Shavuot or Pentecost

Shavuot is the “Gift of the Torah”. We receive this gift every year on Shavuot, again for the first time. Here is a funny article from Chabad.org to explain Shavuot. I hope you enjoy it.

“Hi, I’m Shavuot, Nice to Meet You”

Iyar 27, 5774 · May 27, 2014 By Moshe Parelman

At first blush, “Hi, I’m Shavuot, Nice to Meet You” seems like an odd slogan for a campaign to market a brand that’s been around since Moses. But an unclear brand image and a competitive market have seen observance of the holiday marking the giving of the Torah decline in recent centuries. Too many people don’t know what the holiday is about, or are altogether unaware of its existence, say industry experts.

chanoch adds: The Kabbalist Avraham Azulai said in the 16th Century "The Kabbalah must be sold in the Shouk like other wisdoms and and religions. FYI Shouk is the Arabic word for Market.

“For a long time we’ve been behind the market leaders, holidays like Passover, Yom Kippur and Chanukah,” Chandra Sinai, director of marketing for Shavuot, admitted when I talked in Shavuot’s corporate home. “We decided that we had to do something dramatic to turn our product around.”

Selling Shavuot is just a matter of getting the word out.

To improve their brand’s performance, the Shavuot people hired The Shank Bone Group, a successful boutique marketing firm specializing in Jewish holiday accounts.

“I was skeptical at first, but the more I thought about this product, I realized it really has a lot going for it,” recalled Evan Lewis, Shank Bone’s president and CEO. “It celebrates the giving of the Torah, something that touches everybody; it represents the culmination of a 49-day period of self-refinement, which is quite intriguing; and it’s the only holiday to my knowledge that mandates the eating of cheesecake, and who wouldn’t like that? I soon realized that selling Shavuot is just a matter of getting the word out.”

To test whether consumers would warm to the Shavuot story, Shank Bone deployed a thorough market research plan. A key finding of the initial, benchmark survey was discouraging. When respondents were asked how they felt about each holiday, Shavuot ranked last in name recognition and popularity, trailing even Shemini Atzeret. But when the question was modified so that it described the Jewish holidays but hid their names, something astonishing happened.

“When we asked, ‘Would you like a holiday that gave you the opportunity to hear the Ten Commandments, read from the Torah and eat ice cream and cheese blintzes?’ Shavuot shot to number one!” Lewis said.

Shavuot’s link to dairy goes way back to the organization’s founding, noted Brad Markel, professor of marketing at the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania. “Numerous explanations for the custom have been given. For instance, the numerical value of chalav, the Hebrew word for milk, is 40, the number of days and nights Moses spent on Mount Sinai before he received the Tablets. According to another theory, dairy goes great with Shavuot because the scriptures liken Torah to milk, an allusion made in Song of Songs: ‘Honey and milk are under your tongue . . .’”

Shank Bone felt that consumers would respond positively if exposed to the Shavuot themes. The firm assembled a focus group to gauge the depth of the buying public’s interest.

“First we told them Shavuot is the apex of a seven-week period of self-improvement beginning on Passover,” Lewis related.

“We count each day, starting from the second night of Passover, and the suspense builds until the purpose of the Exodus is realized with the giving of the Torah on Shavuot. According to Kabbalah, each of the seven weeks corresponds to a different character trait, and each day to an aspect of that trait which we strive to refine. We asked the focus group participants if they would be interested in hearing more, and they answered, ‘Yes.’

Shavuot is the apex of a seven-week period of self-improvement.

“Next we recounted how when the time came to give the Torah, early on the morning of the sixth of Sivan, Moses had to wake up the Jewish people, who were sleeping. On the first night of Shavuot we stay up until dawn studying Torah, as a corrective for the past and as a preparation for receiving the Ten Commandments. Again they wanted to learn more.

“We then informed the focus group that at Mount Sinai G‑d gave us not only the Ten Commandments, but the entire Written Torah, and its explanations, commentaries and laws that constitute the Oral Torah. A third time they indicated they wanted additional information.

“As a test, we asked them if they wanted to learn about term life insurance. When they answered, ‘No,’ we knew they weren’t just being polite when they said they wanted us to tell them about Shavuot.”

Based on the market research, Shank Bone created three alternative commercials.

The first commercial portrayed a young man sitting at his kitchen table holding aloft a fork spearing a glistening cheese blintz. A narrator intones, “Got Shavuot?”

Lewis said that the focus group expressed weariness with the “Got . . . ?” theme, so “Got Shavuot?” was tossed in the reject pile.

In the second spot, a man sits in his living room playing a crossword puzzle with his little daughter. She says, “Twelve down: ‘A fun holiday where you get to eat your favorite ice cream and stay up all night.’” He answers: “There’s no Slumber Party Day. You’re making this up.” And she responds: “No, Daddy. It’s Shavuot!”

Lewis said the focus group didn’t care for this ad either, considering it misleading.

The final commercial depicted a series of Shavuot scenes: a family eating lasagna; the same family eating brisket later in the afternoon; and a congregation listening to the Ten Commandments being read from the Torah. At the end, a narrator with an accent that sounds vaguely Texan says, “Hi, I’m Shavuot, nice to meet you.”

chanoch adds: There are many meal customs on Shavuot. The most popular is to eat a meat meal in the evening and a dairy meal in the morning after staying up all night. Usually the dairy meal is eaten just prior to going to sleep. Some eat a snack, then sleep, then eat dairy followed by a meat meal. Follow the minhag of your community or make it up as you go along.

