Shavuot will be observed from the Evening of May 28, 2020 - Evening of May 30, 2020.

Shavuot

The Festival Of Weeks: Celebrating The Jewish Pentecost

On Shavuot, we commemorate our epic encounter with God at Mount Sinai: when the nation of Israel received the Torah, when we committed to keep God’s laws and to become His people. Today, we reaffirm that commitment by staying up all night to study Torah and publicly reading the Ten Commandments, as well as Megillat Ruth ("the Scroll of Ruth").

Resources

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This guide for Megillat Ruth will take you to a deeper, and more meaningful understanding of this seemingly-ordinary text. Rabbi Fohrman’s study guide illuminates why this tale of marriage, death, and daily life in ancient Israel is nothing short of an origin story for Jewish nationhood — and the perfect chronicle for Shavuot.

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Shavuot is one of three Biblical pilgrimage festivals, along with Passover and Sukkot. The Bible describes Shavuot as an agricultural celebration, although the holiday is most widely known as the commemoration of the day God gave the Torah to the Israelites. Receiving the commandments at Sinai had far-reaching consequences – the Israelites chose to become God's people and commit to the Torah's laws. Discover the significance of Shavuot's customs and rituals.

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On Shavuot, we commemorate the Israelites receiving the Torah – including the Ten Commandments – at Mount Sinai. One of the centerpieces of the holiday is the public reading of the Ten Commandments in synagogue. Sure, the Ten Commandments are important, they're revered... but when was the last time that they really affected how you live your everyday life? Explore the mysteries and meaning behind these monumental directives, and the stunning ramifications they hold for every part of our lives.

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The period of forty-nine days between Pesach and Shavuot, known as the Omer or Sefira. During this time, we fulfill a Torah commandment to "count" the days. It is also observed by many as a time for spiritual reflection. Learn what this strange ritual of "counting" is all about, and why is this the lead up to our celebration of the holiday of Shavuot.

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According to the Talmud, the period leading up to the holiday of Shavuot is a time of national mourning. But that mourning is interrupted (or halted – traditions vary!) on the 33rd day of the Omer, a celebratory day known as "Lag BaOmer." It is traditionally observed with joyful community gatherings, blazing fires, and... haircuts (yes, you read that right). Come and learn the deeper significance of the holiday of Lag BaOmer.

About Shavuot

Shavuot is the culmination of the counting of the seven weeks, or forty-nine days, of the Omer. After counting the Omer, we arrive chronologically and spiritually at Shavuot, where we celebrate both the spring harvest and the day the Israelite people accepted the Torah from God. Shavuot is known by many names–Shavuos, the Festival of Weeks, the Jewish Pentecost, the Reaping Festival–which hints at the complexity of understanding what this holiday really means. 

When Moses proclaimed to the enslaved Israelites that their redemption was coming, he told them their savior was the One God, the God of their forefathers, and that they were going to become His nation. Not long after this proclamation, God freed the Israelites from their bondage in Egypt; however, the people had yet to formally become God’s nation.

Seven weeks after the Exodus, the new nation stood at the foot of Mount Sinai as God finally invited them to accept their destiny as His chosen people. The Israelites were offered the opportunity to be a Mamlechet Kohanim veGoy Kadosh, a Kingdom of Priests and a Holy Nation, by receiving God’s Torah, and thereby becoming the bearers of His vision. God’s invitation was direct: He “spoke” to the entire people, in the greatest mass revelation in history. The people accepted, and God gave them the Torah.

It was a pivotal moment when the Israelites accepted God’s Torah; it was this choice that cemented their place in history as His chosen people. Today, many Jews celebrate this critical moment in history by studying Torah through the night. However, the only unique Biblical command associated with Shavuot is the offering of two loaves of bread, in order to commemorate the end of the wheat harvest. The Torah doesn’t even mention that anything special happened on Shavuot. Why this curious silence? Rabbi Fohrman asks that very question in this course: "Why Isn't "Torah-Day" Actually In The Torah?"

It also seems strange that we celebrate a "Law Day", not generally a cause for celebration in other religions or nations. And, if this holiday is about the giving of the Torah, but it's hard find the laws of the Bible very inspiring, how are we supposed to connect to Shavuot? To answer that, Rabbi Forhman uncovers some interesting Biblical connections here: "Why Do We Celebrate Law-Day?"

To think differently about Shavuot and find answers to these big questions, Aleph Beta's videos and guides are designed to take you on a deep dive through the holiday of Shavuot.