The Shavuot Seder – Experience Report

I finally was able to do my Shavuot Seder with a group of people.  An amazing thing is that it was done with people who were all over the world thanks to OneShul.org.   I give the experience a pretty big thumbs up.  I think I’d give a good 1.5 hours in the future, and I’d want to have a little more time to prep the study sections.

Get the Text: Shavuot Seder Haggadah

This seder uses cheese, which is a traditional food for Shavuot.  For each of the prophetesses in the seder I picked out a special cheese.  Here’s my list of cheeses, prophetesses and why — other than it was available at the store.

Shavuot Seder Cheese Plate
Shavuot Seder Cheese Plate

Sarah:  Labne 
This is a middle eastern goat’s milk “spread.”  I chose this because it’s a simple cheese made from goat’s milk and it seemed it this case like the place to start and also the kind of food that Sarah might have actually eaten.

Miriam: Goat’s Milk Brie from Wellspring Creamery
The name is why I chose this one.  Miriam is deeply associated with water and wells, so it was a natural choice when I saw it.

Devorah (Deborah): Big John Cajun Cheese from Beehive Cheese
This one was chosen for the spicy nature of it, because there’s a line I use from Leah Novick in the seder, which refers to Devorah’s “fiery spirit.”  After I picked it up, I realized there was a bee aspect too — and since Devorah means bee — it couldn’t be more perfect!  In writing this post, I realized this creamery also makes one of my other favorite bee-themed cheeses called “Barely Buzzed” and “Sea Hive.”  So yummy!

Hannah: Vintage 5 Year Aged Gouda
Hannah’s life seemed dry and hard, but you never know what can come from truly heart-felt prayer.    Aged gouda looks dry and hard, but it’s so tasty and delicious — like Hannah’s child, it was something worth waiting for.

Abigail: Midnight Moon from Cypress Grove
How do you not choose a cheese called “Midnight Moon” for the prophetess who sees the future, even if she is just following the obvious signs?

Hulda: Mitica Raw Goat from Murcia Curado
Strong, simple, clear and biting.  That feels like the lesson of Hulda

Esther: Ash-coated Chèvre 
Esther was hidden away until it was time for her to be revealed.

 

Share your thoughts!

Milk, Symbol of Sivan

Milk 2 by Andrew Magill, used by CC-A permissions
Milk 2 by Andrew Magill, used by CC-A permissions

x-posted at PunkTorah.org

It’s traditional to eat dairy on Shavuot, which begins the first week of Sivan.  Because of this, we’re going to explore dairy for the month of Sivan.

Let’s start with the separation of milk and meat in the Torah.  What it actually says is “don’t boil a kid in its mother’s milk” (לֹא-תְבַשֵּׁל גְּדִי, בַּחֲלֵב אִמּוֹ). This prohibition is found tthree times in the Torah: Ex 23:19,  Ex 34: 26 and Deut 14:21, which means — seriously, don’t freaking do this we’re not kidding around!!!   Most likely this was a prohibition on mixing life and death; milk being the source of life and death being meat, very literally in this case the meat of the kid goat. It was also, according to the Encyclopeida of Jewish Symbols, a common ancient pagan practice to give an offering of a kid boiled it it’s mother’s milk as part of religoius rites.  This is also a good reason that it was prohibited in ancient Jewish practice. Like so many things in Jewish tradition walls upon walls were built up to ensure we don’t accidentally make this mistake.

Continue reading “Milk, Symbol of Sivan”

Miriam the Prophetess, a Midrash

I started writing this midrash two years ago. I told it for the first time at the first Kohenet intensive, and had to somewhat channel the ending. Midrash is about filling in the gaps in the text, seeing what’s not written. This midrash tells Miriam’s side of the events of Exodus 18:1 –27, Numbers 12:6-8, and Numbers 20:12.

