By: Daniel Feldman, Contributor
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Shavuot occurs on the sixth day of the month of Sivan. Most of us are quite aware of the importance of the number seven in Judaism. But, the number six is an important number as well. If the number seven represents a sense of completion or “fullness” as indicated by the similarities of the word “Sheva” (meaning “seven”, in Hebrew) with “save’a” (meaning “satisfaction” or “fullness”), then the number six is a “lead-in” to this process. It is the “last step” before “closure”. The final step or activity is often the most important one, for it is the “highlight” or “summary” of all the previous steps.
The importance of the number six is alluded in the discussion of creation (Breishit-Genesis). At the end of each day, the Torah uses the phrase, “It was evening, it was morning, a first day, second day , etc.”
On the sixth day, the Torah uses the definite article by stating:
“It was evening, it was morning THE sixth day”.
Rashi (10th century commentator) explains that the use of the word “THE” is a reference to Shavuot which occurred on the sixth day of Sivan. From here, we can infer that the planning of the giving of the Torah as well as its specific date was an integral part of creation itself. It was not merely a date or time that occurred “on its own”.
Some other important concepts of the number six and its idea of “finality”
May this Shavuot form the basis for improved performance in mitzvoth and the molding of our own improved behavior.
Similarly, the same mitzvoth are performed by people of all generations. I am sometimes awed when I stand before a great rabbi or talmid chacham. He has tremendous knowledge in Torah and knows how to apply the Torah’s laws to daily life far better than I do. How can I compare with him? Yet, when I see that this Talmid Chacham has to wear tallit (prayer shawl) and tefillin (phylacteries) and say the same morning prayers that I do; When I see that he has to make the same blessings before eating something just as I do; When I see he learns the same Torah with the same words, just as I do – I understand the true timelessness of the Torah. It spans all generations and all people. It is a guidebook for all of us, equally.
Mazor Guide to Shavuot, Pentecost, brings you much more about the holiday, its meaning and its traditions... See the links below.
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