Tag Archives: Shavuot-Rav

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Speaking Torah: We do not make the journey to Sinai alone

Next week, Jewish communities around the world will gather to celebrate the holiday of Shavuot and the anniversary of the giving of the Torah. We have been preparing for seven weeks. Counting each day, from the second night of Passover to the first night of Shavuot, through 49 days of wilderness, 49 days of wandering. We offer a blessing each night before we count — a quiet reminder, if we are… Read Article →

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Getting to Fifty: Some texts evoking thoughts about Shavu’ot as the day following the 49th day

Introduction Shavo’ut is unique among the biblical pilgrimage holidays in that it is not identified by date. It is celebrated on the day following the completion of counting seven weeks, or forty-nine days beginning on the day after the celebration of Pesah. In the Zohar, these forty-nine days are connected to the rabbinic notion of “gates of understanding”. When the Israelites were in Egypt they defiled themselves with all kinds… Read Article →

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Sefirot HaOmer

Over the past few years, the somewhat esoteric practice of connecting the counting of the Omer to the seven lower sefirot has been gaining popularity in liberal Jewish circles. The usual structure for this practice is to devote each of the seven weeks to one sefirah and within each week to devote one day to each sefirah. Every day is thus dedicated to a primary (of the week) and secondary… Read Article →

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The Morning After

Last week, as we marked the holiday of Shavuot, many of us in the wee hours between darkness and dawn marked our receiving of Torah on Mount Sinai by studying Torah all night. After 49 days of counting that began on the second night of Passover, we have finally reached the apex of the journey we began then. As it is described in the Torah itself, our experience of receiving… Read Article →

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Shavuot: Divine Light and Earthly Vessels

In preparing for the celebration of the holiday of Shavuot — “The Time of the Giving of Torah,” as it is referred to in countless rabbinic sources — I have been reflecting on a striking teaching from the great Hasidic sage Rabbi Levi Isaac of Berditchev (1740-1809) on the relationship between spiritual inspiration and religious practice. In his commentary on the Torah portion of Terumah (Exod. 25:1-27:19), the Berditchever (as… Read Article →