——

Miriam the Prophetess

Miriam awoke from the vision and couldn’t move. Such a short time ago she had been a slave. A slave who spoke to God, but a slave none the less. Then Moses arrived, and she became Miriam, prophetess, sister of Moses the redeemer. When Aaron had been chosen to speak for Moses, she understood. He was the eldest after all, but it had always been clear that Miriam stood equally with her brothers; Aaron ministered to the men and Miriam to the women. Now in the desert, she is to become the Priestess – keeper of the mishkan, the sacred temple of the Presence.

“I must not speak of this to anyone,” Miriam said to herself. “Now is not the time to boast. This is an unimaginable burden. It’s a sacrifice, and I am willing to make it, but God will reveal it to all when the time is right.” With that, Miriam left her tent and headed to the well for water. That night Moses’ father-in-law and family would be joining them in the camp.[i]

Time passed as it always does, and Miriam went about her daily life as before, but with renewed purpose. She ministered to the women as always, and began to actively listen more to the men. She also worked to better get to know and support Moses’ wife Tzipporah. As Tzipporah, was a foreigner with different ways she had a difficult time finding friends and comfort in the camp. Miriam wanted her to feel at home with Moses’ people, and so she dedicated herself to helping her new sister.

Day after day Miriam and Tzipporah would walk the camp, talking to everyone. Tzipporah, as Moses’ wife had a place of great honor in the community, even if her strange ways were confusing to people. People in the camp began to gossip about how Moses’ was infrequently seen in his tent or with his wife. Miriam knew that this type of gossip could disrupt the fragile community and decided to speak to Tzipporah about it.

“Sister Miriam, I almost never see my husband. I know the role he plays and the burdens that have been placed upon him, so I don’t wish to complain,” Tzipporah explained. “My fear is that people will not see me as his wife if he never is with me, but rather as a stranger – a Cushite and nothing more. I worry for my sons,” she continued fighting back tears.

Miriam watched her sweet sister-in-law struggle with the words and her feelings. She saw how difficult life in the Israelite camp must be for her.

“Tzipporah, I will speak to Moses for you. He must remember that no matter how great a leader he is, that he is also a husband. That too is a vow to God that he should honor. Aharon and I also must balance our duties to God and the community with our duties to our families. While Moses’ burdens may be greater, he still must provide a future for his sons.”

Then the day came when a new buzz ran through the camp. All around her Miriam heard people talking about how Aharon and his sons had been honored with the priesthood forever more. Miriam’s head swam, and a tiny seed of doubt almost crept in — but she new that the vision would come true as they always did. Time passed as it always does, and chatter in the camp grew louder. Now people were not just talking about Tzipporah, but also the fear the Aharon’s wife and his sons’ wives had that they too would be cast aside by their husbands. Miriam realized that no further delay could happen. She must now speak to Moses and Aharon about Tzipporah and the other wives, and she pushed aside any other doubts and focused on that issue.[ii]

At first light, she went and spoke with her brother Aharon. Unlike Moses, whom they had only be reunited with recently, Miriam and Aharon had been close since they were children. She shared her concerns with him about how Moses was treating his wife and sons and the gossip she had heard in the camp. He was disturbed by her report, but distracted as he was trying to organize his sons and take on the mantle of the Priesthood. He agreed to go to Moses with her and stand with her on this issue. But in truth, Aharon had other things on his mind than the gossip of women and the concerns of his sister. No matter how much he respected and loved her, he now had the mantle of great responsibility upon him and that was his first concern.

That night Miriam and Aharon met with Moses at the appointed time. Miriam took a deep breath and spoke from her heart. She expressed her concern about how Moses was treating his wife and sons. She shared the words of the other women in the camp and their fears about how their husbands would treat them. She reminded him that he had married a Cushite woman, a stranger, and he must understand how the others still treat her as a foreigner. Miriam, with Aharon at her side said, “Hath the LORD indeed spoken only with Moses? hath He not spoken also with us?’[iii]

It was in that moment she noticed that Aharon had moved just a few steps away from her; distancing himself from her. Miriam grew angry. She felt indignant that her brother had stolen her birthright as priestess of the people and was now not supporting her in protecting the women. For just a moment she forgot that time passes as it always does — and the vision would come true, as they always do.

