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May 13, 1983 - Image 17

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1983-05-13

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THE DETROIT JEWISH NEWS

Friday, May 13, 1983 11

Shavuot: The Giving of the Torah and Festival of First Fruits

(Continued from Page 1)
understand its message of
redemption. As the Divine
commandments rang out
from Sinai, no bird sang; no
ox lowed; the ocean ceased
its roar and no creature stir-
red.
The Decalogue has had a
profound impact even on
religions outside Judaism.
Luther wrote: "Never will
there be found a precept
comparable or preferable to
these commands, for they
are so sublime that no man
Mt. Moses in southern Sinai is reputed to be Mt.
could attain to them by his
own power." Despite the low Sinai where Moses received the Ten Commandments
ethical standards of the from God. There is a monastery atop the mountain.
world at present, it is cer- covery that man came purity. Things are
tain that they would be even from the beast, which tolerated, even
lower but for the influence some philosophers see as encouraged, in our so-
possibly justifying an as- cial, spiritual and cul-
of the Ten Commandments.
The 19th Century sault against morality. tural life that only a gen-
labeled itself "The Age of Sometimes this leads to eration ago would have
Science." Science equips questioning the sacred- been condemned.
Amid this moral chaos,
man, but does not guide ness of human life and
him. It heralded the dis- the mocking of moral Judaism remains unmoved.

Shavuot

By DR. DAVID GEFFEN

World Zionist Press Service

JERUSALEM — During
my student days I was in-
vited to officiate at a little
Jewish farm community in
Connecticut for several
Shabatot during the spring
and for the holiday of
Shavuot as well.
On the first morning of
the holiday, the children
brought in baskets of pro-
duce which they had grown
to emphasize the signifi-
cance of Shavuot as the Hag
Habikurim — festival of the
first fruits. -
Later, the 100 people pre-
sent sat down for a milchig
luncheon. Made from cheese
processed on farms owned
by the congregants, the
blintzes and kugels and
kreplach had an unbelieva-
ble taste. Together we ate
and sang and reminded our-
selves not just of our pas-
toral locale but also of Eretz
Yisrael, the land of milk
and honey, where bikurim,
the first fruits, is the key
agricultural emphasis of
the day.
"Shavuot is really far
superior to the other fes-
tivals," a Jewish thinker
once wrote. "On_
Passover/ we are not
permitted to eat what we
want; on Sukkot we can-
not eat where 'we want;
but on Shavuot we may
eat what we want, where
we want, and even when
we want."
In actual fact the holiday
of Shavuot is also linked

* *

It continues to proclaim
that there is an everlasting
distinction between right
and wrong; between "Thou
shalt" and "Thou shalt not."

If we accept the universe
as the creation of a Supreme
Mind, it follows that com-
munication between God
and man is both logical and
ethically necessary. Not
everyone will accept the bi-
blical account of the Revela-
tion at Sinai literally; but
no interpretation is valid in
Judaism which attrubutes
human reason as the source.
Maimonides compared
revelation to illumination
by lightning on a dark
night. Some prophets were
granted only one such
lightning flash; but Moses
was accorded continuous
light — "face to face." In his
mind, the rabbis say, the
Divine Message was re-

The Fes tival of First Fruits

with certain special foods.
The best known, of course,
are the various dairy dishes.
Eating them derives from a
variety of sources. First
there is the verse in Song of
Songs 4:11, "honey and milk
shall be under your tongue."
According to the Biblical
commentators the words of
the Torah should be as spe-
cial to one's inner being as
milk and honey are sweet to
the tongue.
Furthermore, we are told
in Psalm 19 that "the pre-
cepts of the Lord are sweeter
than honey and hon-
eycomb."
This culinary practice
was codified in the Shulhan
Arukh when Rabbi Moses
Isserles wrote: "It is a uni-
versal custom to eat dairy
food on the first day of
Shavuot. The reason ap-
pears to be that just as on
the night of Passover two
cooked dishes are taken in
remembrance of the paschal
sacrifice and the festival, so
one should eat a dairy dish
arid then a meat dish, as a
reminder of the two sac-
rifices on Shavuot."
Even from the perspec-
tive of the Torah verse
about the holiday of
Shavuot, it appears that
dairy food is to be con-
sumed on this festival. In
Numbers 28:26 it is writ-
ten: "Minha Hadash la-
Adoshem be-Shevuotay
Khem (your feast of
weeks, when you bring
an offering of new grain
to the Lord)." The first

