Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Torah, Ten Commandments, And Blintzes!

Add to those King David and Ruth, you now have the makings of the Jewish Holiday of Shavu'ot!

From Judaism 101:
Shavu'ot, the Festival of Weeks, is the second of the three major festivals with both historical and agricultural significance (the other two are Passover and Sukkot). Agriculturally, it commemorates the time when the first fruits were harvested and brought to the Temple, and is known as Hag ha-Bikkurim (the Festival of the First Fruits). Historically, it celebrates the giving of the Torah at Mount Sinai, and is also known as Hag Matan Torateinu (the Festival of the Giving of Our Torah).

The period from Passover to Shavu'ot is a time of great anticipation. We count each of the days from the second day of Passover to the day before Shavu'ot, 49 days or 7 full weeks, hence the name of the festival. The counting reminds us of the important connection between Passover and Shavu'ot: Passover freed us physically from bondage, but the giving of the Torah on Shavu'ot redeemed us spiritually from our bondage to idolatry and immorality. Shavu'ot is also known as Pentecost, because it falls on the 50th day; however, Shavu'ot has no particular similarity to the Christian holiday of Pentecost, which occurs 50 days after their Spring holiday.

It is noteworthy that the holiday is called the time of the giving of the Torah, rather than the time of the receiving of the Torah. The sages point out that we are constantly in the process of receiving the Torah, that we receive it every day, but it was first given at this time. Thus it is the giving, not the receiving, that makes this holiday significant.

Shavu'ot is not tied to a particular calendar date, but to a counting from Passover. Because the length of the months used to be variable, determined by observation (see Jewish Calendar), and there are two new moons between Passover and Shavu'ot, Shavu'ot could occur on the 5th or 6th of Sivan. However, now that we have a mathematically determined calendar, and the months between Passover and Shavu'ot do not change length on the mathematical calendar, Shavu'ot is always on the 6th of Sivan (the 6th and 7th outside of Israel. See Extra Day of Holidays.)

Work is not permitted during Shavu'ot.

It is customary to eat a dairy meal at least once during Shavu'ot. There are varying opinions as to why this is done. Some say it is a reminder of the promise regarding the land of Israel, a land flowing with "milk and honey." According to another view, it is because our ancestors had just received the Torah (and the dietary laws therein), and did not have both meat and dairy dishes available. See Separation of Meat and Dairy.

The book of Ruth is read at this time.
It is told by the sages that the 10 Commandments were given to the People of Israel on this date. On the holiday of Shavuot, the entire Jewish nation heard from G‑d the Ten Commandments. The next day Moses went up to Mount Sinai where he was taught by G‑d the rest of the Torah -- both the Written and Oral Laws -- which he then transmitted to the entire nation.

Exodus 20:2-17

2 I am the Lord your G-d, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery;

3 Do not have any other gods before me.

4 You shall not make for yourself an idol, whether in the form of anything that is in heaven above, or that is on the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth.

5 You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I the Lord your G-d am a jealous G-d, punishing children for the iniquity of parents, to the third and the fourth generation of those who reject me,

6 but showing steadfast love to the thousandth generation of those who love me and keep my commandments.

7 You shall not make wrongful use of the name of the Lord your G-d, for the Lord will not acquit anyone who misuses his name.

8 Remember the Sabbath day and keep it holy.

9 For six days you shall labor and do all your work.

10 But the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your G-d; you shall not do any work—you, your son or your daughter, your male or female slave, your livestock, or the alien resident in your towns.

11 For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but rested the seventh day; therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and consecrated it.

12 Honor your father and your mother, so that your days may be long in the land that the Lord your G-d is giving you.

13 You shall not murder.

14 You shall not commit adultery.

15 You shall not steal.

16 You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.

17 You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or male or female slave, or ox, or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.
These laws brought a strict moral code to the world.  A moral code the world has never forgiven the Jewish people for.

Thus the Law, and Torah are celebrated on Shavu'ot.