The focus group thought that this spot reintroduced Shavuot in a warm, congenial manner, Lewis said. He related how he conceived the slogan:

Shavuot’s CEO said so far he has been pleased with the campaign.

“I was watching the news one night, and they were showing a politician shaking hands outside a bowling alley. He said: ‘Hi, I’m Ron Paul. I’m running for president.’ About a month later I noticed that he almost won the Iowa caucuses. I figured, if a straightforward, unassuming approach could help that guy, it could help anybody.”

The commercial has been running in major TV markets throughout the United States, on late-late-night television, to attract the kind of people who are willing to stay up all night. Shank Bone also devised a cross-marketing plan with the American Dairy Association.

Barry Lerner, Shavuot’s CEO, said so far he has been pleased with the campaign.

“I feel that we’re finally getting the Shavuot story out,” Lerner asserted. “Look, we’re not going to overtake Chanukah in popularity in one year. But if we pull even with Shemini Atzeret, I’d say the sky’s the limit.”

chanoch adds: Remember - Do not confuse Shavuot with Pentecost (see below).

Here is what Wikipedia has to say about Shavuot. After that I will explain what Kabbalah says about it.

 Shavuot (help·info) (or  Shavuos (help·info), in Ashkenazi usage; Shabuʿoth in Classical and Mizrahi Hebrew Hebrew: שבועות‎, lit. "Weeks"), or the Feast of Weeks, is a Jewish holiday that occurs on the sixth day of the Hebrew month of Sivan (late May or early June).

Shavuot commemorates the anniversary of the day God gave the Torah to the entire nation of Israel assembled at Mount Sinai, although the association between the giving of the Torah (Matan Torah) and Shavuot is not explicit in the Biblical text. The holiday is one of the Shalosh Regalim, the three Biblical pilgrimage festivals. It marks the conclusion of the Counting of the Omer.

The date of Shavuot is directly linked to that of Passover. The Torah mandates the seven-week Counting of the Omer, beginning on the second day of Passover and immediately followed by Shavuot. This counting of days and weeks is understood to express anticipation and desire for the Giving of the Torah. On Passover, the people of Israel were freed from their enslavement to Pharaoh; on Shavuot they were given the Torah and became a nation committed to serving God.

In Hasidic thought, the word Shavuot "Weeks" is interpreted as also an acronym for Shavuot, Bikkurim, Atzeret, Torah.

Shavuot is one of the lesser known Jewish holidays among secular Jews in the Jewish diaspora, while those in Israel are more aware of it.

According to Jewish law, Shavuot is celebrated in Israel for one day and in the Diaspora (outside of Israel) for two days. Reform Judaism celebrates only one day, even in the Diaspora.

Origins

In the Torah

In the Bible, Shavuot is called the Festival of Weeks (Hebrew: חג השבועות, Ḥag ha-Shavuot, Exodus 34:22, Deuteronomy 16:10); Festival of Reaping (Hebrew: חג הקציר, Ḥag ha-Katsir, Exodus 23:16), and Day of the First Fruits (Hebrew יום הבכורים, Yom ha-Bikkurim, Numbers 28:26).

In the Talmud

The Talmud refers to Shavuot as Atzeret [6] (Hebrew: עצרת‎

Atzeret, literally, "refraining" or "holding back", referring to the prohibition against work on this holiday and to the conclusion of the holiday and season of Passover. Since Shavuot occurs 50 days after Passover, Hellenistic Jews gave it the name "Pentecost"

πεντηκοστή, "fiftieth day") (not to be confused with the Christian observance of Pentecost.).

Grain Harvest

Besides its significance as the day on which the Torah was revealed by God to the Israelite nation at Mount Sinai (which includes the Ten Commandments), Shavuot is also connected to the season of the grain harvest in Israel. In ancient times, the grain harvest lasted seven weeks and was a season of gladness (Jer. 5:24, Deut. 16:9-11, Isa. 9:2). It began with the harvesting of the barley during Passover and ended with the harvesting of the wheat at Shavuot. Shavuot was thus the concluding festival of the grain harvest, just as the eighth day of Sukkot (Tabernacles) was the concluding festival of the fruit harvest. During the existence of the Temple in Jerusalem, an offering of two loaves of bread from the wheat harvest was made on Shavuot.

Biblical observances

Ceremony of First Fruits, Bikkurim

Shavuot was also the first day on which individuals could bring the Bikkurim (first fruits) to the Temple in Jerusalem (Mishnah Bikkurim 1:3). The Bikkurim were brought from the Seven Species for which the Land of Israel is praised: wheat, barley, grapes, figs, pomegranates, olives, and dates (Deut. 8:8).

In the largely agrarian society of ancient Israel, Jewish farmers would tie a reed around the first ripening fruits from each of these species in their fields. At the time of harvest, the fruits identified by the reed would be cut and placed in baskets woven of gold and silver. The baskets would then be loaded on oxen whose horns were gilded and laced with garlands of flowers, and who were led in a grand procession to Jerusalem. As the farmer and his entourage passed through cities and towns, they would be accompanied by music and parades.

Temple in Jerusalem

At the Temple in Jerusalem, each farmer would present his Bikkurim to a kohen in a ceremony that followed the text of Deut. 26:1-10.

