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Shabbat

Parashah

Torah

Haftarah

Brit Chadashah

May 23, 2015
Sivan 5, 5775

Shavuot

Bamidbar
 

Num. 1:1-4:20
[Table Talk]

Hosea 2:1-23

Rom. 9:22-33;
Luke 24:50-51; Acts 1:9-11

 

Jerusalem Day

The Holiday of Shavuot...

Saturday, May 23rd (at sundown) marks the end of the 49 days of counting and the beginning of the "Jubilee" of Shavuot (i.e., "Weeks" or "Pentecost"). Recall that the Torah instructed (Lev. 23:15-16) that we count from the day following Passover (i.e., Nisan 16) for exactly seven weeks, until Sivan 5 (i.e., from April 4th until May 23rd this year). On the 50th day (i.e., Sivan 6), a special celebration was to be observed. This annual "countdown period" recalls both the time from the Passover until the revelation at Sinai, and the advent of the Ruach HaKodesh (Holy Spirit) among Yeshua's disciples in Jerusalem (Acts 2:1-4).

According to the sages, the festival of Shavuot marks the culmination of the experience of redemption, sometimes called Atzaret Pesach, the "conclusion" of Passover. Since the Exodus from Egypt was intended to lead to the revelation given at Sinai, the goal of Passover was the giving of the Torah to the Jewish people.

In other words, the LORD took the Jews out of Egypt so that they would be His own treasured people, holy and separated from the pagan cultures around them.  Indeed, all of the mo'edim (holidays) of the biblical calendar are connected with this event, including the fall festivals of Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur and Sukkot.

During this time, it is customary for young adults to recommit themselves to Talmud Torah (the study of Torah) and to renew their decision to live as Jews. In addition to formal "confirmation ceremonies" observed at synagogues, some other Shavuot customs include decorating the home and synagogue with greenery, eating dairy foods and sweets (as samples of the "milk and honey" of the promised land), and staying up the entire night of Shavuot to read selections from the Torah and from the Talmud (this custom is called tikkun leil shavu'ot: תִּקּוּן לֵיל שָׁבוּעוֹת, "Rectification for Shavuot Night"). For the Messianic Jew, Shavuot is the time of celebrating the birth of kallat Mashiach - the Bride of the Messiah (or the new covenant assembly), since the Ruach HaKodesh (Holy Spirit) was poured out to the believers in Yeshua during this festival (Acts 2:1-4).

At the synagogue, it is customary to start the Shavuot evening service later than usual, to ensure that the 50th day has arrived (see "counting the omer").  As mentioned above, many people stay at the synagogue throughout the entire night listening to poems and favorite portions of Scripture, or reading from a special book (tikkun leil Shavuot) that includes key verses of each Torah portion, passages of each tractate of the Mishnah and from the Zohar. This custom is observed to "repair" the night of Shavuot from the error of sleeping so soundly before the Torah was revealed at Sinai that God had to awaken the Jews with piercing shofar blasts, thunder, and lightning the following morning.

Shavuot Torah Readings:

The following Torah portions are traditionally read during the Festival of Shavuot:

Day

Torah

Haftarah

Brit Chadashah

Erev Shavuot
Sat. May 23nd - eve

Tikkun Leil ShavuotReading assorted passages of Torah, Talmud, etc.

Shavuot 1
Sat. May 23nd -day

Exod. 19:1-20:23
Num. 28:26-31
(M)

Ezek. 1:1-28; 3:12
Ruth (K)

John 1:32-34; Mt 3:11-17;
Acts 2:1-21, 37-41

Shavuot 2
Sun. May 24nd -day

Deut. 14:22-16:17 Num. 28:26-31 (M)

Habakkuk 3:1-19
Ruth (K)

Acts 2:1-13

Note: For additional insight into the portions of Torah read during the festival of Shavuot, please click here (day 1) and here (day 2). To read a brief Shavuot meditation, please see the heart of Torah. For further information about Shavuot, see the Site Updates pages.

