Thursday, May 24, 2007


Well, Shavuot, the holiday which comes after 49 days of counting the omer, 50 days after Pesach (Passover,) celebrating the giving of the Torah has come and gone.

A peculiar minhag for Shavuot seems to have developed in the holy land. Like bonfires on Lag B'Omer and costumes on Purim, so on Shavuot, children engage in raging water fights. For now, it's just kids having fun on a hot day, but something tells me in another century or so that we'll be hearing that, "Since the word, 'Torah' has the same Gematria (numerical substitution value) as the word 'Water,' so there is a strong minhag to engage in water fights to commemorate the giving of the Torah." or something along those lines.

As for the adults, the customs are a bit more painful. Because the night before the giving of the Torah, all of the Jews except the tribe of Levi fell asleep rather than waiting in a sense of sleepless awe and trepidation, so we are today required to study Torah the entire night. Now normally, I would learn until one or two in the morning, then "go for a walk," and somehow end up waking up in my own bed the next morning. But not this time! I sat down with a cousin who'se visiting from Canada, opened up Sefer Shoftim (the Book of Judges, which comes after the Book of Joshua,) and we hammered away at it for hour after hour. So, for the first time, I made it all the way, and was able to get to bed at 7:30 AM.

Here's the trick I learned for staying up all night shavuot: learn with a chevruta (study partner.) If you go to lectures, it's very easy to zone out, and pretty soon you're falling asleep. But if you learn with a partner, you're engaged in the learning, and also there's the element of "chicken," i.e., nobody wants to be the first one to wimp out. Try it, it works!


Pinchas said...

Clearly the source is Amos 8:11 ... "nor a thirst for water, but to hear the words of Hashem."

Anyway, great blog. I added you to my blogroll!

Ephraim said...


A most deep and enriching revelation.

Thanks for the blog list! i'll put you on mine too (bli neder, after shabbat.)