The Jewish People are heading into another festival this weekend, with Shavuot running straight on from Shabbat and beginning on Saturday night (so I will be offline until Sunday night).
The festival commemorates the giving of the Torah at Mount Sinai and is also known as the festival of the First Fruits. It takes its name from the Hebrew word for “Weeks” – literally: Shavuot. The “weeks” are the 7 weeks we are instructed by G-d (ויקרא כ”ג:ט”ו – Lev. 23:15) to count, from the 2nd day of Pesach, a period known as the Omer. At the end of these 7 weeks, a measurement (Omer) of first fruits (bikurim) were brought as a sacrifice to the Temple.
It is customary to stay up all night, or at least part of the night and learn Torah, including the Tikun Leil Shavuot. Synagogues have all-night study sessions, as do schools, youth groups and social groups.
Megillat Ruth – the Book of Ruth – is read in the synagogue during the day because the story takes place at the time of the harvest, and also because Ruth took upon herself the Jewish religion, just like the Jewish people took upon themselves the Torah itself.
Homes and synagogues are adorned with flowers and greenery to commemorate how Mt. Sinai burst into flower in honour of the Torah. But for me the best part of the festival is the tradition to eat dairy foods, particularly cheesecake (my favourite!).
Have a good weekend everybody and חג שמח!