This Shabbat is Shabbat Mevarchim Chodesh Sivan. For some, you have just read the previous italicized words and thought “huh, what did he say?” It is not hard to understand if you know the lingo. Shabbat Mevarchim is the Shabbat before the upcoming Rosh Chodesh (new month) on the Jewish calendar. The upcoming Rosh Chodesh is Sivan, which begins on Wednesday, May 12th. Thus the month of Sivan spans from mid-May to mid-June on the Gregorian calendar.
As always on Shabbat Mevarchim after the Torah and the Haftarah (Prophets) readings, a special segment for the upcoming Rosh Chodesh is read. The chazzan or Torah reader takes the Torah Scroll in his arms and recites,
May He who performed miracles for our ancestors and redeemed them from slavery to freedom, redeem us soon, and gather our dispersed people from the four quarters of the earth, so that all Israel may be united in friendship, and let us say: Amen
Rosh Chodesh Sivan will occur in Yom Revi’i. May it come to us and all Israel for good.
(Then in Israel the following is said.)
May the Holy One, blessed be He, renew for us and for all His people the house of Israel, wherever they are, for good and blessing, gladness and joy, for salvation and consolation, livelihood and sustenance, for life and peace, good tidings, and good news, (during the winter, for rain in its due season), for complete healing and imminent redemption, and let us say: Amen.
(The Koren Siddur, with Introduction, Translation and Commentary by Rabbi Sir Jonathan Sacks ז״ל, Koren Publishers, Jerusalem, 2009, p 526)
Rosh Chodesh Sivan holds a special place within Judaism; in truth, it should also hold a special place for all Yeshua-believers, whether Jewish or non-Jewish. During the month of Sivan we finish the counting of the omer, culminating with the festival of Shavuot (Exodus 34:22; Leviticus 23:15-21; Deuteronomy 16:9-11). Tradition holds that the Torah was given to Bnei Israel on Shavuot. The Babylonian Talmud teaches that both the New Moon and Shavuot are linked together with the Exodus from Egypt.
The Sages taught: On the sixth day of the month of Sivan, the Ten Commandments were given to the Jewish people. Rabbi Yosei says: On the seventh day of the month. Rava said: Everyone agrees that the Jews came to the Sinai desert on the New Moon, as it is written here: “In the third month after the children of Israel were gone forth out of the land of Egypt, the same day came they into the wilderness of Sinai” (Exodus 19:1), without elaborating what day it was. And it is written there: “This month shall be to you the beginning of months; it shall be the first month of the year to you” (Exodus 12:2). Just as there, the term “this” is referring to the New Moon, so too, here the term is referring to the New Moon.Shabbat 86a, Sefaria
At this time, we are reminded of the miracles that led to the redemption of Bnei Israel from Egyptian oppression and the giving and reception of the Torah at Sinai.
A hope for an ultimate restoration and redemption both with HaShem and with one another is expressed in the final recitation of the Shabbat Mevarchim bracha. But another miracle is linked to Shavuot. This miracle provides the power to truly work toward and experience the desired restoration and redemption, the miracle of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit (Ruach haKodesh)
When the day of Shavuot had come, they were all together in one place. Suddenly there came from heaven a sound like a mighty rushing wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. And tongues like fire spreading out appeared to them and settled on each one of them. They were all filled with the Ruach ha-Kodesh and began to speak in other tongues as the Ruach enabled them to speak out.Acts 2:1-4
This outpouring of the Ruach haKodesh is a fulfillment of Yeshua’s words to his talmidim as he prepared to return to his Father.
I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper so He may be with you forever… But the Helper, the Ruach ha-Kodesh whom the Father will send in My name, will teach you everything and remind you of everything that I said to you. … you will receive power when the Ruach ha-Kodesh has come upon you; and you will be My witnesses in Jerusalem, and through all Judah, and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”John 14:16, 26 & Acts 1:8
If I may be allowed a little license, Shavuot links the Torah given to Bnei Israel at Sinai to the Ruach haKodesh given to the Yeshua-believers in Jerusalem. John in the beginning of his Besorah (Gospel) states, “Torah was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Yeshua the Messiah” (John 1:17). This affirmation typically serves to contrast “law” and “grace.” I suggest that instead of contrast, the occurrence of both on Shavuot indelibly links the guidance of the law (Torah) to the enabling grace and truth of the Ruach haKodesh. Without law, there is anarchy, without grace the law becomes a ridged, unbending behavioral code. But when, like strands of DNA, law and grace are intertwined, held together by the truth revealed by the Creator along with Yeshua, who is the author and perfector of our common faith (see Hebrews 12:2) then we have the ability and the power to live life and that more abundantly (se John 10:10).
* All Scripture references are from the Tree of Life (TLV) Translation of the Bible. Copyright © 2015 by The Messianic Jewish Family Bible Society.