Renewing our vows
Shavuot is probably one of the most meaningful holidays, yet it is the least understood and observed. Before we became religious, we had no idea there was such a holiday as Shavuot. We observed the biggies, i.e., Rosh HaShanah, Yom Kippur and Passover. But, once I began to learn about Shavuot, I realized that I had missed out on an amazingly spiritually uplifting holiday. We decided to take full advantage of this mystical time—the day we renew our commitment to the Torah.
The cycle of spiritual energy
The Jewish holidays cycle around year after year. Each holiday commemorates an event from our ancient past. The mystics say that each year, when the holiday arrives, the exact same energy of the original event returns, providing us with an amazing opportunity to climb a ladder to great spiritual heights. A very powerful divine energy came into the world as the Jews, who had been redeemed from Egypt, stood at the foot of Mt. Sinai to receive the Ten Commandments. It is written that at this moment, Heaven came down to touch earth, they kissed so to speak, and in this sense, it was like a wedding. Shavuot is the time each year when we return to the scene of the wedding and renew the commitment we made thousands of years ago.
Beyond cheesecake and blintzes
Shavuot conjures up visions of cheesecake, blintzes, and other cheesy dishes. We can get lost in the food and miss out on the deeper benefits of the holiday. Shavuot is one of the three festivals when all Jews would go to Jerusalem to the Temple and Jews today still come from all around the world to Jerusalem to celebrate Shavuot. There is a custom to stay up all night to learn and prepare for the special day. Just about every synagogue and Jewish center will be open with lots of lectures, discussions, independent learning, and of course, refreshments. It is not required, though, so be honest with yourself about whether you have the strength to stay up all night. It is better to be awake the next day to actually hear the 10 Commandments when they are read out loud in the synagogue than to sleep through them.
Why the cheesecake?
There are many reasons why we make a point of eating dairy on Shavuot. The primary answer is that until this time we had not received the laws of kashrut, so we could not yet eat meat. Whatever the reason, no time has been lost in developing the most delicious cheesecake recipes, blintzes and a host of other dairy and fish dishes that bring a spark of spiritual energy to your stomach.
Shavuot, a holiday of spiritual richness for the body and soul. June 12, 2016
By Oren Laurent