Shavuot - The Festival of Weeks - eve of June 7

This year Shavuot, or the Festival of Weeks, falls from the evening of June 7 through nightfall on June 9 (except in Israel, where it is only celebrated for one day). During this holiday we celebrate the day G-d gave the Torah to the Israelites assembled at Mount Sinai 40 days after the Exodus from Egypt.

It is noteworthy that the holiday is called the time of the giving of the Torah, rather than the time of the receiving of the Torah. The sages point out that we are constantly in the process of receiving the Torah, that we receive it every day, but it was first given at this time. Thus it is the giving, not the receiving, that makes this holiday significant.

But it's a holiday that is also connected to the season of the harvesting of grain. In the days of the Temple in Jerusalem, two loaves of bread from the wheat harvest were given as an offering on Shavuot.

Continuing with the harvest theme, Shavuot was also the first day which people could bring the first fruits of the Israeli growing season (Bikkurim): wheat, barley, grapes, figs, pomegranates, olives, and dates.

Pomegranate wall hanging

Although Shavuot has no defined commandments (mitzvot) other than refraining from work, a special service in temple, and holiday meals, it does have many customs, which can be remembered by the anagram acharit (“last” in Hebrew):

Akdamut: the reading of a special poem during morning services on Shavuot. This is traditionally read just before that day's Torah reading.

Chalav: “Dairy”, eating dairy meals during the holiday. Popular choices include cheesecake, cheese blintzes, cheese kreplach, and, my daughter's favorite, cheese burekas.

Cheese Plate

Ruth: The reading from the Book of Ruth at morning services.

Yerek: The use of greenery to decorate synagogues and homes during the holiday.

Torah: All night Torah study. On the holiday of Shavuot, the entire Jewish nation heard from G‑d the Ten Commandments. The next day Moses went up to Mount Sinai, where he was taught by G‑d the rest of the Torah—both the Written and Oral Laws—which he then transmitted to the entire nation.

Sterling Torah Pendant


Beads of Paradise said...

Very interesting article!

BBesigns said...

Great Article Always learn something new

Tracey said...

Great post, thanks for including my pomegranate wall hanging :)