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Printable Shavuot Guide - 2013

Printable Shavuot Guide - 2013

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Out of respect for the sanctity of the holiday, please print out this holiday guide before the onset of the holiday (sundown on Tuesday, May 14, 2013), and keep it handy throughout the holiday for reference purposes.


Shavuot 101


What Is Shavuot?

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.

What Is the Torah?

The Torah is composed of two parts: the Written Law and the Oral Law. The written Torah contains the Five Books of Moses, the Prophets and the Writings. Together with the Written Torah, Moses was also given the Oral Law, which explains and clarifies the Written Law. It was transmitted orally from generation to generation, and eventually transcribed in the Mishnah, Talmud, Midrash, and the entire corpus of Torah literature that was developed over the millennia.

The word Torah means “instruction” or “guide.” The Torah guides our every step and move through its 613 mitzvahs. The word mitzvah means both “commandment” and “connection.” Through the study of Torah and fulfillment of mitzvahs, we connect ourselves and our environment to G‑d. G‑d’s purpose in creating the world is that we sanctify all of creation, imbuing it with holiness and spirituality.

On the holiday of Shavuot, the entire Jewish nation heard from G‑d the Ten Commandments. The next day Moses went up to Mount Sinai, where he was taught by G‑d the rest of the Torah—both the Written and Oral Laws—which he then transmitted to the entire nation.

Click for related content:

What is the Torah?
The Torah: Law, Truth and Peace

The Role of Children

When the Torah is read in the synagogue on Shavuot, we experience anew the Sinaitic transmission of the Torah by G‑d. Just as the Sinai event was attended by every Jewish man, woman and child, so too, every Jewish person should make every effort to be present in a synagogue on Wednesday, May 15 2013, as the Ten Commandments are read from the Torah.

There is also special significance to bringing children, even the youngest of infants, to hear the Ten Commandments.

Before G‑d gave the Torah to the Jewish people, He demanded guarantors. The Jews made a number of suggestions, all rejected by G‑d, until they declared, “Our children will be our guarantors that we will cherish and observe the Torah.” G‑d immediately accepted them and agreed to give the Torah.

Let us make sure to bring along all our “guarantors” to the synagogue on the first day of Shavuot.

Click here for the Shavuot Kids Zone.


Holiday Traditions


Learning on Shavuot night

On the first night of Shavuot (this year, Tuesday night, May 14, 2013), Jews throughout the world observe the centuries-old custom of conducting an all-night vigil dedicated to Torah learning and preparation for receiving the Torah anew the next morning. One explanation for this tradition is that the Jewish people did not rise early on the day G‑d gave the Torah, and it was necessary for G‑d Himself to awaken them. To compensate for their behavior, Jews have accepted upon themselves the custom of remaining awake all night.

The Book of Ruth

The Book of Ruth is recited as part of the program of study for Shavuot night. Additionally, in many synagogues it is read publicly on the second day of Shavuot. There are several reasons for this custom:

  1. Shavuot is the birthday and yahrtzeit (anniversary of passing) of King David, and the Book of Ruth records his ancestry. Ruth and her husband Boaz were King David’s great-grandparents.
  2. The scenes of harvesting described in the book of Ruth are appropriate to the Festival of Harvest.
  3. Ruth was a sincere convert who embraced Judaism with all her heart. On Shavuot all Jews were converts—having accepted the Torah and all of its precepts.

Click here for the Book of Ruth

Click here for the story of Ruth

Click here for the story of King David

Eating Dairy Foods

It is customary to eat dairy foods on the first day of Shavuot. There are a number of reasons for this custom. Here are a few:

  • On the holiday of Shavuot, a two-loaf bread offering was brought in the Temple. To commemorate this, we eat two meals on Shavuot—first a dairy meal, and then, after a short break, we eat the traditional holiday meat meal.
  • With the giving of the Torah, the Jews became obligated to observe the kosher laws. As the Torah was given on Shabbat, no cattle could be slaughtered nor could utensils be koshered, and thus on that day they ate dairy.
  • The Torah is likened to nourishing milk. Also, 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.
  • When Moses ascended Mount Sinai, the angels urged G‑d to reconsider His decision to give His most precious Torah to earthly beings. “Bestow Your majesty upon the heavens . . . What is man that You should remember him, and the son of man that You should be mindful of him?” (Psalms 8:2–4). One of the reasons why the angels’ request went unheeded is because of the Jews’ meticulous adherence to the laws of the Torah—including the kosher laws. Not so the angels, who when visiting Abraham consumed butter and milk together with meat (Genesis 18:8). On Shavuot we therefore eat dairy products and then take a break before eating meat—in order to demonstrate our commitment to this mitzvah.

Click here for traditional Shavuot dairy recipes

Adorning the Home with Greenery and Flowers

Since Shavuot is also called the “Harvest Festival,” it is customary to adorn the home and synagogue with fruits, flowers and greens. Furthermore, our Sages relate that although Mount Sinai was situated in a desert, when the Torah was given the mountain bloomed and sprouted flowers.

