- Shavuot (שָׁבוּעוֹת) falls on the 6th of Sivan (and outside of Israel, on the 6th-7th of Sivan) of Sivan, and it commemorates the giving of the Torah at Mount Sinai.
- However, the Torah does not make explicit reference to this moment. Instead, the Torah gives three names for Shavuot, each of which highlighting a different facet of this festival:
a) חג השבועות (Devarim 16: 9-10) which means ‘the festival of weeks’. It is given this name because the Torah does not provide us with the date for Shavuot, but instead, it tells us that Shavuot occurs immediately after counting seven weeks from the start of the Omer (which begins on the second night of Pesach).
b) חג הקציר (Shemot 23:16) which means ‘the harvest festival’ and reflects the time in the agricultural cycle when Shavuot takes place.
c) יום הביכורים (Bemidbar 28:26) which means ‘the day of the Bikkurim (first fruits)’ because it was at this time, offerings were brought to the temple to show appreciation for the new produce that had grown and had now been reaped. Given that the biblical names for Shavuot do not make reference to the giving of the Torah, the Sages often refer to Shavuot as זמן מתן תורתנו – the time of the giving of our Torah.
- It is customary to read Megillat Ruth on Shavuot. One reason given for this custom is because Megillat Ruth takes place around the harvest season, and Shavuot is the harvest festival.
- There are numerous Shavuot customs that recall the Sinai experience. For example, it is customary to decorate synagogues with greenery and fragrant flowers as a reminder that the Torah was given on a mountain full of greenery, while others have the custom to eat dairy foods on Shavuot. One of the reasons given for this is that once the Torah was given at which time the Israelites learnt which meats were and were not kosher, the Israelites needed to cleanse their utensils in which non-kosher food had been cooked. In the interim they ate dairy foods.
- Finally, it is customary in numerous synagogues to study Torah throughout the night of Shavuot to show their love and dedication to Torah study and observance. This night of study is referred to as the תיקון ליל שבועות.