When Moshe saw the burning bush, he said: " 'I will go there
and see this wondrous matter.' When G-d saw that he turned away
to watch, He called to him." 
When did G-d choose Moshe for a leader? When he demonstrated the
capacity to appreciate the uniqueness of the phenomena which he
Similarly, "the extensions of Moshe in every generation," 
have demonstrated an ability to recognize the uniqueness of
situations and point them out to others.
The Rebbe manifested this capacity time and time again, pointing
out factors which others, even Torah leaders of note, failed to
The sichah which follows reflects the Rebbe's appreciation of the
ramifications of the crossing of the international dateline with
regard to the Counting of the Omer and the celebration of the
holiday of Shavuos, reaching a startling conclusion, but one
which is mandated by the logic of Halachah.
Moreover, he points out the parallels to these concepts in our
Divine service, showing how Nigleh, the revealed dimensions of
Torah law, is intertwined with our spiritual strivings.
May the study of the Rebbe's teachings enable us to accomplish
the spiritual mission with which he has charged us. And may our
efforts draw down overtly apparent Divine good and blessing,
including the ultimate blessing, the coming of the Redemption,
and the fulfillment of the prophecy,  "And those who repose
in the dust will arise and sing."
- (Back to text) Shmos 3:3-4.
- (Back to text) Tanya, ch. 42.
- (Back to text) Yeshayahu 26:19.
Each Person as an Individual
As has been mentioned on several occasions,  the Counting of
the Omer is a preparation for the giving of the Torah. Therefore,
directly after the conclusion of the 49 days of the Counting of
the Omer, Shavuos, the festival commemorating the giving of the
Torah, is celebrated.
The connection between Shavuos and the Counting of the Omer
is underscored by the fact that both relate to every Jew
With regard to the Counting of the Omer, the Talmud 
emphasizes that the counting is incumbent on every single
person as an individual (in contrast to the Counting of the
Shemitah and Yovel  years which are counted by the Jewish
Similarly, with regard to the giving of the Torah, the revelation
was not merely for the Jewish people as a whole, but for every
This is reflected in the wording of the commandment:  "I am
G-d, your L-rd," which uses the singular form of the term "your
The commandment was addressed to every person individually, for
G-d grants the Torah to every Jew individually, as it were He
conveys to each person the obligation to study the Torah, and to
observe the 613 mitzvos,  and empowers him (as implied by the
term E-l-o-h-e-c-h-o)  to fulfill that obligation.
What We Can Do and What Is Above Our Capabilities
Based on the connection between the Counting of the Omer and
Shavuos, the Alter Rebbe explains  the apparent contradiction
between the command:  "And you shall count 50 days," and the
fact that in practice, we count only 49 days.
By counting the 49 days, and in this manner, drawing down 49
Gates of Wisdom, we prepare a setting for the fiftieth gate to
be drawn down, bringing about the revelation of the Giving of the
On each day of the Counting of the Omer, a different Gate of
Wisdom is drawn down.
(This enables us to understand the wording used when counting
the Omer: one day..., two days..., three days..., i.e., a number
that includes the previous days, rather than "the first day, the
second day, the third day. For every day includes the previous
days and the Divine energy that they drew down. On the first day,
we have access to the first Gate of Wisdom, on the second day, we
have access to two gates, each day, adding another gate to those
The fiftieth gate, however, cannot be drawn down by our own
initiative. It represents a potential which cannot be attained
by the Divine service of created beings. Nevertheless, our
endeavor to draw down the 49 Gates of Wisdom creates a setting
in which the fiftieth gate is drawn down on its own initiative.
For this reason, it is considered as if we have counted "fifty
days," for the fiftieth gate is made accessible to us through
our preparatory service of counting "seven perfect weeks." 
Two Dimensions to the Holiday of Shavuos
The fiftieth Gate of Wisdom, drawn down on the fiftieth day of
the Counting of the Omer, shares a connection to the Giving of
There is, nevertheless, a distinction between them.
Thus, the Alter Rebbe rules  that the description of Shavuos
as "the season of the giving of our Torah,"  is appropriate
at all times only in the present era when we follow a fixed
calendar and the holiday of Shavuos is always celebrated on the
sixth of Sivan, the anniversary of the giving of the Torah. 
When, however, the monthly calendar was established by the
testimony of witnesses with regard to the sighting of the moon,
Shavuos, the fiftieth day of the Omer, could also fall on the
fifth of Sivan (if both Nissan and Iyar were months of 30 days)
or on the seventh of that month (if both Nissan and Iyar were
months of 29 days). 
