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Tuesday, Sivan 3, 5783 (Hakhel Year) 47th Sefirah / May 23, 2023


Shavuot, the Holiday in which we celebrate receiving the Torah at Mount Sinai, begins this Thursday night. In Israel, where only one day is celebrated, the holiday is Thursday night and Friday. In the Diaspora the holiday continues also into Friday night and Shabbat.


Q.How many letters, words, verses, and Parshiot are in the Torah?


A.   The Torah has: 304,805 letters; 79,847 words; 5,888 verses; 54 Parshiot.


Q.   Why,dowe read on Shavuot, Megilat Ruth – the story of Ruth who converted to Judaism?


A.  Shavuot is the Yartzeit (day of passing) of King David, who was a direct descendant of Ruth.  We read the wonderful story of King David's great-great-grandmother, Ruth, who converted to Judaism. 


Ruth didn't convert and accept the Jewish faith for any material gain.  In fact, she gave up a materially secure life for a life of poverty in order to join her mother-in-law, Naomi, and the people of Israel. Her mother-in-law explained to her that joining the people of Israel at that time would bring great physical hardship for her. Ruth replied, “Do not urge me to leave you, for wherever you go, I will go; where you will lodge, I will lodge; Your people are my people and your G-d is my G-d; where you die, I will die and there I will be buried!”


The story of Ruth teaches us that we must not learn the Torah and fulfill mitzvot for personal gain.  Rather, we should feel fortunate that we were chosen to be entrusted with the Torah and mitzvot and do our best to fulfill G-d’s commandments, regardless of the effort or expense involved.


King David, whose yartzeit is on Shavuot, wrote the book of Psalms (Tehilim).  It contains the songs and prayers which King David offered to G-d.  Jews have always turned to the Psalms whenever they were in trouble and needed G-d's help.  David was King of Israel for forty years and died at the age of seventy.


Q.  What special role did the Jewish children have at Mount Sinai at the Giving of the Torah?


A. Our Sages say that before G-d gave the Torah to the Jewish people, He demanded guarantors that the Torah will be studied and cherished.


The people made a number of suggestions which were rejected by G-d. Only when they declared, "Our children will be our guarantors, did G-d agree to give the Torah.


The importance of teaching Torah to children is best described by the following Torah Law, “One may not disturb children from studying Torah even for the purpose of building the Holy Temple.”  


Giving our children a Jewish education from a very early age is essential to the survival of Torah and thus the survival of Judaism and the Jewish people.