‘Shavuot’ and the ‘Torah’
Last night, 28th May, corresponding to the 5th day of the Hebrew month of Sivan, Jewish people all over the world began celebrating the festival of ‘Shavuot’.
‘Shavuot’, the Feast of the Weeks, is the Jewish holiday celebrating the harvest season in Israel. ‘Shavuot’, which means ‘weeks’, refers to the timing of the festival which is held exactly seven weeks after Passover. It is celebrated according to the biblical command given in Exodus 34:22: “And you shall observe the Feast of Weeks, of the firstfruits of wheat harvest, and the feast of ingathering at the year's end.”
‘Shavuot’ also commemorates the anniversary of the giving of the Ten Commandments to Moses and the Israelites at Mount Sinai. ‘Shavuot’ commemorates the Revelation at Mount Sinai 3,320 years ago when G-d gave Israel the Holy ‘Torah’, including the Ten Commandments and many of the 613 ‘Mitzvot’ (commands). At Mount Sinai, the Jewish people were charged with the responsibility to be a “Light to the World.”
Exodus chapter 21 begins with the words: “Now these are the judgments which you shall set before them…”
In Exodus 24:3-8 we read: “So Moses came and told the people all the words of the LORD and all the judgments. And all the people answered with one voice and said, “All the words which the LORD has said we will do.” And Moses wrote all the words of the LORD. And he rose early in the morning, and built an altar at the foot of the mountain, and twelve pillars according to the twelve tribes of Israel. Then he sent young men of the children of Israel, who offered burnt offerings and sacrificed peace offerings of oxen to the LORD. And Moses took half the blood and put it in basins, and half the blood he sprinkled on the altar. Then he took the Book of the Covenant and read in the hearing of the people. And they said, “All that the LORD has said we will do, and be obedient.” And Moses took the blood, sprinkled it on the people, and said, “This is the blood of the covenant which the LORD has made with you according to all these words.””
Following the revelation at Sinai, when the people of Israel committed themselves to upholding the ‘Torah’ and received the Ten Commandments, G-d proceeded to communicate to Moses the rest of the ‘mitzvot’ (commandments) of the ‘Torah’.
G-d then called Moses up to the mountain, telling Moses that He would be there and that He would give him the tablets of stone and the commandments which He had written, saying that Moses should teach them to the Children of Israel.
And this is commemorated at ‘Shavuot’.
‘Shavuot’ is known also as ‘Yom Habikurim’ (the Day of the First Fruits) because it is the time the farmers of Israel would bring their first harvest to Jerusalem as a token of thanksgiving. In fact, this holiday is known by several names: It is called ‘Chag HaShavuot’ (the Festival of Weeks), concluding seven weeks from Passover; ‘Z'man Matan Torateinu’ (the Giving of the ‘Torah’); ‘Chag HaBikurim’ (the Festival of the First-Fruits) and ‘Chag Hakazir’ (the Festival of the Harvest).
The ‘Shavuot’ holiday is alive with flowers and greenery, highlighted by ‘Torah’ study, and flavoured with the taste of milk and honey. It is a ‘Shavuot’ tradition to adorn the synagogue and the home, with greenery, fragrant flowers, leaves, boughs and trees. It is a joyous festival that includes many delectable foods such as: Milk and Honey, cheesecake and ‘blintzes’, a rolled pancake filled with cheese.
This holiday is known by Christians as Pentecost.
While there are other references to Pentecost in the New Testament, the most significant reference is found in Acts 2:1-4: “When the day of Pentecost had fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. Then there appeared to them divided tongues, as of fire, and one sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.”
The New Testament writers associate the events of Acts 2 with Pentecost, and relate it to the prophecies of Joel 2 and promises of Jesus in Acts 1:8. In both, the emphasis is on the empowerment of born again Christians through the Holy Spirit, to enable the people of G-d to be a “Light to the World.”
To conclude, for both Jewish people and Christians, ‘Shavuot’ is a very special and blessed time.
We at Emet Ministries take this opportunity to wish Jewish people all over the world: ‘CHAG SAMEACH’.