Sivan is the third month of the Hebrew Calendar. The month of Sivan is most famous for the Jews receiving the Torah at Mount Sinai. It was on the 6th of Sivan that the Jews became one nation with one heart as they accepted the Torah as was related in Parshat Yitro. Every year we commemorate this event with the festival of Shavuot.
The Torah mandates the seven-week Counting of the Omer, starting on the second day of Pesach and immediately followed by Shavuot. This counting of days and weeks is understood to express anticipation and desire for the Giving of the Torah.
Shavuot is also called the Festival of Weeks which is related in Parshat Ki Tisa, In Parshat Re’ah it is referred as the Festival of Reaping, and in Parshat Pinchus it is named as Day of the First Fruits. The Mishnah and Talmud refer to Shavuot as Atzeret as it provides closure for the festival activities during and following the holiday of Pesach (Temurah 18b).
According to Jewish tradition, Shavuot is celebrated in Israel for one day and outside of Israel for two days.
We read Megillat Ruth on Shavuot, which features the story of Ruth and how the Davidic line emerged (Shabbat 113). It is customary to eat dairy foods and also to stay up on the night of Shavuot. This is because on the night of the 5th of Sivan, the eve of receiving the Torah, the Jews all fell asleep on the mountain, so to fix that error, we have the custom of staying up the whole night learning (Shir Hashirim Rabbah 1:57). On Mount Sinai the Jews received the 10 commandments, which are expounded in to 613 mitzvot!!
This month is also famous as being the month of bringing the first fruits of the land to Jerusalem – also known as Bikkurim (Devarim 26:2). Shavuot is one of the three Pilgrimage festivals, where the Jews go to Jerusalem to celebrate it (Vayikra 23:15-21).
We always read Parshat Nasso, usually after Shavuot, a parshah that is the longest in the Torah comprising of 176 verses, we read this lengthy parshah, to show the love that the Jews have for the Torah, that after Shavuot, we like to read a lot of Torah.
Moshe went up to the heavenly realms after receiving the Torah, spending three spells of 40 days each time there. I will be writing more on the festival of Shavuot in that respective Dvar Torah. The month of Sivan is a favourable month in the eyes of Hashem and is known as the month of wisdom.
The month of Sivan is famous also for other events; the 1st of Sivan, not just being the Rosh Chodesh is a day in which the waters calmed down after the great flood that was featured in Parshat Noach (Bereishit 9:20-21). It was on the 17th of Sivan, when the ark finally came to a rest.
The 6th Sivan is not just a memorable day of the giving of the Torah, it was on this day in the English year 1760 when the Baal Shem Tov passed away, aged 60, he was the founder of the Hassidic movement in Judaism. Also King David passed away on the 6th Sivan, aged 70 years; his death is mentioned in the book of Kings and Chronicles.
The 15th of Sivan marks the birthday of Yaakov’s fourth born son, Yehudah, who later on became the leader of the Jewish people (Bereishit 29:35)
It was on the 21st of Sivan, when Miriam spoke Lashon hara about Moshe, in retribution she was plagued with leprosy for a week, where the Jews in the wilderness waited for her (Shabbat 97a). This is related in Parshat Baahalotacha.
The 29th Sivan is famous for another transgression, it was the day that the 12 spies were sent out to inspect the land of Israel, where later on 10 of the spies brought back a slanderous report on it (Taanit 26b).