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Shavuot, a time of culmination, is a complicated holiday, which weaves two strands of tradition together.

From the Torah we inherit an agricultural celebration that marks the end of the grain harvest, which began during Pesach. 

From later tradition and rabbinic reconstruction, we receive the spiritual meaning of Shavuot. We mark the giving of the Torah on Mt. Sinai seven weeks after the exodus from Egypt, and  revelation of the Torah follows directly from the experience of Exodus. We are freed not only from slavery but also to enter into a covenant between God and Israel.

There are many agricultural customs: bringing baskets of first fruits to the temple and greening the shul by decorating with flowers, branches, and the special Jewish papercuts known as shavuosl (after Shavuos) or raizelach (after raizel/rose – because of their floral designs). You can download templates and make your own papercuts through these links: Deer, Circle, Star

We sing Hallel about the wonders of nature and the miracle of redemption. We read the Book of Ruth, an incomparable story of displacement, homecoming, and the future, and we read the Ten Commandments. And then there are blintzes.

The above photo was taken at a Havurah class on making blintzes.


Tue, July 23 2024 17 Tammuz 5784