Based on your email responses, we have cancelled class this Tuesday, and there will not be a fellowship-wide gathering.
I encourage all of you to gather with other Torah-keepers and follow the traditions of our fathers.

Shavuot (Pentecost) is the annual celebration of the giving of the Torah (instruction) on Mt. Sinai. After lighting candles, the evening and throughout the night is traditionally spent studying the Torah. The megillah (scroll) of Ruth is read on Shavuot. Walvoord and Zuck say,

In one of the most beautiful expressions of commitment in all the world’s literature she laced her future to that of Naomi. She confessed allegiance to Am Yisrael (the People of Israel) and to v’Eloheinu (the G-d of Yisrael). Here was a stirring example of a complete break with the past. Like Abraham Ruth decided to leave her ancestors’ idolatrous land to go to the land of promise. And Ruth did it without the encouragement of a promise. In fact she made her decision despite Naomi’s strenuous encouragement to do otherwise.

But Ruth said, “Do not urge me to leave you or turn back from following you; for where you go, I will go, and where you lodge, I will lodge. Your people shall be my people, and your G-d, my G-d.  (Ruth 1:16)

Will you see the Mashiach (Messiah) as you read the entire magillah this year? I hope so. This scroll describes Boaz haTzadik (Boaz the Righteous man) in his role as kinsman redeemer.

Shavuot is always in the month of Sivan, regardless if one counts the Omer in the manner of the P’rushim (Pharisees), Tzod’kim (Sadducees), Essenes or others.

One of the early Acharonim (literally “Last Ones,” Sages from 1500 to 2000 CE), was Shelah haKodesh (Rabbi Isaiah Horowitz). He was the Rabbi of Prague in the late 16th century. The first word of his title is an acronym derived from his greatest work (which influenced the Baal Shem Tov and the chassidic movement), Shnei Luchot haBrit (Two Tablets of the Covenant). He wrote that “the most auspicious time to pray for the physical and spiritual welfare of one’s children and grandchildren was on the eve of the first day of the month of Sivan, since that is the month in which we were given the Torah.”

Tonight at sundown is Rosh Chodesh Sivan (head of the month of Sivan). Why not join a tradition that has been going on for 500 years, and celebrate the new month this evening with your family, and pray the prayer written by Shelah haKodesh, Tefillat haShelah. You all know that I’m an avid Artscroll Mesorah fan. Every year, just before Rosh Chodesh Sivan, they email all their subscribers this prayer as a public service. I think that’s a fabulous gesture of care and concern for families in the faith. Here is the prayer from them, in case (perish the thought) you are not an Artscroll subscriber!

Here’s a translation from the Shema Yisrael Torah Network that I have embellished a bit to honor our Master:

You have been HaShem, our G-d, before You created the world, and You are HaShem, our G-d, since you created the world, and You are G-d forever. You created Your world so that Your Divinity should become revealed thorugh Your holy Torah, as our Sages expounded on the first word therein, and for Yisrael, for they are Your people and Your inheritance whom You have chosen from among all nations. You have given them Your holy Torah and drawn them toward Your great Name. These two commandments are, “Be fruitful and multiply” and “You shall teach them to your children.” Their purpose is that You did not create the world to be empty, but to be inhabited, and that it is for Your glory that You created, fashioned, and perfected it, so that we, our offspring, and all the descendants of your people Yisrael will know Your Name and study Your Torah.

Thus I entreat You, HaShem, supreme King of kings. My eyes are fixed on You until You favor me, and hear my prayer, and provide me with sons and daughters who will also be fruitful and multiply, they and their descendents unto all generations, in order that they and we might all engage in the study of Your holy Torah, to learn and to teach, to observe and to do, and to fulfill with love all the words of Your Torah’s teaching. Enlighten our eyes in Your Torah and attach our heart to Your commandments to love and revere Your Name.

Our Father, compassionate Father, grant us all a long and blessed life. Who is like You, compassionate Father, Who in compassion remembers His creatures for life! Remember us for eternal life, as our Forefather Avraham prayed, “If only Yishmael would live before You,” which the Sages interpreted as “…live in reverence of You.”

For this I have come to appeal and plead before You, that my offspring and their descendants be proper, and that You find no imperfection or disrepute in me or them forever. May they be people of peace, truth, goodness and integrity in the eyes of G-d and man. Help them to become practiced in Torah, accomplished in Scriptures, Mishnah, Talmud, Kabbalah, mitzvot, kindness, and good attributes, and to serve you with an inner love and reverence, not merely outwardly. Provide every one of them with their needs with honor, and give them health, honor and strength, good bearing and appearance, grace and loving-kindness. May love and brotherhood reign among them. Provide them with suitable marriage partners of scholarly and righteous parentage who will also be blessed with all that I have asked for my own descendants, since they will share the same fate.

You, HaShem, know everything that is concealed, and to You all my heart’s secrets are revealed. For all my intention concerning the above is for the sake of Your great and holy Name and Torah – both the written and Living Torah, the Righteous One, Yeshua HaMashiach. Therefore, answer me, HaShem, answer me in the merit of our holy Master and Forefathers Avraham, Yitzchak, and Ya’akov. For the sake of the fathers save the children, so the branches will be like the roots. For the sake of Your servant, David, whose Offspring is the Righteous Branch, indwelt with Your Ruach HaKodesh.

A song of ascents. Fortunate is everyone who fears HaShem, who walks in His ways. When you eat of the toil of your hands, you are fortunate, and good will be yours. Your wife is like a fruitful vine in the inner chambers of your home; your children are like olive shoots around your table. Look! So is blessed the man who fears HaShem. May HaShem bless you from Zion, and may you see the good of Yerushalayim all the days of your life. May you see your children’s children, peace upon Yisrael. May you see the coming of the Mashiach, soon and in our days.

Please, HaShem, Who listens to prayer: May the following verse be fulfilled in me: “‘As for Me,’ says HaShem, “this My covenant shall remain their very being; My spirit, which rests upon you, and My words which I have put in your mouth, shall not depart from your mouth nor from the mouths of your children, nor from the mouths of your children’s children,” said HaShem, “from now to all Eternity.” May the words of my mouth and the thoughts of my heart be pleasing before You, Eternal, my Rock and my Redeemer.

And all G-d’s people said, “Amen!”

Shalom and Rosh Chodesh Sameach (Peace and Happy New Month),

ben Yosef

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