Tuesday, May 14, 2013

SHABU'OT: Five customs in one word (literally!)

 Tonight we will celebrate Shab'uot, when we stood at the foot 
of Mt. Sinai to be appointed as God's chosen people and receive the Tora.
There are 5 Minhaguim (customs) that most Jews follow on Shabu'ot. To remember them, keep in mind the Hebrew word 
A /HA/ R/ I/ T .  אחרית

A:Azharot or Aqdamot. During Shabu'ot we read these liturgical poems which contain the 248 positive commandments and the 365 Biblical prohibitions. The word azharot means warnings, i.e., rules, precepts. (also 613= אזהרת). Read more on the azharothere
HAHalab (milk), Like any other Yom Tob during Shabu'ot we should have a meal with meat and wine to fulfill the Biblical Mitzva of simha (material happiness). Still, the custom is that some of the meals are dairy, which is tradition particular to Shabu'ot and it is not followed in any other Holiday. (click HERE to read: Why dairy in Shabu'ot?). 
RRuth. During Shabu'ot we study Megilat Ruth. Among the many reasons for reading the story of Ruth is that Ruth converted to Judaism. And in a sense, when receiving the Tora we also converted to Judaism. Another given reason is that from Ruth we learn the dependency of the written Tora on the Oral Tora, because by the letter of the Tora, Ruth, a Moabite, could not have been accepted as a convert.  Read more about Rut HERE
IYereq (Greens). Many communities have the custom to decorate their Synagogues with plants, flowers or tree branches to remember Mt. Sinai. We still treasure in our collective memory that when the Tora was given to us, Mt. Sinai was green and blossoming with flowers.  Interestingly, in the Persian tradition Shabu'ot is known as mo'eed gol (the festival of flowers).
TTiqun (Reparation). The custom is to stay awake during the night of Shabu'ot (Tuesday night until Wednesday morning) studying Tora, to repair for our ancestors who went to sleep the night of the sixth of Sivan instead of waiting eagerly for the giving of the Tora, which was taking place the following morning.

חג מתן תורה שמח 
Click HERE 
to read the LAWS OF YOM TOB 
from Rabbi Obadia Yosef