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    The Mitzvah of Shavu’ot

    The rabbi of my childhood synagogue called Shavu’ot the Cinderella festival, because in many circles it is rather unloved.

    The other festivals have colourful symbols to make them popular – the Seder on Pesach, the shofar on Rosh HaShanah, the lulav and sukkah on Sukkot, the chanukiyyah on Chanukah – whilst Shavu’ot seems to lack any specific observance to give it excitement and appeal.

    A rachmonus; one has to be sorry for Shavu’ot. There are blintzes and cheese-cake, certainly, but they are second-rank citizens in the roll-call of Jewish observance.

    Yet those who are prepared to look more deeply discover that Shavu’ot is not so badly off after all. Its emblem is no single feature of the Torah, but Torah itself.

    Not the physical scroll, though that is high in the spiritual armoury of Judaism, but its contents, message and inspiration. Like Pesach, Shavu’ot says, “Come and taste” – but the taste we are offered is Torah.

    According to the Talmud (Shab. 31b), one of the six questions we will be asked when we seek admittance to the World to Come is “Did you set aside times for Torah?”

    The way to answer the question is to heed the call of Shavu’ot and allocate time every week, indeed every day, to advancing our Torah knowledge.

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