When you come in to the land ... and dwell therein
Shavuot, perhaps more than any other festival, embodies the extraordinary integration of the spiritual-religious side and the earthly-material side of the Jewish people.
The festival of Matan Torah, the Giving of the Torah, wherein the children of Israel willingly and consciously accepted a system of laws that make up the Torah, the infrastructure for their spiritual and moral existence, is also the festival that expresses the close connection with the daily life of the people who, on entering Eretz Israel became farmers, cultivating the soil, and completely associated with all aspects of nature, its seasons and its manifestations.
When we dwelt in our land, before the destruction of the First and the Second Temples, Shavuot was above all the festival of the first fruits of the wheat harvest. Following the Exile, the emphasis for Shavuot was naturally placed on the fact that it is the festival of the giving of the Torah.
When the Jewish people returned to their land in recent generations, they returned to a natural life, working the land in their independent state. Shavuot once more became the Festival of Reaping, the festival of the fruits of our soil, the festival of flowers and greenery - and this combines well with "Hag Matan Torah".
Only in Israel can Shavuot be celebrated fully, with its entire range of meanings.
Thus, we must remember that the spiritual and moral basis of our Torah is always based on the principles of possessing the land of Israel and dwelling there and the two are inseparable:
"When you come in to the land ... and dwell therein".
The Torah of Israel, given to the Jewish people on Mount Sinai on Shavuot, can be observed fully and truly only if we fulfil the precept of aliyah to Israel and living there.
This Shavuot series has been reproduced from:
JEWISH AND ISRAELI HOLIDAYS - REFERENCE MATERIAL FOR TEACHERS AND PUPILS IN THE DIASPORA
Written and edited by Dr. Aviv Ekroni, Rafi Banai,
"Hetz", Journal of the former Department for Education and Culture in the Diaspora, The Department for Jewish Zionist Education, The Jewish Agency for Israel (C)