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Shavuos - Shavuot
The Ten Commandments

The holiday of Shavuot is the day on which we celebrate the great revelation of the giving of the Torah at Mount Sinai, 3320 years ago. You stood at the foot of the mountain. Your grandparents and great-grandparents before them. The souls of all Jews, from all times, came together to hear the Ten Commandments from G-d Himself.

This year, on Monday, June 9, go to your local synagogue to hear the Ten Commandments and reaffirm the covenant with G-d and His Torah.

Since we all stood at Mount Sinai, we must all reaffirm our commitment. Babies, young children, the elderly, all that are able should attend.

Learning on Shavuot night

On the first night of Shavuot (this year Sunday night, June 8, 2008), Jews throughout the world observe the centuries-old custom of conducting an all-night vigil dedicated to Torah learning, and preparation for receiving the Torah anew the next morning. One explanation for this tradition is that the Jewish people did not rise early on the day G-d gave the Torah, and it was necessary for G-d Himself to awaken them. To compensate for their behavior, Jews have accepted upon themselves the custom of remaining awake all night.

Eating Dairy Foods

It is customary to eat dairy foods on the first day of Shavuot. There are a number of reasons for this custom:

On the holiday of Shavuot, a two-loaf bread offering was brought in the Temple. To commemorate this, we eat two meals on Shavuot -- first a dairy meal, and then, after a short interruption, we eat the traditional meat holiday meal.

With the giving of the Torah the Jews now became obligated to observe the laws of Kosher. As the Torah was given on Shabbat no cattle could be slaughtered nor could utensils be koshered, and thus on that day they ate dairy.

Another reason is that the Torah is likened to nourishing milk. Also, the Hebrew word for milk is "chalav." When the numerical value of each of the letters in the word chalav are added together - 8; 30; 2 - the total is forty. Forty is the number of days Moses spent on Mount Sinai when receiving the Torah.

The Book of Ruth

In many synagogues the Book of Ruth is read on the second day of Shavuot. There are several reasons for this custom:

A) Shavuot is the birthday and yahrtzeit (day of passing) of King David, and the Book of Ruth records his ancestry. Ruth and her husband Boaz were King David's great-grandparents.

B) The scenes of harvesting described in the book of Ruth are appropriate to the Festival of Harvest.

C) Ruth was a sincere convert who embraced Judaism with all her heart. On Shavuot all Jews were converts -- having accepted the Torah and all of its precepts.

Click here: The Book of Ruth

Adorning the Home with Greenery & Flowers

Since it is the Harvest Festival, it is customary on Shavuot to adorn the home and synagogue with fruits, flowers and greens. Furthermore, our Sages relate that although Mount Sinai was situated in a desert, when the Torah was given the mountain bloomed and sprouted flowers.

NOTE: All arrangements should be done early on Sunday, before the onset of the holiday, to respect the sanctity of Shavuot.

Also See: Kosher Kitchens
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