• Rabbi Ariel Tal

The Pesach - Yom Ha'atzmaut - Shavuot Connection

Two very different days, established thousands of years apart, yet intimately connected. That is how I view the deep connection between Yom Ha’atzmaut and Shavuot. It is the innate connection between a nation’s physical redemption and spiritual redemption.

Pesach, Passover, is the beginning of our journey as a nation. It was the physical redemption from Egypt and the first time Israel emerged as an independent nation. It took 50 days for Israel to elevate themselves to the spiritdual level that they were able to receive the Torah from Mt. Sinai in Shavuot. Those 50 days are re-lived every year during Sefira Ha’Omer, the Counting of the Omer. Rabbi Shimshon Refael Hirsch and Rabbi Menachem Even Zerach gives the analogy of Sefirat Ha’Omer of transitioning between barley to wheat, from animal food to human food. In his word “Tzeida LaDerech”, Rabbi Even Zerach explains that on the second day of Pesach we sacrifice the Omer offering of barley, which is typically food for animals (since bread is usually made from wheat or other grains and barley is classically fed to animals), because it symbolizes our physical redemption. The Holiday of Shavuot is celebrated in the Temple by offering “Two Loaves of Bread” made from wheat, symbolizing the spiritual redemption from over 200 years of slavery in Egypt. Shavuot marks the conclusion of the 50 day spiritual journey culminating in receiving the Torah, and thus manifesting Israel’s potential as the nation of the Torah. The transition from Passover to Shavuot is from physical to spiritual redemption.

Ultimately, the goal of the Exodus from Egypt was not to receive the Torah in the Wilderness, rather to take the teachings of the Torah and establish themselves as an independent nation and global leader in spirituality in their land, the Land of Israel. During Passover we drink four cups of wine to remind ourselves of the four “Leshonot Ge’ula”, the words of redemp