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What is Shavuot?

What is Shavuot?

Shavuot commemorates the spring harvest and the giving of the Torah on Mount Sinai. The word Shavuot means “weeks.” It marks the completion of the seven-week counting period between Passover and Shavuot.

Shavuot commemorates the spring harvest and the giving of the Torah on Mount Sinai. The word Shavuot means “weeks.” It marks the completion of the seven-week counting period between Passover and Shavuot.

If you are familiar with the stories in the Bible, the Torah was given by God to His chosen people, the Jews, on Mount Sinai more than 3000 years ago. Every year, the Jewish people celebrate the Feast of Shavuot where they commemorate their acceptance of God's gift to them as they believe, God re-gives the Torah.

Shavuot also means "oaths" for on this day God confessed His love and devotion to the Jewish people and in return, the Jews swore a lifetime loyalty and obedience to Him. It is like a wedding between God and the Jewish people.

Agriculturally, it commemorates the time when the first fruits (bikkurim) were harvested and brought to the Temple together with two wheat loaves of bread to thank God for Israel's bounty.

It is customary to eat a dairy meal during Shavuot. Some say it is a reminder of God's promise to the land of Israel, a land flowing with milk and honey. But some believe that it is because their ancestors had just received the Torah with all the dietary laws therein, and they didn't have any meat or dairy dishes available that time.

By celebrating Shavuot, women light holiday candles on both the first and second evenings. It is also customary to eat dairy food such as cheese blintzes, casseroles, and cheesecakes. Religious Jews also stay up all night to learn the Torah as they also go to the synagogue on the first day of Shavuot to hear the reading of the Ten Commandments.

On the second day of Shavuot, the Yizkor memorial service is recited. Some read the Book of Ruth in public, as King David, whose passing occurred on this day was a descendant of Ruth the Moabite.

 

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