Shavuot, time to praise and thank G-d
Seven weeks after the holiday called ‘Pesach’, we celebrate Shavuot, the holiday of harvesting. The time in between these two holidays is the one in which Israel harvests barley. This is the time that Israel produces vegetables and fruit. This means it is a very busy period for those who work on the land. However, while it seems almost obvious that the land automatically produces vegetables and fuit, we have to be extra thankful towards G-d, because He provides the rain for the land, and for all other things that make the land fruitful.
The harvesting time lasts 50 days and begins from the second evening of Pesach until Shavuot. During these 7 weeks and a day we count the so-called ‘omer’, which is commanded in the Tora. A commandment is something we have to do, but why count the omer? One of the reasons for the counting is, that on Shavuot we remember that G-d gave us the Tora. This makes the counting of the omer like the countdown to our birthday: we can hardly wait, and are thankful that G-d gave us His Tora, our life guide.
In the Temple time one did not eat the first fruits of the harvest. However, farmers used to tie a ribbon around those first fruits to show that they were special and take them to Jerusalem to be eaten. The farmers that lived nearby, took the freshest first fruits; while, those that lived further could bring dried fruit (like figs and raisin
The biblical holidays of Pesach, Shavuot and Succot are called the ‘regalim’ or Biblical Pilgrimage Festivals: the Israelites had to ascend/go up to the mountains of Jerusalem to celebrate these holidays with the priests in the Temple. The word ‘regel’ means foot and shows us that people used to go up to Jerusalem on foot. Nowadays you can go by car, and when driving from the lower Tel Aviv, you really go up to the higher mountains where Jerusalem is situated.
In Judaism there are many prayers to thank and praise G-d. One of these prayers is the ‘amidah’ (morning prayer), which includes a sentence in which we ask G-d for rain. This particular sentence is said from Simchat Tora till Pesach. However, after Pesach we pray for dew. This consciously asking G-d for rain, makes it extremely special when we, in fact, get the rain we asked for!
Know that, while Israel’s climate is very dry, she does export her fruit! Indeed, G-d blesses you when you ask Him something. He hears and answers you when you pray. Thanks Him for all that He gives you: Yeshua, your life, family and friends!
Noa Naor, Jerusalem