Shavuot shorter than Passover and Sukkot?
Some commentaries explain that because Shavuot falls
during the harvest season, God had mercy upon the Jews and
made it a short holiday so as not to cost them too much work
time. Perhaps God also considered the expensive food prices
at Passover and knew the Jewish people couldn't go through
another eight-day holiday.
Why do people
eat dairy products on Shavuot?
Unclear, but different explanations exist. One maintains that
it's because the Jews received the laws of kosher food when
they received the Torah, disqualifying the meat and dishes
they had stored with them. Others say it's connected to the
verse describing Israel as "a land flowing with milk and honey."
Still others say it's a vegetarian thing.
It's a convenient
excuse to invite guests over for a holiday meal and serve
What is the
Tikkun Leil Shavuot?
The custom of staying up all night to study Torah on the
first night of Shavuot. This is done because the Torah,
according to tradition, was given that night.
What are the
different names for Shavuot?
- The "Festival of Weeks." End of the Passover-to-Shavuot
Zman Matan Torateinu - Literally, the "Time of Receiving
Chag HaBikkurim - "Holiday of the First Fruits."
Atzeret - "Conclusion," ending the season that began
Chag HaKatzir - The "Festival of Harvest," since
the holiday takes place at the time of year when wheat is
Shavuot shorter in Israel than outside Israel?
The Jewish calendar is lunar-based. During the time of the
Holy Temple, starting dates for holidays were based on Rosh
Chodesh, the new month, which was determined by watching
the moon. Witnesses who saw the new moon would report it to
the sanhedrin, the high Jewish court. Holidays would
then start at the prescribed number of days after the new
moon dictated in the Torah (Shavuot on the sixth day
of Sivan, for example).
After the new moon
was announced in Jerusalem, messengers were dispatched to
spread the word to outlying countries where Jews lived, so
that everyone would know when the holidays were supposed to
begin. The messengers weren't able to reach communities far
away, however; those communities therefore had to set the
dates of holidays based upon the end of the previous month.
Since Rosh Chodesh can be either one or two days, they
observed the first day of the holiday for two days in order
to avoid any chance of transgressing restrictions on the actual
date of the holiday.
With the advent
of the modern calendar, the exact starting date of all Jewish
holidays is predetermined far in advance, but the rabbis maintained
the practice of observing a second day of holiday observance,
following the practice of Jewish ancestors. In Israel, however,
only one day is observed, since there was never a two-day
Why do Confirmations
take place on Shavuot?
Confirmation, the ceremony used by the Reform and Conservative
movements for students completing the tenth grade, is often
held on Shavuot to link the students to future Torah
study and participation in Jewish life. Many schools hold
ceremonies for younger students on Shavuot for the
Is Yizkor recited
Yes. Yizkor, the Jewish memorial prayer for lost loved
ones, is recited on Yom Kippur, Shemini Atzeret,
the last day of Passover, and on Shavuot.