The Torah does not explicitly link the Festival of Shavuot to the Giving of the Torah. Shavuot is called by various names: Katzir [“Harvest”], Shavuot [“Weeks”], Atzeret [“Assembly”] and Bikurim [“First Fruits”]. The crown — the Torah — was left out, so to speak.
By contrast, at the end of the section on Shavuot the Torah writes, “When you reap your land’s harvest, do not completely harvest the ends of your fields. Also, do not pick up individual stalks that may have fallen. You must leave all these for the poor and the stranger. I am the Lord your G-d” (Leviticus 23:22).
While this utterance is indeed connected to the harvest in general, what does it have to do with Shavuot? Also, the Torah was given at Sinai. Some say that Mount Sinai is outside the Land, and others say it is within the Land (Rabbi Yehudah HaLevi, Kuzari). Both agree that the Sinai revelation preceded the tribal partitioning of the Land.
Yet a profound lesson is being taught: The Torah, as it finds expression in its ideas and its way of life, is not dependent upon time or place. It transcends both. Beyond that, however, the Torah in its ideal fulfillment, is dependent upon a place — the Holy Land. Only there can it be fulfilled completely, to perfection, in the climax of its glory, just as the Holy Land cannot achieve its own perfection without the Torah. Not just the mitzvot that depend upon the Land express this link, but all the Torah’s mitzvot and ideas, and all the Land’s atmosphere and inspiration — all the special traits of our land — constitute Torah in its pristine, all-inclusive sense.
Only this complete blending together of the Torah and the Land enables both of them, and the people of Israel who live in their land according to their Torah, fully to actualize their ideals. Eretz Yisrael is not “the Holy Land” in its fullest sense without the Torah. Neither is the Torah complete without Eretz Yisrael.
Shavuot is the Harvest Festival of the year’s first wheat in Eretz Yisrael. It is not just the Festival of the Giving of the “Torah,” in the abstract sense. Rather, it sets out to mark our prosaic lives in Eretz Yisrael, lives of toil and productivity, which reach their climax at the harvest. Precisely then, in the most difficult moments of hard labor, in the most wonderful moments of satisfaction, when a person is filled with pride over his accomplishments, precisely then comes the test of a Torah life in the Land. For at that moment we must not forget the poor man and the stranger and the orphan. We must not relate to the harvest as to our own exclusive property, without first linking it with the Master of All, by setting apart for the poor, the ends of the field, the fallen stalks and the forgotten sheaves.
When Jewish field owners in Eretz Yisrael transcend their own interests in this manner, developing refinement and good qualities, they become the living embodiment of the Torah’s influence. In their day-to-day lives, in moments of harsh labor, they are put to the test. It is here that the Torah achieves its full application. This is the three-fold perfection that cannot be quickly severed — the Torah, social justice amongst the Jewish People in Eretz Yisrael. This is the holiday of the Giving of the Torah.