By Stan Goodenough

“You shall count seven weeks for yourself; begin to count the seven weeks from the time you begin to put the sickle to the grain. Then you shall keep the Feast of Weeks to the LORD your God with the tribute of a freewill offering from your hand, which you shall give as the LORD your God blesses you.” (Deuteronomy 16:9-10)

“And you shall count for yourselves from the day after the Sabbath, from the day that you brought the sheaf of the wave offering: seven Sabbaths shall be completed. Count fifty days to the day after the seventh Sabbath; then you shall offer a new grain offering to the LORD.” (Lev 23:15-16)

Shavuot, the Festival of Weeks, is the second major festival in the Jewish year. It is also known as Hag Matan Tora, the festival of the giving of Torah, commemorating Moses; receiving of the Law from God on Mount Sinai.

Jews eagerly count off the days seperating the Feast of Unleavened Bread from Shavuot. This is known as “counting the Omer,” which starts on the second day of Passover and continues to the day before Shavu’ot, 49 days or 7 full weeks.

Shavuot is also sometimes known as Pentecost, because it falls on the 50th day.

For the Jews, counting the Omer links Passover and Shavuot, where Passover delivered them from physical slavery and the giving of the Law on Shavuot freed them spiritually from slavery to idolatry and immorality.

Shavuot falls on the 6th day of the month of Sivan (outside Jerusalem it falls on the 6th and 7th). Work is forbidden on that day. Customarily Jews will stay awake through the first night of Shavu’ot and study Torah, then pray as early as possible in the morning. The book of Ruth is also read at this time.

At least one dairy meal is eaten on Shavuot. One reason is that is serves as a reminder of the promised Land which flows with milk and honey. land of Israel, a land flowing with “milk and honey.”

© Israel My Beloved