Shavuot: the Festival of the First Fruits and the Receiving of the Torah



   
    June 1998          
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Shavout

What is it?

What is Shavout?

Shavout is a Jewish Religious Holyday. This year, 1998, it falls on Sunday, June 31, and Monday, July 1.

What's it all about?

Shavout commemerates the giving of the Torah on Mount Sinai. It was on this date some 3300 years ago. It also celebrates the beginning of the harvest and the first fruits were brought to the Temple in Jerusalem

What do we all do?

The custom is to stay awake all night reading and learning the Torah. Durring the day the Book of Ruth is read.

Anything special to eat?

Of course! On Shavout, it is customary to eat a milk meal and to eat new fruits.

Why a milk meal?

The reason is that before the Torah was given to the Jewish People, it was permited to eat milk and meat together. Once the Torah was given it became forbidden. What did those folks out there in the desert do for food on that day since their pot and pans became forbidden since they previously cooked meat and dairy together? They could not slaughter and cook an animal, so they eat cheese and milk which required no preparation. We recall this by eating a strictly dairy meal.

Anything else unusual?

Yes, it is the custom to decorate the synagouge and house with greens, (branches from trees and shrubs, and flowers). This recalls the feeling of being outdoors in the desert. (Listen, eventhough it was a desert, there were some greens, but if you insist, go ahead and decorate your house with sand!)

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from the June 1998 Edition of the Jewish Magazine

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