SHAVUOT – PENTECOST
Rabbi Yehudah ben Shomeyr
Shavu’ot, Pentecost, Feast of Weeks. It is a High Holy Day, but it doesn’t seem to be as well known or as popular as Passover or Yom Kippur, but it is in some ways the central Feast, because without Shavu’ot, there would be no Sabbath, or Passover, or Yom Kippur, because Shavu’ot is first and foremost the commemoration of the giving of the Torah which tells us about and commands us to celebrate the High Holy Days as recorded in Leviticus 23. It also commemorates the giving of the Ruach HaKodesh who shows us how to live out the Torah correctly.
Pesach (Passover) through Shavuot (including the Feast of First Fruits) should be seen as a continuous process. If you have accepted the true Passover Lamb (Jn. 1:29; 1 Cor. 5:7), you are promised resurrection (1 Cor. 15:20-23) because He Yeshua is the first fruits of the greater resurrection harvest, and you are part of the body of the Messiah (Acts 2;1 ; 1 Cor. 12:13).
Lev 23:15 And ye shall count unto you from the morrow after the sabbath, from the day that ye brought the sheaf of the wave offering; seven sabbaths shall be complete:
16Even unto the morrow after the seventh sabbath shall ye number fifty days; and ye shall offer a new meat offering unto the LORD.
20And the priest shall wave them with the bread of the firstfruits for a wave offering before the LORD, with the two lambs: they shall be holy to the LORD for the priest.
21And ye shall proclaim on the selfsame day, that it may be an holy convocation unto you: ye shall do no servile work therein: it shall be a statute for ever in all your dwellings throughout your generations.
22And when ye reap the harvest of your land, thou shalt not make clean riddance of the corners of thy field when thou reapest, neither shalt thou gather any gleaning of thy harvest: thou shalt leave them unto the poor, and to the stranger: I am the LORD your God.
Num. 19:10 And the LORD said unto Moses, Go unto the people, and sanctify them to day and to morrow, and let them wash their clothes,
11And be ready against the third day: for the third day the LORD will come down in the sight of all the people upon mount Sinai.
12And thou shalt set bounds unto the people round about, saying, Take heed to yourselves, that ye go not up into the mount, or touch the border of it: whosoever toucheth the mount shall be surely put to death:
13There shall not an hand touch it, but he shall surely be stoned, or shot through; whether it be beast or man, it shall not live: when the trumpet soundeth long, they shall come up to the mount.
14And Moses went down from the mount unto the people, and sanctified the people; and they washed their clothes.
15And he said unto the people, Be ready against the third day: come not at your wives.
16And it came to pass on the third day in the morning, that there were thunders and lightnings, and a thick cloud upon the mount, and the voice of the trumpet exceeding loud; so that all the people that was in the camp trembled.
17And Moses brought forth the people out of the camp to meet with God; and they stood at the nether part of the mount.
18And mount Sinai was altogether on a smoke, because the LORD descended upon it in fire: and the smoke thereof ascended as the smoke of a furnace, and the whole mount quaked greatly.
19And when the voice of the trumpet sounded long, and waxed louder and louder, Moses spake, and God answered him by a voice.
20And the LORD came down upon mount Sinai, on the top of the mount: and the LORD called Moses up to the top of the mount; and Moses went up.
Acts 2:1 And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place.
2And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting.
3And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them.
4And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.
5And there were dwelling at Jerusalem Jews, devout men, out of every nation under heaven.
6Now when this was noised abroad, the multitude came together, and were confounded, because that every man heard them speak in his own language.
7And they were all amazed and marvelled, saying one to another, Behold, are not all these which speak Galilaeans?
8And how hear we every man in our own tongue, wherein we were born?
9Parthians, and Medes, and Elamites, and the dwellers in Mesopotamia, and in Judaea, and Cappadocia, in Pontus, and Asia,
10Phrygia, and Pamphylia, in Egypt, and in the parts of Libya about Cyrene, and strangers of Rome, Jews and proselytes,
11Cretes and Arabians, we do hear them speak in our tongues the wonderful works of God.
It is traditional to hear the reading of the 10 Commandments and it is also traditional to read the Book of Ruth which is all about harvest, but also hints about Acts, when Gentiles would be welcomed into the Body of Messiah because Ruth was a Gentile who converted to Judaism and married Boaz, a Jew and is also in the linage of Messiah Yeshua.
Because Torah is seen as our spiritual food that was given to the fledgling nation of Israel in the Wilderness, it is seen as milk given to a baby and so it is traditional to consume dairy products on this day as well in commemoration of the Torah.
Since it’s about first fruits it is also traditional to decorate the home and synagogue with flowers and harvest-y type things.
Three days prior to Shavuot it is traditional to abstain from sexual relations and carries some of the restrictions of Yom Kippur, because G-d commanded the
Israelites to purify themselves 3 days before He came and gave the Torah at Sinai. The night before it is traditional to stay up all night and study the Torah with friends, since the Holiday is focused on the giving of the Torah.
