Friday, May 18, 2007

Counting the Omer Day 45 - 6 weeks, 3 days

Today is Tiferet she b'Malchut - a day of compassion in a week of majesty.

Chodesh Tov!!! Today is the first of Sivan--Shavuot is in 5 days, on the sixth of Sivan.

Shavuot is a major Jewish holiday that has become minor in practice for many Jews. There aren't any extra mandated ritual other than services. There's no communal meal, although there is a custom to eat dairy. There is a tradition to stay up all night and study Torah, getting ready celebrate the receiving of the Torah at Sinai, but that's not an activity that people flock to participate in. Shavuot is also another one of those 2 day holidays in the Diaspora, 1 day holiday in Israel--a tradition I having an increasing hard time with these days.

Shavuot is one of the Shalosh Regalim, the three Pilgram Festivals, when all Jews gathered in Jerusalem at the Temple. The other two festivals are Pesach and Sukkot. In an article about the history of Shavuot on, we learn:
"In all likelihood, then, Shavuot was not celebrated until after the first Temple was built. It is speculated that Shavuot was probably the most difficult of the pilgrim festivals to observe since it fell in the middle of the growing season. Nevertheless, the historian Josephus (first century C.E.) describes large attendance in Jerusalem for Shavuot, and the Mishnah--in the section known as Bikkurim--depicts the bringing of first fruits to the Temple in Jerusalem as a gala affair. The Book of Jubilees--which is part of the apocrypha, works considered for but not ultimately canonized in the Bible--adds an additional reason for celebrating Shavuot: to commemorate and renew the pact between God and Noah when God promised never to flood the earth again.
So it seems that even in its early days of commemoration, Shavuot was a hard sell.