This text begins by stating: "An Aramean tried to destroy my father," referring to Laban's efforts to weaken Jacob and rob him of his progeny (Rashi on Deut. 26:5)—or by an alternate translation, the text states "My father was a wandering Aramean," referring to the fact that Jacob was a penniless wanderer in the land of Aram for 20 years (ibid., Abraham ibn Ezra).

The text proceeds to retell the history of the Jewish people as they went into exile in Ancient Egypt and were enslaved and oppressed; following which God redeemed them and brought them to the land of Israel.

The ceremony of Bikkurim conveys the Jew's gratitude to God both for the first fruits of the field and for His guidance throughout Jewish history (Scherman, p. 1068).

Modern observances

Shavuot is unlike other Jewish holidays in that it has no prescribed mitzvot (Torah commandments) other than the traditional festival observances of abstention from work, special prayer services and holiday meals. However, it is characterized by many minhagim (customs).

A mnemonic for these customs is the letters of the Hebrew word acharit (אחרית, "last"). Since the Torah is called reishit (ראשית, "first"), the customs of Shavuot highlight the importance of custom for the continuation and preservation of Jewish religious observance. These customs, largely observed in Ashkenazic communities, are:

אקדמות – Akdamut, the reading of a liturgical poem during Shavuot morning synagogue services

חלב – Chalav (milk), the consumption of dairy products like milk and cheese

רות – Ruth, the reading of the Book of Ruth at morning services (outside Israel: on the second day)

ירק – Yerek, the decoration of homes and synagogues with greenery

תורה – Torah, engaging in all-night Torah study

Akdamut

Akdamut (Aramaic: אקדמות) is a liturgical poem extolling the greatness of God, the Torah and Israel that is read publicly in the synagogue right before the morning reading of the Torah on the first day of Shavuot. It was composed by Rabbi Meir of Worms, whose son was murdered during the Crusade of 1096. Rabbi Meir was forced to defend the Torah and his Jewish faith in a debate with local priests, and successfully conveyed his certainty of God's power, His love for the Jewish people, and the excellence of Torah. Afterwards he wrote Akdamut, a 90-line poem in Aramaic which stresses these themes. The poem is written in a double acrostic pattern according to the order of the Hebrew alphabet. In addition, each line ends with the syllable "ta" (תא), the last and first letters of the Hebrew alphabet, alluding to the endlessness of Torah. The traditional melody which accompanies this poem also conveys a sense of grandeur and triumph.

Sephardim do not read Akdamut, but before the evening service they sing a poem called Azharot which sets out the 613 Biblical commandments. The positive commandments are recited on the first day and the negative commandments on the second day.

The liturgical poem of Yatziv Pitgam (Aramaic: יציב פתגם) is recited by some synagogues in the Diaspora on the second day of Shavuot. The author and his father's name appear in an acrostic at the beginning of the poem's 15 lines.

Dairy Foods

Dairy foods such as cheesecake, cheese blintzes,[9] and cheese kreplach among Ashkenazi Jews; cheese sambusak, kelsonnes (cheese ravioli), and atayef (a cheese-filled pancake) among Syrian Jews; kahee (a dough that is buttered and sugared) among Iraqi Jews; and a seven-layer cake called siete cielos (seven heavens) among Tunisian and Moroccan Jews are traditionally consumed on the Shavuot holiday. Yemenite Jews do not eat dairy foods on Shavuot.

In keeping with the observance of other Yom Tovs, there is both a night meal and a day meal on Shavuot. Meat is usually served at night and dairy is served either for the day meal or for a morning kiddush.

Among the explanations given in rabbinic literature for the consumption of dairy foods on this holiday are:

Before they received the Torah, the Israelites were not obligated to follow its laws, which include shechita (ritual slaughter of animals) and kashrut. Since all their meat pots and dishes now had to be made kosher before use, they opted to eat dairy foods.

The Torah is compared to milk by King Solomon, who wrote: "Like honey and milk, it lies under your tongue" (Song of Songs).

The gematria of the Hebrew word chalav (חלב) is 40, corresponding to the 40 days and 40 nights that Moses spent on Mount Sinai before bringing down the Torah.

According to the Zohar, each day of the year correlates to one of the Torah's 365 negative commandments. Shavuot corresponds to the commandment "Bring the first fruits of your land to the house of God your Lord; do not cook a kid in its mother's milk" (Exodus 34:26). Since the first day to bring Bikkurim (the first fruits) is Shavuot, the second half of the verse refers to the custom to eat two separate meals – one milk, one meat – on Shavuot.

The Psalmist calls Mount Sinai Har Gavnunim (הר גבננים, mountain of majestic peaks), which is etymologically similar to gevinah (גבינה, cheese).

Book of Ruth

There are five books in Tanakh that are known as Megillot (Hebrew: מגילות, "scrolls") and are publicly read in the synagogues on different Jewish holidays. The Book of Lamentations, which details the destruction of the Holy Temple, is the reading for Tisha B'Av; the Book of Ecclesiastes, which touches on the ephemeralness of life, corresponds to Sukkot; the Book of Esther (Megillat Esther) retells the events of Purim; and the Song of Songs, which echoes the themes of springtime and God's love for the Jewish people, is the reading for Passover.

