A rabbinic legend tells the story of when God came down on Mount Sinai and found the whole camp of the Children of Israel were asleep! In order to make up for missing our alarms that day, the tradition has developed the custom of staying up all night studying Torah so that we are ready in the morning for that Great Arrival. This practice – which some scholars say developed along with the popularization of coffee (!) – is called Tikkun Leil Shavuot, The “Fixing” of the Night of Shavuot.
What is Shavuot?
It’s the biggest Jewish holiday you may never have heard of. Originally an agricultural event, Shavuot (literally, ‘weeks’) was the culmination of a growth cycle that began with Passover, Festival of Spring, and ended just before the summer with a celebration of the first harvest. But over the course of time, Shavuot became primarily remembered as the day the Torah was revealed at Mount Sinai. That makes the journey from Passover to Shavuot (which we mark by counting the Omer, see below), a movement from Liberation to Revelation. On Passover we celebrate our freedom. On Shavuot we begin to confront the essential question:So what will we do with our freedom?
Torah from Shavuot Last Year (#BlackLivesMatter):
2min 53sec of Silence that Scream – Rabbi Sharon Brous
No Bread, No Torah – Parshat Emor
Counting the Omer
The Counting of the Omer (Sefirat Ha-Omer) is the Torah’s way of marking the time between Passover and Shavuot, the journey from liberation to revelation. The tradition is to count both the days (49) and the weeks (7) leading up to Shavuot, starting on the second night after Passover. Originally an agricultural ritual, Sefirat Ha-Omer has evolved into a spiritual practice, a kind of daily meditation that prepares us to receive the wisdom of the Torah once again.
The Study of Ethics
It is also a custom to study Pirkei Avot, the classic rabbinic teachings on Ethics, during the period between Passover and Shavuot. The idea is to ready ourselves for an encounter with Torah by working on our personal moral growth. This year, we studied those chapters with the help of the Hassdic Masters, in a series called “Ethics of the Mystics.” Check out those classes here:
You have TWO great options for your Tikkun Leil Shavuot this year!
Limited in-person programs with IKAR (Indicate your interest here)
A limited number of people will be able to join us in intimate, in-person learning with IKAR clergy at our Tikkun Leil Shavuot Program: Sunday, May 16 at 8:30 pm PT:
Coming Down the Mountain
Every year we recreate the ancient gathering around Mount Sinai to hear the revelation. But after this year, the very act of gathering will be revelatory. As we imagine looking up to see Moses coming back down the mountain, we’ll ask what it means for us to come back down out of our isolated retreats and re-enter the world with new wisdom in our hands.
Join us for a very quick and safe Tikkun this year, with three short classes from your IKAR rabbis and interludes of mountain music from yodeler Hazzan Hillel.
We’ll also have an opportunity for FAMILIES to come together and experience Shavuot on Sunday, May 16 at 4:30 pm PT. Indicate your interest here.
AT THE SAME TIME, running all night long: IKAR and the Jewish Emergent Network are partnering with Reboot and LABA in producing Dawn, this year’s “choose-your-own” experiential adventure for Tikkun Leil Shavuot. Come learn with IKAR rabbis and teachers and friends from across the country in this 12 hours virtual extravaganza of learning, music, film, comedy, dance and more across multiple channels. Learn more here.