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Why is Ezekiel's vision of the Divine chariot, the Haftorah on Shavuot?

by Rabbi Yossi Marcus

  

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The talmudic commentator, Rashi, explains1 that G-d descended upon Mount Sinai accompanied by myriad angels (and Ezekiel’s vision speaks of these angels). Or as another talmudic commentator, Ran, puts it2 : “G-d descended with His chariot.” (Obviously, these anthropomorphic terms have to be understood as metaphors. One should not envision swarms of angles flying around etc.)

The author of the Halachic work Levush writes that at Sinai, all present “achieved the level of prophecy. All of them, small and great alike, heard the first two commandments from G-d and without doubt perceived the Divine Chariot just as Ezekiel did.” Similarly, the biblical commentator Radak writes that “on the day of the giving of the Torah, Israel saw the Chariot as Ezekiel saw it.” (Also, the author of Zohar Chadash writes that Ezekiel’s vision took place on Shavuot.)3

Click here for more information on this Haftorah.

Footnotes

  • 1. Talmud Tractate Megillah 31a
  • 2. ibid.
  • 3. The above sources are cited in Likutei Sichot, vol. 33 page 18ff. See there for a deeper explanation of the connection between Ezekiel’s vision and the accomplishment of the giving of the Torah.

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Torah
Torah is G–d’s teaching to man. In general terms, we refer to the Five Books of Moses as “The Torah.” But in truth, all Jewish beliefs and laws are part of the Torah.
Halachic
Pertaining to Jewish Law.
Zohar
The most basic work of Jewish mysticism. Authored by Rabbi Shimeon bar Yochai in the 2nd century.
Rashi
Acronym for Rabbi Shlomo Yitzchaki (1040-1105). Legendary French scholar who authored the fundemental and widely accepted "Rashi commentary" on the entire Bible and Talmud.
Shavuot
Early summer festival marking the day when the Jews received the Torah at Mount Sinai in the year 2448 (1312 BCE).
Haftorah
Section from the prophetic writings that is read at the conclusion of the Torah reading on the Sabbath, Jewish holidays and fast days. The Haftorah contains a message similar to the weekly reading, or speaks of the current holiday.
Ezekiel
1. Major Jewish prophet who lived in the 5th century BCE. 2. One of the 24 books of the Bible, containing the prophecies which Ezekiel transmitted.
G-d
It is forbidden to erase or deface the name of G-d. It is therefore customary to insert a dash in middle of G-d's name, allowing us to erase or discard the paper it is written on if necessary.