The Torah does not mention Shavuot as the festival of the giving of the Torah, but rather as the festival of the Bikurim, the first fruits of the barley harvest that are brought to the Temple as an offering called “Omer”. For this reason, we call the period of seven weeks between Pesach and Shavuot “Omer” (Lv 23:16).
It was the rabbinic tradition that declared that Shavuot is the festival during which we celebrate the giving of the Torah. After leaving Egypt on the 15th of Nisan, the Israelites traveled through the desert for seven weeks, arriving finally at the foot of Mount Sinai at the beginning of the month of Sivan, but the Torah is not very specific about the exact date when the Torah was given (Ex 19:1).
Was this lack of a specific date intentional? It could suggest that although there was a revelation, the event cannot be locked into a precise moment. Thus, we can interpret the giving of the Torah as a continuous event. The Covenant that took place at Mount Sinai is signed and begins anew again and again with every generation through Torah study and the innumerable interpretations of each school of rabbinic thought, so that the words of the Convenant are eternally renewed, remaining alive and relevant as the Torah continues to guide our lives and nourish our souls.
Let’s meet for Shavuot and sing the 10 Old Eternal Words, so brief, so simple at first sight, but whose content and structure continue to surprise, inspire and challenge us. Our entire Torah and its readings are endless commentary, never completed.
Chag ha-Shavuot Sameach and Shabbat Shalom!