Congregation Bnai Torah has decided out of an abundance of caution to fulfill the precept of guarding life as a pre-eminent value of Judaism to not yet open actual services this Shavuot. We hope to open next Shabbat June 6th with great care and strong safety protocols. We will let you know as soon as final decision has been made.
However, we have put together a full range of events and resources to enhance your Shavuot notwithstanding our physical separation. These will be presented in chronological order so please read to the end!
Please don't share zoom information with anyone you don't know well -and trust
2. Special Pre- Shavuot Midrash Class Thursday 1PM
4. Pre Shavuot Yizkor Service
Since electronic devices like cell phones etc can't be used on Yom Tov (except for emergencies) we will have a Yizkor Service by Zoom and Facebook Live right before Yom Tov.
Facebook Live https://www.facebook.com/bnai.torah.1
B. Sermon: The Mystery of the Mountain
In the Dayenu hymn in the Passover Haggadah, we list all the wonders that G‑d did for us when we left Egypt. After each of the fifteen stanzas of this hymn we say, "dayenu"—"it would have sufficed us."
"If He had brought us out from Egypt, and had not carried out judgments against them—dayenu, it would have sufficed us!" etc.
One of the stanzas says: "If He had brought us to Mount Sinai, but not given us the Torah—dayenu!" Now this seems puzzling. What in the world would be the point of going to Mount Sinai if not to receive the Torah? What other point is there in being there? After all, at this particular mountain there is neither food, nor water or skiing...
Something special happened at Sinai even before G‑d appeared to the Jewish peopleBut actually, something very special happened at Sinai even before G‑d appeared to the Jewish people. The Torah tells us that "Vayichan sham Yisrael neged hahar," "Israel camped there opposite the mountain." The biblical commentator Rashi points out that the word the Torah uses, וַיִחַן (vayichan), is in the singular tense—"he camped" rather than "they camped."
This, Rashi explains, denotes that the entire nation encamped there as one man with one heart.
The Dayenu tells us that if all that was accomplished was the Jewish people standing united for one moment—this itself is an accomplishment of amazing worth. Coming together as one and putting aside all our differences for a greater purpose is one of the greatest mitzvot we can do. It stands on its own, and was a moment of closeness to G‑d that carried significance even if the Torah had not been given.
C. Important Shavuot Laws and Customs Information, and Eruv Tavshilin
See these links so you can read online before Yom Tov or download and print to have for Yom Tov
Full times and Laws and Customs appear below these links:
1. Links: Laws and Customs: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1zFB03v19473WHMr42z6X3kFjUyKUegg-/view?usp=sharing
2. Links: Siddur companion to Shavuot Liturgy: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1RuW3EoZLVk1WFGgnbBluLK408M9tjKvS/view?usp=sharing
3. Links: Tikun Torah Study Companion: https://drive.google.com/file/d/10lsc_aNW8Su5JaKaErTimGqzCqv0CBwn/view?usp=sharing
4. Links - Laws of cooking on Yom Tov: https://www.cor.ca/view/169:2/cooking_on_yom_tov.html
5. Full Texts of Laws and Customs / Eruv Tavshilin
The Laws and the Service of Shavuot /Eruv Tavshilin Orthodox Union Staff – lightly edited and carefully modified for CBT by Rabbi Yaffe
What are the Laws and Service of Shavuot? As with all of the Jewish Holidays, the Laws and Service of the Day are intertwined. For our holidays are days of special service to the “Ribono shel Olam,” the Master of the Universe, Whose Written Torah decreed, and Whose Oral Torah defined and expanded upon, the
Z’man Matan Torateinu (The Time of the Giving of Our Torah) All the prayers and the Kiddush of this holiday are similar to the prayers and the Kiddush of the others of the Three Regalim (the others: Pesach and Sukkot), with the exception that Shavuot too has its own unique description: “et yom chag HaShavuot hazeh, z’man matan torateinu,” “this Day of Shavuot, the time of the Giving of the Torah.”
In the Mussaf Prayer, the Additional Prayers include mention of the unique sacrifice associated with Shavuot, including the “Two Breads,” the Grain Offering brought on the “fiftieth day,” so to speak, after the bringing of the Omer on the second day of Pesach. This Offering was brought from “new wheat.”
Mussaf (Additional) Prayer The description of the Additional Offering of Shavuot is introduced by the following paragraph:
UVYOM HABIKURIM, (And on the day of the first fruits,)
B’hak-riv’chem mincho chadosho Ladonoy, (When you bring a new meal offering to Hashem,)
B’shovu-osaychem, (On your Festival of Weeks;)
Mikro kodesh yih-ye lochem, (There shall be a holy convocation for you,)
Kol m’leches avodo lo sa-asu. (You may not do any laborious work.)
Other Prayer-ful Features of Shavuot bHallel is completed, as it is on the other “Regalim.”
When the Kiddush is recited, the “bracha,” or blessing, of “She-he-cheyanu,” “the One Who kept us alive,” is included. When the woman-of-the-house, in general, makes the blessings on the candles, she includes that bracha as well, before the candles are lit.
