Coming seven weeks
after Passover, Shavuot, the "Festival of Weeks," commemorates
when God gave the Torah to the Jewish people at Mount Sinai.
The exodus from Egypt, for all its drama, was only a means
to an end; God didn't take the Jews out "with a strong hand"
just so they could go to summer camp in the desert. They would
serve him. But they would need the instruction manual.
This holiday begins
on the 6th of Sivan, the date God gave the Torah. Shavuot
doesn't get as much press as other Jewish holidays, but it's
just as important. Without the Torah, there is no framework
for Judaism beyond mere belief. Most Jewish philosophers believe
that Judaism is based on action, not just words and thoughts.
The name "Shavuot"
stems from the counting of the Omer, the seven weeks
between Passover and Shavuot. On this holiday Jews
read the Book of Ruth, which tells of a convert woman who
remained dedicated to her mother-in-law even after Ruth's
husband dies. Her devotion to her family and Judaism were
significant enough that King David descended from her bloodline.
is similar to the other two major festivals, Passover and
Sukkot, in that it has Shabbat-like restrictions against
work, but is different in that it's only two days long, one
For a variety of
reasons, it's also when Jews eat cheesecake. Main reason?
It tastes good.