Shavuos is the culmination of the seven-week-long “counting of the Omer” that occurs following Pesach. The very name “Shavuos” means “Weeks,” in recognition of the weeks of anticipation leading up to the Har Sinai experience. Shavuot commemorates Hashem giving the Torah to B’nei Yisrael. During the holiday prayer services, we read the story of the Revelation at Mount Sinai and the giving of the Ten Commandments. On the second day of Shavuos, we read Megillas Rus.
It is appropriate to read the Book of Ruth on Shavuos for two reasons: First, because Shavuos is known as Chag HaKatzir – the harvest festival. Megillas Rus gives us a picture of how the poor were treated in the harvest season with sympathy and love. Second, because Shavuos is the birthday and the day of passing of King David, the great-grandson of Ruth and Boaz. In the Book of Ruth, we are shown the origin of the House of David – King David was the great-grandson of Ruth and Boaz. When we read Megillas Ruth, we recognize that Ruth is Eim HaMalchus – the Mother of the Kingdom. She is also the quintessence of a true convert; on Shavuos we recognize that just as we accepted the Torah, converts to Judaism accepted it, as well, at Har Sinai.
Since there is a special connection between Shavuos and David HaMelech, many have the custom to read the entire book of T’hilim during this time (Ben Ish Chai, BaMidbar ).
In T’hilim, David HaMelech declares “They [mitzvos] are more desirable than “paz” (gold). In Hebrew, the letters pei-zayin have the numerical value of 87. Eighty-seven is the number of mitzvos that can possibly be performed nowadays without the Beis HaMikdash. They include the observance of the holidays, performance of a bris milah, chupah ceremonies, loving a friend, giving tz’dakah, reciting the Sh’ma, putting on t’filin, saying Birkas HaMazon, observing Shabbos, learning Torah, etc. Shavuos is a great time to improve one’s observance of mitzvos.
(Material was previously published on www.ShiratMiriam.com.)