The New Synagogue of Long Island
The Synagogue for Spiritual Judaism

Shavuot – The Weekday Holiday

 

Shavuot is the Festival of the Giving of the Torah at Mount Sinai, which occurs seven weeks after Passover. Shavuot is a two-day holiday which falls on the 6th and 7th of the Hebrew month of Sivan, this year corresponding to June 9th – June 10th.  The Torah was given by G-d to the Jewish people on Mount Sinai more than 3,300 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. 

 

It is customary to eat dairy foods on Shavuot because Jewish tradition compares the words of Torah to the sweetness of milk and honey. Blintzes and cheesecake are among the popular foods to make and enjoy for the holiday.

 

The holiday of Shavuot is literally translated as the “Festival of Weeks.”  According to the Torah, it took precisely 49 days, or seven weeks, for the ancient Israelites to travel from Egypt to the foot of Mount Sinai.  It seems like a misnomer since the festival itself is two days (or one, if you’re living in Israel), and the “weeks” refer to the time spent preparing for the Big Day. 


The big moments in life don’t really last that long.  When you look back at the photo album of your life, which moments will you most treasure or regret, and which will you struggle to even remember?  Certain days just mean more - your wedding day, the birth of your first child or grandchild – they all loom large in your life, while other days just seem to sweep by.  You’d never refer to your wedding as a “Celebration of Your Two-Year Engagement,” or the Super Bowl as the “Festival of the Football Season,” so why name this holiday after its preparation period? 


There is a famous quote by Robert H. Schuller: “Spectacular achievement is always preceded by unspectacular preparation.”  However, the Torah teaches that the preparation itself is an important, spectacular part of the journey. The days and weeks of our lives are far more than mere stages in our long journey toward a goal.  They are unique opportunities to achieve that goal.  The weeks and days of our life are Festivals of G‑d. The value of each point in time is to count the days, to fill up each moment of every day with meaning, to make each weekday a holiday.


Often, we focus on the future and ignore the here and now. But the lesson of Shavuot is that every moment of every day counts.

The Torah is Life. The Torah is Knowledge. The Torah is Love. The Torah is Joy.

 

Enjoy your cheesecake and blintzes!

 

Wishing you a Happy Shavuot,

Rabbi Stuart Paris, HaKohen



We thank you in advance for your help and generosity.



Torah Completion and Celebration

Sunday, May 15, 2016

7 Iyar, 5776

Rabbi Stuart Paris and Rabbi Gedaliah Druin

Rabbi Gedaliah Druin completing the last letter of the Torah