The Pasuk in Parashas Eimor says: “Hashem spoke to Moshe, saying: Speak to the Bnei Yisrael and say to them: These are My Holidays, the Holidays of Hashem, which you shall proclaim as sacred occasions. On six days work may be done, but on the seventh day there shall be a Sabbath of complete rest, a sacred occasion. You shall do no work; it shall be a Sabbath of Hashem your LORD throughout your settlements. These are the Holidays of Hashem, the sacred occasions, which you shall celebrate each at its appointed time.”
This introduction the Parasha sets prior to describing each Holiday and its attributes, is for the least very intriguing: The Gemora states the Thora was given to us as it does not apply to Angels. Therefore, it should be our Holidays and not Hashem’s Holidays. On Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur are we not the one being judged? On Sukkoth are we not the one that need water to support all form of lives? Why then Hashem calls them His Holidays?
Secondly, even if stated once we understand that these are not our Holidays but Hashem’s, but for what purpose it had to be repeated in the next Pasuk? Thirdly, the Pasuk seems to stress an urgent point, as it says “Speak to the Bnei Yisrael and say to them”, this is a pleonasm, If Moshe is ordered to inform us of a commandment he will surely relate it by speaking to us, so why the repetition of language? The Pasuk intent is to obviously stress an important message. Let’s try to decipher it!
King David says in Psalm 124: “Were it not for Hashem, who was on our side when men assailed us, they would have swallowed us alive in their burning rage against us; the waters would have carried us off, the torrent would have swept over us; over us would have swept the seething waters”.
There seem to be no correlation between the first part to the second part. It starts describing the hatred and burning rage of our enemies, it is such that they could swallow us alive! Then there’s a complete change of subject and addresses the danger of white waters and torrents. What is King David really intending to tell us?
It could be understood according to the Zohar on Parashas Bereishis who’s explaining why is the day of Judgement, set on Rosh Hashana? It is because on that day Adam was created and Hashem gave life to his body by placing in it a Neshama. Therefore, that day was set as a Judgement day for all human beings.
However, it states in Ecclesiastes: “Because there’s no righteous man in the land who will do good and will not sin”, humanity from onset is bounded to fail if we are to be judged according to our deeds. Therefore, Hashem in His Infinite Love for us, gave us a full week to repent on our sins. Each day of that week will erase the
sins made on that day during the entire year. Then, He gave us a second chance to be judged again, Yom Kippur, but this time with Mercy.
Though, Hashem knows human nature that it requires more than a second chance to amend its ways. Therefore, Hashem provides us even more time, till Hoshaana Rabba, to deserve an exceptional year. Hashem goes to that extent, not for Him, but for us! And still we’re incapable to change, even though it’ll mean encountering hardships during the year. Is it rational and logical that, inexplicably, we’re incapable of even minimal efforts to extract ourselves from hardship?
That’s the reason Hashem provided us different Holidays, as each if performed correctly will provide us the necessary components to have a decent life. For instance, the Holiday of Sukkos is focused on the water. As without it’s critical for life sustainability. Though, water can turn also deadly as people drown in it, floods, hail etc.
The Zohar explains: the waters turn sometimes deadly due to our lack of vigilance in properly washing our hands before eating and our lack in making sure the water of a Mikve are Kosher. Though, Sukkos is the remedy and could prevent all tragedies through water. Additionally, since we’re coming out of the days of Judgement and we’re in serious help for annulling bad decrees and get all possible blessings. Hashem is awaiting us with 2 remarkable gifts: The Sukkah and the Lulav.
As you know, it’s impossible for any Jewish person to perform the 613 commandments, as we have no Temple, so all the commandments related to it cannot be performed. Besides, if a person is a Cohen, he cannot perform some commandments specific to an Yisrael, such as redeeming a first born etc. and sometimes people have a girl first, so they never have the opportunity to perform that Mitzvah. Though, the Arizal stated – the reason we were given 248 positive commandments and 365 negatives is because the body is composed by 248 limbs and 365 sinews, so every Mitzvah refers to one specifically and provides it sustainability and prevent it from any sickness. Though, as described earlier, it is impossible to be liable to all the 613 commandments,
Chazal answered: The Sukkah, living in a hut during the Holiday of Sukkos, is valued as the performing of all the 613 commandments. The Mitzvah of “Skach”, the rooftop of the Sukkah, was provided so we would deserve the “Clouds of Glory” and all the associated blessings. The Mitzvah of shacking the 4 species was provided to protect us from enemies and to deserve only “Waters of Life”; What generous gifts! Hashem has made our life so easy and so simple but we’re the one complicating them!
Now we understand why Hashem Had to say it’s “My Holidays”, because of His Unbounded Love for us, He even must force us to accept His remarkable presents!
By Rabbi Shimon Friedman – Din Torah Of NMB, FL 305.399.0393 / firstname.lastname@example.org