A New Perspective on the Shalosh Regalim, By Rabbi Barry Kornblau

Rabbi Barry Kornblau is the rabbi of Young Israel of Hillis Hills-Windsor Park

Taken as a whole, the three pilgrimage festivals of Pesach/Chag Hamatzot, Shavuot, and Sukkot share much in common – the mitzvah of aliyah le’regel, ascending to the Temple in Jerusalem to encounter God with special offerings; the laws of Yom Tov; the duty to rejoice, and much more.

Taken in sequence, the three festivals also reflect two primary stories.  The first is an agricultural progression, where each holiday reflects a successive stage of the growing and harvesting season in Eretz Yisrael. The second is an historical sequence, moving from the physical redemption of our nation from Egyptian slavery, to the spiritual covenant struck at Sinai on Shavuot, and concluding with the nation’s ongoing dependence upon Hashem for its sustenance in the desert that we commemorate on Sukkot.

The progression of the three pilgrimage festivals also appears in another way: Pesach focuses on the family; Shavuot, on the specific region of Eretz Yisrael where in Bibical times, a Jewish farmer lived; Sukkot, on the totality of the Jewish nation.  This thematic movement from family to local community to nation is reflected in laws characteristic of each holiday.

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