Thursday, April 18, 2013

A Shabbat Custom from China that Connects to Shavuot

Centuries ago The Wandering Jew made tracks to the Far East, establishing a presence in China. Happily, I've discovered some of their customs and recently found a Shabbat tradition dating back to the 18th century that could easily be applied to a 21st century Shavuot celebration.

Before the Torah reading began, Chinese Jews removed the Torah from the Ahron Kodesh (Holy Ark) and put it on a special seat called the chair of Moses. From there it was carried to the Bima for the Torah reading. A small gesture but an important one, for where would we be without Moses and the Torah given to him on Mt. Sinai?

This of course is the segue to Shavuot, a holiday also referred to as Zman Matan Torateinu -- the time we received the Torah. So here's my suggestion: This Shavuot, how about designating a special chair for Moses? We already learned about a North African custom of placing an Elijah Chair in the Sukkah. Why not give Moses his due credit? Even better, how about creating your own Moses chair? You don't need wood. It seems a simple large carton will do, and you, your students and your children can write messages to Moses on it. Even better, how about the 10 Commandments? Get your creative juices going and enjoy!

 Shabbat Shalom...and Chag Sameach!

Velvet Chair Photo Credit
Carton Chair Photo Credit

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