For the Laws and Customs of Rosh Chodesh Reminders, click here.
1. The days preceding Shavuos:
- Valuing time: The Rebbe notes of the Rebbe Rayatz that the period of time during the days preceding Shavuos were utterly precious to him and were hence used wisely.
- Shabbos Mivarchim Sivan: Av Harachamim is recited on Shabbos Mivarchim Sivan.
- Vayehi Noam: On the Motzei Shabbos which precedes Shavuos, Vayehi Noam is omitted.
- Shabbos preceding Shavuos: In 1986 the Rebbe requested, a personal request that all communities are to have a Farbrengen during Mincha of Shabbos Parshas Bamidbar, which was Shabbos Mivarchim Sivan, in living with the spirit of Matan Torah when we were one nation united with one heart and one soul.
- Tachanun: Tachanun is omitted from the first of Sivan until, and including, the 12th of Sivan. Tachanun is recited on the 13th of Sivan. Likewise, on Shabbos of these dates Av Harachamim and Tzidkascha Tzedek is omitted.
- Charity fund: Just as in preparation for other holidays, charity funds are established to allow those which are struggling to be able to provide the basic foods and delicacies needed for the Holiday, similarly with Shavuos, and even more so is such a fund to be established and each is to contribute to the fund according to his ability.
- Publicizing the Mitzvah to attend the reading of Aseres Hadibros: In the Psikta the Sages have taught us that G-d told the Jewish people that when we read the Ten Commandments each year I consider it as if you were standing on Mount Sinai accepting the Torah. For this reason one should place effort to ensure that all members of Jewry attend the Torah reading, even infants, just as was the case by Matan Torah.
- Haircuts: It is our custom to avoid getting haircuts until the day of Erev Shavuos. One is to avoid getting a haircut even on the night preceding Erev Shavuos. When Erev Shavuos coincides with Shabbos, one is to take a haircut on Erev Shabbos, which is the 48th day of the Omer.
- Purchasing Jewelry and clothing: It is a Biblical positive command and obligation for one to rejoice himself, his wife, his children and his entire household on Yom Tov. One is to buy his wife [and adult female children and other adult female household members jewelry or clothing in accordance to his affordability.
- Getting a haircut: It is a Mitzvah to get a haircut on Erev Shavuos in honor of the festival. One may do so even past midday. When Erev Shavuos coincides with Shabbos, one is to take a haircut on Erev Shabbos, which is the 48th day of the Omer.
- Blood test: One is not to have a blood test, or other form of blood work, done on Erev Shavuos, unless it is needed to be done due to medical danger.
- Meals: It is a Mitzvah to refrain from beginning a meal within three fluctuating hours of Yom Tov.
- Challah: It is customary for every household to bake Challahs for Yom Tov.
- Candle lighting: The custom is to light the candles prior to sunset at the same time that they are lit on Erev Shabbos. One first lights the candles and then says the blessing of “Yom Tov” and of Shehechiyanu. When Erev Shavuos coincides with Shabbos, the candles are only to be lit after nightfall, and only after reciting “Baruch Hamavdil Bein Kodesh Lekodesh.
- Preparing a 24 hour candle: In years that Shavuos falls on Motzei Shabbos, one is to light a 48/72 hour candle in order to have a preexisting flame available to use on Yom Tov.
- Yartzite/Yizkor candle: Those who have a Yartzite on Shavuos are to light the Yartzite candle before Yom Tov. Likewise, those who are accustomed to light a Yizkor candle, are to do so before Yom Tov.
3. General customs relating to Shavuos:
- The Holiday greeting: The Previous Rebbe, and Rebbe would use the following greeting towards a fellow Jew for the festival of Shavuos: “Likabalas Hatorah Bisimcha Ubipnimiyos/May you accept the Torah with joy and internally”.
- Plants and flowers: It is customary to spread plants and erect trees in Shul and in one’s house in honor of Shavuos. Practically, however, many are no longer accustomed to do so, and so is the widespread Chabad custom.
- Regarding plants, flowers and pots, one must be aware of the detailed laws of Muktzah, removing and inserting the flowers and plants into water, and moving the pod.
- Passing the Dateline: Those who have passed the dateline during Sefiras Haomer [between Pesach and Shavuos], and hence either gained a day or lost a day, are to consult with a Chabad Rabbi as to what day they are to celebrate Shavuos.
4. The night of Shavuos:
- Time of Maariv: One is not to Daven Maariv before nightfall, even if this is normally done on Erev Shabbos or other Holidays.
- Time of Kiddush: On the [first] night of Shavuos one is not to say Kiddush prior to nightfall [Tzeis Hakochavim], even if one plans to delay Maariv until after nightfall.
- Shehechiyanu: The blessing of Shehechiyanu is recited during the night Kiddush. It is recited after the completion of Kiddush, prior to drinking the wine. In the Diaspora, it is recited in the night Kiddush of both the first and second night of Shavuos.
- Night meal: One is to eat meat and drink wine by the night meal.
- Staying awake-Tikkun: One stays awake throughout the night until Alos Hashachar, and recites the Tikkun Leil Shavuos. After the Tikkun is completed, if it is still before Alos, one is to study sections of the Oral Torah. [Mishnayos; Gemara; Halacha] One may begin reciting the Tikkun immediately after Maariv. We do not read the Yehi Ratzon that is printed in the Tikkun. We do not say Kaddish after the completion of the Torah and Navi parts of the Tikkun. Upon the arrival of Alos, [72 fluctuating minutes before sunrise-as stated in one’s local Luach] it is disputed whether one may continue learning or must stop and recite Birchas Hatorah.
