Shabbat Parashat B’Midbar Omer Day 49 – Erev Shavuot Celebrating Torah: Shabbat and Shavuot June 3, 2022 – 5 Sivan 5782

Dear Friends,

This Shabbat is a prelude to Shavuot, the holiday of the Giving [and Receiving] of the Torah!  Shavuot begins on Saturday night!  We have been counting the Omer, connecting Passover and the Exodus from Egypt with the monumental moment when we all stood at the foot of Mount Sinai and received the Torah, and now it is time to celebrate!

On Shabbat we will be reading the regular weekly Torah portion of B’Midbar [In the Wilderness].  We will note that our ancestors conducted a census of our people aas they stood at Mount Sinai.  All the Israelites were counted from the age of 20 and up.  But, the Levites were also counted from the age of one month and up.

Why count Levites from the age of one month old?  Probably because one month was considered a good indicator of viability.  But, why the discrepancy in the age of those included in the census?

Why were some counted from the age of 20 and up while others, specifically the Levites,  were counted from just one month old?  Perhaps it is because the Levites represented holiness.  Perhaps it was to teach us that each of us has an innate holiness from the time we are born.  Nevertheless, we may have to wait till an older age to be entrusted with certain tasks that require more maturity, more understanding and/or more experience.

May we realize the holiness that resides within each and every one of us, yet be cognizent of the impact of age and stage of life, in discussing expectations, rights and obligations of each one of us within our individual and communal lives.  And may all of our lives be blessed by the wisdom and guidance of our holy Torah!

And now…a quick guide for the traditional observance of Shavuot when it begins right after Shabbat is over:

Cooking for Shabbat and Shavuot:
Cooking in not permitted on Shabbat, and during Thabbat we are not premitted to cook for Shavuot.  Therefore, all cooking for Shabbat should be completed before candle lighting on Friday evening.  Cooking for Shavuot may be finished before Shabbat starts, or after Shabbat is over.  It is permissible to cook for Shavuot on the holiday itself as long as we do not light a new flame to accomplish the cooking.

Preparing a Flame for Shavuot:
To light candles on Saturday night, ensure you have a fire burning before candle lighting time for Shabbat that will continue to burn until after dark on Saturday.  After dark on Saturday night, transfer fire from this existing flame to the Shavuot candles.

On both Saturday night and on Sunday night, recited two blessings when lighting the Shavuot candles, as follows:
“Barukh attah Adonai, eloheynu melekh ha’olam, asher kiddeshanu b’mitzvotav v’tzivanu l’hadlik ner shel yom tov.”
“Barkh attah Adonai, eloheynu melekh ha’olam, shehecheyanu v’kiyemanu v’higgianu la-zeman hazeh.”

Follow the same procedure to light the candles from an existing flame on the second night of Shavuot as well.

Most importantly: Enjoy!!!

I look forward to seeing you at RST services on Friday night, including Teacher Appreciation, on Saturday morning, on Sunday morning for the first day of Shavuot, and on Monday morning for the second day of Shavuot (which will include the recitation of Yizkor).

Shabbat Shalom and Chag Shavuot Sameach, a happy and healthy Shavuot to all!

Rabbi Gilah Dror