Tuesday, June 10, 2008

A sweltering Shavuot

It’s a good thing that we eat ice cream on Shavuot. The day commenced with a bright, scorching sun, accompanied by a hot, dry breeze which combined to make an uncomfortable, heavy heat. It was the kind of heat that makes you aware of the weight of your body; that gives you the sensation of dragging your heavy bones along, hauling your body one step at a time towards your destination.

The walk to shul was exhausting. Although there is a shul just a few minutes from our house, we attend one which is twenty minutes away. With the buggy to push and the blazing sun above us, we made slow progress. We finally arrived red-cheeked and puffed out but instantaneously delirious as we felt the air conditioning sooth away our discomfort.

We fulfilled the obligation to listen to the Book of Ruth and the Ten Commandments and then retreated back home beneath the unrelenting rays of the midday sun.

I was not brought up in a religious environment and when I learn very simple things that are almost insignificant to others more learned than me, I get quite excited.

This Shavuot I looked into why we eat dairy foods. There were lots of reasons from all sorts of sources. The most commonly cited one relates to the Torah introducing the idea of kashrut and therefore there being a delay to prepare meat, utensils etc. in the appropriate manner; necessitating a milchig meal. However, the fact that impressed me the most was finding out about the numerical value for the word ‘chalav’ (milk). When the value of each letter is added up it equals 40. Moses spent 40 days on Mount Sinai receiving the Torah and when he came down it was ‘chalavy’ food that was consumed.

We certainly enjoyed our Shavuot food this year - particularly the ice cream.

Sharona B