Holidays

Leviticus 23:1-44

This passage delineates the holidays God has designated for the Children of Israel. Beginning with the Sabbath, it lists the unique commands of each holiday and an overview of its sacrificial service. Passover, or Pesach, is next, with its unleavened bread, followed by the command to bring an Omer offering from the first of the harvest. From the second day of Passover, when the Omer is brought, 49 days must be counted until the next holiday, Shavuot, or the Feast of Weeks. Then we are told that on the first day of the seventh month, the new year, Rosh Hashana, is marked, and on the tenth of the month is the Day of Atonement, Yom Kippur, during which the people must afflict themselves with fasting. The fifteenth is Sukkot, the Feast of Tabernacles, where the Children of Israel are commanded to dwell in booths, and the eighth day of this seven-day holiday is called Shemini Atzeret, which is also consecrated.

 

The Israel Bible includes several fascinating insights into these holidays. Of the Omer, it says the offering is meant as a reminder of God’s role. Throughout their travels in the desert, God provided the Israelites with Manna. Tradition says the Manna stopped falling on the second day of Passover following their arrival to the Israel. The barley offering of the Omer reminds the people that despite all the effort they have put into planting and harvesting the grain, it is only through God’s blessing that it grew.

 

On Sukkot, God commands the Children of Israel to take four species together and wave them. The Sages liken the species to four types of people: the citron, which has both taste and smell, is like one who has both wisdom and good deeds. The myrtle, with its pleasant scent, is like one who has wisdom only. The date palm, with its sweet fruit, is like one who is not knowledgeable, but does good deeds. Finally, the willow, with neither smell nor taste, is like one who lacks both wisdom and action. By taking all four types together, we symbolize the importance of uniting everyone in the service of God.

 

Sukkot is also the time in which the Talmud says God judges the people for rain. Yet the Torah specifically commands the people to be happy at this time. How can a nation so dependent on rain (Israel’s primary water source) rejoice while they are under such scrutiny and uncertainty? By making the people dependent on rain, God strengthens their connection to Him. That connection is the source of the great joy.

 

Virtual Classroom Discussion

Why do you think the new year is marked in the seventh month and not the first?

Comments ( 14 )

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  • Charles Daliere

    I have always thought giving thanks to our creator is of major importance in our lives. The seventh month is around the time of the fall harvest and a perfect time to worship, seek forgiveness for failings, give thanks, and then set goals and plans for a better next 12 months.

  • Herman Arentsen

    I believe the Exodus was in the seventh month on Rosh Chodesh. Sjemot 12:2 says that this month from now on will be the first of the months of the year. So the 7th month became at that time the first month. Also of importance is the fact that RoshHashana starts of with the "10 awesome days" (jomim norajim) to get a clean heart at jom Kippur and being inscribed in the Book of Life. Then life continues……

  • Michael

    Seven is God’s Perfection… The feast days our His! Even these are my feasts. Thy word is pure tried seven times. I am amazed at God’s order, his precision, What an awesome God…. dates & times given to show forth his handiwork.

  • Johnny

    I believe Hashem by this Four Species waved together Care for all and everyone, not leaving a single person out of his holy realm

  • Sheila

    The seventh month of Sep- Oct marked the end of one agricultural year and the beginning of another. Does this have something to do with the agricultural cycle? It is a very special month with the celebration of three important feasts of the Lord. The blowing of the trumpets — according to my bible commentary heralds in the new agricultural year — Num29 :1-4. There are extra holidays in this month perhaps reflecting the solemn feast of the Day of Atonement and the feast of Tabernacles celebrating the wheat harvest..

  • Theresa

    The number seven means rest, completion and divine perfection. G-d created and then rested the seventh day. Six is the number of man, which is imperfect. The new year starts in the seventh month, a new beginning. Maybe it is a time to let go of the imperfection of man’s striving and reach for the divine perfection of the Creator. A reminder to enter into His rest in the new year and let go of the imperfections of the previous year. This would follow the thought of the creation of the world being re-lived every seventh month, in the beginning of the new year.

    • Theresa

      One more thought, “In the beginning G-d created the heaven and the earth. And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep, ” Gen 1:1,2. The earth was created, then it seems it was reformed from being without form, and void and in darkness. This again reminds me of a newness that would begin in the seven month of the year.

    • Phyllis Pearson

      Yes, seven is the complete number isn't it! Yes the day of rest and everything else said, but I wonder if this number is more Holy to Lord than any other. The number seven is mentioned so many times in the Bible… are there some learned men or women who have studied the Torah reading this that can illuminate this matter for us?

      • Shira Schechter (Moderator)

        Here is a link to an interesting article about the number seven in Judaism: https://www.ou.org/torah/parsha/parsha-from-ou/seven-the-power-of-numbers/

        • Phyllis Pearson

          Shalom Shira, what an awesome site, I didn't
          want to stop ready and went on into the next topic – Shàlom, and I learn a new word 'archdus'.. I shall refer to this site often. Thank you suggesting it.

          I understand! I understand G-d's principle of completeness and how it was worked out in creation now. Without the seventh day nothing would have been completed. What helped understand was the Brit Milah. Six days without a seventh Is incomplete, and G-d wants that we are complete.

          Thank you Shira:-)

          Awesome,

  • Ken

    Good question – difficult to answer. There are various traditions and in this situation the Jewish tradition of Rosh HaShanah differs from explicit scriptural statement. Exodus 12:2 indicates the Jewish year starts in the spring season (Aviv, Nisan). The time of great deliverance of a people from bondage.
    .
    There is no question of the importance of ALL the appointed seasons of God and there seems to be a clear distinction made between the early and latter appointed seasons.
    .
    There is a common thread between the early and latter seasons – it is one of deliverance and rejoicing.
    .
    However in the latter season there are some additional lessons of renewal that are not present in the early appointed seasons. In the 7th month there is the sound of trumpets, great soul searching, a great forgiveness of sin and finally a remembrance of what God has done for them in the past. All this is followed by a 8th day (v39).
    .
    This latter season seems to bear aspects of great renewal and the idea of a new year seems logical, but falls short of the grand renewal that God is going to do in his time – cutting of a new covenant (Jeremiah 31:30-35).

  • Diana Brown

    I have been taught that God created the Heavens and the Earth on Rosh HaShana. Is that why?

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