She doubted.

And YHVH saw.

And the cloud of the Presence descended on the tent of meeting and the three were called to threshold.

And YHVH said, “Hear now My words: if there be a prophet among you, I the LORD do make Myself known unto him in a vision, I do speak with him in a dream. My servant Moses is not so; he is trusted in all My house; with him do I speak mouth to mouth, even manifestly, and not in dark speeches; and the similitude of the LORD doth he behold; wherefore then were ye not afraid to speak against My servant, against Moses?”[iv]

YHVH continued, “You wish to be what Moses is before I am ready for you to be so – before you are ready to receive it? You, Miriam chosen among women, doubt your place that I have shown you? Have you forgotten that it is I who control the calendar and things will come to pass at my leisure? So be it. Now, before you can dream of being ready — have what you wish.”

And Miriam was struck with pain like none she had ever known and her flesh turned scaly and white.

Moses cried out in horror, knowing full well the pain that Miriam felt for he had felt this himself before the burning bush at Mt. Horeb, “Please God, heal her. Not my sister. Not Miriam. She meant no harm. Please God, heal her.”

But YHVH was set and Miriam would survive and become as Moses, or die in the process.

Moses and Aharon removed Miriam from the camp and brought her to the desert. She screamed in pain like one giving birth and ordered them to leave her. For seven days she fought to give birth to this new self. She knew she must or die. For seven days, she toiled alone in the desert, stumbling blindly along. At the end of the sixth day, as light turned to night, just as three stars appeared in the sky her well appeared before her. She stepped into the well and submerged herself, plunging three times into the waters. With each submersion, her skin healed a bit more and her sight cleared. As she left the mikvah in the desert she turned and saw her reflect in the water. Her face looked as Moses’ did, shining with the light of the Presence and her hair which had been just showing a touch of gray before now glowed white in the moonlight. At last she felt new, whole, reborn and turned to walk back to the camp.

And Miriam saw truth. Because she doubted, she would not live to see her daughters as leaders of the tribe, some day when the time was right, the stewardship of the temple would pass on to her daughters. She saw it clear as day. She saw that Moses and Aharon would not be allowed to enter the promised land because of their doubts, so this was only fair.[v] The time when the daughters of Miriam and the sons of Aharon would share the responsibility of the tribe equally. As she walked back to the camp she sang a wordless tune and thought to herself, “time will pass as it always does and, the vision would come true as they always do.” There was not a hint of doubt anywhere in her being.


[i] Exodus 18:1 –27

[ii] Sefer Ha-Aggadah 728:61

[iii] Numbers 12:2

[iv] Numbers 12:6-8

[v] Numbers 20:12

[tags]midrash, miriam, kohenet, prophecy, prophetess[/tags]

Shavuot: Seder of the Seven Prophetesses

While I was putting together a guide for Sivan, I had an idea for a Shavuot seder. According to the Kohenet Wheel of the Year, Sivan is the month of the Prophetess. It makes sense, as this is the month of prophecy and the revelation at Mt. Sinai. According to the Babylonian Talmud there are seven prophetesses in Jewish tradition (Tractate Megillah).

“The rabbis taught: Forty-eight prophets and seven prophetesses preached to Israel…Who were the seven prophetesses? Sarah, Miriam, Deborah, Hannah, Abigail, Huldah, Esther.”

This combined with two Shavuot traditions and became the basis for the idea of this seder. The two traditions are:

  1. Tradition of studying Torah all night of Shavuot eve; and
  2. Tradition of eating dairy on Shavuot.

Below is one you could use on Shavuot or any time during the month of Sivan, and here is a Printer-Friendly PDF with an updated introduction and slightly modified text.

