by Rabbi Mordechai Fishman
In Parshas Emor the Torah writes the details of each of the Yomim Tovim. The Torah begins with the halachos of Pesach and then discusses the Mitzvah of Sefiras HaOmer. The Torah tells us to count 50 days (which chazal explain is 49) and then we have the Yom Tov of Shavuos. After telling us the Halachos of Shavuos the Pasuk seems to digress and reminds us of the Mitzvah to leave Leket, Shikcha and Peah, the mitzva of leaving the corner, that which has fallen and that which was forgotten for the poor.
The obvious question is why did the Torah digress in the middle of discussing the Yomim Tovim to remind us of these laws. Rashi is bothered by this question and quotes the Toras Kohanim which explains that giving Leket, Shikcha and Peah is tantamount to bringing Korbonos in the Beis HaMikdash.
This explanation of Rashi and the Toras Kohanim can explain why this Mitzvah is brought when discussing the Mitzvah of Aliyah L’Regel. However, we can still ask, why specifically after the Halachos of Shavuos does the Torah digress to discuss this Mitzvah of Tzedakah.
One explanation may be that we all understand the importance of Tzedaka before Pesach as we all know how expensive making Pesach is. Chazal specifically gave a Mitzvah of Kimcha D’Pischa to ensure that every person can afford Matza for the seder. When Rosha Hashana, Yom Kippur and Succos comes we all realize how expensive it is and thus we try to raise money for those in need to ensure they have clothing and food for Yom Tov. When Shavuos comes, it’s so easy for us to think that it’s only one day in Eretz Yisroel and two days in the diaspora, who really needs Tzedaka for this.
On Shavuos we have an obligation of Simcha, which includes meat and wine. Every person deserves a proper dignified meal for Yom Tov and yet we never here about fundraisers for Shavuos. How many of us have friends and neighbors who are struggling to feed their families on a regular basis and now just as summer expense (which can be enormous) are upon us, they must worry about how they can have a beautiful Yom Tov. One can suggest that the Torah specifically reminds us when discussing the Yom Tov of Shavuos, a time when we can so easily forget the importance of Tzedaka , not to forget the poor who dwell among us.
The Magen Avraham (490:8) explains that we read Megillas Rus on Shavuos because just as Rus accepted the Torah through pain and poverty so too the Jewish people went through pain and poverty before leaving Mitzrayim as a prerequisite to receiving the Torah.
Perhaps we can suggest another reason. The story of Rus begins with Elimelech and his sons leaving Eretz Yisroel to avoid the many impoverished people who were suffering from hunger. Elimelech felt that he did not have the means to support all those who needed his help and thus left to avoid choosing who to help. Eventually Elimelech’s own wife Naomi and his daughte-in-law Rus return to Eretz Yisroel as paupers with the need to collect in order to survive.
Shavuos is the Yom Tov where the Torah specifically reminds us that we must be careful with the the Mitzvah of Tzedaka and not to forsake our brethren in need, what better way to do that, then to read the story of Rus and realize that all that we have is form Hashem and the importance of not running away from our obligation of Tzedaka and instead to embrace it and remember those who have less than us when it comes to preparing for Yom Tov.