Sunday, June 1, 2008

The Greening of the Synagogue


Some communities spread grasses on the floors of their homes and synagogues on Shavuot, to commemorate the greenness of Mount Sinai when the Torah was given, and to recreate the joy of the Revelation at Sinai.

Some also place trees in homes and synagogues for Shavuot, to mark the Talmudic statement that we are judged for the year's fruit on Shavuot.

The Vilna Gaon annulled this latter practice, because other religions set up trees in honor of their holidays, and we are biblically prohibited from appearing to borrow their practices. This prohibition is called chukot akum. (We would not annul a biblically mandated religious practice for this reason, but a custom could be annulled for this purpose.)

(Code of Jewish Law Orach Chaim 494:3; Mishneh Berurah 494:10)

Have a great day,

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