The Book of Ruth (מגילת רות, Megillat Ruth) corresponds to the holiday of Shavuot both in its descriptions of the barley and wheat harvest seasons and Ruth's desire to become a member of the Jewish people, who are defined by their acceptance of the Torah. Moreover, the lineage described at the end of the Book lists King David as Ruth's great-grandson. According to tradition, David was born and died on Shavuot. The story of Ruth can also be seen as an allegory of the Children of Israel leaving Egypt behind and reaching Mount Sinai where they received the Torah.

Greenery

According to the Midrash, Mount Sinai suddenly blossomed with flowers in anticipation of the giving of the Torah on its summit. Greenery also figures in the story of the baby Moses being found among the bulrushes in a watertight cradle (Ex. 2:3) when he was three months old (Moses was born on 7 Adar and placed in the Nile River on 6 Sivan, the same day he later brought the Jewish nation to Mount Sinai to receive the Torah).

For these reasons, many Jewish families traditionally decorate their homes and synagogues with plants, flowers and leafy branches in honor of Shavuot. Some synagogues decorate the bimah with a canopy of flowers and plants so that it resembles a chuppah, as Shavuot is mystically referred to as the day the matchmaker (Moses) brought the bride (the nation of Israel) to the chuppah (Mount Sinai) to marry the bridegroom (God); the ketubbah (marriage contract) was the Torah. Some Eastern Sephardi communities actually read out a ketubbah between God and Israel as part of the service.

The Vilna Gaon cancelled the tradition of decorating with plants because it too closely resembles the Christian decorations for their holidays.

All-night Torah Study

The practice of staying up all Shavuot night to study Torah – known as Tikkun Leil Shavuot (Hebrew: תקון ליל

שבועות‎) – has its source in the Midrash, which relates that the night before the Torah was given, the Israelites retired early to be well-rested for the momentous day ahead. They overslept and Moses had to wake them up because God was already waiting on the mountain top.[20] To rectify this perceived flaw in the national character,

many religious Jews stay up all night to learn Torah.[21]

The custom of all-night Torah study goes back to 1533 when Rabbi Joseph Caro, author of the Shulchan Aruch, then living in Ottoman Salonika, invited Rabbi Shlomo Halevi Alkabetz and other Kabbalistic colleagues to hold Shavuot-night study vigils for which they prepared for three days in advance, just as the Israelites had prepared for three days before the giving of the Torah. During one of those study sessions, an angel appeared and taught them Jewish law.

Any subject may be studied on Shavuot night, although Talmud, Mishnah, and Torah typically top the list. People may learn alone or with a chavruta (study partner), or attend late-night shiurim (lectures) and study groups.  Both men and women participate in this tradition.

In Jerusalem, tens of thousands of people finish off the nighttime study session by walking to the Western Wall before dawn and joining the sunrise minyan there. [25][26][27][28] This practice began in 1967. One week before Shavuot of that year, the Israeli army recaptured the Old City in the Six-Day War, and on Shavuot day, the army opened the Western Wall to visitors. Over 200,000 Jews came to see and pray at the site that had been off-limits to them since 1948. The custom of walking to the Western Wall on Shavuot has continued every year since.

Tikkun Leil Shavuot

In keeping with the custom of engaging in all-night Torah study, the Arizal, a leading Kabbalist of the 16th century, arranged a special service for the evening of Shavuot. The Tikkun Leil Shavuot ("Rectification for Shavuot Night") consists of excerpts from the beginning and end of each of the 24 books of Tanakh (including the reading in full of several key sections such as the account of the days of creation, The Exodus, the giving of the Ten Commandments and the Shema) and the 63 books of Mishnah. This is followed by the reading of Sefer Yetzirah, the 613 commandments as enumerated by Maimonides, and excerpts from the Zohar, with opening and concluding prayers. The whole reading is divided into thirteen parts, after each of which a Kaddish di-Rabbanan is recited when the Tikkun is studied in a group of at least ten Jewish, Bar Mitzvahed men.

This service is printed in a special book, and is widely used in Eastern Sephardic, some German and Hasidic communities. There are similar books for the vigils before the seventh day of Pesach and Hoshana Rabbah.

Spanish and Portuguese Jews do not observe this custom.

Other Observances

Confirmation Ceremonies

In the 19th century, several Orthodox synagogues in Britain and Australia held confirmation ceremonies for 12-year old girls on Shavuot, a precursor to the modern Bat Mitzvah. [30] The early Reform movement made Shavuot into a religious school graduation day. [3] Today, Reform synagogues in North America typically hold confirmation ceremonies on Shavuot for students aged 16 to 18 who are completing their religious studies. The graduating class stands in front of an open ark, recalling the standing of the Israelites at Mount Sinai for the giving of the Torah.

Dates in Dispute

Since the Torah does not specify the actual day on which Shavuot falls, differing interpretations of this date have arisen both in traditional and non-traditional Jewish circles. These discussions center around two ways of looking at Shavuot: the day it actually occurs (i.e., the day the Torah was given on Mount Sinai), and the day it occurs in relation to the Counting of the Omer (being the 50th day from the first day of the Counting).

Giving of the Torah

While most of the Talmudic Sages concur that the Torah was given on the sixth of Sivan; R. Jose holds that it was given on the seventh of that month. According to the classical timeline, the Israelites arrived at the wilderness of Sinai on the new moon (Ex. 19:1) and the Ten Commandments were given on the following Shabbat (i.e., Saturday). The question of whether the new moon fell on Sunday or Monday is undecided (Talmud, tractate Shabbat 86b). In practice, Shavuot is observed on the sixth day of Sivan in Israel and a second day is added in the Jewish diaspora (in keeping with a separate rabbinical ruling that applies to all biblical holidays, called Yom Tov Sheni shel Galuyot, Second-Day Yom Tov in the Diaspora).

