Jewish Year 5771: Sunset June 7, 2011 - nightfall June 9, 2011
Join me live at 8:30 PM Pacific for the reading of Exodus chapter 20 tonight (June 7, 2011) in honor of Shavu'ot on:
The following is from our dear brother Yochanan ben Zalman of Beth HaTikvah ("House of the Hope") in Yardley, PA :
Join his new blog at: http://bethhatikvah.multiply.com
The word Shavuot means "weeks." It marks the completion of the seven-week counting period between Passover and Shavuot.
The giving of the Torah was a far-reaching spiritual event-one that touched the essence of the Jewish soul for all times. Sages have compared it to a wedding between HaShem and the Jewish people. Shavuot also means "oaths," for on this day HaShem swore eternal devotion to us, and we in turn pledged everlasting loyalty to Him.
It is important to note that the Hebrews were a people before the giving of the Torah, and on the giving of HaShem's Torah became a faith. All Jews were converts on this day.
The holiday of Shavuot is a two-day holiday, beginning at sundown of the 5th of Sivan and lasting until nightfall of the 7th of Sivan. (In Israel it is a one-day holiday, ending at nightfall of the 6th of Sivan.)
Women and girls light holiday candles to usher in the holiday, on both the first and second evenings of the holidays.
It is customary to learn Torah the first night, and some people do this all night until sun up.
On the first day of Shavuot all people should hear the reading or read for themselves the Ten Commandments. Exodus :20
As on other holidays, special meals are eaten, and no "work" may be performed.
It is customary to eat dairy foods on Shavuot.
On the second day Some people read the Book of Ruth publicly, as King David-whose passing occurred on this day-was a descendant of Ruth the Moabite. Ruth was a dedicated convert to Judaism.
As A Messianic Jew I joyfully celebrate this sacred day by remembering and honoring the day Moshe and the Jewish people received HaShem's Torah, blessing and covenant at Sinai.
Information taken on Holy Day from Chabad.org and my thoughts added.
Source: Yochanan ben Zalman's blog
This from Jewfaq:
Significance: Remembers the giving of the Torah; also a harvest festival
Observances: Studying Torah
Length: 2 days (Some: 1 day)
Customs: Eating dairy foods
You shall count for yourselves -- from the day after the Shabbat, from the day when you bring the Omer of the waving -- seven Shabbats, they shall be complete. Until the day after the seventh sabbath you shall count, fifty days... You shall convoke on this very day -- there shall be a holy convocation for yourselves -- you shall do no laborious work; it is an eternal decree in your dwelling places for your generations. -Leviticus 21:15-16, 21
Shavu'ot, the Festival of Weeks, is the second of the three major festivals with both historical and agricultural significance (the other two are Passover and Sukkot). Agriculturally, it commemorates the time when the first fruits were harvested and brought to the Temple, and is known as Hag ha-Bikkurim (the Festival of the First Fruits). Historically, it celebrates the giving of the Torah at Mount Sinai, and is also known as Hag Matan Torateinu (the Festival of the Giving of Our Torah).
The period from Passover to Shavu'ot is a time of great anticipation. We count each of the days from the second day of Passover to the day before Shavu'ot, 49 days or 7 full weeks, hence the name of the festival. See The Counting of the Omer. The counting reminds us of the important connection between Passover and Shavu'ot: Passover freed us physically from bondage, but the giving of the Torah on Shavu'ot redeemed us spiritually from our bondage to idolatry and immorality. Shavu'ot is also known as Pentecost, because it falls on the 50th day; however, Shavu'ot has no particular similarity to the Christian holiday of Pentecost, which occurs 50 days after their Spring holiday.
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.
Shavu'ot is not tied to a particular calendar date, but to a counting from Passover. Because the length of the months used to be variable, determined by observation (see Jewish Calendar), and there are two new moons between Passover and Shavu'ot, Shavu'ot could occur on the 5th or 6th of Sivan. However, now that we have a mathematically determined calendar, and the months between Passover and Shavu'ot do not change length on the mathematical calendar, Shavu'ot is always on the 6th of Sivan (the 6th and 7th outside of Israel. See Extra Day of Holidays.)
Work is not permitted during Shavu'ot.
It is customary to stay up the entire first night of Shavu'ot and study Torah, then pray as early as possible in the morning.
It is customary to eat a dairy meal at least once during Shavu'ot. There are varying opinions as to why this is done. Some say it is a reminder of the promise regarding the land of Israel, a land flowing with "milk and honey." According to another view, it is because our ancestors had just received the Torah (and the dietary laws therein), and did not have both meat and dairy dishes available. See Separation of Meat and Dairy.
The book of Ruth is read at this time. Again, there are varying reasons given for this custom, and none seems to be definitive.
Shavu'ot will occur on the following days of the Gregorian calendar:
- Jewish Year 5770: sunset May 18, 2010 - nightfall May 20, 2010
- Jewish Year 5771: sunset June 7, 2011 - nightfall June 9, 2011
- Jewish Year 5772: sunset May 26, 2012 - nightfall May 28, 2012
- Jewish Year 5773: sunset May 14, 2013 - nightfall May 16, 2013
- Jewish Year 5774: sunset June 3, 2014 - nightfall June 5, 2014
For additional holiday dates, see Links to Jewish Calendars.