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Shavuot 5763

Shavuot (Exodus 19:1 - 20:23 )

by Kalman Packouz

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For the next few weeks, the Torah portion read in Israel will be different than the Torah portion read in the rest of the world.

For the weekly Torah portion that will be read in Israel, click here:

GOOD MORNING!  Thursday evening, June 5th, begins the two day holiday of Shavuot (or Shavuos in the Ashkenazic pronunciation). (Yizkor, by the way, is on Shabbat, June 7th.) It is the anniversary and celebration of the giving of the Torah on Mt. Sinai to the Jewish people 3,315 years ago. It is a time of rededication and commitment to learning Torah. For more on Shavuot, go to

Here's a magnificent opportunity for a FREE TORAH! "Partners in Torah" is offering a free Artscroll Stone Chumash (Five Books of Moses) for anyone wishing to study Torah with an individually picked study partner (your own personal Torah trainer!) by phone for one hour a week for a minimum of 3 months. It's all free of charge and they even provide free calling cards! The FIRST 50 subscribers will get the FREE TORAH!, so respond ASAP! If you have received a free Torah in the past, they would love to have your feedback. To sign up, click into the Partners in Torah website


The Torah calls Shavuot the "Festival of Weeks" (Numbers 28:26). The very word "Shavuot" is Hebrew for "weeks"; it refers to the seven weeks that one counts from the second day of Passover [when the Omer (barley) offering is brought] until the holiday of Shavuot. It is one of the three Regalim, holidays, (Pesach and Succot are the other two) where every man in the land of Israel was commanded to come up to Jerusalem to celebrate the festival when the Beit HaMikdash, the Holy Temple, stood in Jerusalem.

Torah is the life blood of the Jewish people. Our enemies have always known that when we Jews stop learning Torah, our assimilation is inevitable. Without knowledge there is no commitment. One cannot love what he does not know. A person cannot do or understand what he has never learned.

A Jew is commanded to learn Torah day and night and to teach it to his children. If a Jew wants his family to be Jewish and his children to marry other Jews, then he must integrate a Torah study program into his life and implement the teachings into his home and his being. One can tell his children anything, but only if they see their parents learning and doing Mitzvot, will they inherit the love for being Jewish. Remember: a parent only owes his child three things -- example, example, example.

How can we utilize this opportunity to grow and strengthen our self-identity as Jews? Just as a baby crawls, then toddles and then walks, likewise with the Mitzvot (commandments). A person should undertake one more Mitzvah, do it well and then build on it. For some Mitzvot that you might enjoy taking on...

Here are a few suggestions:

  1. Read the Torah! The Almighty gave it to you as a gift. It is the instruction book for living - how to be happy, choose the right spouse, make your marriage work, raise your children with values, get more joy out of life. I highly recommend the Artscroll Stone Chumash (Five Books of Moses).

  2. Listen to one Torah tape (call 800-864-2373 for a catalog or to order Aish tapes) or attend one Torah class each month for the next three months. Try! Or buy a copy of Pirkei Avot, (Ethics of the Fathers), and read one page a day. It's concentrated wisdom about life. (The Artscroll edition is excellent.)

  3. Make sure you have a Kosher Mezuzah on at least your front door. (A Jewish home should have Mezuzot on all doorposts except for the bathroom). Learn the deep, inner-meaning of Mezuzah and reflect on it when you look at the Mezuzah.

  4. Pick one non-kosher food item that you won't eat - just because you're Jewish.

  5. Say the Shema and the three following paragraphs at least once a day. Learn what the words mean and the ideas included. It will change your outlook and attitudes. Artscroll publishes a book on the Shema - or look at the commentary in the Artscroll Siddur.

  6. Do something to make Shabbat special - light two candles with the blessing before sundown, have a Shabbat Friday night family dinner and make Kiddush and HaMotzei (the prayer before eating the Challahs). You might want to buy Friday Night and Beyond by Lori Palatnik which is a hands-on guide for the novice wanting to enjoy Shabbat.

The Talmud says, "All beginnings are difficult." If you need help or have questions, please feel free to call me at (305) 535-2474, fax me at (305) 531-9334 or e-mail to: For the books or Mezzuzot, try your local Jewish book store or call toll-free 877-758-3242.

On Shavuot there is a custom to stay up all night learning Torah. Virtually every synagogue and Yeshiva have scheduled learning throughout the night ending with the praying of Shacharit, the morning service. The reason: the morning the Jewish people were to receive the Torah on Mt. Sinai, they overslept. We now can rectify the tendency to give in to our desires by demonstrating our resolve through learning the whole night. It is a wonderful experience to share with your children. It would be wonderful if you could find a synagogue, JCC or Yeshiva with a program that night; at very minimum, how about reading the story of the giving of the Torah to your family (Exodus 19:10 -20:23).

Torah Portion of the Week

1st Day: Exodus 19:1 - 20:23 The Jewish people arrive at Mt. Sinai. The Almighty instructs Moses to tell us that we are to be "A Kingdom of cohanim and a holy nation." We spiritually and physically prepare to receive the Torah. The Almighty speaks the 10 Commandments to everyone assembled at Mt. Sinai.

2nd Day: Deuteronomy 14:22 - 16:17 The Torah portion elaborates on tithing, remission of loans, to be warm-hearted and charitable to others, law of a Jewish bondsman and concludes with the Three Pilgrimage Festivals (when everyone came up to the Temple in Jerusalem to celebrate) - Passover, Shavuot and Sukkot.


Dvar Torah

The Talmud, Shabbat 89a, tells us that the Almighty held Mt. Sinai over the heads of the Jewish people and said, "If you accept the Torah, good, but if not, you will be buried under the mountain." Why would the Talmud relate this story when two days previous the Jewish people unanimously responded to the Almighty that we will accept upon ourselves the Torah? We had not changed our minds in the two days that preceded the giving of the Torah!

Perhaps the message of Talmud is that as long as we as a people continue to accept the Torah and live according to the Torah all will be well. However, should we seek our identity as Jews in any other direction, we will cease to be Jews just as surely as the consequence of a mountain falling upon us. Throughout the last 3,300 years there have been perhaps 30 different movements trying to redefine what it means to be a Jew. They have all failed to provide the force and meaning to hold us together as a people. Only through learning Torah and fulfilling the commandments can we ensure our survival as a people and our identity as Jews.


"Make your Torah study a fixed practice, say little, do much and receive everyone with a cheerful countenance."
    --  Shammai

(or go to

Jerusalem  7:03
Guatemala 6:12  Hong Kong 6:47  Honolulu 6:53
J'Burg 5:04  London 8:54  Los Angeles 7:43
Melbourne 4:50  Miami 7:52  Moscow 8:49

New York 8:06  Singapore  6:51


Choice, not chance, determines destiny.

Mazal Tov
to Aish Newlyweds,
Chaim and Samantha Hirsch

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