Counting of the Omer

The Torah states that the Omer offering (i.e., the first day of counting the Omer) is the first day of the barley harvest (Deut. 16:9). It should begin "on the morrow after the Shabbat," and continue to be counted for seven Sabbaths. (Lev.23:11). The Talmudic Sages determined that "Shabbat" here means a day of rest and refers to the first day of Passover. Thus, the counting of the Omer begins on the second day of Passover and continues for the next 49 days, or seven complete weeks, ending on the day before Shavuot.

According to this calculation, Shavuot will fall on the day of the week after that of the first day of Passover (e.g., if Passover starts on a Thursday, Shavuot will begin on a Friday).

Most secular scholarship, and the Karaites, as well as Catholics [32] and the historical Sadducees and Boethusians, dispute this interpretation. They infer the "Shabbat" referenced is the weekly Shabbat. Accordingly, Shavuot falls on the day after the weekly Shabbat, counting from seven weeks since the day after the first Shabbat during Pesach.

This interpretation was shared by the 2nd-century BCE author of the Book of Jubilees who was motivated by the priestly sabbatical solar calendar of the 3rd and 2nd centuries BCE, which was designed to have festivals and Sabbaths fall on the same day of the week every year. On this calendar (best known from the Book of Luminaries in 1 Enoch), Shavuot fell on the 15th of Sivan, a Sunday. The date was reckoned fifty days from the first Sabbath after Passover (i.e. from the 25th of Nisan). Thus, Jub. 1:1 claims that Moses ascended Mount Sinai to receive the Torah "on the sixteenth day of the third month in the first year of the Exodus of the children of Israel from Egypt".

In Jubilee. 6:15-22 and 44:1-5, the holiday is traced to the appearance of the first rainbow on the 15th of Sivan, the day on which God made his covenant with Noah.

Qumran school Gabriele Boccaccini has suggested that the 1,290 and 1,335 days of Daniel 12:11-12 point to the observance of Shavuot in a restored Israel, as reckoned by the priestly solar calendar. These durations are exactly 30 and 45 days longer than the 3 ½ years mentioned in Dan. 7:25 and 9:27. The period of 3 ½ years amounts to 1,260 days in the priestly solar calendar because the equinoxes and solstices count as markers of the seasons rather than monthly days (1 En. 74:11, 75:1, 82:4). The blessings expected at the end of the 1,335 days pertain to the resurrection to "everlasting life" mentioned a few verses earlier (12:2), and this is the reward to those who refused to forsake the covenant unto death (Dan. 11:22, 11:28, 11:30, 11:33-35), while those who forsook the covenant (11:30-32) face "everlasting contempt".

Boccaccini sees the 3 ½ years as ending at the spring equinox (equinoxes and solstices were important markers of the seasons in the solar calendar), to be followed by 30 days to complete the 1,290 days (the month of Passover), and an additional 45 days to reach the 15th of Sivan, the purported day of Shavuot. For those who refused to forsake the covenant, this would be the day the covenant would be renewed and the expected blessings would be realized.

The Jewish Encyclopedia points to the similarities between the Christian and Jewish Pentecost, as an outpouring of the Spirit or the giving of the Law in seventy languages.

Essenes Disputed Day of Observance

The date of Shavuot was disputed in the Second Temple period. The Qumran community, commonly associated with the Essenes, held in its library several texts mentioning Shavuot, most notably a Hebrew original of the Book of Jubilees which sought to fix the celebration of this Feast of Weeks on 15 of Sivan, following their interpretation of Exodus 19:1.

Pentecost is a Church Holiday

Please do not mistake Shavuot for Pentecost even though the names are similar. Let us see why.

Pentecost was originally an Old Testament festival, since the time of Josephus calculated as beginning on the fiftieth day after the beginning of Passover. In the Christian calendar, it falls on the seventh Sunday after Easter. It was called the Feast of Weeks (Shavuot), and in the Old Testament was originally an agricultural festival celebrating and giving thanks for the "first fruits" of the early spring harvest (Lev 23, Exod 23, 34).

By the early New Testament period, it had gradually lost its association with agriculture and became associated with the celebration of God’s creation of His people and their religious history. By the destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70, the festival focused exclusively on God’s gracious gift of Torah (the "Law") on Mount Sinai. It continues to be celebrated in this manner in modern Judaism.

While there are other references to Pentecost in the New Testament (for example, 1 Cor 16:8), it is most significant in Acts 2 and the familiar scene of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on those in the "upper room." The New Testament writers associate the events of Acts 2 with Pentecost, and relate it to the prophecies of Joel 2 and promises of Jesus (Acts 1:8). In both, the emphasis is on a empowerment through the Holy Spirit to enable the people of God to witness to Jesus the Christ.

There is much debate in some circles about exactly what happened at Pentecost, whether it is a repeatable event or only for the early church, or whether it should or should not become a paradigm for personal religious experience. Those who advocate it as a paradigm are sometimes termed Pentecostals, although that term usually refers more specifically to church traditions who advocate speaking in "tongues" or a special Spirit-inspired prayer or praise language.

