This Shabbat will be followed immediately by the two days of Shavuot – the holiday which celebrates the giving of the Torah! For the traditional lighting of the candles on Saturday night in honor of Shavuot, we ensure that we have an existing fire from which we may light the candles. This existing fire should be lit and burning non-stop from before Shabbat begins!
On both nights of Shavuot, Saturday night and Sunday night, we recite two blessings when lighting the candles: The first blessing “Barukh atta Adonai, elohaynu melech haOlam, asher kideshanu b’mitzvotav v’tzivanu l’hadlik ner shel Yom Tov” is followed by the Shehecheyanu blessing.
This Shabbat as we prepare for Shavuot, we read the first Torah portion of the fourth book of Moses, BaMidbar. In English we refer to this fourth Book of the Torah as “Numbers.” In Hebrew, the word BaMidbar, actually means: In the Wilderness!
I mention this literal translation of BaMidbar as “wilderness” because the Torah is more than a story of what happened to our people in ancient times. The Torah is our guide in life. How often might we find ourselves in our own personal state of “wilderness” or “bewilderment”…?
Just as is the case in the physical wilderness – the more complicated our lives, the more uncertainty we face, the more options lie before us….That is when we may turn to Torah and to one another for spiritual guidance and for communal support!
On Sunday morning, the first day of Shavuot, we will celebrate the giving of the Torah on Mount Sinai, by chanting the Torah reading that includes the Ten Commandments! Or, should I say: the Ten Guideposts?!
This weekend, let us acknowledge our “bewilderment” and find our way forward. Let us celebrate our lives, our tradition, our Torah, our congregation and all the good that comes of being connected to one another on Friday night, on Saturday, on Sunday morning, and on Monday morning! Yizkor will be recited on Monday at our services. As we say in our prayers: Open our Hearts to Your Torah! Let us remember to be there for ourselves, as well as for others!
Shabbat Shalom and Chag Sameach!
Rabbi Gilah Dror