Shavuot, the Hebrew name for Pentecost, was originally a spring harvest in Israel. The first wheat was ripe about fifty days after the first barley harvest. The crop of barley was brought to the Temple the day after Passover began. The people were then instructed to count fifty days or seven weeks from one harvest to the other.
As time passed, the festival became one to celebrate the revelation of God on Sinai, the true harvest of God’s life that to the human family. The very meaning of the word Torah is to rain or flow down. The Torah Reading is the giving of the Ten Commandments, God’s revelation and teaching flowing down the mountain.
There is a tradition of taking a long nap the afternoon before the beginning of Shavuot, which begins at sundown. This is to be ready to participate in an all night vigil that many Jewish communities observe. One mystical work praises those who stay up all night in expectation of receiving the Torah.
The Christian expression of this revelation is the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the first disciples—the flowing down of God’s Spirit upon us.
The Saturday passages follow the reading list that Jewish people use in their synagogue worship throughout the world. They are taken from
“The Torah,” the first five books of the Bible from Genesis to Deuteronomy that are read each year beginning with autumn.
For the Firestarters in the original edition, I recommend the ebook. You will have the entire program of well over a thousand of these introductions with you on your phone or table! Check the menu options at the site for more information.