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The Feast of Weeks
May 31, 2011 – 3:00 am
The Feast of Weeks

Shavuot, which we begin celebrating next Tuesday night (June 7th), is the only holiday in the Torah not listed by the date on which it is to be observed. Rather, the Torah teaches that this festival takes place on the day following the 49th day after the first day of Passover (see Counting of the Omer). The name Shavuot, therefore, reflects the fact that this holiday occurs seven complete weeks (shavuot) after Passover. In mystical terms, the number 7 represents the natural order of things, and so, a complete, natural cycle has occurred.

The natural cycle that has been completed is agricultural. Therefore the holiday is also called Chag Ha’bikurim, The Holiday of the First Fruits, and is the time when the offering of the First Fruit of the harvest was brought to the Holy Temple in Jerusalem as a gesture of thanksgiving for the successful crop.

Seven times seven days, the count of 49, expresses the natural cycle, but Shavuot takes place one day after the seven weeks–one step beyond the natural cycle. It is, therefore, also representative of an event beyond nature.

When the Israelites left Egypt, the people acted as though they were merely cousins bonded by mutual misery. By the end of seven weeks, however, at the base of Mount Sinai, the former slaves rose above their human limitations and, by accepting the Torah, took upon themselves a total commitment to God, the final step in becoming the Nation of Israel. Shavuot is therefore also known as Z’man Matan Torateinu, the time of the giving of our Torah.

Like all holidays on the Jewish calendar, Shavuot celebrates both the “mundane” and the holy, and, in this way, reminds us that nothing in life is mundane.

*This Treat was originally published on May 21, 2009. It is being re-Treated to help us better understand the holiday of Shavuot.

Copyright © 2011 National Jewish Outreach Program. All rights reserved.

Homemade Strawberry Jam
May 27, 2011 – 10:12 am
Homemade Strawberry Jam

Once you get the hang of homemade jams, you can riff on the basic recipe. Add some rhubarb for a tangy addition. Add peppercorns and hot peppers for a piquant version for savory items. Easy to do and nothing tastes better than homemade! I do not use pectin in this jam. The sugar will help thicken the jam as will cooking the moisture out of the berries.

Call Him Ishmael…Rabbi Ishmael
May 26, 2011 – 3:05 am
Call Him Ishmael…Rabbi Ishmael

It may seem surprising that the Talmud quotes a sage named Rabbi Ishmael. Biblically, Ishmael the son of Abraham and Hagar, is portrayed as a wild trouble-maker sent away from Abraham’s home.

Why does this widower want an older woman?
May 25, 2011 – 11:20 am | 3 Comments
Why does this widower want an older woman?

Who can say if this will be become a romantic love match? The fact you are so far apart geographically makes it unlikely. It’s very hard for any long-term relationship to happen with geography like that, simply because you can’t spend day-to-day time together. BUT there are certainly plenty of people who have united their distant stars with smashing success, so never say never.

Make Me the High Priest
May 24, 2011 – 6:29 am
Make Me the High Priest

The Talmud (Shabbat 31a) relates the strange story of a non-Jewish man who wished to convert to Judaism in order to ultimately become the High Priest of Israel.

Online Dating: A Single Person’s Guide to Marriage
May 23, 2011 – 11:16 am | One Comment
Online Dating: A Single Person’s Guide to Marriage

As a professional matchmaker of 21 years, trust me, I’ve seen and heard it all!  The most common complaint that I hear from my clients (men) is that women lie about their weight and age. One of the worst things you can do ladies! Men fall in love through their eyes, and if you show up to a date weighing 20 pounds heavier than your picture…well, I’m sure you know the end result!  If you expect realistic results, then you need to do the same.

Lynell and Charles
May 23, 2011 – 10:52 am | 5 Comments
Lynell and Charles

“She is the best person I’ve ever known, and I’d say that even if I didn’t love her; I not only love her, I admire her.”

The Jewish Prime Minister?
May 23, 2011 – 8:00 am
The Jewish Prime Minister?

Benjamin Disraeli has been called the first (and only) Jewish Prime Minister of England. The truth of this claim is…complicated. According to Jewish law, he was Jewish. His political detractors never hesitated to bring up his Jewish background. But at the age of 13–at the behest of his father Isaac, who had had a falling out with the Bevis Marks synagogue (the main Sephardi synagogue in London)–Benjamin Disraeli was baptized. He remained a member of the Anglican church for the rest of his life.

Lag Ba’Omer
May 20, 2011 – 3:51 am
Lag Ba’Omer

The period of mourning* (for the 24,000 students of Rabbi Akiva who died of plague) associated with Sefirat Ha’omer ends on the 33rd day of the Omer, a day known as Lag Ba’omer. In Hebrew, every letter has a numerical value. ”Lamed” equals 30, and “Gimmel” equals 3, thus Lag (spelled “Lamed Gimmel”) Ba’omer, literally means 33 (days) in the Omer.

Spring Pea Bruschetta
May 19, 2011 – 9:33 am
Spring Pea Bruschetta

This sprightly flavored snack, hors d’ oeuvre or light meal is a delicious springtime treat. Fresh peas and Fava beans with mint are sweet.  Paired with ricotta cheese and mint on grilled bread  and you have got yourself a slice of heaven. Easy to make and can be served warm or at room temperature, the Bruschetta is gorgeous and just screams SPRING!

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