Positive Mitzvah Forty-Six

Bringing Two Loaves on Shavuot

Requires Beit HaMikdash

VaYikra 23:17 From [the land of] your dwelling places you shall bring two bread wave-offerings; of two tenth of flour they shall be.  You shall bake them leavened, as first-fruit offering to Hashem.

We are commanded to bring into the Sanctuary on Shavuot, two loaves of bread, together with the sacrifices that are offered as complementary to the Bread-offering; and to offer sacrifices as prescribed in Sefer VaYikra.  After the two loaves have been waved, the Kohanim are to eat them along with the lambs of the Peace-offerings.

Shavuot is the festival celebrating the time when the Torah was given to us. The Torah is compared to lechem (bread). They are both "the staff of life." While bread sustains us and nourishes our bodies, the Torah is the life of our souls.

In Menachot 4, it is explained that this sacrifice, which was complementary to the Bread-offering, is separate and distinct from the Musaf-offering of the day, i.e., of Shavuot.

"Two loaves are offered on Shavuot because Shavuot is the season when judgment is passed with respect to the fruits of the trees, and the Holy One, Baruch Hu, had said, "Bring before me two loaves on Shavuot, so that the fruit of your trees may be blessed" (Rosh Hashanah 16a)

With the bringing of the two Loaves of Bread on Shavuot from the new crop of wheat, use of the new crop became permissible in the Sanctuary throughout the ensuing year; and with the bringing of the Omer-offering on the 16th of Nisan, i.e.. on the second day of Pesach, from the new crop of barley, use of the new crop became permissible for all other purposes.

According to the Mishna, this Mitzvah served to emphasize the special holiness of Eretz Yisrael:

"Eretz Yisrael is holier than any other land.  Wherein lies its holiness? In that from it they may bring the Mincha-offering of the Omer, the Firstfruits, and the two Loaves, which they may not bring from any other land" (Kel. 1, 6)