This pageant represents the offering of the first
fruits on Shavuot. The pageant is held annually on
Kibutz Gan Shmuel near Hadera.

letters of each of these
words form an acrostic
spelling "Me-halav"
(from milk). Finally the
Jewish mystics point out
that the numerical value
of halav (milk) is 40 — the
number of days Moses
spent on Mt. Sinai when
receiving the Torah.
In 1882, a large group of
Eastern European immig-
rants who had arrived in the
United States during the
spring of that year were still
on Ward's Island when
Shavuot came. To make
sure the new immigrants
felt at home, in spite of their
cramped surroundings,
some of the leading women
of New York Jewish society
prepared hundreds of blint-
zes for the festive consump-
tion. The cheese market of
the city had a few banner
days that year.
Another dairy delicacy is
the cheese kreplach which
is three cornered. There is a
suggestion that their shape
is related to the statement
in the Babylonian Talmud,
Shabbat 88a, "Blessed be
the Merciful one who gave
the three-fold Law, consist-
ing of the Torah, Prophets
and Writings, to a people
comprising three classes
(Kohen, Levi, Israel)
through a thirdborn, Moses,
the third child of his parents
in the third month." Threes
play a vital role in these
Shavuot delights.
In Israel today the influx
of Jews -from all over the
world has made it possible
to see many of the delicacies
which various groups
created through the cen-
turies. One of the best
known of these baked by
Tunisian and Morrocan
women is a seven-layered
cake called "Siete Cielos"
(Seven Heavens). This cake
is symbolic of the seven ce-
lestial spheres through
which God passed in order
to present the Torah to
Moses on Mount Sinai.
The cake has seven cir-
cular tiers, going from a
large one at the bottom
and progressing to the
smallest one at the top.
Decorations include a

magen David (Star of
David), the rod of Moses,
the tablets of the Law and
the Ark of the Covenant.
Others who make this
special cake, top it with a
seven-rung ladder recalling
the ascent of Moses onto the
mountain. The Hebrew
word for ladder, "Sulam," is
equivalent numerically to
the Hebrew word "Sinai" so
this close • relationship is
seen between the symbol on
the cake and the mountain
on which the Torah was re-
ceived.
Kurdistani Jews make a
dish in which ground wheat
is cooked in sour milk with
dumplings of butter and
flour.

flected as in a clear mirror.
The supreme revelation
was the Covenant at Mount
Sinai, which he shared with
the whole of Israel, filling
their souls with reverence
and light. And this has been
Judaism's greatest gift to

the whole of mankind — the
Ten Commandments — a
way of life for now and for
all time:
"For out of Zion shall go
forth the Law, and the word
of the Lord from
Jerusalem."

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General Program
2nd - 5th grades
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6th - 8th grades
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6th 9th grades
2nd - 7th grades
10th - 11th grades
10th - 1 1 th grades

10th - 11th grade
boys
10th - 11th grade
girls

11th - 12th grades

Community Visiting Days:
Camp Maas — Monday, may 30
1:00 - 4:00

Camp Tamarack - Brighton
_Sunday, June 5
1:00-4:00

Call 661-0600

for Brochure and Application.

jarlsberg.
It's a big
wheel with
all lovers of
fine cheese.

The flavor of Jarlsberg' Brand Cheese is as natural as the Norwegians who
make it. The full-, rich, distinctive, nut-like taste makes it a favorite for noshing,
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Also enjoy Ski Queen' Brand Gjetost cheese, Nokkelost
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