Though the spring officially begins in late March, May and June are the months when we finally feel that the warmth has actually arrived. Trees have turned green, flowers are in bloom, and a feeling of rebirth overwhelms us. The winter was long and cold, perhaps harsh and challenging for many of us.
I hope that with the arrival of the warmer months will come a sensation of easy living. It is so important that we have the time and energy to appreciate the simple and beautiful things in life. A sunny day, a blue sky, a glimpse into heaven…
In Judaism, this is the time of year when we count the Omer. The Omer is a period of seven weeks which begins on the second night of Passover and concludes with the festival of Shavuot, which this year begins on May 30th. The Torah instructs us that we must count these 49 days, thereby connecting the spring festival of Pesach, and the early summer festival of Shavuot. It is a sort of countdown, building anticipation as one holiday ends and the other approaches. During the period of the Omer several other occasions and holidays are observed as well. These include Yom HaShoah (Holocaust Remembrance Day,) Yom HaZikaron (Israel Remembrance Day, which is similar in spirit to America’s Memorial Day,) and Yom HaAtzmaut (Israel Independence Day,) which all occur in May this year. The festive, out-door holiday of Lag ba’Omer also takes place during the counting, this year falling on Sunday, May 14th.
Finally the holiday of Shavuot will arrive. This grand celebration observes the time of our receiving the Torah from God on Mount Sinai. We recall joyfully how Moses went up and brought down the teachings of our religion to our ancestors, who passed down the message of Torah for many generations, all the way up to us in the present time.
It is traditional to stay up all night learning Torah on the first night of this festival, demonstrating our love and passion for absorbing Torah. It is also traditional to enjoy dairy foods for Shavuot, in particular blintzes and cheese cake.
So, to all of you I wish a chag Samayach and a very joyous Shavuot. Enjoy the glories of our torah, and make sure to eat some delicious dairy products as well. Even ice cream is allowed!