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What Is Shavuot?

What Is Shavuot?

Re-accept the Torah

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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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Chabad.org Staff June 21, 2016

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. Reply

Anonymous alabama June 20, 2016

I would also like to know why the O is omitted in God? Reply

Menachem Posner June 15, 2016

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. Reply

Anonymous Johannesburg, South Africa. 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. Reply

Sher Bond Paris, Texas May 23, 2015

Shabbat Shalom and a Special Shavout Blessing from Paris, Texas! Reply

Anonymous May 23, 2015

Very enlightening! The first blog that has all positive comments ! I am going to go lite a candle now ....GDN Reply

Eugina Giovanna Herrera New York City, New York May 21, 2015

May it continue touching our souls with one G-d always.

Thank you for sharing this! Reply

Menachem Posner Montreal May 25, 2014

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. Reply

Anonymous Vancouver BC Canada May 25, 2014

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? Reply

Anonymous belfast May 5, 2014

What's up with the o's on god Reply

Joseph Matthews Cambodia May 14, 2013

Simple but an impressive explanation of Shavuot .Ten Commandments have always been considered the First Law on the planet. And it has been reverend by all the mainstreams religions in the world. Shavuot means weeks, but it also means Oaths. A scared oath between The God and the Man-kinds till eternity, amen.. Reply

Anonymous cape town, africa June 5, 2012

Wow thank you so much Reply

Anonymous Kno, Tenn via chabadknoxville.org May 26, 2012

I was wondering does the Shavuot Offering have to reach the intended place of donation by the day that Shavuot is celebrated to receive God's blessings or is it considered received on the date it is released to be sent to receive the blessings? Reply

Jonathan bogota, colombia May 25, 2012

Thank you very much for all the useful information, in some minutes I will light the candles. Blessings from Bogota, Colombia. Reply

Judith Sinclair North York, Ontario May 25, 2012

Not according to your time line.

What is true? Reply

Dian May 22, 2012

what an interesting revelation. We don't have any information of this in our Bible, so it's really wonderfully interesting! Thank you for sharing this with everyone. G-d bless you for this. Reply

Judge Dana Levitz Lutherville , Md. May 19, 2012

Thanks for the simple,to the point, explaination of the meaning of Shavuot and the important customs associated with it. Reply

Rabbi Tzvi Freeman June 7, 2011

The only case when one would be permitted to donate blood on Yom Tov would be in a matter of life and death, where no other blood is ready on the spot.

Otherwise, just wait until Friday. Better--wait until after Shabbat. Reply

john smith fort lauderdale, FL June 7, 2011

Karen Joyce Chaya Fradle Kleinman Bell

so the monogram on the towels = KCBJFK?

just kidding...thats good news about the Torah! Reply

Anonymous ny, ny June 7, 2011

can you donate blood on shavout? Reply

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