Gathering for Torah: Of course you, Abq Jew's loyal readers, know that we Jews have this thing for the number seven. Starting, we recall, with the days of the week, but continuing way out from there.
So let's talk about the mitzvah of Hakhal (Gathering). Yes, it's one more of the seven (7) year cycles! As Sefaria tells us:
The Torah explains that the people – all genders and all ages – would gather together every seven years to listen to the Torah being read publicly.
This event, known as Hakhel, which means “gathering,” would take place during the week of the Festival of Sukkot and the leader of the people - usually the king - would recite specific passages.
Every seven years - we get that. During Sukkot - making a joyful festival even more so? - we get that, too. But which year in the cycle (we have seven to choose from) do we do Hakhal? The Rabbis (via Sefaria) tell us:
This event is also designated to occur during Shemitah - the sabbatical year of agricultural and economic remission when every seven years farmland was left fallow and debts were released.
The Shemitah year occurs every seven years beginning at Rosh Hashanah and ending at the following Rosh Hashanah.
Since Sukkot takes place after Rosh Hashanah, the rabbis in the Mishnah interpret this to mean
The Sukkot after the Shemitah year concludes.
Which would be this year!
One minor problem. As Chabad tells us:
The Biblical mitzvah of Hakhel is only in effect when all the Jewish people reside in the Holy Land, and it will be reinstated with the coming of Moshiach.
In the meantime - there are things that we here - residents of Albuquerque, New Mexico, United States of America, Earth - can do. As always, Chabad provides a tutorial.
Coming together to share our heritage can inspire us. uplift us, unite us. Give us hope. We New MexiJews need this right now. As Cory Booker has said:
Hope is the active conviction
that despair will never have the last word.
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