The Forgotten Festival

An obscure holy day on the biblical calendar sets the stage for the revelation of Shavu’ot.


Calendar, ShavuotJun 7, 2016

CalendarJun 7, 2016


The new moon marks the beginning of the biblical month.

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Rosh Chodesh Sivan is a small event that will always inevitably be overshadowed by the grandeur of the celebration of Shavu’ot, which follows shortly after.

Rosh Chodesh Sivan is the beginning of third month on the biblical calendar. “Rosh Chodesh” means “head of the month.” It refers to the new moon, which marks the beginning of the biblical month. Every Rosh Chodesh has significance because the Torah designates the new moons as appointed times. They are little festivals on God’s calendar.

The new moon of the month of Sivan has extra significance because Rosh Chodesh Sivan serves to commemorate the people of Israel’s encampment at Mount Sinai, while also helping to remind us of an important aspect of our faith communities:

In the third month, when the children of Israel were gone forth out of the land of Egypt, the same day came they into the wilderness of Sinai. For they were departed from Rephidim, and were come to the desert of Sinai, and had pitched in the wilderness; and there Israel camped before the mount.” (Exodus 19:1-2 KJV)

The singular form of the Hebrew word for “camped” is used. According to the sages, this is meant to imply that the people of Israel were in a state of such unity and mutual love that their spirit was like that of one man. The sages emphasize the importance of the spirit of unity in saying that Israel was not able to receive the Torah until they came together as a community without quarrel.

Both Rosh Chodesh Sivan and the celebration of the giving of the Torah, or Shavu’ot, are continuously paired with a theme of spiritual unity and love. When, in Acts 2, the apostles are gathered together in Jerusalem to celebrate the Pentecost, they are described in a way that reflects the description that was given of the people of Israel at Mount Sinai:

And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place.” (Acts 2:1 KJV)

The singular form of a word is, again, used to describe a group of people that has become so united that their spirit is like that of one person.

It is obvious that love and unity within a community is a large and important part of both Rosh Chodesh Sivan and the Festival of Shavu’ot. During this month of Sivan, we should not only focus on remembering the giving of the Torah at Mount Sinai, but also make an effort to bring our communities to a place of unity and peace. As a community of believers who frequently face the challenges of internal friction and bitter disagreement, we will be unable to progress forward in our faith until our community has come to a place of peace and love and is united under one spirit. As we prepare for Shavu’ot this year, let’s enter the spirit of Rosh Chodesh Sivan and set aside our differences:

Therefore if there is any encouragement in Messiah, if there is any consolation of love, if there is any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and compassion, make my joy complete by being of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose. (Philippians 2:1-2 NASB)

Chodesh Tov!

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About the Author: Miriam Lancaster is an administrative assistant, editor, and writer with First Fruits of Zion and Vine of David

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