Shavuos Checklist 5775/2015:
*The laws provided below are based on the upcoming Sefer “The Laws and Customs of Shavuos”. To browse online the content of the Sefer, including footnotes and sources, or to download a summary edition of the laws, please visit our Shavuos section provided on Shulchanaruchharav.com
1. The days preceding Shavuos:
- Shabbos Mivarchim Sivan: Av Harachamim is recited on Shabbos Mivarchim Sivan.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
2. Erev Shavuos:
- 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. This year, since 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 past the 10th hour of Erev Yom Tov.
- Challah: It is customary for every household to bake Challahs for Yom Tov.
- Candle lighting: This year, since Erev Shavuos coincides with Shabbos, the candles are only to be lit after nightfall, and only after reciting “Baruch Hamavdil Bein Kodesh Lekodesh. One first lights the candles and then says the blessing of “Yom Tov” and of Shehechiyanu, just as is done every Erev Shabbos.
- Preparing a 24 hour candle: This year, being that Shavuos falls on Motzei Shabbos, one is to light a 48 hour candle in order to have a preexisting flame available to use on Yom Tov.
- Yartzite candle: Those that have a Yartzite on Shavuos are to light the Yartzite candle 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 accustomed to spread plants and stand trees in Shul and in ones house. Practically many are no longer accustomed to do so, and so is the widespread Chabad custom.
- Regarding plants, flowers and pods 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 that 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.
- Vetodieinu: This year, being that Shavuos falls on Motzei Shabbos, in the evening prayer of Shemoneh Esrei the paragraph of Vetodieinu/ותודיענו is added prior to the paragraph of ותתן לנו.
- Kiddush-Yaknahaz: This year, being that Shavuos falls on Motzei Shabbos, the order for Kiddush on Shavuos night follows Yaknahaz. The order of the blessings is: 1) Hagafen 2) Kiddush Hayom 3) Ner 4) Havdala 5) Shehechiyanu. When one recites the blessing over the candle it is our custom to merely look at it. We do not move it closer or spread our hands near it, or look at our nails.
- 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 are 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 minutes before sunrise-check 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 Mikvah 4x.
- Brachos: After the arrival of Alos [72 minutes before sunrise-check 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 minutes before sunrise-check Luach] it is disputed whether one may continue learning or must stop and recite Birchas Hatorah.
- Avoiding Tashmish: One is to avoid Tashmish 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 10 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 which have passed away remain in the shul, except for those which are within a year from the passing.
- Megilas Ruth: It is not our custom to read Megilas 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.
6. The day meal:
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 Halachicly 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. 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.