Earlier this week we celebrated Shavuot, which marks the Israelites receiving of the Torah, following their escape from Egypt. In ancient times, Shavuot served as one of Judaism’s three times of pilgrimage to the Temple in Jerusalem. Shavuot, along with Passover and Sukkot, are known as the Shalosh Regalim, literally meaning the “The Three Legs,” but they are better known as the three festival pilgrimages.
As an agricultural society, much of early Judaism’s calendar revolved around the annual crop harvests. These festivals were tied to the specific agricultural harvests of the day. Sukkot marked the end of the fruit harvest, while the grain harvests began with the Passover barley harvest and concluded with the Shavuot wheat harvest.
At BaMidbar Wilderness Therapy, we did not celebrate Shavuot with a pilgrimage to Jerusalem or harvest of any grains, but we did mark the holiday with programming both traditional and unique to BaMidbar. Check out some of our program highlights from Shavuot below.
Sunrise Hike to Prospector:
Why was the Torah revealed from Mount Sinai? In BaMidbar Wilderness Therapy, we know from our experiences that climbing, or even seeing, mountains can be very powerful. The group simulated the experience of Moshe and Israelites by hiking Prospector Mountain, and sharing our personal value systems, or personal Torah, so to speak, with one another.
On the top of Prospector, staff led a Sinai meditation. “You approach Mount Sinai. Allow yourself to feel held by the mass of people gathering at the base of the mountain. The sun rises above the mountain, and the sky is filled with light and color… What are the sounds you hear? What does this moment feel like?”
What’s Your Torah:
The Torah is precious, and it was not given in order to remain the same for all time and for every person. What we do with the Torah matters. Students explored their personal value systems, through the lens of the Ten Commandments. They were asked, what are your Ten Commandments? What rules are you making for yourself, that you can commit to or aspire to?
The Outdoor Cheesecake Bake-Off:
BaMidbar students did an Iron Chef-style cheesecake bake-off, to celebrate Shavuot. Shavuot’s connection to dairy is debated by many, but the foremost accepted reasoning is as follows: Once the Israelites accepted the Torah at Mount Sinai, they agreed to prepare food the way in which the Torah outlined. However, this joyous occasion was so great that they first wanted to celebrate and feast. Thus, the quickest option was to have a dairy feast rather than learning how to prepare and consume meat according to their new set of laws.
Reading & Discussion of Megillat Ruth:
Before changes can be made, or any challenges can be faced, we must be set up for success and seek out a strong support system. Thus it was at Ruth’s most vulnerable moment that she clung to her mother-in-law, Naomi, and chose to stay with Naomi, and told her “Your people will be my people” even though she was not related by blood. In an evening Growth Group, BaMidbar students discussed Ruth’s story, their personal support systems, and the role of chosen family in their life.