For, as reflected in this week's Torah reading, the observance
of holiday of Shavuos is not dependent on a particular day of
the month as is the observance of the other holidays, but on the
conclusion of the counting of the Omer.
In that era, when Shavuos would fall on a day other than the
sixth of Sivan, it was not referred to as "the season of the
giving of our Torah." 
From the above, two things are evident:
- The giving of the Torah is associated with the fiftieth day
of the Omer, the day on which the fiftieth Gate of Wisdom
is drawn down;
- The giving of the Torah is associated with the sixth of
Sivan,  and it is because of that date that we refer
to the holiday as "the season of the giving of our Torah."
The difference between these two dimensions of the holiday with
regard to our Divine service can be explained as follows:
The aspect of the giving of the Torah which is associated with
the fiftieth day of the Omer comes after man's Divine service.
It is true that our Divine service is not sufficient to draw down
the fiftieth gate of wisdom. That comes as a result of G-d's
initiative. Nevertheless, that Divine initiative comes after man
has completed his Divine service to the fullest extent of his
capacity.  After counting the 49 day of the Counting of the
Omer, man has made a vessel that is appropriate to receive the
influence of the giving of the Torah.
The aspect of the giving of the Torah which is connected with
the sixth of Sivan, by contrast, is not at all connected with
man's Divine service. It refers to an initiative that stems only
from the Torah itself. The time for this initiative is the sixth
of Sivan. 
When Past and Present Meet
The fact that the two dimensions to the holiday of Shavuos, the
fiftieth day of the Counting of the Omer and the sixth of Sivan,
are not necessarily dependent on each other is not relevant only
in the era when the calendar was established according to the
testimony of witnesses.
According to the fixed calendar we follow, Nissan always has 30
days, and Iyar, 29; thus, Shavuos will always fall on the sixth
of Sivan. There are, however, situations in which an individual
person is required to celebrate Shavuos on the fifth or the
seventh of Sivan in the present age as well. 
Since the earth is shaped like a globe,  and the sun (upon
whose movement the determination of the days depend) travels
across the earth's horizon, there must be a line on the earth
(the international dateline) at which the days differ.
A person standing on one side of that line is in the midst of
a different day than the person on the other side of the line.
By crossing that line, a person skips a day, as it were. Thus if
a person goes from east to west, he will proceed from Sunday to
Conversely, when a person goes from west to east, moving opposite
to the sun's pattern, he will repeat a day, e.g., he will have
Ordinarily, these concepts do not effect our ritual observance.
With regard to the Counting of the Omer, however, the crossing
of the dateline makes a significant difference.
As mentioned above, the counting of the Omer is a mitzvah which
is dependent on every person as an individual.
Thus when a person crosses the dateline in the middle of counting
the Omer, he must continue according to his own personal
reckoning although everyone around him is counting a different
For example, Pesach falls on Shabbos. On Monday, the second day
of the Counting of the Omer, a person travels from east to west
[e.g., from the U.S. to Australia]. Although he left on Monday,
when he crosses the dateline, it will be Tuesday. That night [the
night between Tuesday and Wednesday], he is required to count the
third day of the Omer, while the local people will be counting
the fourth day.
Conversely, if a person crosses the dateline while traveling from
west to east, leaving Monday and arriving on Monday, on the night
between Monday and Tuesday, he must count the third day of the
Omer, although the local people will be counting the second day.
The rationale is that, as explained above, the Counting of
the Omer is not incumbent on the Jewish people as a collective
entity, but instead, is incumbent on every individual as an
individual. Everyone must count the days which he has experienced
from the beginning of the Counting of the Omer. 
An individual must observe the Shabbos and the other festivals
according to the reckoning of the locale in which he is found at
that time. The fact that he crossed the dateline is not at all
significant. The seventh day of the week is the same for all, for
the determination of that day is not dependent on an individual's
reckoning,  but on the passage of the days of week.
Similarly, the observance of Pesach, Sukkos, Rosh HaShanah, and
Yom Kippur is dependent on the calendar which was established by
the Sanhedrin for all Jews universally. (Today, this depends on
the fixed calendar.)
With regard to the Counting of the Omer, however, since this
mitzvah is incumbent on every individual as an individual, a
person must count the days which he himself experiences. 
Celebrating Shavuos on a Different Day Than Everyone Else
As the Torah relates,  the holiday of Shavuos is not
dependent on a particular day of the month, but on the Counting
of the Omer. The fiftieth day of the Omer is celebrated as
Shavuos. For this reason, as mentioned previously, when the
calendar was established according to the testimony of witnesses,
it was possible for Shavuos to fall on the fifth, the sixth or
seventh day of Sivan.
