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שבועות -- Shavu'ot
the Giving of the Torah
By Shlomo Phillips © May 05, 2015 (last updated May 30, 2017)

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Shavu'ot or the Festival of Weeks is the second of the three major Jewish festivals. Due to the annual counting of the Omer it is perhaps the most anticipated of our observances, other than the weekly Shabbat. Shavu'ot is Day 50 of the Omer count.

Beginning on the second day of Pesach (Passover) observant Jews "count the omer" each day until the day before Shavu'ot. This is 49 days or 7 full weeks. This is the meaning of שבועות ("Shavu'ot"), "Weeks." This is also the second of the three traditional agricultural festivals. The other two are Pesach and Sukkot.

As Chag ha-Bikkurim -- the Festival of the First Fruits of the Seven Species with which Eretz Y'israel is blessed -- Shavu'ot reminds us how our ancestors brought the first fruits of their crops to the Holy Temple in joyous thanksgiving. This reminds us today that we too should offer our very best to HaShem. Thanking and pleasing HaShem should be our first priority.

Historically the festival is also known as Chag Matan Torateinu, the Festival of the Giving of Our Torah. This is its premier importance because the giving of the Torah is what makes our people unique and makes all else possible. According to Rabbinic reckoning, HaShem gave us the Torah on the 6th of Sivan in the Hebrew year 2448 (i.e. Wednesday, May 2nd, 1313 BCE). Shavu'ot remembers this important event and the counting of the omer draws us day by day from Pesach to the giving of the Torah.

Note that we speak of the "Giving of the Torah," not of the day we "received" it. This points to a very important Jewish understanding. Just as HaShem did not "create" the world and then leave us to our own devises as imagined by the Deists, so too He "gave" the Torah to Adam in some form, and later gave its entirety to our Teacher Moshe. HaShem did not leave us without further instructions however. G-d continues to "give" the Torah to us each and every day. Likewise HaShem continues His work of creation each day. This is why religious Jews recite the Modeh Ani upon awakening each morning, thanking HaShem for restoring life. HaShem is "alive" and He works in and through His people through the gifts He bestows. For this reason, Shavu'ot recalls the first Giving of the Torah.

Shavu'ot is also known as Pentecost, because it falls on the 50th day of the omer count. Shavu'ot has no connection with the Christian holiday of Pentecost by the way. The time proximity and name has no religious significance.

Shavu'ot Practices:

Torah study:

Tikkun Leil Shavu'ot,

Prayer

Bring in Nature

Dairy Meals

May your festival bring you joy!


Be the Blessing you were created to be
And
Don't let the perfect defeat the good


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