- Mikveh: When Ashmuros Haboker arrives, which is slightly before Alos, the custom is to immerse in a Mikveh four times.
- Brachos: After the arrival of Alos [72 fluctuating minutes before sunrise-as stated in one’s local Luach] one is to use the bathroom, wash his hands as he does in the morning, and recite all of the morning blessings, including Al Netilas Yadayim, Asher Yatzar, Elokai Neshama and Birchas Hatorah. If one did not use the bathroom beforehand, he may not recite the blessing of Asher Yatzar. Upon the arrival of Alos [72 fluctuating minutes before sunrise-as stated in one’s local Luach] it is disputed whether one may continue learning or must stop and recite Birchas Hatorah.
- Avoiding Tashmish: One is to avoid initimacy on the night of Shavuos unless it is Leil Tevila.
5. Shacharis prayer of Shavuos:
- Akdamos: It is not our custom to recite Akdamos on Shavuos.
- Torah Reading: The custom is to stand facing the Torah scroll during the reading of the Ten Commandments. One should place effort to ensure that all members of Jewry attend the Torah reading, even infants, just as was the case by Matan Torah. Although it is not our custom to call up the Rav of the community for the Aliyah of Aseres Hadibros, nevertheless if lack of doing so will be seen as a form of disrespect to the community Rabbi, one is to be meticulous to give him the Aliyah.
- Haftorah: In some communities it is the custom to call up a great scholar for the Aliyah of Maftir and the subsequent Haftorah. The person reading the Haftorah aloud must initially stand when doing so throughout the year, out of honor for the congregation. In addition, some listeners have the custom to stand during the Haftorah of Merkava Yichezekel if they are reading quietly along with the reader.
- Yizkor: After the Haftorah on the second day of Shavuos [first day in Eretz Yisrael] Yizkor is recited. All those who have a parent who has passed away, remain in the shul. Those who are within a year from the passing, remain in shul, although do not recite the Yizkor.
- Megillas Ruth: It is not the Chabad custom to read Megillas Ruth on Shavuos.
- Av Harachamim: The entire congregation may say Av Harachamim prior to Ashreiy of Musaf on Yom Tov, and not just those which have remained for Yizkor.
It is customary amongst all Jewry to eat milky products on the first day of Shavuos. Nevertheless, since it is a mitzvah to eat meat on Yom Tov, one is to also have a have a meat meal, doing so in a way that there is the proper Halachic separation between the two meals. The following are the details of the two meals and the laws which pertain to eating meat after milk:
- The dairy meal: After Kiddush one is to either wash on bread or eat Mezonos. One is then to eat milk products. One is not required to specifically wash on bread for the dairy meal, and so is the widespread custom not to do so, although some are accustomed to do so. After finishing the dairy meal, one is to say an after blessing, clean out his mouth and wait one hour. After an hour passes one may begin the meat meal. If one ate cheeses which are Halachically defined as “hard cheese”, one is to wait 6 hours prior to eating meat.
- The meat meal: After waiting an hour after finishing to eat the dairy products one may begin the meat meal. A different tablecloth is to be used for the meat meal. In the event one washed on bread for the dairy meal, one is not to use the same leftover bread for the meat meal. The same applies for any foods of which there is suspicion that they contain remnants of dairy.
- Reciting a Torah and story of the Besht: It is customary to recite a teaching or story of the Baal Shem Tov during the day meal of Shavuos.
- Wine: It is an obligation for all men, and children above Bar Mitzvah, to drink a revius of wine on Yom Tov. The wine drank in Kiddush can also be included.
- Second day of Shavuos in Diaspora: The custom to eat dairy on Shavuos does not apply to the second day of Shavuos in the Diaspora. Nevertheless, some have followed this custom also on the second day, and so is said to be the Rebbe’s custom.
7. Directives for when Shavuos falls on Erev Shabbos:
- Perform Eruv Tavshilin on Erev Yom Tov [Thursday].
- Light a 24 hours candle on Erev Shavuos to use to light candles on Friday.
- Begin the Yom Tov day meat meal prior to the 10th hour of the day [three Zemaniyos hours before sunset].
- On Erev Shabbos set up the food for Shabbos with enough time for it to be hot and fully cooked before sunset of Shabbos.
- Light Shabbos candles on Friday from a pre-existing flame, at the set time of candle lighting. [If one forgot to do Eiruv Tavshilin, speak to a Rav.]
- Shnayim Mikra: In Eretz Yisrael, one is to recite Shnayim Mikra of Parshas Naso past midday on Shavuos.
- Prior to Mincha on Shavuos day, Erev Shabbos, Hodu is omitted although Patach Eliyahu is recited.
- We begin Kabalas Shabbos from Mizmor Ledavid, and not from Lechu Neranina. This applies even in Israel. [However, in Lecha Dodi in Israel, the normal dialect of Berina is recited].
- In Israel, one recites the regular order of Kiddush in a loud tone, including shalom aleichim, eishes chayil, mizmor ledavid Hashem ro’i, da hi se’udasa.
- In the Diaspora: The following passages prior to Kiddush are read in an undertone: shalom aleichim, eishes chayil, mizmor ledavid Hashem ro’i, da hi se’udasa.
8. Isru Chag:
- On Motzei Yom Tov, one is required to recite Havdala over a cup of wine just like on Motzei Shabbos. We do not say a blessing over fire or over Besamim.
- One does not recite Vayiten Lecha.
- Increasing in Eating and Drinking on Isru Chag: It is a Mitzvah to increase in eating and drinking on Isru Chag.
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