The intent is not that the Counting of the Omer (or the
obligation to count the Omer) brings about the holiday from
Shavuos. For even individuals who were not obligated to count the
entire Omer, for example, a minor who came of age or a person who
converted during the Counting of the Omer, are obligated to
celebrate the holiday of Shavuos on the fiftieth day after Pesach
according to Scriptural law.
Moreover, there are opinions - and indeed, they are accepted
as halachah -  which maintain that, in the present era,
the Counting of the Omer, is merely a Rabbinic obligation.
The holiday of Shavuos, by contrast, is according to all opinions
mandated by Scriptural law. Were the holiday of Shavuos to be
totally dependent on the Counting of the Omer, the question would
arise: How is it possible for these individuals to celebrate
Shavuos when they did not count the Omer previously?
The explanation that the holiday is brought about by the Counting
of the Omer by the Jewish people as a whole is unacceptable. For
as mentioned above, there is no such concept as the Counting of
the Omer by the Jewish people. Our Sages define the Counting of
the Omer as a mitzvah which relates to the individual, and not to
Therefore, we must conclude that the holiday of Shavuos is
not brought about by the Counting of the Omer. Instead, the
explanation must be that the need to observe the holiday is
mandated by Scriptural law, the time when that holiday is
observed is determined by the Counting of the Omer.
Nevertheless, as stated above, the Counting of the Omer serves
as an indicator on an individual basis; when each person
completes his the Counting of the Omer, on the following day,
he celebrates Shavuos.
As such, even when a person's Counting of the Omer concludes
before or after the Counting of the Omer of others, this
determines when he will celebrate Shavuos. 
We cannot say that with regard to the Counting of the Omer,
the person should follow an individual reckoning, but with regard
to the celebration of Shavuos, he should celebrate the holiday
with the others around him, for the determinating factor of when
Shavuos should be celebrated is the Counting of the Omer. And the
Counting of the Omer is given over to each individual as an
individual, not to the Jewish people as a collective. 
The above applies to the celebration of the holiday of Shavuos.
Nevertheless, if a person is forced to celebrate that holiday on
a date other than the sixth of Sivan, he should not refer to it
as "the season of the giving of our Torah." For that description
is appropriate only to the sixth of Sivan.
This applies even when a person crosses the dateline after Rosh
Chodesh Sivan - and thus he celebrates Shavuos on the sixth day
after he celebrated Rosh Chodesh, the rationale being that the
fixation of the dates of the calendar is not an individual
The Halachic Ruling
Based on the above, the following conclusions can be reached.
When someone crosses the dateline from west to east, the fifth
of Sivan is the fiftieth day of his Counting of the Omer. As
such, he must observe Shavuos on that day with regard to all
matters except the reference to the holiday as "the season of
the giving of our Torah."
If he lives in the diaspora, he should observe the sixth of Sivan
as the second day of the holiday.
Conversely, if someone crosses the date line from east to west,
he should observe Shavuos on the seventh of Sivan. If he lives in
the diaspora, he should observe the eighth of Sivan as the second
day of the holiday.
From The Material To The Spiritual
The above concepts are reflected in our Divine service.
The Divine service appropriate for the Counting of the Omer is
the refinement of our emotional qualities.
We count seven weeks corresponding to the seven emotional
qualities, and 49 days (7x7), for each of these qualities is
interrelated with the others.
The objective is to make these weeks - and the corresponding
emotional qualities - "perfect."
When a Jew finishes the refinement of his emotional qualities,
he is granted the Torah as a gift from Above. This is totally
dependent on him; it makes no difference what is happening with
the people around him.
When he has refined his 49 emotional qualities, he is granted the
Torah, the fiftieth Gate of Knowledge, even though the others
around him have not reached that degree of preparation.
Conversely, if his personal process of refinement is slower and
he has not refined his emotional characteristics, he must wait
until he has completed his task of refinement, although those
around him are being granted the Torah.
This, however, refers only to the dimension of the giving of the
Torah which is dependent on man's Divine service. The ultimate
aspect of the giving of the Torah transcends any connection to
man's Divine service.
Whether or not a person has refined his emotional qualities,
this level is revealed for all without distinction on the sixth
of Sivan, "the season of the giving of our Torah." 
(Adapted from Sichos Chag HaShavuos, 5717 and 5721)
- (Back to text) See the sichah to Parshas Shemini in this series and
the sources cited there where this concept is explained.
- (Back to text) Menachos 65b; Shulchan Aruch HaRav 489:1. See also the
sichos to Parshas Bamidbar in this series.
