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    Foliage & flowers – Shavu’ot

    Shavu’ot sees foliage and flowers in the synagogue, reminding us of two things – the flourishing of nature that is at its peak at this time of year (in Israel and the northern hemisphere), and the rabbinic notion that when the Torah was given even the barren rocks of the mountain sprouted greenery.

    In some places the favourite flower is lilies of the valley, recalling the midrashic allegory that the people of Israel are the lily that figures in the Song of Songs.

    As with many aspects of Jewish ritual and ceremony, Christianity borrowed an idea and presented it as its own – the decking of churches with plants and flowers to mark Whitsun.

    The greenery teaches both a spiritual and ethical lesson.

    Spiritually it reminds us that the world’s blessings which come from God are a major reason to bless the Creator.

    From the ethical point of view it reminds us that the precious gifts of nature will be compromised and jeopardised if we in our generation fail to appreciate and cultivate them.

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