Russian press explains Jewish celebration of the Feast of Weeks (Pentecost)


Interfax-Religiia, 14 May 2021


Shavuot (translated from Hebrew as "weeks") arrives seven weeks after Passover, the day of the exodus from Egypt. It is thought that on the day of Shavuot, when the Jews had already gone a long way toward the Promised Land, God gave them ten commandments, inscribed by Moses on tablets.


This year's anniversary of the giving of the divine commandments is unique: there have been 3,333 years since the day of this historic event. The president of the Federation of Jewish Communities of Russia, Alexander Boroda, noted in his appeal to Jews that this day changed the course of human history and confirmed for all time on earth the value of faith in one god, the value of human life, and the inviolability of moral and ethical precepts.


Boroda said that at the moment of the revelation on Mount Sinai, "the Almighty seemed to unite heaven and earth, endowing man with the capacity of bringing holiness into the material world." The rabbi noted especially that God's appeal, written on the tablets of the covenant, was addressed not only to the whole Jewish people, but also to every person individually: "all ten commandments were given in the singular imperative mood: 'Honor thy father and mother,' 'Thou shalt not kill,' and 'Thou shalt not steal.'"


"Therefore we cannot say that on the spiritual level it is not possible to fulfill any of the commandments and to shift one's personal responsibility to 'society' or to declare that helping one's neighbor is the task of other 'holier' people. But we all are equally able and have equal potential for holiness, and when each person understands and accepts this then we all alike are able to build a harmonious society, a society based on the divine law," the rabbi thinks.


In the middle ages, in the Jewish communities of Europe, there existed the custom during Shavuot to bring children into the synagogue and to treat them with honey from a special board on which were inscribed the Hebrew letters that "the taste of Torah was sweet to their lips."


On the night before the holiday, it is customary not to sleep and to spend the time reading the Torah. On the first day of Shavuot a dairy meal is served before the meat meal. This custom is based on the fact that in having received the Torah, the Jews learned about the requirements of kosher food. (tr. by PDS, posted 16 May 2021)

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