The holiday of Shavuot has three well-known, and well-loved, customs.
Shavuot, which we begin celebrating Saturday night (May 26th), 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.
In 1947, when the United Nations approved the plan to partition the British Mandate of Israel into a Jewish state and an Arab state, they determined that Jerusalem would be an “international city” for a period of ten years. The plan was approved by the Jews, and the day after it came into effect, the new state was attacked by the surrounding Arab states (as the Arabs had not accepted the partition plan).
“Our Rabbis taught: Seven things are hidden from men… the day of death, and the day of comfort, the depth [extent] of judgment; and man does not know what is in his neighbor’s heart; from what will he earn [a living]; and when the Davidic dynasty will return; and when the wicked kingdom will come to an end” (Pesachim 54b).
Pikei Avot is commonly translated as Ethics of Our Fathers because many of its statements focus on ethical behavior. For those striving to be ethical, “Nittai the Arbelite says: Keep far from an evil neighbor, do not associate with a wicked man, and do not abandon the belief in retribution” (1:7).
May is Jewish American Heritage Month. At first glance, a discussion of the Soviet Jewry Movement may seem like an odd choice for Jewish American history, but the movement had a powerful effect on the American Jewish community.
The tumultuous record of Jewish history has led many to wonder how Jews can remain faithful to the Torah. But the very exiles and persecutions that might shake our faith are mentioned in the Torah (Leviticus 26) with a sense of inevitability: not if, but when.
In honor of all our favorite Jewish Mothers, we’ve decided to re-Treat this special Mother’s Day edition of Jewish Treats!
The tradition of Mother’s Day flowers began with Anna Jarvis, the woman who successfully petitioned Woodrow Wilson to make it into an official holiday (which he did in 1914). To honor her mother’s memory, she wore a white carnation. It became the tradition to bring one’s mother a pink carnation or, if one’s mother was no longer living, to wear a white carnation. In time, this tradition expanded to full bouquets, cards of poetry and small gifts.
The period of mourning* (for the 24,000 students of Rabbi Akiva who died of plague) associated with Sefirat Ha’omer is not observed 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.