Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Re'eh - Rosh Chodesh 1

Deuteronomy 11:26–16:17

Rabbi Eric Mendelsohn for Jewish Reconstructionist Communities

"Be Happy!"

"Remember the month of Aviv and keep the Passover ...". In Parshat Re'eh we are given a description of the three major pilgrim festivals, Pesah, Shavuot, and Sukkot. These are the Chagim. Chag is a correlative of the word Haj. Just as Haj to Mecca is a requirement for the Moslem (if one can afford it) so is the Chag to Jerusalem if one is a Jew.

The grandchildren of the great medieval Jewish commentator Rashi, building on his commentary, note that the word "Simcha" which like "V'ahavta" is an imperative - "Be happy !" occurs three times in the description of Sukkot (and with the extra command "Ach Sameach" - "Also be happy", it is almost like a parents' reminder -- "Have a good time and by the way, have a good time.") On the other hand - "Simcha" is mentioned only once for Shavuot, and not at all with regard to Pesah.

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