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Learn Hebrew: Celebrating Shavuot

May 13, 2012 | by Shira Cohen-Regev

A holiday of giving and receiving.

Shavuot is a celebration of giving and receiving. In this holiday we celebrate the giving of the Torah (Matan Torah – מַתַּן תּוֹרָה) to the Jewish people on Mount Sinai (הר סיני) over 3,300 years ago. This was the only time in human history that God revealed His Presence to an entire nation. At this great historical and spiritual event, the Ten Commandments (Aseret HaDibrot – עשרת הדברות) were given and the bond between God and the Jewish nation was solidified.

The Jews accepted the Torah by saying:

כֹּל אֲשֶׁר-דִּבֶּר יְהוָה נַעֲשֶׂה וְנִשְׁמָע.
“All that God has spoken, will we do and obey.” (Exodus 24:7)

Mt. Sinai

Shavuot is the culmination of seven weeks of counting the Omer (ספירת העומר). The 50th day is Shavuot. Today, we celebrate by studying Torah (תורה) all night, and eating dairy foods (Ma’achley chalav – מאכלי חלב). (See “ABCs of Shavuot”)

In ancient times, the grain harvest in Israel took place during the seven weeks between Passover and Shavuot (weeks – שָׁבוּעוֹת). This included giving the first fruits called Bikurim (בִּכּוּרִים) to the priests (Kohen – כֹּהֵן) of the Holy Temple (Beit HaMikdash – בֵּית הַמִּקְדָּשׁ) in Jerusalem.

During the Shavuot Holiday we read the biblical Scroll of Ruth (Megilat Rut – מְגִלַּת רוּת). This is also a story of giving and accepting. The story tells of Ruth the Moabite who married the son of Naomi and Elimelech who had come to Moab from Judea (central Israel). After Elimelech and his sons died, Ruth decided to join her mother-in-law Naomi on her way back to Judea. Ruth accepted Naomi's God and nation by telling her:

עַמֵּךְ עַמִּי, וֵאלֹהַיִךְ אֱלֹהָי.
“Your people shall be my people, and your God my God.” (Ruth 1:16)

Ruth and Naomi arrived in Judea during harvest time and Ruth went to collect the leftover wheat in Boaz’s field. Not only did Boaz allowed her to collect (the right of the poor, according to Jewish law), but he also protected her and eventually married her. Boaz and Ruth gave the people of Israel their great-grandson – King David.

Related Vocabulary Words

Translation: to give
Transliteration: la’tait

Translation: to receive
Transliteration: le’kabel


Related Hebrew Names

Ruth (Rut) is a girl’s name. Ruth the Moabite was the mother of King David's grandfather, as described in the biblical Book of Ruth.

בֹּעַז בועז
Bo’az is a boy’s name. Bo’az was the second husband of Ruth, and the father of King David's grandfather.

Hebrew Word Search –

See if you can find all the words in the puzzle below:

חַג שָׁבוּעוֹת שָׂמֵחַ
Chag Shavuot Sameyach
Happy Shavuot!

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