In any case, what seems clear is that Pentecost represents God’s gracious, enabling presence actively at work among His people, calling and enabling them to live out in dynamic ways the witness of being His people. Perhaps at this point there is direct contact with the Pentecost of Judaism, for in Judaism the Torah, God’s instruction to His people, is the means by which they become His witness to the world.

The word “pentecost” means “fiftieth day.” In most Christian traditions, Pentecost Sunday occurs 50 days following Easter Sunday (counting Easter Sunday since it is the first day of the week). Those 50 days span seven Sundays after Easter, so Pentecost is the seventh Sunday after Easter (7 weeks times 7 days = 49 days, plus Pentecost Sunday). Since Easter is a “movable feast,” meaning that it occurs on different days in different years (it is tied to the lunar cycle while the calendar is solar based), Pentecost is also moveable. It can occur as early as May 10 and as late as June 13 (see The Church Year for current dates). Some Christian traditions, Eastern Orthodox for example, use a different religious calendar and so have different dates for much of the Christian Year.

The sanctuary color for Pentecost Sunday is red, the color of the church. Technically, red is used only for the Sunday of Pentecost, although some churches use red for the Sundays between Easter and Pentecost Sunday. The red symbolizes both the fire of Pentecost as well as the apostles and early followers of Jesus who were gathered in the Upper Room for the empowerment from God to proclaim the Gospel throughout the world.

For Christians, Pentecost Sunday is a day to celebrate hope, a hope evoked by the knowledge that God through His Holy Spirit is at work among His people. It is a celebration of newness, of recreation, of renewal of purpose, mission, and calling as God’s people. It is a celebration of God’s ongoing work in the world. Yet, it is also a recognition that His work is done through His people as He pours out His presence upon them.

Shavuot According to Kabbalah

Shavuot is referred to as the Holiday of First Fruits. It is also referred to as Matan Torah - the gift of the Bible. Let us see what the Kabbalists say about this Holiday.

Based on the Teachings of the Kabbalah Center

The holiday of Shavuot is your opportunity to bring continuity into every corner of your life – and the earth. Most people think it was religion & the Bible that Moses received on Mt. Sinai 5,000 years ago. But Kabbalah reveals a different truth. This “revelation” was the solution to the most challenging problem in all human history-mortality. With the energy of Shavuot, we can achieve the unthinkable, immortality.

“Immortality” isn’t just about living forever into the future. It’s about living forever in a day, free of limits and free of chaos, free of all endings. It’s about immortality in our love life, finances, health and peace of mind.

Shavuot is the one day of the year when the light of immortality returns to the cosmos in a state of potential, and all of humanity has the opportunity to manifest it, in a very real way. For too long, humanity has longed for wholeness, but has been kept in the dark. Now we have the knowledge, and the awakening of hearts and minds worldwide, to turn on the Light – and keep it on.

Based on the Teachings of Benei Baruch and the Kabbalah World Center

Why is Shavuot (Pentecost) called Matan Torah (the giving of the Torah)? Was the Torah given only once? And what is the Torah and who wants to receive it?

The wisdom of the Kabbalah teaches us that everything there is comes from one source only. That source is revealed through a single attribute: That attribute is best understood as Sharing What is Good. Anyone who discovers This Truth, is awarded with a bond to eternity, endless perfection that contains tranquility, security and sublime delight. If you could see Him now, you'd realize that your troubles are opportunities to get closer to Him, and you would choose to nullify yourself within the power of his overwhelming goodness.

In the spiritual frames “close to” means a similar desire to receive. In order to “get close to the attribute” of “sharing what is good” we must transform ourselves into a sharing consciousness. This means change our nature.

What can cause us to change our nature? We've seen many philosophers and leaders who have tried to alter man's nature by education, reproach, admonition etc. None of them succeeded. At most, a few of them succeeded in oppressing abusing the people so they would stop wanting to change. But the minute the threat was lifted, they returned to their rebellious nature and strived to change themselves.

In response to that question our sages have said: "I have created evil will, I have created Torah as a spice." The evil will is the substance that we taste and feel as intolerable. It is our egoism. We want to use it, but we don't know how. The spice that softens it and enables us to reach the purpose of creation, to bond with the Creator, is called Torah.

The evil inclination is nothing but the thought of our own good. That is the motive behind all the evil that exists. The egoistic thought causes us to see in everyone around us, a means of receiving pleasure. That is why we care so much about nature, the plantation, the wild life and the people around us. Even if it is unconscious, we always seek out how we can enjoy them, without any consideration of their needs.

He who understands it and searches for a way to change, can use the Torah for just that purpose.

The Torah is a unique force that can alter our nature and enable us to sense the will of the Creator. It is the power we are meant to discover, if we ever want to really change. Without it, we don't really stand a chance of ever reaching any contact with the force that leads us.

Torah is the connection that enables us to escape the authority, to escape the rule of our egoism.

He who attains this strength, discovers it is given from above, no limitations. But who can accept it? Only he who wants to change and acquire a new vision of reality who understands that without Torah he will forever be unsatisfied, anxious and concerned, only he will search for it and utilize it for correction.

The Torah tells us that Israel came out of Egypt and walked in the desert for fifty days before receiving the Torah. The exodus is a revelation, given to a man from above. It is a gift he receives, that shows him the Creator's rule over reality. Once he has seen how his inner Pharaoh, his evil inclination, grows within him, and how Moses defeats him with the help of the Creator, a man searches for a way to attain the will of the Creator on his own. He searches for guidance, clear instruction that will bring him to full recognition of his Maker; he searches for Torah (in Hebrew also means instruction).

