We are now under a week away from the great holiday of Shavuot. Shavuot is arguably the most significant day on the calendar. As the great Rav Yosef of the Talmud advanced: “Were it not for that day, when the Torah was given, I would have been like many other Josephs wandering in the marketplace!” Without the great Yom Tov of Shavuot, there would be no other holidays, no Shabbat and no Jewish Nation. While Shavuot may be best associated with eating dairy, ice cream and cheese cakes, the true hallmark of Shavuot is Kabbalat HaTorah – Our receiving of the Torah from G-d at Mt. Sinai.
Despite the clear significance of the day, children can get lost and be left out of our celebrations. On Rosh Hashanah the children dip the apple in the honey and look forward to the majestic blasts of the Shofar. On Sukkot our children help build, design, decorate and eat and even sleep in the Sukkah. And on Pesach the crowning moments of the Seder are the children’s singing, asking, discussing and engaging in the Mitzvah of Sippur Yetziat Mitzraim – The retelling of the Exodus Narrative. Where are the kids on Shavuot? They are sleeping during the All Night Learning, not present at the Sunrise Neytz Shacharit and many of them simply don’t like cheesecake!
We are even taught in the Midrash that before G-d granted the Torah unto us He required a type of guarantor, and it was only when Bnei Yisrael offered their children as the guarantors did Hashem acquiesce and disseminate the Torah unto us. So despite the fact that the entire holiday is because of our children and in honor of our children, if we are not careful they miss out on the celebrations of the day.
Therefore, if you will be celebrating Shavuot with children, please be certain to explain the significance of the day i.e. how children brought sacrifices at Sinai (Exodus 24:5) and that G-d invested in our father Avraham specifically because Avraham taught his children and household Torah (Gen 18:19). Perhaps have children help decorate the house with greenery symbolic of Mt. Sinai. Since Shavuot is the culmination of Pesach, let’s discuss what it felt like to be the only nation in the history of the world to encounter G-d publicly. Shavuot is our time to model national pride of being G-d’s Chosen Nation to receive the Torah.
Without our past we have no history, but without a future (committed children) we have no destiny.
Enclosed you will find the special prayer for our children, the Tefillat Hashelah that is recited by thousands of Jews around the world today on Erev Rosh Chodesh Sivan