Even though on every other “Erev Yom Tov,” Holiday Eve, the Evening Services are begun somewhat earlier, in order to be “mosif min ha-chol al ha-kodesh,” “to add from the mundane time to the holy time,” on Shavuot we specifically do not do that!
Why not? Because the Torah says that “sheva shabbatot t’mimot,” “seven complete weeks” should transpire before Shavuot, and if we start early, that “t’mimiyut,” or “completeness” will be lacking! Kiddush should also not be recited before it is definitely night-time (three medium-size stars should be visible in the sky).
“Yom Tov Sheni shel Galuyot” (Second Day of the Holiday Celebrated Only in Diaspora)The meaning of this concept is that in the Diaspora, two days of holiday are celebrated where the Torah speaks of only one.
Shavuot Torah Readings, Haftarot and Megillat Ruth
On the first day of Shavuot, the reading is from Parshat Yitro, in the Book of Shemot, from “In the third month after the Jewish People left Egypt” till the end of the Parshah. This reading covers the event of “Maamad Har Sinai,” the stand of the Jewish People at Mt. Sinai, to receive the Torah.
The Maftir, the Second Torah Reading of the Holiday, comes from one of the sections of the Torah which deals directly with the Holiday of Shavuot, beginning “Uv’yom HaBikkurim,” “The Day of the Bringing of the First Fruits.”
The Reading from the Prophets on the first day of Shavuot comes from Yechezkel which deals with the mystical subject of the “Divine Chariot,” which also deals with a Revelation of G-d in prophecy to an individual but, through his book, to all of Israel.
On the Second day in the Diaspora, the First Torah Reading is from “All the First Born,” which deals with the various holidays, the second again from “Uv’yom HaBikkurim,” and the Reading from the Prophets from Chavakuk, which deals with a vision of Hashem in His holy Palace.
On the Second Day in the Diaspora, and on the one day of Shavuot in Eretz Yisrael, Megillat Ruth is read after Hallel. Various reasons for reading the Megillah on Shavuot are given.
Some are as follows: The conversion of Ruth to Judaism was by a painful route, as seen in the Story of Ruth, just as the acceptance of the Torah by the Jewish People was via the painful route of years of slavery in Egypt! The time of the year in which the events of the Megillah took place was in the grain-cutting season, as it says “in the beginning of the cutting of barley,” and one of the names of Shavuot is “Chag HaKatzir,” the Holiday of Grain Cutting.
The law that allowed Ruth to join the Jewish People was based on the Oral Law. Because according to the Written Law, “No Amonite or Moabite may enter the Jewish People (by marriage).” The Oral Law differentiated between the male Moabite and the female Moabitess, because the exclusion was tied to the cruelty of those nations, and those cruel decisions were made exclusively by the males – to show the importance of the Oral Law in the Jewish System, in the role of providing definition and explication of the Written Law.
Eruv Tavshilin On Jewish holidays, within each 24-hour (night-day) holiday unit, we are permitted to make preparations for all of that unit, but we are forbidden to make any preparations for the following unit, which begins after nightfall.
The one exception is when a Friday holiday is followed seamlessly by Shabbat, in which case, cooking is permissible on Friday through a mechanism known as an eruv tavshilin, whereby the cooking process is begun prior to the holiday. If a holiday day -- whether the first or second day of a holiday -- falls on a Friday, an eruv tavshilin is set aside on the day preceding the holiday (Wednesday or Thursday afternoon), so that we will be permitted to prepare for Shabbat (cooking as well as any other necessary preparations) on the holiday. Only one eruv is required per household.
This eruv consists of a matzah, and a cooked food, such as meat, fish, or an unpeeled hard-boiled egg. Take the food items (it is a good idea to wrap them in aluminum foil, or another distinctive packaging, to easily keep them apart from the rest of the foods in your home), and give them to another person (if possible an individual who is a non-dependant), and say:
I hereby grant a share in this eruv to anyone who wishes to participate in it and to depend on it.
The one holding the food raises it a handbreadth, and then returns it to the person making the eruv, who then recites the following:
Blessed are you, L-rd our G‑d, king of the universe, who has sanctified us with his commandments, and commanded us concerning the mitzvah of eruv.
Through this [eruv] it shall be permissible for us to bake, cook, put away a dish [to preserve its heat], kindle a light, prepare, and do on the holiday all that is necessary for Shabbat -- for us and for all the Israelites who dwell in this city.
The eruv is put away until Shabbat, when it is eaten. In many communities, it is customary to use the matzah as one of the two loaves used at the Shabbat meal.
The eruv tavshilin only allows food preparations if the food will be ready with ample time remaining before Shabbat; enough time to theoretically allow the food to be consumed before sunset (if a troop of guests happens to trudge in to your home). This is an imporant detail to bear in mind when preparing the cholent, which cooks on the stove until the following day.
The eruv tavshilin only allows one to cook on Friday for Shabbat, it does not permit cooking from one day of the holiday to the next (i.e. Thursday for Friday).
On holidays it is only permissible to cook from a pre-existent flame, one that is burning since the onset of the holiday.