In order to attain the Torah independently, there is a need for gradual preparation. Moses is the people's representative before the Creator. It is the inner power, the purest, that can come in contact with the Creator, but it is not enough. We have to reach a state where the whole people, meaning all the desires that aspire to attain the Creator (Israel), will come in contact with Him and will acquire His attributes.

For that a man has to go through forty-nine special corrections, one each day, for seven weeks (Hebrew: shavuot). Only after those seven weeks is it possible to receive the Torah. That is why the celebration of the receiving of the Torah is called Shavuot.

The attributes of the soul that is corrected can be marked with names of Sefirot. Each soul has ten Sefirot. The first three need not be corrected, and therefore there are only seven that need correction. Each of the seven contains within it all the other seven, so that on the whole, a man should correct forty-nine Sefirot, which are the attributes of his soul, each correction, against one of the inner Sefirot.

The order of the Sefirot that are being corrected is: Chesed, Gevurah, Tiferet, Netzah, Hod, Yesod, Malchut. On the first day after the Passover night, the Chesed within Chesed is corrected. On the second day Gevurah within Chesed, on the third, Tiferet within Chesed and so on.

During the second week the Sefirot within Gevurah are corrected and so on, until on the forty-ninth day, Malchut within Malchut is corrected. The meaning of the correction is the realization that we need only the Torah, the healing power, that will finally redeem us from egoism.

On the fiftieth day, after one has verified in each and every trait, that all one needs is this strength, called Torah, his attributes unite, above all his evil thoughts - Hebrew: hirhurim, from the word 'har' (mountain) - and above all his hatred - Hebrew: sinah, hence the word 'Sinai', and ask for one, whole correction for them called Torah.

Kabbalists have a custom of studying through the night on the night of Shavuot to receive the full correction.

The preparation that the people of Israel - the desires that are aimed toward the Creator - go through in the course of the forty-nine days from the time of the Passover, the corrections a man performs on himself during the Omer count, and the study at night, have all prepared for him the right vessel for the reception of the Torah, the power of correction.

However, we must not forget that the Torah, the force that redeems man from all misfortunes, can only be received if it is demanded together, to change for the better, "as one man with one heart". The Torah has already been given, but we can receive it only if we unite with a common aim - to discover the Creator.

From the Teachings of Kabbalah Live

Shavuot

Kabbalists regard the Mount Sinai Revelation as the climax of human history, as on this day we were given the opportunity to manifest everything that we wanted and everything that we might ever want. Since then, humanity has been trying to regain what we had on Mount Sinai. The Torah with all its commentaries has only one goal, which is to bring humanity to the state that it had achieved on Mount Sinai.

The Revolution in Human Consciousness

The Revelation on Mount Sinai has three messages that have affected human history and is still behind the drive that we humans have, for a better future, for all of us:

1. The quantum leap from slavery to freedom, from darkness to light

The journey to Mount Sinai symbolizes more than anything, the road every person should take in order to become a real human, a being created in the image of God. The consciousness of the slaves in Egypt represents the state of mind of desperation and helplessness. The one who is busy blaming others for all his troubles, aches and pains, is a slave to despair and to his mistakes of the past. He would also be an eternal slave to the stupidity and/or tyranny of others. The slave cannot see any option for a different reality; he’s enslaved to his state of mind of hopelessness. The Exodus and the counting of the Omer symbolize every person’s ability to leap and jump beyond the 49 gates of impurity, beyond despair and darkness and transform his reality to the exact opposite. That exact opposite is being represented by the holiday of Shavuot. It is said that, during the Mount Sinai Revelation, the nation of Israel stood under the Mountain, united as one person. It was a real unity of love and caring among all the individuals of the entire nation. Therefore, when the tablets where given (Exodus 32:16), the sages say that there was “freedom” on the tablets.

“Freedom” is a state of mind whereby a person is connected to his real essence, the image of God. A person who’s in touch with the concept of being created in the image of God understands that freedom means taking total responsibility for his destiny, for his actions and for his emotions, feelings and thoughts. Freedom is the ability to navigate upwards. Mount Sinai Revelation gave us hope, the ability to believe that a solution is around the corner, that we have the power to create a new, better reality. We only have to keep on having faith and keep on trying. Mount Sinai Revelation gave us a great gift, the ability to experience true love. True authentic love can be found only among free people, those well-connected to their own essence – the image of God. This is not the love that most people experience which is really a form of dependency that brings the person to despair, anguish and misery.

2. Having Faith in Goodness and Honesty

The Ten Utterances known better, by mistake, as The Ten Commandments, and the consciousness they represent, signify the biggest revolution in the history of human consciousness. The Zohar sees The Ten Utterances as the manifestations of the Ten Sefirot of The Tree of Life, emanations of goodness and bliss from The Creator to His beloved Creations. This is also a manifestation of the rule that teaches that “The purpose of The Creation is to give His bliss and goodness to His created beings.” It was the first time in the history of mankind that a system of rules was revealed that explained the system of “cause and effect” in a way that had the ability to take humanity out of the darkness. The Torah is teaching that moral behavior, taking responsibility, and faith in goodness will be rewarded with success in all walks of life, especially fulfillment in this world and in the world to come. The rules of the Torah are not temporary, man-made rules; these are universal laws that are also the covenant between a person and his creator, above the limitations of time, space and human logic. Statistics of the last few decades show that there is a direct relation between the social and economic status of a society and their faith and belief in the rules of “cause and effect” and the laws of The Ten Utterances.

