Happy Shavuot!

Chag Shavuot Sameach! (Happy Holidays) The Jewish holiday of Shavuot began last evening at Sundown and will continue until Thursday evening. Shavuot is considered to be one of the three pilgrimage holidays—the Shalosh Regilim, and occurs 50 days after Passover. Jewish families have been counting the omer and anticipating the holiday ever since the first day of Pesach. This holiday is said to commemorate the giving of the Torah to Moses on Mt. Sinai.  It is a holiday of rejoicing and welcoming in the spring and can also be referred to as Yom Habikurim (Day of the First Fruits) or Chag HaKatzir–The Harvest Festival. In the United States it is celebrated for two days, while in Israel it is only observed for one day.

This is a fascinating holiday with unique traditions. On the first night of Shavuot people often stay up all night to study the Torah and this is referred to as Tikkun Leil Shavuot. One of my friends said that she usually reads through the Psalms as well as parts of the book of Ruth. On the first day of the holiday it is customary to go to synagogue to hear the reading of the Ten Commandments, and the evening begins with candle lighting and a special meal, much like Shabbat.

An interesting fact about this holiday is that it is customary to eat dairy foods. There are various reasons given for this tradition, and one of the most common answers given is that the Torah is like milk, so dairy is eaten in commemoration of this idea. In the Hebrew alphabet, each character has a numerical value and this plays into one reason that I found particularly fascinating.

At www.chabad.org they say

“…the Hebrew word for milk is chalav, and when the numerical values 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.”

Typical foods include cheese blintzes and cheesecake!

So, whether your Jewish, Mennonite, or something else, you now have an excuse to go eat cheesecake!

Here is an interesting video to check out!

Resources for this post include www.chabad.orgtoryavey.com, and www.myjewishlearning.com

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