Exactly seven weeks ago we were celebrating Pesach, the Passover festival that details the events leading up to the momentous liberation from slavery in Egypt, some three thousand years ago.
And the two Seder nights that mark the commencement of the festival are renowned for their re-enactment of the rituals and traditions that make these evenings so very special; a true celebration of family and commitment.
But now seven weeks have passed, during which, at least in Biblical times, the wheat would have grown ready for harvesting – and you can just imagine how special it was to have the freedom to grow your own produce and watch over it – the days of the Omer – counted even today.
However Shavuot has another and deeper significance since it marks the giving of the Law by God to Moses, The 10 Commandments, with another 603 to be described in the text of the first Five Books of the Hebrew Bible: the Torah.
The monumental giving of the Ten Commandments was accompanied by a sound and light show that was so spectacularly awesome that it remains deeply ingrained in our collective consciousness
But believe it or not the Children of Israel, the 600,000 refugees from Egypt, nearly missed it – preferring to sleep in on the day that Moses disappeared up Mount Sinai, despite the fact that he had shared with the elders that something special was about to happen.
So in order to remind us of this unfortunate state of affairs we now spend the entire first night of the festival in study – the Tikkun Leil Shavuot – and it’s become an increasingly popular tradition in many Jewish communities and across all of our denominations.
We spend a night learning together, reading and sharing texts, discussing and debating the hottest issues of the moment and more importantly eating a lot of cheese cake to remind ourselves that the Torah is as nourishing to the mind, as dairy products are to the body!
A Chag sameach and good Yom tov to you all!