3. The Journey Towards Immortality

The Zohar is teaching us that one of the greatest gifts given on Mount Sinai was the gift of immortality. The sin of Adam brought to the world, the curse of death and the Mount Sinai Revelation is a symbol for the correction of Adam’s Sin. According to the Kabbalists, the spiritual consciousness of the holiday of Shavuot would bring humanity to the understanding, that death and aging are not a decree from heaven, but are curable conditions. It is known that happy and spiritual people get less sick and their ability to recuperate is much better than other people. According to many Kabbalists, we are facing the times in which human consciousness will internalize the message that true freedom is at hand, and freedom from the angel of death (known in Jewish tradition as the Resurrection of the Dead) will be a true possibility. It is not by coincidence that the anti-aging industry grew so much during the last few years.

How can we connect to all of this during Shavuot?

It is written in the Zohar and in the writings of Rabbi Isaac Luria that during the counting of the Omer we are building our ability to escape from slavery, to become free. As the holiday of Shavuot enters, at sundown, a very powerful metaphysical force descends to our world; this force is called in the language of the Kabbalists the “Sefira of Keter”. This force is what can connect us to all the concepts and understandings that have been mentioned above. We can compare it to a downloading of a very highly advanced computer program. The downloading continues throughout the night. The way to tap into this gift is by reading a text as per the instructions of Rabbi Shimon bar Yohai and Rabbi Isaac Luria. This text is called the “Tikune of Shavuot” and it is made of selected verses from each Parasha (The Five Books of Moses are devided to more that 50 parts, called Parasha) in the Torah (three verses from the beginning and from the end of each Parasha), the prophets and from all the other books of the Tanakh, The Bible (all 24 of them). The reading continues with different texts from the Mishna, Sefer Yetzirah (The Book of Formation) and the Zohar. The reading goes on through the whole night. In the morning, after the Morning Prayer, The Mount Sinai Revelation story is being read from the book of Exodus. The Zohar and The Midrash teach that the events of Mount Sinai Revelation can be called the wedding between The Holy Blessed Be He and the nation of Israel. Rabbi Shimon bar Yohai teaches us in the Zohar, that the all night study is like the preparation of the garments and adornments of the bride, and the ones who prepare the bride for the wedding, will be her best men during the great moment. The power of this night and the morning following is so great, says the Zohar, that whoever follows the above instructions is guaranteed that he won’t die that year and no harm can find him, physically or spiritually. Shavuot’s power is greater than that of Yom Kippur’s, since whoever was sentenced to death on Yom Kippur can reverse the decree on Shavuot. And this is how the holiday of Shavuot connects us to the dreams and hopes of humanity, since the dawn of its history, the hope for true love, unity, immortality and the freedom from The Angel of Death and from all pain and suffering.

Why are these different essays on this page?

All three of these organizations follow the teachings of the Zohar, Rabbi Issac Luria known as The ARI, and Rabbi Yehuda Ashlag. They are all teaching the same thing in different ways. The unity of man can only come about through the appreciation of the Diversity of the Creation. Shavuot is the Moment in Time when the opportunity exists to create that Unification through Diversity.

All students of Kabbalah need a teacher. They pick a teacher through the affinity of their soul root. By reading these different yet the same teachings one can realize that one is capable of learning from all teachers and each teacher has something unique to teach YOU. Welcome to Shavuot – The Gift of the Torah.

ARE YOU WILLING TO RECEIVE THE TORAH RIGHT NOW? THEN STAY UP WITH US. LIMIT YOUR BODY CONSCIOUSNESS AND EXPAND YOUR MIND CONSCIOUSNESS WITH US.

13th of Sivan

One week after the Revelation of the Light of the Torah, HaShem called to Moshe and Told Him:

Exodus Chapter 24 Verse 12 and 13

ויאמר יהוה אל-משה עלה אלי ההרה והיה-שם ואתנה לך את-לחת האבן והתורה והמצוה אשר כתבתי להורתם ויקם משה ויהושע משרתו ויעל משה אל-הר האלהים

Translation

And the LORD said unto Moses: 'Come up to Me into the mount and be there; and I will give thee the tables of stone, and the law and the commandment, which I have written, that thou mayest teach them. And Moses rose up, and Joshua his minister; and Moses went up into the mount of God.

The Mekhalta BeShallah Chapter 4 Verse 3 says:

Manna came down to Joshua there, and it fell on his limbs, and he would take it from his limbs and eat it.

(Mekhalta is a Halachic Midrash as differentiated from the Aggadic Midrashim.)

Why does the Torah find it necessary and the Midrash to expand upon the fact that Joshua ascended with Moshe yet not as High. In my opinion it is teaching us that the energy of the 13th day of Sivan is related to Meditation that prepares one for His Life. I recommend that one spend a significant amount of time meditating and traveling throughout the UNIVERSES AND DIMENSIONS of the Creation. One will find this a tremendous learning opportunity since the Universe will support you in these travels.

One may travel to the inner earths and one may travel to the far Galaxies and even farther. The choice is yours.