As an additional element you could also make Ushpizot cards for Sukkot featuring the seven prophetesses. It would be a great way to tie the cycle of the seasons together. An easy way to do this might be to make print out a page for each with key texts about and using the words of the prophetesses and make little scrolls out of them. You could write the name of the prophetess on the back of the scroll so it is visible when you roll it up.

Choose a different cheese or dairy product for each of the seven prophetesses. This, I think could be a great deal of fun and intellectual work. I’d love to hear what dairy product you think should be assigned to each prophetess. And, of course, try to use local, ethically farmed dairy products. Decide for yourself if you want to nibble as you study, eat the representative food at the end of studying about each prophetess or begin each section with a bite of food and wine. Remember that this is also the end of the counting of the Omer and the wheat harvest, so adding good bread/or wheat crackers would be an appropriate addition.

You could also add first fruits of the season to your seder, as Shavuot is also the Feast of First Fruits. Needless to say, without wine there is no blessing — so go find a few good bottles of wine to compliment your cheese.

A note on the suggested texts: these are just a few texts that you could include. I highly encourage you to explore a variety of modern and ancient commentary and midrash on each of the prophetesses.  Also, be sure to jump to the comments and see the song that Rabbi Geela Rayzel Raphael has added!


Seder of the Seven Prophetesses

Printer-Friendly PDF

  1. Light Candles
  2. Blessing over Torah Study
  3. Blessing over Wine and Foods
  4. Sarah
  5. Miriam
  6. Deborah
  7. Hannah
  8. Abigail
  9. Huldah
  10. Esther
  11. Blessing of Ushpizot Scrolls
  12. Closing Prayers


1. Lighting of Candles
Use the feminine blessings for this, as we are focusing on the prophetess aspect of Shekhina for this seder.

נברך שכינה אלותינו רוח העולם אשר קדשתנו במצותיה וצונו להדלק נר של יום טוב
N’varech Shekhina Eloteinu Ruach HaOlam asher kid’shatnu b’mitzvoteha v’tzivatnu l’hadlik neir shel Yom Tov.

Let us bless the Divine Presence, Spirit of the World, who makes us holy through miztvot and commands us to light the festival lights.

Also, consider adding, or using instead, this lovely traditional Women’s prayer found on Ritual Well.

With these candles
We pray to God
The God of our fathers
Abraham, Isaac and Jacob
To grant us good life and health
To all my dear ones
And the whole world

With these candles
We pray to God
The God of our mothers
Sarah, Rebecca, Leah and Rachel
To grant us good life and health
To all my dear ones and the whole world

Consider using seven candles, one for each prophetess.


2. Blessing before Torah Study
I found this amazing blessing on Ritual Well, entitled “A Prayer before Prayer.” Use this or the traditional blessings before reading from the Torah at this stage. I’ve included this because you will be studying the Torah during this seder, and hopefully, with great intent!

I now prepare
to unify my whole self
heart,
mind,
consciousness,
body,
passions,
with this holy community,
with the Jewish people everywhere
with all people everywhere
will all life and being.

To commune with the Source of All Being.
May I find the words,
the music, the movements,
that will put me in touch
with the great light of God.

May the beauty of God rest upon us.
May God establish the works of our hands,
and may the works of our hands establish God.

A good song to use here might be “I am Opening.”

3. Blessing over Wine and Foods
Depending on what food you use will depend on what blessings you include. I’ve listed several food blessing below that you can use for this section. All of the blessings below are in the feminine and use the active blessing format of “Let us bless.”

