An all night Torah study is a traditional way to celebrate Shavuot or the Feast of Weeks. Since the Covenant was given most likely at (or at least around) Shavuot, many people enjoy staying up all night reading and discussing the Word in anticipation and excitement of the fourth feast.
Certainly you don't have to attend a Torah study that goes through the night, but think of the wonderful opportunity to create memories with your family! For children staying up late is very exciting and indicates that something important is happening and is bound to be memorable. Rabbi Shaul once taught an all-nighter, and had a listener fall asleep and crash out of the window. He was dead but Shaul ran down and prayed and he was raised back to life! A late night pajama study or early morning Torah study with breakfast would also make this a special time.
Tips for a wonderful Torah Study:
-Have it at home or the congregation. Since Shavuot is a no-work day it is important that your Torah study is not held in a business, coffee shop, or library. While those are fine locations for study at other times it is inappropriate to do business on a Feast of YHWH. Meet in a home or at your congregation's meeting place if that's an option.
-Invite guests to wear comfy clothes. Let everyone know ahead of time that the dress code is relaxed. You could even host a pajama party study, so that everyone can go straight to bed when they get home.
-Be prepared for sleepers. If you are hosting families with young children have plenty of pillows and cozy blankets for those who fall asleep.
-Have coffee, tea, and snacks! And plenty of it if it will be a late night. Dairy, honey, and wheat are traditional foods of Shavuot. If you plan on serving breakfast a yogurt bar with lots of toppings would be fun and easy.
-Go over passages ahead of time. Grab a notebook and jot down questions or insights to share with everyone. This will help keep things moving if you hit a sleepy lull.
-Assign one person to do the Googling. The internet has many great resources for the study of Scripture, so don't be afraid to look things up as you go if you're wondering about the root of a word, a related passage, or whatever else. Putting one person in charge will keep things from turning into a 'look at your phone' party.
-Take breaks. Plan on having some time for bathroom breaks, making more tea, playing a game (maybe the Bible version of Apples To Apples?), and just chatting and catching up with friends. If you have art supplies you could set up a Scripture journaling station where guests can get creative illustrating a favorite verse. You could also watch or listen to a related teaching online to mix things up.
-Light the menorah. Having a lit menorah would be a festive touch to the evening. You could also decorate with balloons, bunting, streamers, etc. for more fun. Grab a free printable for Shavuot here.
-Have crafts for kids. While I don't think children should be separated from the Torah study, depending on their ages having a Ten Commandments or Ruach HaKodesh craft or two will help keep them connected to what's happening. You could also invite kids to share the stories they know from Scripture with the group.
-Take turns reading aloud and compare. This is a great way to get the less talkative involved and gives everyone else a chance to rest their voice. If you have different versions of Scripture available, reading the same passage in each can give helpful insight to better understanding a verse.
Speaking of verses, here is a list of passages to read during Shavuot, whether or not you find yourself at a late night Torah study. Some of these are traditional, some are where we see this feast celebrated in Scripture, and some I think are especially fitting during this time. Of course there are no wrong passages of the Torah to study, use these as a starting point.
What Scriptures to read during Shavuot?
Shemot 19-20 - the giving of the Covenant after the Israelites left Egypt.
Vayikra 23:14-22 - this passage is about Shavuot itself.
Deuteronomy 14-16 - this passage also goes over the Festivals of YHWH.
Ten Commandments - this is in Exodus 20:1-17. I like to emphasize these because of course the infamous Golden Calf story also happened around Shavuot, so it's important to know how to live correctly so we also do not break Covenant with YHWH.
Book of Ruth - this is traditional to read because the story takes place around the spring harvest time, like Shavuot itself. It also beautifully parallels the story of many of us who weren't born into a Torah based community but chose that path with the help of a redeemer.
2 Chronicles 8:13 - Israel kept the Feasts under King Shlomo.
Acts 2 - this is where the Ruach HaKodesh was poured out on believers, just ten days after the ascension of Yahusha. It happened at Shavuot.
Book of Acts - I love Acts because it is about those who lived both as followers of Yahusha and as keepers of Torah. This is the lifestyle we should have today.
What are you doing for Shavuot this year? We are a little over a week away so it's time to start planning.