Pinny Arnon

Sivan: The Holiness of the 3rd Month & The Transcendent Unity of the Number 3

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Sivan is the third month of the year according to Torah’s counting from the month of Nissan. The upcoming holiday of Shavuos (six days from now on the 6th of Sivan) is closely related to the number three, as it is written in the Talmud: “Blessed be the Mericful One, who gave a threefold Torah to a threefold people through a third-born on a third day in the third month” (Shabbat 88a). The Tanach, which is composed of three parts, Torah (Chumash), Neviim (Prophets), and Ketuvim (Writings), was given to the threefold nation of Israel (Kohanim, Leviim, and Isrealites), through Moses, who was the third-born child after Aaron and Miriam, on the third day of preparation, in Sivan, the third month of the jewish Calendar which begins with Nissan.

The goal of Torah is to unify the worlds and make Hashem’s Oneness manifest, thus it might seem more appropriate for the holiday of Shavuos to be associated with the number one. Why, then, did Hashem choose to establish it in the third month rather than the first, through the third child rather than the firstborn, etc.?

Chassidus explains that the number three displays a greater unity than the number one. When there is only one of something, then there is no conflict, no temptation, no ability to choose. Devotion, in such a setting, is unchallenged, and one cannot be sure if it would persist in the face of a second option. The number two denotes separation. Distinct entities exist, and even if they do not conflict, they fail to coalesce. Three, however, represents the fusion of two formerly independent forces to create something that neither one could have effected on its own. From a thesis and its antithesis comes a synthesis that is greater than the sum of its parts.

G-d is One, and yet He chose to create a seeming other – humankind, and the creation as a whole – in order that the spiritual and physical should fuse and create something that reflected an elevation in both. Had He so desired, He could have formed a world that was only spiritual, where His light and presence would be constantly revealed. Yet it was His will to create darkness and a human being who could choose between light and darkness, for light that comes out of darkness is more brilliant than the light that preceded it.

The Torah is the mechanism through which the spiritual and the physical can ultimately fuse. With Torah we can make mundane material entities holy, by using them for a mitzvah or revealing in them their G-dly source, beauty and function. G-d is neither spiritual or physical, but rather He transcends all categories. To find Him and reveal Him, we must likewise go beyond all limitations. Merging our body and soul through Torah, we realize our true infinity and manifest the ultimate harmony of the universe.

May we all receive the Torah into our innermost depths in this third month, and may we thereby fuse all opposing forces into the synthesis that completes, perfects, and unifies the entire creation.

Pnei Hashem is an introduction to the deepest depths of the human experience based on the esoteric teachings of Torah.

About the Author
Pinny Arnon is an award-winning writer in the secular world who was introduced to the wellsprings of Torah as a young adult. After decades of study and frequent interaction with some of the most renowned Rabbis of the generation, Arnon has been encouraged to focus his clear and incisive writing style on the explication of the inner depths of Torah.
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