Yeshua Messiah is the first fruit of the resurrection; He is also the Living Manifestation of the Written Torah. These are some ways Shavuot teaches us a little more about the Messiah.
Though Shavu’ot it seems is all but passed over (no pun intended) being overshadowed by the preceding High Holy Day of Passover, Shavu’ot is a rich Holy Day that should not be missed.
Shavuot celebrates the Giving of the Torah and for Natsari believers, the giving of the Ruach HaKodesh (Holy Spirit) as well. The Torah was engraved and given in stone at Sinai and it was engraved in our hearts in Acts 2.
During the 50 day interim between Passover and Shavuot we count the Omer and also take this time for self evaluation and personal tikkun (repair).
“The teachings of Kabbalah explain that there are seven "Divine
Attributes" -- Sefirot -- that G-d assumes through which to relate to our existence: Chessed, Gevurah, Tifferet, Netzach, Hod, Yesod and Malchut ("Love", "Strength", "Beauty", "Victory", "Splendor", "Foundation" and "Sovereignty"). In the human being, created in the "image of G-d," the seven sefirot are mirrored in the seven "emotional attributes" of the human soul: Kindness, Restraint, Harmony, Ambition, Humility, Connection and Receptiveness. Each of the seven attributes contain elements of all seven--i.e., "Kindness in Kindness", "Restraint in Kindness", "Harmony in Kindness", etc.--making for a total of forty-nine traits. The 49-day Omer Count is thus a 49-step process of self refinement, with each day devoted to the "rectification" and perfection of one the forty-nine "sefirot."” – Chabad.org
3 days prior to Shavuot we purify ourselves further as the Children of Israel did and we abstain from marital relations and such until after Shavu’ot.
The night before an all night Torah study is common in preparation for the wedding as a Bride waiting for their Groom.
Matthew 25:1 Then shall the kingdom of heaven be likened unto ten virgins, which took their lamps, and went forth to meet the bridegroom.
2And five of them were wise, and five were foolish.
3They that were foolish took their lamps, and took no oil with them:
4But the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps.
5While the bridegroom tarried, they all slumbered and slept.
6And at midnight there was a cry made, Behold, the bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet him.
7Then all those virgins arose, and trimmed their lamps.
8And the foolish said unto the wise, Give us of your oil; for our lamps are gone out.
9But the wise answered, saying, Not so; lest there be not enough for us and you: but go ye rather to them that sell, and buy for yourselves.
10And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came; and they that were ready went in with him to the marriage: and the door was shut.
11Afterward came also the other virgins, saying, Lord, Lord, open to us.
12But he answered and said, Verily I say unto you, I know you not.
13Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh.
During Shavuot we go to the synagogue as if we were going to Mt. Sinai to hear the 10 Commandments read just as it was at the Mount before Moshe went up to receive the Torah in its entirety. It is said that before G-d gave the Torah he
demanded guarantors and G-d rejected all of Israel’s suggestions of one until Israel declared that their children would be the guarantors and immediately G-d agreed and this is why we make sure to bring our children. Also in Acts 2, the Ruach HaKodesh is a sort of a guarantor. You see, Shavuot is like a wedding, Mt. Sinai the Wedding canopy and Moshe the Rabbi performing the wedding via G-d’s instructions, and the Torah is like the wedding vows. The Ruach Ha Kodesh is like the wedding ring so to speak. So on Shavu’ot we all “renew our wedding vows”. Jewish copuples also renew their vows at this time to by the reading of the Ketuvah (Jewish Wedding Contract).
It says that a mixed multitude (Gentiles/Non-Jews) was present during the giving and receiving of the Torah and that they accepted too and thus Ruth is read for the story occurred during Shavuot and she is one of the most famous converts in history and is in the linage of King David and King Messiah! And so it is also customary in some communities for converts to get circumcised or have their Hatafat Dam Brit (Drawing of one drop of blood from the penis of an already circumcised gentile) and mikvah and thus officially convert to Judaism.
Since it is a harvest festival homes and synagogues are decorated with a spring/harvest theme.
Finally The Torah is like our spiritual food and thus when we received Torah at Sinai at the first it was like milk and as we mature it becomes like meat, so there are two festive meals at Shavu’ot, one of milk and one much later of meat, because Orthodox Jews do not consume dairy and meat products together.
When the Torah was given Jews now became obligated to kosherly slaughter and prepare their meat, and as the Torah was given on the Sabbath no work, thus no slaughtering could take place so dairy products were consumed. The Hebrew word for milk is “Chalav” and numerically it comes out to 40 and Moshe spent 40 days on Mt. Sinai when receiving the Torah.
Shalom and Chag Semeach Shavuot! – Rabbi Yehudah