Blessing over Wine

נברך שכינה אלותינו רוח העולם, בוראת פרי הגפן
N’varech Shekhina Eloteinu Ruach HaOlam Boreit Pri HaGafen

Let us bless the Divine Presence, Spirit of the World, Creator of the Fruit of the Vine

Blessing over Bread

נברך שכינה אלותינו רוח העולם, המוציאה לחם מן הארץ
N’varech Shekhina Eloteinu Ruach HaOlam HaMotzei Lechem Min HaAretz

Let us bless the Divine Presence, Spirit of the World, Who Brings Forth Bread from the Earth

Blessing over Fruit from Trees

נברך שכינה אלותינו רוח העולם, בוראת פרי הץ
N’varech Shekhinah Eloteinu Ruach HaOlam Boreit Pri HaEtz

Let us bless the Divine Presence, Spirit of the World, Creator of the Fruit of the Tree

Blessing over Fruit of the Earth

נברך שכינה אלותינו רוח העולם, בוראת פרי האדמה
N’varech Shekhinah Eloteinu Ruach HaOlam Boreit Pri HaAdamah

Let us bless the Divine Presence, Spirit of the World, Creator of the Fruit of the Earth

Blessing over Meat or Dairy
This is a blessing I wrote for a Tu B’Shevat seder that I created as part of a project for Kohenet. Much thanks to R’Jill Hammer and Shoshana Jedwab for their incredible guidance and thoughtful help with Hebrew wording of this blessing.

נברך שכינה אלותינו רוח העולם,הנותנת מזון מן בעלי-חיים של הארץ
N’varech Shekhinah Eloteinu Ruach HaOlam HaNotenet Mazon Min Baalei Chayyim Shel HaAretz

Let us bless the Divine Presence, Spirit of the World, Who Provides us with Nourishment through the Creatures of the Earth

General Blessing over Food
This is the “when in doubt” or if food doesn’t fit into any category traditional food blessing.

נברך שכינה אלותינו רוח העולם שהכול נהיה בדברה
N’varech Shekhinah Eloteinu Ruach HaOlam Shehakol Nihyeh Bi-D’varah

Let us bless the Divine Presence, Spirit of the World, at Whose Word all Things Come into Being.

4. Sarah

“Sarah, as it is written [Gen. xi. 29]: “The father of Milcah and the father of Yiscah.” And R. Itz’hak said: By Yiscah is meant Sarah. Why was she called Yiscah? Because that signifies seeing, and she was a seer through the Holy Spirit.” (Babylonian Talmud: Tractate Megillah)

Texts to explore and study for Sarah:

Closing Blessing for Sarah:

“We call upon Sarah the priestess, co-founder of Judaism, who gave us the candle-lighting ceremony. Beautiful and holy princess, she celebrated in sacred groves and a simple tent, bringing the light of the Shekhinah wherever she traveled. Laughing mother of ageless beauty, bless our way.”
(Leah Novick, excerpted from Appeal to the Matriarchs)

5. Miriam

“Miriam, as it is written [Ex. xv. 26]: “Then took Miriam the prophetess, the sister of Aaron.” Aaron’s, and not Moses’ sister? Said R. Na’hman in the name of Rabh: She had prophesied even when she had been yet but Aaron’s sister, before Moses’ birth, and she said: In the future my mother will give birth to a child that will deliver the Israelites. Finally, when Moses was born, the whole house was filled with light. And her father rose, and kissed her on her head, and said: Daughter, thy prophecy is fulfilled. Afterward, when he was cast into the river, the father asked: Daughter, what has become of thy prophecy? And this is what is written [ibid. ii. 4]: “And his sister placed herself afar off, to ascertain what would be done to him,” i.e., to know what would be the end of her prophecy. ” (Babylonian Talmud: Tractate Megillah)

Texts to explore and study for Miriam:

Closing blessing for Miriam:

“Miriam, charismatic spiritual and political leader, you challenged male authority from childhood and taught through ecstatic music and dance. You nourished us in the desert, watering our bodies and souls. Dancing mother, guide us now, through another wilderness of confusion, showing us the way to restore feminine energy to a wounded planet.”
(Leah Novick, excerpted from Appeal to the Matriarchs)

