About the month of Sivan

Sivan, the ninth month of the civil year and the third month of the religious year, always has thirty days. The zodiac sign for the month of Sivan is Gemini, the twins, which some sources identify with the brothers Jacob and Esau. The word sivan, of Akkadian/Babylonian origin, is mentioned only once in the Bible, in The Book of Esther (8:9):

"Then the king's scribes were called at that time in the third month, that is, the month of Sivan...and an order was written, according to all that Mordechai commanded..."


6-7 Sivan: the festival of Shavuot, which marks the anniversary of the giving of the Torah and is also the traditional date given for the death of King David. In the land of Israel, Shavuot is celebrated only on the 6th of Sivan.


3-5 Sivan: Sheloshet Yemei Hagbalah (3 days of restriction) when, according to the Bible, the Israelites undertook strict physical and spiritual preparation for the Revelation at Mount Sinai on the 6th of Sivan (Exodus 19:10-15).


17 Sivan: On May 31, 1665 (17 Sivan, 5425) an eccentric mystic named Shabbetai Zevi, originally from Smyrna, Turkey, proclaimed himself the long-awaited Messiah who would redeem the Jewish people from their suffering, restore the kingdom of David on earth, and bring them back to Jerusalem. Shabbetai Zevi was eventually arrested by the Turkish authorities who suspected him of subversion, and he died in prison (after converting to Islam). Thousands of Jews who had believed in him and even sold their possessions in preparation for the return to the Holy Land, were devastated by the turn of events.


20 Sivan: In eastern Europe, a fast was observed on this day (until World War II) in commemoration of what came to be known as the Chmielnicki massacres of 1648 and 1649. Under the command of Bogdan Chmielnicki, the Ukrainian peasantry revolted against the Polish nobility, choosing the Jews as their scapegoat. Bands of peasant-soldiers known as Cossacks swept through the Jewish communities of the Ukraine and Poland, leaving destruction and death in their wake. Many Jews fled Poland, seeking refuge in Germany and western Europe. Chmielnicki, in whose honor a statue was erected (and still stands) in Kiev, has come to represent for Jews evil incarnate, a sort of latter-day Amalek whose name is to be blotted out.


With the new moon of Sivan, the days of semi-mourning of the Omer period come to an end for Ashkenazim (Jews of Franco-German descent), while for Sephardim (Jews of Spanish descent or from Moslem countries) they end much earlier.



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