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ISRAEL

 
 
 
 

HAPPY SHAVUOT!

 
 

RABBI CARLOS TAPIERO, MWU DEPUTY - DIRECTOR GENERAL & DIRECTOR OF EDUCATION

Shavuot
By: Rabbi Carlos Tapiero,
Carlos@maccabiworld.org
MWU Deputy - Director General & Director of Education



 

שבועות

Shavuot and its names

Freedom and the responsibility of freedom

 

Dear friends,

Shavuot is identified by 5 names
that point out different aspects of this festival: 

Chag Hashavuot                         (the Celebration of the Weeks); 

Chag Hakatsir                             (the Harvest Festival);

Yom Habicurim                            (the Day of the First Fruits);

Atzeret                                          (the Conclusion),

and Zman Matan Torateinu  (the time of the giving of our Torah).

 

Chag Hakatzir and Yom Habicurim refer specifically to the Festival's agricultural nature and content, and especially, the connection between the Jewish People and the Land of Israel.  We celebrate the productivity of the Lanf and are thankful to the Holy One, Blessed be He, for the new fruits of the summer, in particular, the wheat harvest - the harvest begun at Pessach with barley. 

 

The names Chag Hashavuot and Atzeret indicate the progressive relation between Pesach and Shavuot.  Shavuot ("weeks") refers to the seven weeks that separate both festivities; Atzeret ("conclusion") speaks of the end of the counting of those seven weeks - known as S'firat Ha'Omer, the counting of the Omer, the amount of grains which were taken to the Temple in Jerusalem each day from the second day of Pesach till Shavuot.  It is the one name that explains the interrelation between the five, and the indissoluble and important link with the celebration of Pesach is Zman Matan Torateinu, the celebration of the delivery of the Torah to the Children of Israel.

 

Let us reflect for a moment on the situation of the Jewish People in their exodus from Egypt.  After 430 years in that land, of which 230 were endured in cruel slavery, the Children of Israel obtained their longed -for physical freedom under the leadership of Moshe and his lieutenants, his brother Aaron and Yehoshua Bin-Nun (Joshua).  After the initial joy, the Jewish People felt deeply abandoned: "What to do now that we are free?" They were like a person lost in a thick forest filled with goods: they did not know which way was forward.  Seven weeks later, the Jewish People had their "map", their compass:  the Holy One gave to them His Torah, which creates our sense of Nationhood, filling it with manifold meaning, and entrusting a huge responsibility to the Children of Israel for all humanity.  Shavuot represents the further enrichment of our initial great benefit from Pesach, the physical freedom given in the Exodus:  Shavuot is responsible freedom; it represents the responsibility that freedom entails, the true meaning of real freedom. 

 

Thus, it is clear why we count each day of the Omer between Pessach and Shavuot: on the one hand, we relive the anxiety of the ancient Jewish People who sought to know the meaning of their existence, and on the other, we reaffirm that freedom without a sense of duty and purpose is only confusion, anarchy and chaos.  The progressive improvement between grains of lesser quality, the barley of Pessach, and the most prized wheat of Shavuot symbolizes the spiritual progression we live through between both periods.

 

Let our lives be always like this, dear Maccabim: a constant spiritual progression from the experience valuable moments to yet higher significant others.  For us, and for all those for whom we carry the responsibility we assumed at Mount Sinai:  for our families, our People, and all the Humanity we belong to.

 

May we incorporate Torah as a guide for our actions and our behavior and our deepest beliefs, to make a better out of this world,

in brotherly love, based on true listening and genuine dialogue.

 

Chag Shavuot Sameach!

Chazak ve'ematz!

 

RABBI CARLOS A. TAPIERO

Deputy Director-General & Director of Education

Maccabi World Union

 
 
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