Jewish tradition teaches be'chol dor vador - that in every generation each person should consider him or herself as having personally received the Torah at Sinai. The climax of the Shavuot morning service is the recitation of the famous Akdamut poem followed by the reading of the Ten Commandments, when all the congregation stands to "relive" the experience at Sinai. A second Torah scroll is then taken out of the ark and the portion is read (Num. 28:26-31) that describes the sacrificial offerings made at the Temple during Shavuot, and the Haftarah (Ezek. 1:1-28; 3:12) concerns the amazing revelation of God in the form of the Throne/Chariot.

The Scroll of Ruth (מגילת רות) - a beautiful story about God's redemptive love - is traditionally read on the second day of Shavuot. As the Goel (kinsman-redeemer), Boaz was a wealthy man of the tribe of Judah (Bethlehem) who married a Gentile bride. Boaz's name means "in Him is strength," a picture of the Yeshua the Messiah, his greater Descendant, who also redeemed for himself a bride from among the nations. Among traditional Jews, the Book of Ruth is is read since the events recounted took place during the time of the spring harvest (linking it to the agricultural aspect of Shavuot), and Ruth is a picture of willing acceptance of a Jewish lifestyle (linking it to the events of Sinai).

The holiday of Shavuot is one of the shelosh regalim (three major "pilgrimage festivals") commanded in the Torah (Exod. 23:14-17; Deut. 16:16) and therefore it reveals profound spiritual truth for followers of Yeshua (Luke 24:44; 2 Tim. 3:16). God did not want us to miss the significance of this holiday, since it expresses the freedom and truth of the New Covenant of Zion. From my family to you: Shavuot Sameach - "Happy Shavuot!"  May this be a time of renewal and great joy in your lives....

About the Month of Sivan...


 

The third month of the Jewish calendar (as reckoned from the month of Nisan) is called Sivan (סִיוָן), which usually begins during late May or early June (this year, May 18th). In the Torah this month is simply called "the third month" (i.e., chodesh ha-shlishi: חדֶשׁ הַשְּׁלִישִׁי), though some time after the Babylonian Captivity it assumed its present name. Sivan is mentioned only once in the Jewish Scriptures, in the Book of Esther (Esther 8:9).

Since Sivan always has 30 full days, Rosh Chodesh Sivan (i.e., the celebration of the new month) is observed for only one day. The rabbis call the second day of Sivan is called "yom hameyuchat" (the "day of distinction"), since on this day the people agreed to accept the Torah, and upon thier ratification Moses instructed the people to prepare themselves to become "a kingdom of priests and a holy nation" (Exod. 19:6-8). In some circles this "day of distinction" is celebrated as a minor festival. On the third day of month the LORD instructed Moses to "set a boundary" (hagbalah) for the people around the mountain in preparation for the coming revelation to be given "three days later" (Exod. 19:9-15). These three days are called the "Three Days of Separation" (i.e., Sheloshet Yemei Hagbalah: שְׁלשֶׁת יְמֵי הַגְּבָּלָה) to prepare for the revelation on Sivan 6th: "Make yourselves ready by the third day" (Exod. 19:11,15). The Talmud comments: "Blessed be our God who has given a threefold Torah (Torah, Prophets, Writings) to a threefold nation (Kohanim, Levites, and Israelites) through one who was third (Moses, the third child after Aaron and Miriam) in the third month."

