“You shall count off seven weeks; start to count the seven weeks when the sickle is first put to the standing grain.
Then you shall observe the Feast of Weeks for the Lord your God,
offering your free will contribution according
as the Lord your G-d has blessed you”
Shavuot (also known as the Feast of Weeks) is celebrated on the sixth day of Sivan (typically in May or June), marking the end of the Counting of the Omer, 50 days after Pesach. Shavuot complements Pesach as the responsibility that comes from liberation. It celebrates the giving of the Ten Commandments to Moses and the Israelites at Mount Sinai. Shavuot is typically spent in all-night study. One legend claims that on the morning that they received the Torah, the Israelites actually overslept and now we study through the night in penance.
Shavuot is one of the few holidays whose Torah reading focuses on the story of Jewish women; on Shavuot, we read the Book of Ruth. Ruth is known as one of the first Jews-by-choice: though her mother-in-law Naomi encourages her to remain in Moab after Ruth’s husband dies, Ruth famously declares her loyalty to Naomi and the Jewish people. Ruth is a woman of great courage, faith, loyalty, and vision; an individual who, as a single adult woman, decides her own destiny and pursues her dreams. She is also the grandmother of King David.
“Wherever you go, I will go. Wherever you lodge, I will lodge. Your people shall be my people, and your God, my God.”
—Book of Ruth, 1:16-17