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Shabbos Frivolity: Staying Up on Shavuos

Shavuos is on Wednesday, or more importantly, Tuesday night. There are no specific commandments for Shavuos, so a field of traditions have grown up around the holiday, many (or most) of which have only tenuous links to the holiday itself.

Shavuos (or Shavuot, for any Sephardim hanging around—no, no, y’all are welcome, have some kasha) is the celebration of the Mount Sinai event, when the Divine gathered the people Israel in the wilderness and offered them the Torah. It is also a harvest festival; in Temple times, this was one of the pilgrimage occasions. It is the Festival of First Fruits as well as the Festival of the Giving of the Torah, as well as the Festival of Weeks, called that because it takes place seven weeks after Passover. It was at Shavuot, of course, on the fiftieth day after Passover, that the Pentecost events take place, hence the name for that in that tradition; Jews try not to use the Greek name these days.

Anyway, the traditions: eating fruit and dairy (Cheesecake and blintzes particularly, although also for some families Hamentaschen with a sort of pudding/custard filling—no reason you can’t have cannoli, too, you know), reading Ruth, decorating with flowers and leafy garlands, and staying up all night studying Torah. All of these are referenced in the following extremely silly video:

I hope to have a serious note about Ruth and Shavuos on the day itself, but now is the time for frivolity.

Tolerabimus quod tolerare debemus,
-Vardibidian.