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Monday, Sivan 2, 5780 / May 25, 2020 (46th day of the Omer)


Thursday night we will celebrate the holiday of Shavuot. We celebrate Shavuot in honor of G-d’s giving the Torah to the Jewish people at Mount Sinai.


Q. How many years ago did this great once-in-a-lifetime event take place?


A.  The Giving of the Torah took place in the Hebrew year, 2448. Today we are in the year, 5780. Thus, the Giving of the Torah was 3332 years ago.


Q. On which day of the week was the Torah given?


A. On Shabbat – fifty days after they came out of Egypt. This is why Shavuot is celebrated on the fiftieth day after the second day of Pesach.


Q. How many names does the holiday of Shavuot have?


A. In addition to the name Shavuot, it is also called, Atzeret; Chag Habikurim (Festival of the First Fruits); Chag HaKatzir (Festival of the Harvest); and Z'Man Matan Torateinu (Season of the Giving of the Torah).


Unlike Pesach, when we eat matzah and perform the seder and Sukkot when we eat in the Sukkah and perform a blessing on the Four Kinds, there are no special laws and requirements which are unique to this holiday, except for the special sacrifices during the time of the Holy Temple. Like other holidays we are prohibited to perform any work, other than cooking and carrying (except on Shabbat).


Shavuot is a one day holiday in Israel and two days in the Diaspora.


Although there are no special Biblical laws which apply to Shavuot today, however, the following customs are associated with Shavuot:  1) We eat dairy on Shavuot.  2) The first night of the holiday is spent studying Torah. 3) Many decorate the synagogue with branches and greenery for Shavuot.


Q. Why do we eat dairy on Shavuot?


A. At Mount Sinai, the Jewish people were given the Ten Commandments along with the rest of the Torah including the laws of Kashrut.  As a result, when they returned to their tents after receiving the Torah, they couldn't use their cooking utensils which they had as they were now "Treif" (non Kosher). They couldn’t make them kosher on that day, because, as mentioned before, the Torah was given on Shabbat and one of the Ten Commandments was to observe the Shabbat and not to perform any work on Shabbat. Without kosher cooking utensils, they had no choice but to eat non cooked dairy on that day. We too, eat dairy on Shavuot to commemorate this event.