Service for Unity, in connection with the Jewish people
Thursday, June 2, 2022
The origin of the Shavuot holiday
Text by Anne-Marie Dreyfus
Shavuot is celebrated this year from the evening of Saturday June 4th 2022 till June 6th 2022. It begins in most communities with a learning night, “to read, scrutinize, interpret biblical, Talmudic or mystical texts, which are all Torah or related to it”. This feast is not related to the Pentecost of the Christians. “The 3rd lunation of the exit of the sons of Israel from the land of Egypt, on this day they arrive in the desert of Sinai” (Exodus 19,1): it took seven “weeks” (Shavuot in Hebrew) for the Hebrews, having just escaped the waters of the Red Sea, to be recognized as ready to meet the Divine. In this “no man’s land” desert, an arid space that belongs to noone, a timeless Word will speak to them as partners in a project for humanity.
The feast of Shavuot therefore commemorates the event of Sinai, the time of the giving of the Torah. “Blessed are You, Lord our God, who gives the Torah” (and not who gives the Torah to “us”).
Shavuot is the only pilgrimage holiday that does not have a specific date in the calendar. At the time of the Temple, the end of the 7 weeks (the 50th day) was marked by the offering of the first fruits of the harvest, in gratitude for the fruitfulness of the soil. As the omer offering or wave offering became no longer possible since the loss of the Temple, the ritual of counting the days from the 2nd day of Passover remained – as a liturgical bridge to cross from the “servitude” of Egypt to the divine “Service”, which begins at Sinai.
The synagogues, decorated with plants and flowers, recall the agricultural content of the holiday. Religious service is marked by the reading of the 10 Commandments – which we listen to standing up, like our ancestors were at the foot of the mountain, and by reading the book of Ruth, in tribute to her love for the God of Israel. This will earn her – her, the foreigner – to carry the messianic project for all humanity.
(To be adapted according to each place)
R. Amen, amen, blessed be the God of Israel
Or another chorus.
1.Loving Father, God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob,
you who mourned because of the violence between Cain and Abel,
–we pray to you for peace in the Holy Land, this land where you have chosen to come and join us in our humanity
2.Loving Father, God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob,
you who made possible the reconciliation between Joseph and his brothers,
-for any contempt for your people Israel, forgive us
-we pray to you, Father, to make fraternity grow between the Jewish people and the nations.
3.Loving Father, God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob,
you who brought Israel out of Egypt and made your people free,
-give your joy to the Jewish people, and keep them faithful to your covenant.
4.Loving Father, God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob,
you who united the twelve tribes of Israel around the Torah,
-give peace to the Jews who believe in Jesus.
5.Loving Father, God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob,
you who sent your Son Jesus to save us,
-pour out your blessing on Christians who are of Jewish descent.
6.Loving Father, God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob,
Father of Jesus Christ,
–bring together in unity all Christian churches.
7.Loving Father, God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob,
– you have given the Jewish people the promise of the coming of the Messiah,
– you have given the Church the expectation of the expectation of your son’s return.
– in the Holy Spirit we say with the whole Church: “Maranatha, come Lord”.