I think that Shavuot is probably my favorite holiday. Maybe it's the nice weather, or the long daylight hours. Or maybe it's because it's stress-free. I don't have to build a hut and eat with bees, or turn my entire house upside down and abuse my digestive system, or spend hours upon hours on my feet listening to opera. It's a time to spend with family and friends and eat yummy food (mmm....tilapia....). But perhaps it is this lack of specific character that makes the holiday somewhat underrated. Most people, even Jews, have never heard of it. Take this conversation I had with my partner today (we'll call him "Bob"):
PT: So, Bob, don't forget: you're covering me Monday and Tuesday.
Bob: Oh yeah, right, some holiday?
PT: No! I'm going scuba diving in the Cayman's!
Bob: (shoots me an incredulous look)
PT: OK, just kidding. Yeah, it's another Jewish holiday. Shavuot...you call it Pentecost.
Bob: Pentecost? That's a Catholic holiday!
PT: No, pretty sure we had it first. What's yours about?
Bob: Probably something about...Jesus...I think. Like he's rising or something...
PT: Is it about 50 days after Easter?
Bob: Yeah, I think so.
PT: Yup, you guys stole it from us, but we use it for something else. It's the commemeration of the giving of the Torah at Mount Sinai.
Bob: Mount Sinai? That hospital downtown?
PT: No, Bob, the mountain. In the Sinai.
Bob: Well, why did they name a Hospital after it?
PT: I dunno. Maybe 'cause they saw Moses coming down the mountain saying "Take these two tablets and call me in the morning."
PT: No, Bob. Not really. Anyway that's what it's about. And it's only two days so you don't have to cover me for too long.
Bob: So do you have to do anything weird like on your other holidays?
PT: Not really. There's a custom not to eat meat, which is great because I love dairy. And there's a custom to stay up all night the first night studying the Torah.
Bob: Sounds brutal.
PT: Actually, when I was in 6th grade, and I first heard about this, I thought it was pretty cool. I got to stay in the synagogue all night long with my friends guzzling down coffee, eating cake, and cramming for my Gemarah final. But when I hit medical school, I learned something very important.
Bob: What's that?
PT: Never miss sleep.
Bob: Oh yeah, never let a bed pass you by. You never know when you're going to get paged by the ER.
PT: See, you do understand, Bob. Anyway, my attention span is so shot that I wouldn't make it 20 minutes without falling asleep in my book.
Bob: What are we talking about, again?
PT: See ya next week, Bob.
(cross posted on The Jewish Connection)