Shavuot is a major festival.
It is the second of the three major festivals and comes exactly
50 days after Passover.
It marks the giving of the Torah by G-d to the entire Jewish people
on Mount Sinai 3336 years ago.
In Hebrew, the word "Shavuot" means "weeks"
and stands for the seven weeks during which the Jewish people
prepared themselves for the giving of the Torah.
During this time they rid themselves of the scars of bondage and
became a holy nation ready to stand before G-d.
THE GIVING OF THE TORAH
The giving of the Torah was far more than an historical event.
It was a far-reaching spiritual event-one that touched the essence
of the Jewish soul then and for all time. Our Sages have compared
it to a wedding between G-d and the Jewish people. We became
His special nation and He became our G-d.
THE IMPORTANCE OF SHAVUOT TODAY
Each year, Shavuot is the special time for us to reawaken and
strengthen our special relationship with G-d. We can do so by
rededicating ourselves to the observance and study of the Torah-our
most precious heritage.
THE WRITTEN AND ORAL LAW
The Torah is composed of two parts: the written law and the oral
law. The written Torah contains the Five Book 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 Talmud and Midrash.
Throughout the generations our people have studied these works,
commenting upon them, clarifying their meanings, deriving practical
applications of these principles and codifying the laws derived
from them. Thus, a continuous chain of tradition extends throughout
the generations, connecting the scholars of the present day to
the revelation at Mount Sinai.
THE "BLUEPRINT" FOR CREATION
Speaking metaphorically, our Sages tell us that G-d constantly
"gazes into the Torah and creates the world." The Torah
is not only a practical guide for our behaviour in daily life,
but also on a deeper level it is actually the "blueprint"
Everything that happens in our lives is a manifestation of G-d's
wisdom, as expressed in His Torah. As such, Torah represents
the very source of our vitality, and the key to the fulfilment
of our deepest aspirations.
The Revelation at Mount Sinai was a tumultuous awe-inspiring experience.
The entire universe, our Sages say, trembled with the piercing
sound of the ram's horn. Thunder and lightning filled the skies.
Then-silence. Not a bird chirped. No creature spoke. The seas
did not stir. Even the angels ceased to fly, as the voice was
heard: "I am the L-rd your G-d ..."
When G-d revealed Himself on Mount Sinai, our entire people heard
his voice proclaiming the Ten Commandments.
1) I am the L-rd your G-d who took you out of the land ofEgypt.
2) You shall have no other gods before Me.
3) Do not take the name of the L-rd your G-d in vain.
4) Remember the Sabbath to keep it holy.
5) Honour your father and mother.
6) Do not murder.
7) Do not commit adultery.
8) Do not steal.
9) Do not bear false witness.
10) Do not covet.
These ten commands range from the highest and most refined concept
of the belief in the oneness of G-d, to the most basic laws which
every society has found it necessary to enforce such as not killing
and not stealing.