21st Century P’shat: 1-2 minute divrai Torah for each aliyah

Shavuot (second day)/Pesach (eighth day)/Shemini Atzeret

  1. We have the deer and hart included because it teaches us a core lesson of Kedusha. You can’t offer a blemished animal because it has evil in it (loss of potential). And you can’t offer a deer or hart because Kedusha is about converting creation into holiness. But if you don’t create something you can’t convert it. It is equivalent to offering a blemished animal.
  2. We see the bread of affliction being tied to haste. Why? Because the only reason the Jews had to make food in haste was because they couldn’t plan and take the initiative. The haste is a representation of their affliction and so is the Matza.
  3. Why does it say the time for departure was evening or late afternoon. We know if isn’t from the previous reading. It was nightfall or perhaps early morning in that reading. The reason this is the time is because, with the Pesach offering the Jews marked their doors as non-Egyptian. They did it in the evening. While they had not physically left Egypt, they had taken the first step to leave Egypt in the spiritual sense.
  4. We read here that Shavuot has the widow, orphan and stranger among you but not within your gates. They weren’t within the gates from a farming perspective because they weren’t land owners (Leviim were because of maas). But we make a special point of including them despite the fact that they are outside the gates. This is why in Parshat Emor we include the commandment to leave the corners of fields (even for strangers who are not necessarily poor) right after the commandment to keep Shavuot. Perhaps this is why we read Ruth on this holiday.
  5. Sukkot (here) is about the threshing floor, wine vat, produce and work of the hands. Because all can clearly and directly participate in this, all are within the gates when the people are listed. We see a clear contrast with Shavuot.