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What Is Shavuot?

What Is Shavuot?

Re-accept the Torah


The Torah was given by G‑d to the Jewish people on Mount Sinai more than 3300 years ago. Every year on the holiday of Shavuot we renew our acceptance of G‑d’s gift, and G‑d “re-gives” the Torah.

The word Shavuot means “weeks.” It marks the completion of the seven-week counting period between Passover and Shavuot.

The giving of the Torah was a far-reaching spiritual event—one that touched the essence of the Jewish soul for all times. Our sages have compared it to a wedding between G‑d and the Jewish people. Shavuot also means “oaths,” for on this day G‑d swore eternal devotion to us, and we in turn pledged everlasting loyalty to Him.

In ancient times, two wheat loaves would be offered in Holy Temple. It was also at this time that people would begin to bring bikkurim, their first and choicest fruits, to thank G‑d for Israel’s bounty.

On this day G‑d swore eternal devotion to us, and we pledged everlasting loyalty to Him

The holiday of Shavuot is a two-day holiday, beginning at sundown of the 5th of Sivan and lasting until nightfall of the 7th of Sivan. (In Israel it is a one-day holiday, ending at nightfall of the 6th of Sivan.)

  • Women and girls light holiday candles to usher in the holiday, on both the first and second evenings of the holidays.
  • It is customary to stay up all night learning Torah on the first night of Shavuot.
  • All men, women and children should go to the synagogue on the first day of Shavuot to hear the reading of the Ten Commandments.
  • As on other holidays, special meals are eaten, and no “work” may be performed.
  • It is customary to eat dairy foods on Shavuot. Among other reasons, this commemorates the fact that upon receiving the Torah, including the kosher laws, the Jewish people could not cook meat in their pots, which had yet to be rendered kosher.
  • On the second day of Shavuot, the Yizkor memorial service is recited.
  • Some communities read the Book of Ruth publicly, as King David—whose passing occurred on this day—was a descendant of Ruth the Moabite.

Click here for more about Shavuot.

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Discussion (45)
June 21, 2016
re: Spelling of G-d
There is a biblical prohibition against desecrating G-d's name, if we write G-d's name out fully and the page is printed and happens to fall on the ground and people step on it or similar occurrences, G-d's name would be desecrated, in order to avoid that we do not spell the Name out fully but spell it "G-d". For more information see here. Staff
June 20, 2016
I would also like to know why the O is omitted in God?
June 15, 2016
RE: "G-d swore eternal devotion to us . . . "
You raise a very important point, one that we see throughout Tanach. On one hand, G-d (often through His prophets) warns us multiple times of the many disasters that will befall is throughout the long and bitter exile. Yet, He also assures us that our bond remains whole throughout and that we will ultimately be reconciled. And indeed, despite the terrible things that we have experienced as a people, we are still here, G-d's special people and a living monument to His involvement in human affairs.
Menachem Posner
June 10, 2016
"Shavuot also means “oaths,” for on this day G d swore eternal devotion to us, and we in turn pledged everlasting loyalty to Him."
The following may sound negative but it is something that I have pondered over for many years.
He swore eternal devotion to us Jews. Why then did He allow pogroms to happens and especially the (almost genocide)of Jews by the Nazis in the second world war?
I know that you will answer saying that G-d did not do that - man did. But taking into account the above, why did G-d allow these things to happen? Being all powerful He could have stopped these things from happening - but did not.
Johannesburg, South Africa.
May 23, 2015
Shabbat Shalom and a Special Shavout Blessing from Paris, Texas!
Sher Bond
Paris, Texas
May 23, 2015
Very enlightening! The first blog that has all positive comments ! I am going to go lite a candle now ....GDN
May 21, 2015
The giving of the Torah
May it continue touching our souls with one G-d always.

Thank you for sharing this!
Eugina Giovanna Herrera
New York City, New York
May 25, 2014
RE: Laws of Shavuot
With very few exceptions, both days of the diaspora Shavuot have identical yom tov status. As such, we may not drive or do other melachot (forbidden acts) on the second day.
Menachem Posner
May 25, 2014
Laws of Shavuot
Do both days of Shavuot (outside of Eretz Israel) have the status of "yom tov"? If not, is it ok to drive on the second day of the holiday?
Vancouver BC Canada
May 5, 2014
What's up with the o's on god
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