The holiday of Shavuot (Feast of Weeks), one of the three Biblical pilgrimage-to-Jerusalem festivals, marks the Jewish People's receiving of the Torah at Mt. Sinai 3,318 years ago.
Tens of thousands are expected to arrive at the Western Wall throughout Thursday night and Friday morning, in commemoration of the Biblical commandment to visit Jerusalem on this holiday. The commandment, like some others in the Torah, is not binding when the Holy Temple is not in place.
The Shavuot holiday of 1967 (5727), which followed the Six-Day War and the liberation of Jerusalem by only a few days, was the first holiday in 1,900 years in which masses of Jews congregated at the Western Wall.
Shavuot also marks the day after the 49-day Sefirat HaOmer counting period, which begins on the Passover holiday. The counting denotes the fact that the ultimate purpose of the Exodus from Egypt was for the Jewish People to receive the Torah and begin its national/spiritual existence as the People of the Book.
Shavuot is celebrated for one day by those who live in the Land of Israel, as originally prescribed by the Torah. However, outside Israel, in accordance with rabbinic tradition because of the lack of calendric certainty, the holiday is celebrated for two days.
Features of the Shavuot holiday include:
* remaining awake all night to study Torah;
* the bringing of the Bikurim (First Fruits) to the Holy Temple;
* the time of the wheat harvest;
* the public reading of the Book of Ruth;
* a wide-spread custom of eating dairy foods on Shavuot.
For more details on the holiday, see the sites listed at jr.co.il/hotsites.