6. Deborah

“Deborah, as it is written [Judges, ix. 4]: “And Deborah, a prophetess.” … “Said R. Na’hman: Pride does not become women. Two women were proud, and they both had unlovely names: one was called Bee (Deborah) and one Cat (Huldah). Of Deborah it is written [Judges, iv. 6]: “And she sent and called Barak and went not herself”; and of Huldah it is said [II Kings, xxii. 15]: “Say unto the man that hath sent you to me”; and she did not say, “unto the king.”” (Babylonian Talmud: Tractate Megillah)

Texts to explore and study for Deborah:

Closing blessing for Deborah:

“Deborah, great warrior, judge and mother in Israel, your fiery example inspires us to take action. We long to know more of your words and yearn to take your poetry into our hearts and minds. Warrior mother, we need your energy now to sacralize the political and create leaders that embody your prophetic leadership.”
(Leah Novick, excerpted from Appeal to the Matriarchs)

7. Hannah

“Hannah, as it is written [I Sam. ii. I]: “And Hannah prayed and said, My heart is glad in the Lord, my horn is exalted through the Lord.” My horn is exalted, and not my flask. David and Solomon, who were anointed with the horn, their dynasty endured; but Saul and Jehu, who were anointed with a flask, their dynasties did not last.” (Babylonian Talmud: Tractate Megillah)

Texts to explore and study for Hannah:

Closing blessing for Hannah:

“Hannah, woman of personal prayer, your petition is our model for individual appeals to the divine. You called out directly to God for help, transcending the conventional service. Prayerful mother, we need your davenning now, so that we might be empowered to attract divine healing into the barren places in our lives.”

(Leah Novick, excerpted from Appeal to the Matriarchs)

8. Abigail
Note: Generally, I’ve only been including key texts for each women, but with Abigail and interesting pattern appeared that was worth further exploration. She is repeatedly referred to as Abigail, wife of Nabal the Carmelite — even after she is David’s wife. Because of this interesting element, I have included each time her name is mentioned in this way, as well as her key text 1 Samuel 25:2-25:44.

“Abigail, as it is written [I Sam. xxv. 31]: “And when the Lord will do good unto my lord.” She prophesied that he would be king.” (Babylonian Talmud: Tractate Megillah)

Texts to explore and study for Abigail:

Closing blessing for Abigail:

“Avigayil, forceful woman of Carmel, you foresaw David’s future; feeding and welcoming the outlaw chief when his life was in jeopardy. Becoming his wife in hard times, before he was king and psalmist, you supported the emergence of genius. Clairvoyant mother, send us your insight so we might have the strength to trust and follow our intuitions.”

(Leah Novick, excerpted from Appeal to the Matriarchs)

9. Huldah

“Huldah, as it is said [II Kings, xxii. 14]: “Huldah the prophetess.” … Said R. Na’hman: Pride does not become women. Two women were proud, and they both had unlovely names: one was called Bee (Deborah) and one Cat (Huldah). Of Deborah it is written [Judges, iv. 6]: “And she sent and called Barak and went not herself”; and of Huldah it is said [II Kings, xxii. 15]: “Say unto the man that hath sent you to me”; and she did not say, “unto the king.”” (Babylonian Talmud: Tractate Megillah)

Texts to explore and study for Huldah:

Closing blessing for Huldah:

“Huldah, preacher at the Southern gates of the Temple, you were consulted on important religious matters, like your cousin Jeremiah. You, whose teaching comes to us in your advice to King Josiah, are needed now. Prophetic mother, help us find the deep learning of enlightenment and peace.”
(Leah Novick, excerpted from Appeal to the Matriarchs)

10. Esther

“And Esther, because it is written [Esther, v. 7]: “Esther put on royalty.” It should be written, “royal apparel”? That means, she clothed herself in the Holy Spirit, and this is inferred from an analogy of expression; here it is written, “she put on,” and in I Chron. xii. 18, “a spirit invested Amassoi.” As there the Holy Spirit is meant, so here. “(Babylonian Talmud: Tractate Megillah)

Texts to explore and study for Esther:

Closing blessing for Esther:

“Esther, gentle queen with premonitory knowledge that propelled you to save your people, whether you are historical or mythological, we are touched by your story. How you must have feared your awesome destiny, overcoming fear with transcendent faith. Royal mother, bless us with inner strength to overcome the obstacles that block us from fulfilling our sacred assignments.”
(Leah Novick, excerpted from Appeal to the Matriarchs)

11. Tying of Ushpizot Scrolls
By creating and blessing the scrolls that you will use to represent the Ushpizot at Sukkot during Shavuot, you are connecting the wheel of the year together. Take a moment here to create/finish your scrolls. Tie ribbon or string around them to hold them closed, as you will not be seeing them again until Sukkot.

