Beth Elohim Messianic Synagogue
Shavuot- Festival of Weeks
Other names include Yom ha Bikkurim- Festival of The Firstfruits; Hag ha Katzir- Festival of the Harvest; Atzeret- Convocation; Zeman Mattan Torahtenu- Time of the Giving of our Torah.
Shavuot is one of the three festivals that entailed a pilgrimage to Jerusalem. Shavuot means “weeks.” It refers to a time period between the festivals of Pesach and the first fruits of the wheat harvest in the Land of Israel. The observance of Shavuot was an act of consecration and celebration. It was an occasion to give YHVH His due; to offer Him the first and best portion of the harvest. That offering was also a celebration because the “first fruits” would indicate both the character and the quantity of the remainder of the crop. If the first fruits were good, so would be the rest of the harvest. If the first fruits were abundant, so would be the remainder of the harvest to come.
It was against the backdrop of this holiday that the first Jewish believers gathered in the Temple, not in the upper room. Yahshua has commanded the disciples to wait in Jerusalem for the promise of the Father (Acts 1:4, 5). They waited for 50 days. YHVH chose the 50th day after the Passover on which Yahshua was crucified to unleash the power of His Ruach ha Kodesh (Holy Spirit) in a new way:
When the Day of Pentecost/Shavuot had fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. Suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a rushing mighty wind that filled the whole house where they were sitting. Then there appeared to them divided tongues, as of fire, and one sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Ruach ha Kodesh and began to speak in other languages, as the Spirit gave them utterance (Acts 2:1-4). These were KNOWN languages and not the babble we hear in various Christian denominations today.
Some who heard the disciples speaking in foreign languages thought they were babbling. Yet, YHVH had chosen the time when Jewish people from all over the world would be in Jerusalem. He used that occasion to reap a spiritual harvest of souls. As thousands wondered how these uneducated Galileans could be speaking in their own native languages, Peter began to preach the gospel of the kingdom in power (NOT a gospel of profession!). Jews who had come to offer YHVH first fruits of wheat harvest became themselves the first fruits of a great spiritual harvest. They represented the harvest to come, not just for the Jews, but for anyone who would answer YHVH’s call to repentance AND obedience. By joining the spiritual worship to the physical harvest, YHVH sanctified the language of the harvest and imbued it with great spiritual and even prophetic significance. (Read Leviticus 26:20, Deuteronomy 28, Jeremiah 11:8, Hosea 6:11, Psalm 32:3-4, Psalm 126, Matthew 9:38, John 1 2:24, James 1:18, and II Corinthians 9:6). What an amazing and wonderful G-d we serve! This was NOT the birth of the Church as taught in Christianity.
Decorate both house and synagogue with branches, greens, flowers
Some spread grass on the floor of the synagogue, representative of the grass upon which Israel stood while receiving the Torah
The Shamash of the synagogue should give out sweet-smelling herbs and grasses during the service
Some weave crowns of flowers and branches and place them over the Torah
It is customary to stay up all night on Shavuot, discussing and studying Torah The traditional Tikkun involves studying a small section of every book of the Bible and every section of
the Talmud in order to say symbolically the entire body of Jewish religious writings.
At least two reasons are given for the Tikkun:
Because the Israelites fell asleep during the night before receiving the Torah and had to be awakened by Moshe. Staying up all night demonstrates our eagerness to receive and learn Torah.
As Sinai is a marriage between Israel and HaShem, and of heaven and earth, we stay up all night as is the custom of the attendants to the bride before her wedding. The Torah in this
schema becomes the ketubah; the wedding contract.
It is said that heaven opens up at midnight on Shavuot, making it a propitious time for your prayers and thoughts to ascend.
It is customary to eat dairy foods during Shavuot, especially blintzes and cheesecake because:
at Sinai the Israelites the Israelites did not want to spend a lot of time preparing a meat meal,
Torah is like milk and honey,
When receiving the Ten Commandments we should be reminded of the Golden Calf and the subsequent breaking of the first tablets
Twin Challiot are baked-representing the two tablets or reminiscent of the two loaves of bread offered in the Temple. Some add a ladder of seven rings, symbolic of the seven layers of heaven which HaShem rent as He descended onto Sinai.
Rabbi Tamah Davis