This coming Saturday night will see immense numbers of Jews studying Scripture until sunrise. They will be observing the sixth of the month of Sivan, Shavuot 5778, the 3,330th anniversary of the events described in Exodus 19, when God handed over His book to Moses.
What happened on Shavuot plays a crucial role in the daily lives of Jews. For instance, every circumcision of a Jewish male infant commemorates God’s gift of the Torah. Without that Scriptural commandment, it is extremely unlikely that this minor operation would have been so consistently performed on every Jewish male.
Every time a Jew declines bacon with his morning eggs, he is recognizing that most important event of Jewish history which took place on Shavuot. Jewish marriages are properly solemnized, “…according to the laws of Moses and Israel,” once again with a firm foundation in what took place on Shavuot.
It is therefore puzzling that Shavuot, the day on which God presented the Bible, gets trumped in popularity by other festivals that wouldn’t even be celebrated at all were it not for that Bible. For example, many more American Jews celebrate Passover than celebrate Shavuot. Many more Jews celebrate Chanukah than celebrate Shavuot. It is hard to think of a holiday bearing greater religious significance than Shavuot; it is also hard to think of a Jewish holiday that gets less attention. Just try asking a non-observant Jewish acquaintance about Shavuot—you’re likely to get a puzzled look in return. Why are so many Jews indifferent to Shavuot?