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Friday, June 10, 2005


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."

Bob: ...really?

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)


Chaim said...

great post PT, love the conversation exchanges.

PsychoToddler said...

I love shavuot too, but am not big on fish(no tilapia for me, but I may have some just for the halibut), so I usually stick to the cheesy/pasta type of dishes. But the desserts..... ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh. I also agree on staying up all night, it ruins the next two days of yom tov for me
dilbert | Homepage | 06.10.05 - 4:02 pm | #


Maybe 'cause they saw Moses coming down the mountain saying "Take these two tablets and call me in the morning." - a classic

Chag Sameach
Greg T | 06.10.05 - 4:05 pm | #


I'm glad I'm not the only one who remembers Tikkun Leil Shavuos for the food....

I told my husband that we will be going Sunday evening to Shavuos services. He said - "What's that?" This is the man who re-introduced me to Judaism! His list of holidays skips from Passover to Rosh Hashana. (Slight bleep on the radar for Tisha Ba'av, but none for Shavuos.)
Mirty | Homepage | 06.10.05 - 4:36 pm | #


"Take these two tablets..."

Seriously. That's the most witty thing I've read in weeks (and you know how much time I waste on the web). I have to know if you came up with that. It's genius.

Shabbat shalom and chag sameach.
Doctor Bean | Homepage | 06.10.05 - 5:56 pm | #


I think I see the problem here. You are still trying to explain things to people. I gave that up long ago. Here's how my conversations go
Them: "See 'ya Monday."
Me: "No that's a Jewish Holiday, see 'ya Wednesday."
See, isn't that easier.
ball-and-chain | 06.10.05 - 6:18 pm | #


"Maybe 'cause they saw Moses coming down the mountain saying 'Take these two tablets and call me in the morning.'"

I laughed so hard that the Punster shouted "What's so funny?" from his office (a.k.a. the Young Scientist's bedroom). So I told him, and then *he* laughed so hard that the neighbors probably heard him, both upstairs and down.

Have Lactaid, will travel (as least on a Yom Tov that isn't also Shabbat)--gotta have me some of that cheesecake. Enjoy!
Shira Salamone | Homepage | 06.11.05 - 10:13 pm | #


"I don't have to build a hut and eat with bees, . . . " Sheesh, you have no sense of adventure.

" . . . or turn my entire house upside down and abuse my digestive system, . . ." Been there, done that.

" . . . or spend hours upon hours on my feet listening to opera." I promise not to mention this to my girlfriend the cantor.
Shira Salamone | Homepage | 06.11.05 - 10:31 pm | #


Um, those little yellow and black insects in your sukkah are not bees... they are yellow jackets and hornets (both members of the wasp family). Don't go giving my honey bees a bad rep.

Chag Sameach and enjoy the diving in the Caymans!
David | Homepage | 06.12.05 - 8:14 am | #


You're right of course, David. But bees sounds funnier than wasps. I think. It's hard to tell. Neither has a "k" sound.
psychotoddler | Homepage | 06.12.05 - 9:10 am | #


Tamar Orvell said...

met you at citizen of the month, not at sinai (or aside from). thanks for outstanding interview on that blog. fun, funny, excellent way to help the medicine go down.

my tikkun leil will be at home w a group of folks who want to learn while we are awake. and who find the traditional shuls too pilpul-y in learning style, and the new-agey shuls too inclusive of knitting, for example, as true study topic. chez moi, we will be studying the thought and life of r abraham joshua heschel. some might thnk THIS is pilpul-y and/or in the knitting category. options. always a good thing.

my wish list for you blog has one item: consider flipping your color/hue assignments for text and background. it is well documented that readability increases with black/dark text on white/light background. try it. l'chvod hachag!

bye for now.