Why Isn't “Torah-Day” Actually In The Torah?

Does Shavuot Celebrate The Giving Of The Torah… Or Something Else?

Rabbi David Fohrman
Rabbi David Fohrman


If you were asked what we remember on Shavuot, what would you say? The giving of the Torah, right?

But did you know that in the Biblical commandment to celebrate Shavuot, there is NO MENTION of the giving of the Torah?! The Torah describes the origin of Shavuot, it tells us that it's a harvest holiday, a day to remember that God took us out of Egypt, a day to be joyful with our families and workers – but absolutely nothing about receiving the Torah!

So how did we get to Shavuot as we know it? Ah, we have the rabbis to thank for that. The rabbis come along, in the pages of the Talmud, and spin this story for us: about how Shavuot isn’t just a harvest festival, it’s the commemoration of when we stood at Mount Sinai!! So is this what Shavuot really celebrates?

Now, the Torah tells us that we’re supposed to listen to the rabbis... but it’s times like these that make you wonder: “Where are they coming up with this stuff? And who do they think they are? Making a decree is one thing, but you can’t just decide that a holiday means something that it doesn’t. It’s God’s call, not theirs, right? Is there any appeals process here?"

It’s true, the Torah’s description of Shavuot's origin says nothing about the giving of the Torah — but there are echoes to be found elsewhere in the Torah, echoes that do suggest this very link. In this video, Rabbi Fohrman embarks upon a sweeping journey, closing the mysterious gap between the Biblical Shavuot and the Shavuot as we know it — and most importantly — discovering the hidden depth in this all-important holiday.