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D5. Counting to Shavuot & Waving Two Loaves.    [Make a Comment]

We are to count seven weeks and fifty days from the Day of Firstfruits (following Passover) to Shavuot, at which time we are to waive two loaves of bread to the Lord.

This precept is derived from His Word (blessed be He):

Key Scriptures

Leviticus 23:9-21 (Maimonides RP46, RP161; Meir MP26; Chinuch C306-307)
ADONAI said to Moshe, "Tell the people of Isra'el, 'After you enter the land I am giving you and harvest its ripe crops, you are to bring a sheaf of the firstfruits of your harvest to the cohen. He is to wave the sheaf before ADONAI, so that you will be accepted; the cohen is to wave it on the day after the Shabbat. On the day that you wave the sheaf, you are to offer a male lamb without defect, in its first year, as a burnt offering for ADONAI. Its grain offering is to be one gallon of fine flour mixed with olive oil, an offering made by fire to ADONAI as a fragrant aroma; its drink offering is to be of wine, one quart. You are not to eat bread, dried grain or fresh grain until the day you bring the offering for your God; this is a permanent regulation through all your generations, no matter where you live. From the day after the day of rest - that is, from the day you bring the sheaf for waving - you are to count seven full weeks, until the day after the seventh week; you are to count fifty days; and then you are to present a new grain offering to ADONAI. You must bring bread from your homes for waving - two loaves made with one gallon of fine flour, baked with leaven - as firstfruits for ADONAI. Along with the bread, present seven lambs without defect one year old, one young bull and two rams; these will be a burnt offering for ADONAI, with their grain and drink offerings, an offering made by fire as a fragrant aroma for ADONAI. Offer one male goat as a sin offering and two male lambs one year old as a sacrifice of peace offerings. The cohen will wave them with the bread of the firstfruits as a wave offering before ADONAI, with the two lambs; these will be holy for ADONAI for the cohen. On the same day, you are to call a holy convocation; do not do any kind of ordinary work; this is a permanent regulation through all your generations, no matter where you live."'

Numbers 28:26
On the day of the firstfruits, when you bring a new grain offering to ADONAI in your feast of Shavu'ot, you are to have a holy convocation; do not do any kind of ordinary work;

Deuteronomy 16:9-10 (Maimonides RP161; Chinuch C306)
You are to count seven weeks; you are to begin counting seven weeks from the time you first put your sickle to the standing grain. You are to observe the festival of Shavu'ot [weeks] for ADONAI your God with a voluntary offering, which you are to give in accordance with the degree to which ADONAI your God has prospered you.

Acts 2:1-21
The festival of Shavu'ot arrived, and the believers all gathered together in one place. Suddenly there came a sound from the sky like the roar of a violent wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. Then they saw what looked like tongues of fire, which separated and came to rest on each one of them. They were all filled with the Ruach HaKodesh and began to talk in different languages, as the Spirit enabled them to speak. Now there were staying in Yerushalayim religious Jews from every nation under heaven. When they heard this sound, a crowd gathered; they were confused, because each one heard the believers speaking in his own language. Totally amazed, they asked, "How is this possible? Aren't all these people who are speaking from the Galil? How is it that we hear them speaking in our native languages? We are Parthians, Medes, Elamites; residents of Mesopotamia, Y'hudah, Cappadocia, Pontus, Asia, Phrygia, Pamphylia, Egypt, the parts of Libya near Cyrene; visitors from Rome; Jews by birth and proselytes; Jews from Crete and from Arabia ...! How is it that we hear them speaking in our own languages about the great things God has done?" Amazed and confused, they all went on asking each other, "What can this mean?" But others made fun of them and said, "They've just had too much wine!" Then Kefa stood up with the Eleven and raised his voice to address them: "You Judeans, and all of you staying here in Yerushalayim! Let me tell you what this means! Listen carefully to me! "These people aren't drunk, as you suppose- it's only nine in the morning. No, this is what was spoken about through the prophet Yo'el: 'ADONAI says: "In the Last Days, I will pour out from my Spirit upon everyone. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams. Even on my slaves, both men and women, will I pour out from my Spirit in those days; and they will prophesy. I will perform miracles in the sky above and signs on the earth below- blood, fire and thick smoke. The sun will become dark and the moon blood before the great and fearful Day of ADONAI comes. And then, whoever calls on the name of ADONAI will be saved."'


"From the day after the day of rest - that is, from the day you bring the sheaf for waving" is the day we refer to as Yom HaBikkurim - Day of Firstfruits (Leviticus 23:10). It is unique among the "designated times" listed in Leviticus 23, in that it is the only one that is not a Sabbath. The occurrence of the day we call Shavuot is determined by counting from Yom HaBikkurim, and is unique among the Annual Sabbaths in being the only one to which Scripture does not assign a particular date on the lunar calendar; in that regard, it is similar to the weekly Sabbath. The fifty-day count from "the day after the day of rest" (or Sabbath) in Leviticus 23:15-16 is known in Jewish practice as "counting the omer", and which one of several possible Sabbaths is "day zero" of the count, is a subject of ongoing debate. To add complication, Numbers 28:26 calls Shavu'ot "Yom HaBikkurim" as well, the reason being that there were two harvests involved.

Jewish orthodoxy has adopted the Pharisaic view that the count should start from Nisan 16, the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread, thus causing Shavuot to always fall on the 6th day of Sivan. By contrast, many in Messianic Judaism have adopted the Sadducean view which is that the count should start on the day after the Seventh-Day Sabbath that falls in the midst of the Feast of Unleavened Bread. This causes the count to begin on the first day of the week (a Sunday), on Yom HaBikkurim, making this day the probable day of Yeshua's resurrection. A result of this is that Shavuot falls on different days of the lunar calendar in adjacent years, a consequence that seems to have been intended in the Leviticus 23 account.

When requiring that there be an animal sacrifice to accompany the grain offering of Shavuot, Scripture assumes the existence of a Tabernacle (or Temple) and an operating Levitical priesthood. Since we have neither today, counting to Shavu'ot and waiving two loaves of bread in the synagogue are correct adaptations of the Scripture, and are obligatory for both Jews and K'rov Yisrael Gentiles. Gentiles of the Nations should also keep track of the count because knowing when Shavuot occurs is important for connecting them to the Jewish people, and for commemorating the Holy Spirit's appearance in Jerusalem on the Shavuot following Yeshua's resurrection (Acts 2:1-21, 10:45).

Classical Commentators

Maimonides analogizes the individual obligation to count the omer to the San Hedrin's obligation to count the Years of Jubilee "year by year and Sabbatical cycle by Sabbatical cycle." He also gives much attention to justifying why counting fifty days and seven Sabbaths is one mitzvah and not two, but makes no mention of when the count should begin. Meir, in contrast, does not even mention that counting both days and Sabbaths comprises one commandment, but specifically states that we are to start to count the night of the sixteenth of Nisan, and that we are to count while standing and accompany the count with a benediction. HaChinuch states that we must count forty-nine days from the presentation of the sheaf offering, which is the sixteenth of Nisan, and we must utter the day count and the week count separately. He agrees that we are to do the count while standing and with an accompanying benediction. Despite the different way that HaChinuch expresses the number of days counted, all three commentators endorse the Pharisaic way of counting - not the Sadducean way.


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