Staying Up All Night
When was the last time you stayed up all night to:
- have a deeply meaningful conversation about your
- read or discuss a book that has had a life-changing
effect on you?
- support a friend who really needed someone to talk to?
One of the fascinating customs of this holiday
is tikkun leyl Shavuot - a Shavuot Nightwatch,
a sign of our remembrance of the Divine gift of the
Torah that Shavuot celebrates. The all-night vigil reminds us of the
Biblical legend that the ancient Israelites were encamped
at the foot of Mt. Sinai for three days and three nights
in anticipation of the giving of the Torah.
In some synagogues, people gather to read and discuss Torah text all through the night.
Decorating with Flowers
In ancient times, Shavuot's roots
as an agricultural festival were clearly seen. In our present era,
we recognize this aspect of the holiday by bringing the
outdoors inside on Shavuot. Synagogues and homes are decorated
with greens, wheat, and flowers.
In Israel, florists enjoy increased business, and supermarkets
and malls host special promotions on houseplants.
Schoolchildren wear wreaths and help decorate the
house with the flowers and leaves they bring from school.
One of the other reasons for decorating with greenery
on Shavuot is that it was said that when the Torah was
given on Mount Sinai, the barren desert exploded with
blooming flowers, as if the earth itself rejoiced.
Before the visit from God, Jews did not keep kosher
or follow the Kashrut (dietary) laws. It was on this
first Shavuot that they learned that their utensils
were non-kosher and thus unfit for use. So, finding themselves
without kosher meats or utensils, the Israelites were
forced to eat only dairy foods. Today, Jews mark
Shavuot by eating blintzes, cheesecake, and other dairy