Exactly 50 days after the first day of Passover, we celebrate the holiday of Shavuot. As with all the pilgrimage festivals, Shavuot has both historical and agricultural significance, and both these aspects are reflected in the several names of the holiday.
- Chag Shavuot: Festival of Weeks – The literal translation of the word Shavuot is weeks, and the festival falls immediately after we count seven weeks (49 days) from the biblically mandated "waving of the sheaves," – the first sheaves of the barley harvest - which takes place on the second day of Passover. The Mishna and the Talmud both refer to Shavuot as Atzeret , literally "the closing", as it is the "closing of Passover," or specifically, the end of the Counting of the Omer (Sfirat Ha-Omer), the 49 days that comprise the seven most stressful weeks in ancient Israel's agricultural reality.
- Yom Ha-Bikkurim : The Day of the First Fruits – From Shavuot until Sukkot the ancient Israelite farmer would bring the first fruits of his harvest (only from the Seven Varieties) as an offering to the Temple in Jerusalem.
- Chag Ha-Katzir: Festival of the Harvest – Shavuot is the start of the wheat harvest in Israel that can last for many weeks in different parts of the country, small as it is.
- Chag Matan Torah:The Holiday of the Giving of the Torah – The Talmud teaches that the Torah was given to the Children of Israel on Shavuot. Like the wheat that ripens during the Sfirat Ha-Omer period, so the Children of Israel had to "ripen" after the Exodus from Egypt on Passover before they were deemed worthy of receiving the Torah.
Of the three pilgrimage festivals ordained in the Torah, only Shavuot has no specific date affixed to it. It is the 50 th day from the second day of Passover, with each day counted off on the special Calendar of the Counting of the Omer.
At Neot Kedumim, we welcome you to participate in our seasonal activities in which you learn about the Seven Varieties (wheat, barley, grapes, figs, pomegranates, olives and (date) honey), their connection to the holiday of Shavuot, and their significance in the Land of Israel. You will also get a sense of what it was like for the ancient Israelite farmer to work the land without the modern tools and technology we have today.
For more information on the centrality of Israel's problematic agricultural realities to Shavuot, please see the book "Nature in Our Biblical Heritage" by the founder of Neot Kedumim, Nogah Hareuveni.