- (Back to text) Sabbatical and Jubilee.
- (Back to text) Rambam, Mishneh Torah, Hilchos Shemitah VeYovel 10:1.
- (Back to text) Shmos 20:2. See the commentary of the Ramban, and the
Pesikta Rabasi 21:6.
- (Back to text) See Tanya, Iggeres HaKodesh, Epistle 29; Kuntres Acharon,
the passage beginning Lehavin Pratei HaHalachos.
- (Back to text) As mentioned in the Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chayim 5:1),
the name E-l-o-h-i-m is associated with G-d's potential
as "the Master of strength and power."
- (Back to text) Likkutei Torah, Bamidbar 10d, Shir HaShirim 35:3.
- (Back to text) Vayikra 23:16.
- (Back to text) For through the revelation of the fiftieth Gate of
Wisdom, the level of Anochi, [the level associated
with the Giving of the Torah,] is drawn down.
The fiftieth Gate of Wisdom is associated with the Giving
of the Torah despite the fact that [during the time when
the calendar was established by the sighting of the
moon], it was possible for the fiftieth day of the
Counting of the Omer to be the fifth or the seventh of
Sivan and for Shavuos to be celebrated on that day,
rather than the sixth of Sivan, the anniversary of the
Giving of the Torah (Rosh HaShanah 6b).
As are all the concepts of P'nimiyus HaTorah, this
concept is also alluded to in Nigleh, the revealed
discipline of Torah law. Thus Shavuos is described as
"the day on which the Torah was given" (Pesachim 68b,
the Jerusalem Talmud, Rosh HaShanah 4:8).
See also the comments of the Divrei Nechemiah (Hashlamus
LiShulchan Aruch HaRav, sec. 581, Kuntres Acharon).
Nevertheless as pointed out in notes 14 and 16, there are
differences between the Shulchan Aruch HaRav and the
- (Back to text) Cf. Vayikra 23:15.
There is an alternate explanation of the expression
"count fifty days" which fits the wording of the verse
more closely, showing how our endeavor to count also
includes the fiftieth day.
There are several levels within the fiftieth gate.
For each person individually, the level which is above
his comprehension is considered as the fiftieth gate,
while for another person who is more developed, this
level is included wit hin the 49 gates and, for him,
the fiftieth gate refers to a still higher peak.
Moreover, this same concept exists with regard to
a person himself. For a person must constantly endeavor
to ascend to higher spiritual rungs. Thus after counting
- and attaining - 49 levels of holiness, he must begin an
ascent to 49 levels on a higher plane. And with regard to
this higher plane, the level which he originally
considered the fiftieth rung, above his comprehension,
can now be attained by him through his Divine service of
counting (Sichos Shabbos Parshas Bechukosai, 5722, based
on the teachings of the Baal Shem Tov, as cited by Toldos
Yaakov Yosef, Parshas Devarim).
- (Back to text) Shulchan Aruch HaRav 494:1.
- (Back to text) Siddur Tehillat HaShem, p. 250, 253, 258.
- (Back to text) For the Halachah follows the opinion of the Sages and not
of Rabbi Yossi (Shabbos 86b).
This explanation does not follow the approach of the
Divrei Nechemiah (loc. cit.).
The Divrei Nechemiah's hypothesis that the Torah was
given on the seventh of Sivan is based on the Alter
Rebbe's statement (Shulchan Aruch HaRav 430:1) that the
Jews left Egypt on Thursday. This hypothesis is refuted
by the Alter Rebbe's own words (Shulchan Aruch HaRav
494:1), where he states that even the Sages maintain that
the Jews left Egypt on a Thursday. In that year, both
Nissan and Iyar contained 30 days. See also the Machtzis
HaShekel (494) who states that even the Sages agree that
the Jews left Egypt on a Thursday.
- (Back to text) Rosh HaShanah (loc. cit.)
- (Back to text) This also differs from the conclusion of the Divrei
Nechemiah (loc. cit.) who maintains that even when
Shavuos was celebrated on a day other than the sixth
of Sivan, it was referred to as "the season of the
giving of our Torah," because at that time the fiftieth
Gate of Wisdom is revealed.
Questions are also raised by the Divrei Nechemiah's
statement that despite the fact that the Torah was given
51 days after the exodus from Egypt, every year Shavuos
is celebrated on the fiftieth day of the Omer, because
at that time, the Torah could also have been given on the
fiftieth day, and its giving was postponed because of
This is difficult to understand, because every year on
a holiday, the same spiritual influences revealed at the
time of the original event are expressed once more. Thus
according to this explanation, two spiritual influences
should be expressed each year: the fact that everything
was prepared for the Torah to have been given, and the
fact that the Torah was actually given, each one on the
day originally associated with it.
