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GOOD MORNING! Sunday evening, June 12th, begins the two day holiday of Shavuot (or Shavuos in the Ashkenazic pronunciation). (Yizkor, by the way, is on Tuesday, June 14th.) It is the anniversary and celebration of the giving of the Torah on Mt. Sinai to the Jewish people 3,317 years ago. It is a time of rededication and commitment to learning Torah. For lots more about Shavuot, go to http://www.aish.com/holidays/shavuot/default.asp.
Q & A: WHAT IS SHAVUOT AND HOW IS IT CELEBRATED?
The Torah calls Shavuot the "Festival of Weeks" (Numbers 28:26). The very word "Shavuot" is Hebrew for "weeks"; it refers to the seven weeks that one counts from the second day of Passover [when the Omer (barley) offering is brought] until the holiday of Shavuot. It is one of the three Regalim, holidays, (Pesach and Succot are the other two) where every man in the land of Israel was commanded to come up to Jerusalem to celebrate the festival when the Beit HaMikdash, the Holy Temple, stood in Jerusalem.
Torah is the life blood of the Jewish people. Our enemies have always known that when we Jews stop learning Torah, our assimilation is inevitable. Without knowledge there is no commitment. One cannot love what he does not know. A person cannot do or understand what he has never learned.
A Jew is commanded to learn Torah day and night and to teach it to his children. If a Jew wants his family to be Jewish and his children to marry other Jews, then he must integrate a Torah study program into his life and implement the teachings into his home and his being. One can tell his children anything, but only if they see their parents learning and doing mitzvot, will they inherit the love for being Jewish. Remember: a parent only owes his child three things - example, example, example.
How can we utilize this opportunity to grow and strengthen our self-identity as Jews? Just as a baby crawls, then toddles and then walks, likewise with the mitzvot (commandments). A person should undertake one more mitzvah, do it well and then build on it. For some mitzvot that you might enjoy taking on...
Here are a few suggestions:
- Read the Torah! The Almighty gave it to you as a gift. It is the instruction book for living - how to be happy, choose the right spouse, make your marriage work, raise your children with values, get more joy out of life.
- Listen to one Torah tape (call 800-864-2373 for a catalog or to order Aish tapes) or attend one Torah class each month for the next three months. Try 613.org or AishAudio.com! Or buy a copy of Pirkei Avot, (Ethics of the Fathers), and read one page a day. It's concentrated wisdom about life.
- Make sure you have a Kosher mezuzah on at least your front door. (A Jewish home should have mezuzot on all doorposts except for the bathroom). Learn the deep, inner-meaning of mezuzah and reflect on it when you look at the mezuzah.
- Pick one non-kosher food item that you won't eat - just because you're Jewish.
- Say the Shema and the three following paragraphs at least once a day. Learn what the words mean and the ideas included. It will change your outlook and attitudes. Artscroll publishes a book on the Shema - or look at the commentary in the Artscroll Siddur. Lisa Aiken's book, Hidden Beauty of the Shema, is spectacular!
- Do something to make Shabbat special - light two candles with the blessing before sundown, have a Shabbat Friday night family dinner and make Kiddush and HaMotzei (the prayer before eating the Challahs). You might want to buy Friday Night and Beyond by Lori Palatnik, which is a hands-on guide for the novice wanting to enjoy Shabbat.
The Talmud says, "All beginnings are difficult." If you need help or have questions, please feel free to call me at (305) 535-2474, fax me at (305) 531-9334 or e-mail to: firstname.lastname@example.org. For the books or mezuzot, try your local Jewish book store, call toll-free 877-758-3242 or judaicaenterprises.com.
On Shavuot there is a custom to stay up all night learning Torah. Virtually every synagogue and yeshiva have scheduled learning throughout the night ending with the praying of Shacharit, the morning service. The reason: the morning the Jewish people were to receive the Torah on Mt. Sinai, they overslept. We now can rectify the tendency to give in to our desires by demonstrating our resolve through learning the whole night. It is a wonderful experience to share with your children. It would be wonderful if you could find a synagogue, JCC or yeshiva with a program that night; at very minimum, how about reading the story of the giving of the Torah to your family (Exodus 19:10 -20:23).
For more on Shavuos go to ShabbatShalomAudio.com!
Torah Portion of the Week
This week's portion includes further job instructions to the Levites, Moshe is instructed to purify the camp in preparation for the dedication of the Mishkan, the Portable Sanctuary.
Then four laws relating to the Cohanim are given:
- Restitution for stolen property where the owner is deceased and has no next of kin - goes to the Cohanim.
- If a man suspects his wife of being unfaithful, he brings her to the Cohanim for the Sotah clarification ceremony.
- If a person chooses to withdraw from the material world and consecrate himself exclusively to the service of the Almighty by becoming a Nazir (vowing not to drink wine or eat grape products, come in contact with dead bodies or cut his hair), he must come to the Cohen at the completion of the vow.
- The Cohanim were instructed to bless the people with this blessing:
"May the Lord bless you and guard over you. May the Lord make His face shine upon you and be gracious unto you. May the Lord lift up His Countenance upon you and give you peace."
The Mishkan is erected and dedicated on the first of Nissan in the second year after the Exodus. The leaders of each tribe jointly give wagons and oxen to transport the Mishkan. During each of the twelve days of dedication, successively each tribal prince gives gifts of gold and silver vessels, sacrificial animals and meal offerings. Every prince gives exactly the same gifts as every other prince.
based on Growth Through Torah by Rabbi Zelig Pliskin
The Torah states what a person should do if he or she has transgressed by doing a "trespass against the Almighty" (Numbers 5:6). What does the Torah mean when it uses the language a "trespass against the Almighty"?
Rabbi Ovadiah Sforno (an Italian Biblical commentator who lived 1475-1550) comments that this refers to one who steals from a convert to Judaism. Harming him is considered a trespass against the Almighty because this person had the idealism to come to the Almighty's Torah. One desecrates the Almighty's name in the convert's eyes by deceiving him.
A person who comes to Torah on his own volition does so because of the beautiful and elevated ideas he hears about Torah principles. He made his decision on the assumption that those who follow the Torah will act towards him in accordance with all the Torah laws pertaining to interpersonal relations. If someone cheats him financially or in any other way wrongs him, he will not only suffer a monetary loss. Rather, he might also feel disillusioned with his decision to accept the Torah way of life. Go out of your way to be especially friendly towards converts.
CANDLE LIGHTING - June 10:
(or go to http://www.aish.com/shabbat/candlelighting.asp)
Chicago 8:05 Guatemala 6:11 Hong Kong 6:48
Honolulu 6:53 J'Burg 5:05 London 8:56
Los Angeles 7:46 Melbourne 4:46 Mexico City 6:59
Miami 7:52 Moscow 8:53 New York 8:07
Singapore 6:53 Toronto 7:38
QUOTE OF THE WEEK:
Waste of time is the most
extravagant of all expense.
Please Pray for the