Some of the customs of Shavu'ot are:
  • Women and girls light holiday candles to usher in the holiday, both on the first and second nights of the holidays.
  • It is customary to stay up all night learning Torah on the first night of Shavuot.
  • All men, women and children should go to the synagogue on the first day of Shavuot to hear the reading of the Ten Commandments.
  • As on other holidays, special meals are eaten, and no "work" may be performed.
  • It is customary to eat dairy foods on Shavuot. Among other reasons, this commemorates the fact that upon receiving the Torah, including the Kosher laws, the Jewish people could not cook meat in their pots which had yet to be rendered Kosher.
  • On the second day of Shavuot, the Yizkor memorial service is recited.
One of the traditional foods of Shavu'ot is Blintzes

Here is a good recipe for them:

4 eggs
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup water
1 cup flour
1/4 cup sugar
1 package vanilla sugar
Pinch of salt
1 Tbsp. oil

1/2 pound farmer cheese
4 ounces cream cheese
4 Tbsps. honey or
maple syrup
juice of 1/2 lemon
1 egg yolk

1 pound cottage cheese,
2 egg yolks
2 Tbsps. flour
2 Tbsps. sugar
1 tsp. vanilla sugar
1/4 cup raisins (optional)

USE: 7 inch skillet
YIELDS: 12 blintzes

BATTER: In a large mixer bowl combine eggs, milk, water and blend well. Gradually add flour, then both sugars, salt and oil. Beat well until there are no lumps in the batter.

FILLING I: Combine all ingredients in a bowl and beat well. Or combine all the ingredients in a blender container and blend until smooth.

FILLING II: Combine all ingredients, except raisins, in a bowl and beat well. Or all the ingredients can be combined in a blender container and blended until smooth. Then add raisins.


1. Prepare batter and filling of your choice. Using a paper towel or basting brush, apply a thin coating of oil to a 7 inch skillet. Place skillet over medium heat until skillet is hot but not smoking.

2. Ladle approximately 1/3 cup of batter into the skillet. Tilt pan to swirl the batter so it covers the bottom of the skillet.

3. Fry on one side until small air bubbles form, and top is set. Bottom should be golden brown. When done, carefully loosen edges of crepe and slip out of skillet onto a plate..

4. Repeat the above procedure until all the batter is used. Grease the skillet as needed..

5. Turn each crepe so that golden brown side is up. Place 3 tablespoons of filling on one edge in a 2 1/2 inch long by 1-inch wide mound..

6. Roll once to cover filling. Fold the sides into the center and continue rolling until completely closed..

7. Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in the skillet and place each crepe seam side down in the skillet and fry 2 minutes on each side, turning once.

VARIATION: Whole wheat pastry flour can be used instead of white flour.
Or you can buy the prepackaged blintzes found in your grocer's freezer section. They cook up wonderfully and taste great!
This day is also the Yahrtzeit (Anniversary of Death) of King David (ca. 907-837 BCE), a humble shepherd who became the second king of Israel. David was famous as a warrior, scholar and psalmist. He courageously battled the Philistine giant Goliath, killing him with a slingshot. David reigned for 40 years, during which he made Jerusalem the Jewish capital, purchased the future site of the Holy Temple, and made preparations for the Temple's construction. David composed the biblical Book of Psalms, songs of praise to G-d and poetic expressions of love, fear, triumph and disaster. David was promised an eternal dynasty of Jewish kingship; he was succeeded by his son Solomon, and according to tradition, the Messiah will ultimately be descended from David. His life story is recorded in the Book of Samuel.
David was the direct decedent of Ruth the Moabite and Boaz.  Her story is found in the Book of Ruth.  According to tradition, the Messiah is to be a descendant of David.

This is a wonderful holiday to celebrate (Good food, so the diet will have to go out the window again!).

Happy Shavu'ot!!!


Debbie said...

That's a beautiful image at the top of your post.

The blintzs look wonderful.

Right Truth

at the edge said...

Just a point of information:
The tablets you depict have in them an error; See