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Tuesday 29 of November 2022

5 Kislev, 5783


Shavuot literally means “weeks”. It is properly called Jag HaShavuot, that is, “Festival of the Weeks”.   

This is the second of the three Shalosh Regalim, together with Passover and Sukkot. Shavuot is a festivity with several names, each of them representing something different: Hag HaKatzir festival of the harvest, Hag HaShavuot or festival of the weeks, Hag HaBikkurim or festival of the first fruit. The Torah describes this festival in these three ways in Numbers 28:26: “On the day of the first fruits(Yom Habikkurim), when you offer a grain offering of new grain to the Lord at your Feast of Weeks (that is seven weeks after the second day of Passover), you shall have a holy convocation. You shall not do any ordinary work”.

The name of Atzeret (solemn assembly) is later used in the el Talmud to show how the rabbis so this Festival as a conclusion of Passover and the subsequent period of the Omer Account, when the offerings to the Temple are brought forward, and each of the  49 days are counted. The period when we start counting for Shavuot starts at Passover and lasts seven weeks, coinciding with the period between the harvest of the barley and the harvest of corn, the last cereal to ripe.

Besides that, Shavuot is also “Zeman matan torateinu” o "time of the giving of the Torah".

Shavuot has an important spiritual weight and is one of the main turning points. The exit from Egypt did not finish at Passover; we celebrate in Passover our physical liberation, but not our complete redemption. Such a process did not finish until Shavuot, with the Torah. 

The Jews celebrate this festival on the 6th of Sivan. The Orthodox and Conservative communities in the Diaspora usually celebrate it for two days, that is, on the 6th and 7th. Reform celebrates it on the 6th, whether in Eretz Israel or in the Diaspora.

Meguilat Ruth has a key role for various reasons, one of them being because Ruth was an ancestor of King David, and that Ruth died at the time of Shavuot; but also because of the content of the book, which is very adequate for this festivity, since Ruth symbolizes loyalty to Israel through the Torah.  

One of the most celebrated customs at Shavuot is Tikkun Leil Shavuot, where a text is chosen to be studied throughout the long hours of the night of Shavuot.

Shavuot is both a home and synagogue festival. Synagogues and homes are usually decorated with flowers and plants. Besides, at Shavuot you can find milk products on the Jewish table, this being an old custom. The Torah was compared in the Song of Songs to milk and honey, and white is a symbol for purity, the Torah, and a necessary food for children. 


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