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                                   THE 10 COMMANDMENTS


What is Shavuot and when do we celebrate it?

Shavuot is the second of the three Jewish Pilgrim Festivals. The name 'Shavuot' means ‘weeks’ because it occurs 7 weeks after the 2nd day of Pesach. Shavuot falls on the 6th day of Sivan and is celebrated for 2 days outside Israel and 1 day in Israel.

Shavuot also marks the day that the Torah was given to the Jewish people on Mount Sinai. That day was a very unusual one, with lightning, thunder and the earth shaking. Moses came down from the Mountain, his face glowing, and read the Ten Commandments to the Children of Israel.

Moses on Mount Sinai

God went to every nation in the world and He asked, "Will you accept My Torah and keep its laws?"  But not one single nation agreed.  One would not stop fighting.  One would not stop stealing.  One would not stop working on Shabbat.

Only the Jews said, "Na'aseh V'nishma!"  "We will do whatever is written in God's Torah and we will listen to whatever God commands!"

When the Jews arrived at Mount Sinai they set up camp and for three days they prepared themselves to hear God's commandments.

Finally, early Shabbat morning on the sixth day of Sivan, the Jewish people stood in front of Mount Sinai ready to to receive God's Holy Torah.  Moses climbed up the mountain while every man, woman and child stood at the bottom of the mountain.

The world grew very quiet.  A great silence filled the air.  No one spoke or coughed or even sneezed.  The birds stopped singing, the wind didn't blow and the waves in all the oceans lay still.  Nothing moved.

Suddenly, the silence was shattered!  The sound of a great shofar was heard and the voice of God filled the universe!  Mountains shook!  Seas foamed and roared!  Bolts of lightning streaked across the skies!  Great claps of thunder rolled through the heavens!  The words of God turned into flaming letters hanging in the sky.

From:  Shavuot by Yaffa Ganz

The 10 commandments


Moses came down from the top of Mount Sinai with these 10 commandments from God:

1.   I am the Lord your God
2.   No idols or other gods
3.   Do not use God's name when you don't need to
4.   Remember the Shabbat
5.   Honour your mother and father
6.   Do not murder
7.   Be faithful to your husband or wife
8.   Do not steal
9.   Do not lie
10.  Do not wish for things that other people own  

How do we celebrate Shavuot?


On Shavuot we decorate our synagogues and homes with greenery, flowers and even fruits. This reminds us that on the day the Jewish people received the Torah, Mount Sinai bloomed with flowers. Using greenery also represents the harvest, another important idea of the festival.


On Shavuot we eat eat dairy foods, including cheesecake, cheese-filled pancakes and quiches. Some people also bake tall cakes to remind us of the height of Mount Sinai. Other people eat fruit, in particular the seven species of Eretz Israel.


Jewish adults spend the eve of Shavuot staying up all night learning Torah. This custom is called Tikkun Leil Shavuot, which means ‘making ouselves better people on the night of Shavuot’.

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Last updated  2008/09/28 17:19:16 AESTHits  620