75 words for 75 years of Israel – Regel/Festival

In honor of Israel’s 75th birthday, Israel365 is excited to launch a new series of essays that will unlock the secrets of the Hebrew Bible!

Excerpted from Rabbi Akiva Gersh’s forthcoming book, 75 Hebrew Words You Need to Understand the Bible (available soon!) these essays illuminate the connection between related Hebrew words, revealing Biblical secrets only accessible through Hebrew.

Enjoy the series – and happy 75th birthday to the State of Israel!





“Three times a year you shall hold a festival for Me. You shall observe the Feast of Matzah, eating matzah for seven days as I have commanded you at the set time in the month of Spring, for in it you went forth from Egypt; and none shall appear before Me empty-handed.” (Exodus 23:14-15)

שלש רגלים תחג לי בשנה. את חג המצות תשמר שבעת ימים תאכל מצות כאשר צויתך למועד חדש האביב כי בו יצאת ממצרים ולא יראו פני ריקם.

“And God said, “Do not come closer! Remove your sandals from your feet, for the place on which you stand is holy ground!” (Exodus 3:5)

ויאמר אל תקרב הלם של נעליך מעל רגליך כי המקום אשר אתה עומד עליו אדמת קדש הוא.

Regel, Hebrew for “festival,” refers to the three annual pilgrimage festivals: Passover, Shavuot and Sukkot. When the Temple stood in Jerusalem, Israelites were commanded to travel to Jerusalem during these festivals in order to stand in the presence of God in His holiest place. For many people, this journey could take a week or more. Pilgrims would then celebrate the festival for a full week in Jerusalem, before finally taking another week to return home. Though each pilgrimage required a significant investment of time and money, this experience was an essential part of ancient Jewish life. By celebrating the festivals together in the Temple, the people strengthened their bond with God and infused the rest of their year with Godliness and clarity of purpose. 

The festivals coincide with different stages in the land of Israel’s agricultural cycle. Passover is the Festival of Spring, when the crops have just begun to ripen. Shavuot is the Festival of the Harvest, occuring in the late spring during the harvest. Sukkot is the Festival of Gathering, and is celebrated in the fall when the crops are gathered. In Biblical life, spirituality and physicality go hand in hand. 

Regel also means “feet” in Hebrew. Though seemingly unrelated to one another, the words “feet” and “festival” are bonded together through the people’s pilgrimages to Jerusalem. Most pilgrims traveled to Jerusalem on foot, joyously undertaking the arduous journey to celebrate with God in Jerusalem. In this spirit, the Sages praise the pilgrims by citing a passage from Song of Songs: “How beautiful are your footsteps in your shoes, daughter of nobles” (7:2).

The Israel Bible Team


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