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D14. Rejoicing at the Festivals of Shavuot & Sukkot.    [Make a Comment]

We are to rejoice at the festivals of Shavuot and Sukkot.

This precept is derived from His Word (blessed is He):

Leviticus 23:39-40
But on the fifteenth day of the seventh month, when you have gathered the produce of the land, you are to observe the festival of ADONAI seven days; the first day is to be a complete rest and the eighth day is to be a complete rest. On the first day you are to take choice fruit, palm fronds, thick branches and river-willows, and celebrate (NKJ: "rejoice") in the presence of ADONAI your God for seven days.

Deuteronomy 16:10-11
You are to observe the festival of Shavu'ot [weeks] for ADONAI your God with a voluntary offering, which you are to give in accordance with the degree to which ADONAI your God has prospered you. You are to rejoice in the presence of ADONAI your God - you, your sons and daughters, your male and female slaves, the L'vi'im living in your towns, and the foreigners, orphans and widows living among you - in the place where ADONAI your God will choose to have his name live.

Deuteronomy 16:13-15 (Maimonides RP54; Meir MP21; Chinuch C488)
You are to keep the festival of Sukkot for seven days after you have gathered the produce of your threshing-floor and winepress. Rejoice at your festival - you, your sons and daughters, your male and female slaves, the L'vi'im, and the foreigners, orphans and widows living among you. Seven days you are to keep the festival for ADONAI your God in the place ADONAI your God will choose, because ADONAI your God will bless you in all your crops and in all your work, so you are to be full of joy!

There are many verses in Scripture (e.g. in Psalms and Philippians 4:4) that exhort us to rejoice in the Lord, and 1 Thessalonians 5:16 that exhorts us to rejoice at all times. The above Scriptures single out two festivals (Shavuot and Sukkot) for rejoicing - possibly because they are both festivals of harvest. Most of the appointed times listed in Leviticus 23, while required to be kept by Jews, are only optional for Gentiles who are not k'rovei Yisrael. Sukkot is an exception however, because of Zechariah 14:16's reference to "all the nations." That notwithstanding, the description is of the "Age to Come," so its requirement for Gentiles in this age cannot be established. Connection to its meaning is important, however, so the season is a fitting time for joint celebrations in regional gatherings (that include worship) by Jewish and Gentile congregations.

Commentators:
Maimonides, Meir, and HaChinuch rely on Deuteronomy 16:14 (Maimonides and HaChinuch rely additionally on Deuteronomy 27:7) to state that we are to rejoice in (celebrate at) all of God's feasts. They do not limit their mitzvot of celebration to Shavuot and Sukkot, although these two are the only festivals in Scripture on which rejoicing or celebrating is commanded.

NCLA: JMm JFm KMm KFm GMo GFo

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