Emor – Celebrations

1 YHWH spoke to Moses saying: 2 Speak to the children of Israel and tell them that these are the appointed times of YHWH that you will call festivals…10 Speak to the children of Israel and tell them: when you come into the land, you will reap the harvest and bring the first bundle of stalks from your harvest to the priest.  

Leviticus 23

Moshe, tell the People of Israel about these festivals. Explain each one ad infinitum and constantly.  Leave nothing to chance!  Spell out each tiny and exact detail: when, how, with whom, and where these observances should be performed. Just be aware that these holy days won’t be fully comprehended out there in the desert, not until they have lived at least one full year in the Land of Israel. Evidently, these holy days can be observed perfectly anywhere in the world. Yet they can only come alive in the Land of Israel…

1 Song of ascent [1]Hebrew uncertain when YHWH returned us to Zion, we were like dreamers.
2 Then our mouths were filled with laughter and our tongues with song so it was said in the nations YHWH did great things for them
3 YHWH did great things for us, we rejoiced.

Psalm 126

When Pesach takes over the air in the streets, rooftops and alleyways around everyone’s home, and how cleaning supplies weigh down baskets and spread their special perfume in honor of Pesach, matzah and spring,

With fresh cheeses and luscious fruits on hand the night sky opens to those who study late on Shavuot,

Where makeshift dwellings, decked in tinsel and light, sway in the autumn breeze during Sukkot!

14 Three pilgrimages you will celebrate each year. 15 The Feast of the Unleavened Bread, you will observe seven days and eat unleavened bread as you were commanded at the appointed time of the spring…15 And the Feast of the Harvest for the first part of the produce that you had planted in the field and the Feast of the Ingathering at the end of the year for the collection of the produce from the field.

Exodus 23
Seder table

1 Give thanks to YHWH who is good, for whose grace abides.
2 Israel will proclaim that [God’s] goodness abides.

Psalm 118
Shavuot “You will rejoice in your festivals and will be happy!” Deuteronomy 16

14 YH’ is my strength and my song and is my salvation…19 Open for the gates of righteousness; I will enter and praise YH’ 20 This is gate of YHWH, the righteous will enter there.

Psalm 118

In the Sukkah before Sukkot

28 You are my God and I will thank you, I will exalt my God.
29 Give thanks to YHWH who is good, for whose grace abides.

Psalm 118

These are the experiences of those who observe the holy days in Land of Israel – they are just everywhere:

  • listed in calendars,
  • advertised on shop windows,
  • flashed across the media,
  • discussed in supermarket checkout lines,
  • sung by every kindergarten teacher,
  • analyzed by professors and songwriters.

Midrash Harabah and English translations by Rabbi Gail Shuster-Bouskila ©2021


1 Hebrew uncertain