In the Hebrew year 2448 (1312 BCE), 50 days after the Exodus from Egypt, the Torah was given in Divine revelation to the entire Jewish people at Mount Sinai. (The name of this holiday, Shavuot, means "weeks," in recognition of the weeks of anticipation leading up to the Sinai experience.) The Torah's ideas of monotheism, justice and peace have changed mankind forever. Today we celebrate Shavuot by staying up the entire night learning Torah -- eager to receive it anew.
Sivan 6 is also the yahrtzeit of King David (ca. 907-837 BCE), a humble shepherd who became the second king of Israel. David was famous as a warrior, scholar and psalmist. He courageously battled the Philistine giant Goliath, killing him with a slingshot. David reigned for 40 years, during which he made Jerusalem the Jewish capital, purchased the future site of the Holy Temple, and made preparations for the Temple's construction. David composed the biblical Book of Psalms, songs of praise to God and poetic expressions of love, fear, triumph and disaster. David was promised an eternal dynasty of Jewish kingship; he was succeeded by his son Solomon, and according to tradition, the Messiah will ultimately be descended from David. His life story is recorded in the Book of Samuel.
Sivan 6 is also the yahrtzeit of Rabbi Israel Ben Eliezer (1698-1760), known the Baal Shem Tov. He is regarded as the founder of the chassidic movement, which placed mysticism, celebration and prayer at the center of Jewish observance (as opposed to the primacy of Talmud study). The Baal Shem Tov preached the concept of devekut (cleaving) -- nullifying one's feeling of a separate existence, and joining in total oneness with God. He was said to have traced his lineage back to King David; appropriately, he died on the yahrtzeit of King David.