Shavuot | Reconstructing Judaism
Shavuot

 

The festival of Shavuot (“Weeks” or “Pentecost”) is also known in our tradition as z’man matan toratenu—“The Time of the Giving of Our Torah.” While the holiday’s origins lie in an agricultural harvest celebration, in our time it has become primarily a commemoration and reenactment of the revelation of the Torah at Mount Sinai to Moses and the Israelites. “Torah” has multiple meanings within Jewish tradition. It refers to the content of the first five books of the Bible (Humash). It refers to the scroll upon which the five books are written and used in Jewish liturgy and ritual. But Torah is also an expansive term, referring to the chain of interpretation of Jewish texts, to the entire unfolding body of Jewish tradition, and to the commitment to Torah as a basis of living one’s life in a way that manifests holiness. To accept the Torah today means associating with the Jewish people, agreeing to engage seriously with Jewish tradition, and working toward reinvigorating Jewish life and practice.1

  • 1. Adapted from A Guide to Jewish Practice, Volume 2—Shabbat and Holidays

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