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Thursday, Sivan 5, 5780 / May 28, 2020 (49th day of the Omer)


The holiday of Shavuot, the holiday of the Giving of the Torah, begins Thursday evening. In Israel it is celebrated only one day. In the Diaspora, we celebrate Shavuot two days – Friday & Shabbat.


The Yizkor prayer, remembering our loved one’s who are not with us physically, is recited on Shavuot. In Israel, as one day is celebrated it is said on Friday. In the Diaspora, it is said on the second day.


Q. Why is the Torah called “Torah”?


A. Torah comes from the word “Hora’ah” which means teaching and guide. Every law and every story in the Torah is a teaching intended for us all for all generations.


Q. How long after the Exodus did G-d give us the Torah?


A. G-d waited fifty days. This is why, between Pesach and Shavuot, we count the Omer for forty nine days, just as Jews counted then in preparation to receiving the Torah.


Q. How many People were present at Mount Sinai at the time that G-d gave us the Torah?


A. We don’t have an exact count, but we know that just over 600,000 men above the age of 20 were present. In addition there were at least as many women and even more children. Thus, it is safe to say that there were a few million people in attendance, who witnessed this great moment.


Q. Where was Moshe standing at that time and where were the people standing?


A. The Torah tells us that Moshe was the only one who was allowed to go up the mountain. The people all stood at the bottom in front of the mountain.


Q. Was Moshe’s wife and children at Mount Sinai together with everyone at the Giving of the Torah?


A. When G-d commanded Moshe to go and take the Jewish people out of Egypt, he left his wife and two children with his father-in-law, Yitro. Later, when Yitro heard of the great miracles which G-d performed for the people, he took his daughter and the two children and came to Moshe. This story is recorded in the Torah. But there are two opinions as to when Yitro joined Moshe. One opinion is that they came before the Giving of the Torah and one opinion is that they came after. Thus, according to the second opinion Moshe’s wife and sons were notpresent at the Giving of the Torah.


During normal times, we would all be attending shul on the first day of Shavuot and hear the reading of the Ten Commandments from the Torah. However, in light of Covid-19, as Shuls in many places are not open yet, we should all gather our family members, especially the children, whom G-d chose as the guarantors for the Torah, and read the Torah reading from the Book of Exodus, chapters 19 & 20.           




Montrealcandle lighting times: Thursday: 8:15 / Friday: 8:16 / Holiday ends Sat. night at 9:30