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What is Shavuot? Message from a rabbi

The first night of the Jewish holiday Shavuot begins Thursday, and a Canadian rabbi says the holiday carries a universal message about humility and bringing opposing views together.

“It is the anniversary of the giving of the Torah [around 3,500] years ago,” Rabbi Moshe Goldman, Jewish chaplain at the Rohr Chabad Center for Jewish Life in Waterloo, Ont., said in a phone interview with CTVNews.ca. “It’s the launch party of Judaism.”

Shavuot, which means “weeks” in Hebrew, is celebrated by studying Torah. Goldman explained that the holiday marks the 50-day countdown since Passover.

“The story goes that the night before God gave the Torah to the Jews at Mount Sinai, they fell asleep. And when God came to give them the Torah, they were still sleeping. The Jews slept.

Goldman equated this to “sleeping on your wedding day.”

“Since then, the custom has been to correct this by staying up all night studying Torah.”

On Thursday evening, the first night of the two-night vacation, synagogues will have a series of programs, classes and individual study sessions.

“When I was growing up, I just sat in synagogue, studying Torah until dawn or until I fell asleep,” Goldman said.

He added that a major element of the celebration is the Torah reading of the Ten Commandments, an event where “the whole family makes an effort to be there.”

Another custom is to eat foods made from dairy products.

“One of the simplest reasons is that the Jews had just received the Torah and they just had all the rules of kosher, which they didn’t have before, and the preparation of kosher meats is a process of slaughtering, salting and cleaning the meat,” says Goldman.

Dairy products, he explained, were a much easier alternative to maintaining kosher dietary restrictions.

“In some ways, the first way to observe kosher laws was actually to have a dairy meal. Since then, Shavuot is a time to go crazy over dairy.

But in addition to reading the Torah and eating cheesecake and blintz, Goldman says the holiday has a broader message that applies to all Canadians, regardless of religious affiliation.

“Society is very polarized. There is a lot of polarity, a lot of division. A lot of misunderstood groups get angry and frustrated because no one understands them,” he said. “The very idea of ​​the Torah, what the Torah is there to accomplish, and what the mission of Judaism is beyond tactical religious observance is to demonstrate that the two opposites of any given thing – the right and the left of politics, any opposing views that are equally valid – could be bridged.

Goldman explained how Torah and Shavuot are an effort to break the shackles of ego and devote oneself to “the humility of study.”

“The goal is to guide us to an understanding that two opposites are not contradictory. They complement each other and are all necessary,” he said.

“Your challenge as a human being in this world is to live a life where, in your own way, you strive to combine opposites and dedicate yourself to something greater than yourself.”

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