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What is Shavuot?

Shavuot is the second of the three major festivals (Passover being the first and Sukkot the third) and occurs exactly fifty days after the second day of Passover. This holiday marks the anniversary of the day when we received the Torah at Mount Sinai.

This is a biblical holiday complete with special prayers, holiday candle lighting and kiddush, and many forms of work and labor are prohibited.

The word "Shavuot" means "weeks": It marks the completion of the seven-week counting period between Passover and Shavuot. During these seven weeks the Jewish people cleansed themselves of the scars of Egyptian slavery and became a holy nation ready to enter into an eternal covenant with God with the giving of the Torah.

On this day we received a gift from Above which we could not have achieved with our own limited faculties. We received the ability to reach and touch the Divine; not only to be cultivated human beings, but Divine human beings who are capable of rising above and beyond the limitations of nature.

Before the giving of the Torah we were a family and a community. The experience of Sinai bonded us into a new entity: the Jewish people; the Chosen Nation. This holiday is likened to our wedding day -- beneath the wedding canopy of Mount Sinai, God betrothed us to Him. God swore eternal devotion to us, and we in turn pledged everlasting loyalty to Him.

Every year on the holiday of Shavuot, we reenact this historic moment. God re-gives the Torah, and we lovingly reaccept, and reaffirm our fidelity to Him alone.