The first five days of the month of Sivan anticipate the day that the Torah was revealed to Israel at Sinai, namely, on the sixth of Sivan, a date which the rabbis later associated with the holiday of Shavuot ("Weeks" or "Pentecost"), which occurred exactly seven weeks after the Exodus from Egypt. As mentioned above, on the night before Shavuot itself it is customary to read selections from the entire Torah throughout until sunrise. This custom is called tikkun leil shavu'ot: תִּקּוּן לֵיל שָׁבוּעוֹת, "Rectification for Shavuot Night," and was instituted as a "remedy" for Israel's failure to be awake on the morning of the revelation (the midrash scolds the Jewish people for sleeping the night before they received the Torah, and that is why God had to sound a shofar blast and bring thunder and lightning to wake them up). Spiritually speaking, then, the month of Sivan represents the giving of the Torah to Israel (i.e., z'man mattan Toratenu: זְמַן מַתַּן תּוֹרָתֵינוּ), when the drama which began with the Exodus from Egypt culminated with the giving of the Torah. For Messianic believers, the month of Sivan also commemorates the giving of the Ruach Ha-Kodesh (Holy Spirit) to the followers of Yeshua after His ascension into heaven.

Rosh Chodesh Blessing

The commandment to sanctify the new moon of Sivan reveals that it is our responsibility to sanctify (i.e., observe) Biblical time in general. In other words, when we observe the month in which the Torah was revealed to Israel, we are acknowledging that time itself is rooted in the Biblical calendar with its divinely inspired cycle of festivals (i.e., the moedim). Since Rosh Chodesh Sivan historically marks the beginning of a month of great revelation, we humbly ask the LORD to help us prepare for the coming season of Shavuot:
 

יְהִי רָצוֹן מִלְּפָנֵיךָ יהוה אֱלהֵינוּ וֵאלהֵי אֲבוֹתֵינוּ
שֶׁתְּחַדֵּשׁ עָלֵינוּ חדֶשׁ טוֹב בַּאֲדנֵינוּ יֵשׁוּעַ הַמָּשִׁיחַ אָמֵן

ye·hi · ra·tzon · mil·fa·ne·kha · Adonai · E·lo·hei·nu · ve·lo·hei · a·vo·tei·nu
she·te·cha·desh · a·lei·nu · cho·desh · tov · ba·a·do·nei·nu · Ye·shu·a · ha·ma·shi·ach · A·men
 

"May it be Your will, LORD our God and God of our fathers,
that you renew for us a good month in our Lord Yeshua the Messiah.
Amen."



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Blessing before Torah Study:

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Some terms:

  • Parashah is the weekly Scripture portion taken from the Torah. Each parashah is given a name and is usually referred to as "parashat - name" (e.g., parashat Noach). For more information about weekly readings, click here.
     
  • Aliyot refer to a smaller sections of the weekly parashah that are assigned to people of the congregation for public reading during the Torah Reading service. In most congregations it is customary for the person "called up" to recite a blessing for the Torah before and after the assigned section is recited by the cantor. For Shabbat services, there are seven aliyot (and a concluding portion called a maftir). The person who is called to make aliyah is referred to as an oleh (olah, if female).
     
  • Maftir refers to the last Torah aliyah of the Torah chanting service (normally a brief repetition of the 7th aliyah, though on holidays the Maftir portion usually focuses on the Holiday as described in the Torah).  The person who recites the Maftir blessing also recites the blessing over the Haftarah portion.
     
  • Haftarah refers to an additional portion from the Nevi'im (Prophets) read after the weekly Torah portion. The person who made the maftir blessing also recites the blessing for the Haftarah, and may even read the Haftarah before the congregation.
     
  • Brit Chadashah refers to New Testament readings which are added to the traditional Torah Reading cycle. Often blessings over the Brit Chadashah are recited before and after the readings.
     
  • Mei Ketuvim refers to a portion read from the Ketuvim, or writings in the Tanakh. Readings from the Ketuvim are usually reserved for Jewish holidays at the synagogue.
     
  • Perek Yomi Tehillim refers to the daily portion of psalms (mizmorim) recited so that the entire book of Psalms (Tehillim) is read through in a month. For a schedule, of daily Psalm readings, click here.
     
  • Gelilah refers to the tying up and covering the Sefer Torah (Torah Scroll) as an honor in the synagogue.
     
  • Divrei Torah ("words of Torah") refers to a commentary, a sermon, or devotional on the Torah portion of the week.

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