specific use i.e. building a home which is a mitzvah in its' right.
Thus the angels could not build a home only the lowly humans could by observing the Torah and this goes back to my previous talk about the construction of the home of Hashem the Mishkan.
So in conclusion having come to the end of the Omer the 49 days of self build by reviewing the ways we act we can start another year trying to develop our home building by observing or improving our observance of more of the Torah and mitzvoth.