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Monday, Iyar 29, 5778 (44th day of Sefirah) / May 14, 2018


The holiday of Shavuot begins Saturday night. In Israel, Shavuot is a one day holiday. In the Diaspora we celebrate two days.


Shavuot commemorates one of the most important events in Jewish history; the Giving of the Torah at Mount Sinai.  The Torah was given 3330 years ago, in the Hebrew calendar year 2448.


Q.  Why is the holiday called “Shavuot”?


A. Shavuot in Hebrew means "weeks." Shavuot is the only holiday for which the Torah did not establish a specific day of the month. It is celebrated on the 50th day, after counting the Omer for a period of seven weeks. The name Shavuot is because the holiday comes seven "weeks" after we begin counting the Omer on Pesach. 


Q.  The three festive holidays; Pesach, Shavuot and Sukkot are in the spring, summer and fall.Why are there no Biblical festive holidays in the winter?


A.  In the days of the Holy Temple it was a mitzvah for Jews living throughout Israel to make a pilgrimage to Jerusalem for the festive holidays and celebrate there. Our sages explain that G-d didn't want to make it difficult for the people to have to go to Jerusalem during the winter months, so He didn't assign any holidays in the cold and rainy winter months.


Q.   What is the meaning of the word, "Torah"?


A.   "Torah" means to "teach" and to "guide".  The Torah teaches and guides us how to conduct our lives in accordance with G-d's will.


Q.   The Ten Commandments are first recorded in the Torah in the Book of Exodus (chapter 20).  How many letters are there in the Ten Commandments as they appear in Exodus?


A.   620 letters.


Q.   What is the significance of this number to the Torah?


A.   In the Torah there are 613 commandments (mitzvot).  In addition to these mitzvot, the sages have added another seven mitzvot, which together make 620. The 620 letters in the Ten Commandments alludes to the fact that all the mitzvot are rooted and enshrined in the Ten Commandments.


Q.   How old was Moshe and his brother Aaron at the Giving of the Torah at Mount Sinai?


A.   Moshe was eighty years and Aaron was eighty three.