Featured in local papers on Thursday, June 9, 2005. Copyright 2005 by Yosef Y. Polter

Shavuos – A festival of great holiness

This Monday will mark 3317 years from the time when the Jewish people stood at the foot of Mount Sinai ready to receive the Torah in its entirety from G‑d.  Jews worldwide will flock to synagogues to hear those immortal and immutable Ten Commandments once again as they were heard so many years ago. 

Oddly, Shavuos is not as well known and celebrated as, say, Passover or Sukkos.  We must realize, however, that Shavuos, which is no less Biblical than Passover and Sukkos, is at least as important as the others (High Holidays not included).  Passover commemorates the end of slavery – the exodus from Egypt. G‑d liberated the Jewish people to become His servants and to be dedicated to His service.  This relationship was sealed at Mount Sinai seven weeks after the exodus, i.e. on Shavuos.  Sukkos commemorates G‑d’s shelter of the Jews during their journey through the desert.  They were going to Mount Sinai to accept the Torah and the yoke of heaven on the sixth day of the Hebrew month of Sivan, i.e. on Shavuos. 

Shavuos, therefore, recalls the ultimate goal of the exodus and the trek through the desert, making it no less important than Passover and Sukkos.  And, as we’ve mentioned in past articles, Jewish holidays aren’t just a commemoration of events bygone, but rather a full re-enactment of that experience – the spiritual holiness and energy unleashed the first time around is once again present every year at this time, albeit without the same physical manifestations.
When one realizes the importance of this day he or she may be more inclined to try to relive that experience and harness the spiritual energy that is available on this very holy day, reasserting and strengthening one’s connection to G‑d and to His Torah. 

The Lubavitcher Rebbe, of blessed memory, stressed the importance that all Jews – even babies (who don’t even know where they are and what’s going on) hear the Ten Commandments read from the Torah.  The regular service will take place on Monday, June 13, at 10:00.  The late service will take place on that day at 6:00 PM and will be followed by an ice cream party.  The entire late program should only take about an hour.  The program is free and is open to all regardless of temple affiliation, level of religious observance, etc.  Best wishes for a happy and meaningful holiday.

Rabbi Polter is the director of the Chabad Jewish Center located at 148 Great Road (Rte. 2A) in Acton.  The Center, which serves area towns, offers many programs and services throughout the year.  For more information, please call (978) 929-2513 or 758-8994.  Also visit www.chabadofacton.com