Shavuot Calendar 2014

During the course of the holiday we don’t go to work, drive, write, or switch on or off electric devices. We are permitted to cook, to kindle a stove with a flame that existed before the holiday (or which was lit from such a flame), and to carry outdoors.

 

Tuesday,
Sivan 5—June 3

Shavuot eve

It is customary to decorate synagogues and homes with flowers and boughs .

The holiday of Shavuot begins tonight.

Women and girls light candles tonight to usher in the holiday. Click here for candle-lighting times in your city, and see below for the blessings one recites while lighting.

After the holiday evening prayers, a festive holiday meal, complete with the recitation of the holiday kiddush, is enjoyed.

On this night it is customary to remain awake and study Torah until dawn.

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Wednesday,
Sivan 6—June 4

First day of Shavuot
Torah reading: Exodus 19:1–20:23; Numbers 28:26–31
Haftorah: Ezekiel 1:1–28; 3:12

Reading of the Ten Commandments.

All men, women and children should go to the synagogue to hear the reading of the Ten Commandments. Click here to find a synagogue near you.

The Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson, of righteous memory, encouraged the bringing of even the youngest of children to the reading of the Ten Commandments in the synagogue on Shavuot. This is in commemoration of the Jewish people declaring: “Our children are our guarantors [that we will keep the Torah].” This, the Midrash states, was the only guarantee acceptable to G‑d.

The priests bless the congregation with the Priestly Blessing during the Musaf prayer.

Many communities chant the Akdamut poem before the reading of the Torah.

Kiddush is recited, and a holiday meal follows.

It is customary to eat dairy foods today. Click here for delicious dairy recipes.

Candle-lighting, from a pre-existing flame, after nightfall. Click here for candle-lighting times in your city, and see below for the blessings.

Whoever will say yizkor tomorrow lights a yahrtzeit candle tonight, also from a pre-existing flame.

After the holiday evening prayers, a festive holiday meal, complete with the recitation of the holiday kiddush, is again enjoyed.

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Thursday
Sivan 7—June 5

Second day of Shavuot
Torah reading: Deuteronomy 15:19–16:17; Numbers 28:26–31
Haftarah: Habakkuk 2:20–3:19

The Yizkor memorial service is recited (and charity is pledged) for the souls of departed loved ones.

The priests bless the congregation with the Priestly Blessing during the Musaf prayer.

Kiddush is recited, and a holiday meal follows.

Some communities have the custom to read the Book of Ruth on the second day of Shavuot.

The holiday ends tonight at nightfall. Click here for end of holiday times in your location.

Candle-Lighting Blessings

For both evenings of the holiday:

  1. Ba-rooch Ah-tah Ah-doh-nai Eh-lo-hei-nu Meh-lech ha-oh-lam ah-sher kee-deh-sha-nu beh-mitz-voh-tav veh-tzee-va-nu leh-had-lik neir shel yom tov.

    (Translation:) Blessed are You, L‑rd our G‑d, King of the universe, who has sanctified us with His commandments, and commanded us to kindle the holiday light.
  2. Ba-rooch Ah-tah Ah-doh-nai Eh-lo-hei-nu Meh-lech ha-oh-lam sheh-heh-cheh-yah-nu veh-kee-yeh-mah-nu ve-hee-gee-ah-nu liz-man ha-zeh.

    (Translation:) Blessed are You, L‑rd our G‑d, King of the universe, who has granted us life, sustained us, and enabled us to reach this occasion.


Useful Shavuot Links:

Shavuot Mega-Site

Global Shavuot Event Finder

The Story of Shavuot

Shavuot Personalities

Holiday Insights

Underage Underwriters—60-Second Inspirational Video Clip

Shavuot Kids’ Zone

Traditional Shavuot Recipes

Shavuot Audio Classes, Videos and Songs

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Discussion (6)
May 24, 2012
MIlk and Meat
Please see Did Abraham Serve His Guests Non-Kosher? for an explanation on what Abraham served to the three angels
Chabad.org Staff
mychabad.org
May 24, 2012
Maybe I'm Wrong...
...but you may have erred in discussing that the angels visiting Abraham violated kashruth by eating milk and meat together. I learned long ago that Abraham had offered the angels milk and curds first while he ran after the calves to prepare tongue for the angels. It is kosher to eat milk before meat. Secondly, Rashi holds that this may have been Abraham offering the angels a choice: do you want to each dairy or meat? In either case, it does not appear kashruth was violated. But what do I know?
Lew Marcus
scranton, pa
May 24, 2012
Printable Shavuot Guide-2012
Thank you so very much for the printable guide! It's already been printed and it is going to a friend too. Such a nice informative surprise! Again thank you so much!
Karen C. Burwell
Maypearl,, TX-USA
June 6, 2011
Extra day
Chani Benjaminson, chabad.org
June 5, 2011
length of holiday
Why is it only one day in Israel, but two days here? There must be some justification for this difference and nothing is mentioned.
dendrobe
Morristown, NJ
May 25, 2009
Shavuot.(7 weeks )
Tx again for your erudite festival facts & commentaries which fast fwd & inspire the novice.
mark alcock
Durban, SA
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