- (Back to text) Note our Sages' comments (Avodah Zarah 3a) with regard to
the phrase (Bereishis 1:31): "The sixth day," that until
the sixth of Sivan, the creation was incomplete.
- (Back to text) See note 11.
- (Back to text) Therefore, the expression "the season of the giving of
our Torah" is associated with the sixth of Sivan. The
fiftieth day of the Counting of the Omer, does not bring
about "the season of the giving of our Torah" as the
Torah exists in its own context. Instead, it reflects the
connection between the Torah and man's Divine service.
- (Back to text) The Halachic texts explain that this phenomenon is
limited to the time when the calendar was established
according to the testimony of witnesses, because they are
referring to the celebration of the holiday by the Jewish
people is a whole. The discussion to follow refers to the
celebration of the holiday by a single (or group of)
- (Back to text) The Jerusalem Talmud (Avodah Zarah 3:1, cited by Tosafos,
Avodah Zarah 41a); Bamidbar Rabbah 13:14, Zohar, Vol.
III, p. 10a.
- (Back to text) This explains the parallel drawn by the Zohar (Vol. III,
p. 97b) between the Counting of the Omer and the days
counted by a woman in her personal process of
- (Back to text) An exception to this is made with regard to a person who
is lost in the desert, and has forgotten which day of the
week it is (Shabbos 69b). Since he does not know when
Shabbos is to be observed by the world at large, he
relies on his individual reckoning.
- (Back to text) It is not logical to say that although there is an
individual obligation on each person to count the days
of the Omer, that obligation involves counting the days
as they are counted in the locale in which a person is
located. For the entire significance of the Counting of
the Omer is dependent on the fact that it is a mitzvah,
and the mitzvah is that every individual should count as
Moreover, we are commanded to count "seven perfect
weeks." How is it possible to say that a person's
counting of the Omer will be "perfect" if, when crossing
the dateline from east to west, he will skip a day, or
if, when crossing the dateline from west to east, he will
have counted one day twice.
- (Back to text) Vayikra 23:16.
- (Back to text) Shulchan Aruch HaRav 489:2.
- (Back to text) It is improper to say that, although he counted the 49
days of the Omer, since the total of these 49 days did
not include (or included more than) 49 time 24 hours, the
weeks of the Omer are not considered "perfect weeks," and
therefore, he should not observe Shavuos at this time.
This is evidenced by the fact that all agree that when
a person travels from west to east without crossing the
dateline, he must begin observing Shavuos as soon as the
sun sets after the fifth of Sivan despite the fact that
his 49 days of counting of the Omer did not include 49
time 24 hours.
- (Back to text) Nevertheless, from the counting of the Omer of the Jews
as individuals result certain obligations, e.g., the
additional offerings sacrificed on Shavuos, which are
incumbent on our people as a collective.
To cite a parallel:
Although there are different principles regarding
monetary law (dinei mamanos) and laws regarding capital
punishment (dinei nefashos), at times a decision
regarding monetary law will have repercussions with
regard to the laws regarding capital punishment, and vice
- (Back to text) The new dimension brought about by the giving of the
Torah is the connection between the upper realms and the
lower realms. (See Shmos Rabbah 12:3 and the sichos to
Parshas Yisro and Parshas Mishpatim in this series where
this concept is explained.)
With regard to our Divine service, this implies that the
kabbalas ol, the acceptance of G-d's yoke, which stems
from the essence of the soul (the higher realms), must be
extended to the extent that it is felt within man's
conscious powers (the lower realms). This implies that
there are two dimensions to the giving of the Torah:
- The effect on the essence of the soul; the
revelation of the essence of every individual's soul
being reflected in his joining together with others
and thus rising above his individual self See
Tanya, ch. 32.
This dimension of the giving of the Torah applies to
the Jewish people as a collective Therefore, at
the giving of the Torah on the sixth of Sivan, two
factors were necessary:
- that the entire Jewish people, all 600,000,
be present (Mechilta, Shmos 19:1; Yalkut
Shimoni, sec 280);
- that the Jewish people camped before Mount
Sinai "as one man, with a single heart,"
(Mechilta, Rashi, Shmos 19:1).
- The effect on our conscious powers. This effects
each person as an individual, and is relevant to
every person according to his own rung of Divine
See also the sichah to Parshas Bamidbar in this series
where these concepts are also discussed.