The Sephardic Community of Fair Lawn, New Jersey

Learning on Shavuot night

On the first night of Shavuot (this year Tuesday night, May 18, 2010), Jews throughout the world observe the centuries-old custom of conducting an all-night vigil dedicated to Torah learning, and preparation for receiving the Torah anew the next morning. One explanation for this tradition is that the Jewish people did not rise early on the day God gave the Torah, and it was necessary for God Himself to awaken them. To compensate for their behavior, Jews have accepted upon themselves the custom of remaining awake all night.

The Ten Commandments

 The holiday of Shavuot is the day on which we celebrate the great revelation of the giving of the Torah at Mount Sinai, 3322 years ago. You stood at the foot of the mountain. Your grandparents and great-grandparents before them. The souls of all Jews, from all times, came together to hear the Ten Commandments from God Himself.

This year, on Thursday, May 20, we all must come to Shul to hear the Ten Commandments and reaffirm the covenant with God and His Torah.  Since we all stood at Mount Sinai, we must all reaffirm our commitment. Babies, young children, the elderly, all that are able should attend.

The Book of Ruth

 In many synagogues the Book of Ruth is read on the second day of Shavuot. There are several reasons for this custom:

A) Shavuot is the birthday and yahrtzeit (anniversary of passing) of King David, and the Book of Ruth records his ancestry. Ruth and her husband Boaz were King David’s great-grandparents.

B) The scenes of harvesting described in the book of Ruth are appropriate to the Festival of Harvest.

C) Ruth was a sincere convert who embraced Judaism with all her heart. On Shavuot all Jews were converts — having accepted the Torah and all of its precepts.

Adorning the Home with Greenery & Flowers

Since Shavuot is also called the “Harvest Festival,” it is customary to adorn the home and synagogue with fruits, flowers and greens. Furthermore, our Sages relate that although Mount Sinai was situated in a desert, when the Torah was given the mountain bloomed and sprouted flowers.

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