Hold them in your hands and just take a moment to reflect, before moving on to the closing prayers.

Resources for Ushpizot Scrolls:

12. Closing Prayers

We honor you, prophetesses who have lead the way. May we carry you in our hearts through the summer that we may reap the harvests that you have sown. We carry you with us until you may take your place as honored guests in our Sukkah.

Blessed be the prophetesses who speak truth through all generations.

———————–

I hope you’ll share with me any thoughts you have on this idea, and since I love cheese – what cheeses or other foods, you assigned (or would assign) to each prophetess.

[tags]Shavuot, seders, wheel of the year, prophetesses, matriarchs, ritual, cheese, eco-kosher, sacred eating, sacred food, judaism, jewish, kohenet[/tags]

While I was putting together the Rosh Chodesh Guide for Sivan a few years ago, I had an idea for a Shavuot seder. According to the Kohenet Wheel of the Year, Sivan is the month of the Prophetess. It makes sense, as this is the month of prophecy and the revelation at Mt. Sinai. According to the Babylonian Talmud there are seven prophetesses in Jewish tradition

“The rabbis taught: Forty-eight prophets and seven prophetesses preached to Israel…Who were the seven prophetesses? Sarah, Miriam, Deborah, Hannah, Abigail, Huldah, Esther.” (Tractate Megillah)

This combined with two Shavuot traditions and became the basis for the idea of this seder.  The two traditions are: 1) Tradition of studying Torah all night of Shavuot eve and 2) Tradition of eating dairy on Shavuot.  Neither of these is Halachah, or Jewish law, but instead both are Minchagim – tradtions or customs.  The tradition of staying up all night to study Torah is to prepare us for the personal revelation received at Sinai on Shavuot day. It is said that at Sinai we each, individually, heard the voice of G!d/dess speak to us in our own way.

The full texts for each prophetess are NOT included in the seder.  The texts can be found in any Tanach, Chumash or for free at Mechon-Mamre.org.  The suggested texts are just a few texts that you could include. I highly encourage you to explore a variety of modern and ancient commentary and midrash on each of the prophetesses. See the end of the seder for additional resources.

There are a lot of different reasons given for the tradition of eating dairy on Shavuot; everything from agrarian to kabbalistic.  I invite you to choose whichever one (or ones) are relevant and resonant for you. For the purposes of this seder, choose a different cheese, dairy product, or dairy dish for each of the seven prophetesses. This, I think could be a great deal of fun and intellectual work. I’d love to hear what dairy product you think should be assigned to each prophetess. And, of course, try to use local, ethically farmed dairy products.

Decide for yourself if you want to nibble as you study; eat the representative food at the end of studying about each prophetess; or begin each section with a bite of food and wine. Remember that this is also the end of the counting of the Omer and the wheat harvest, so adding good bread/or wheat crackers would be an appropriate addition.

As an additional element you could also make Ushpizot cards for Sukkot featuring the seven prophetesses. It would be a great way to tie the cycle of the seasons together. An easy way to do this might be to make print out a page for each with key texts about and using the words of the prophetesses and make little scrolls out of them. You could write the name of the prophetess on the back of the scroll so it is visible when you roll it up. 

You could also add first fruits of the season to your seder, as Shavuot is also the Feast of First Fruits. Needless to say, without wine there is no blessing — so go find a few good bottles of wine to compliment your cheese.