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August 30, 2015 / conservadox

Dvar Torah- Ki Tavo

I was just starting to read next week’s Torah portion (which begins with a discussion of the first fruits offering, Deut. 26) when something in the Soncino Chumash grabbed my attention.  The Torah says Jews shall rejoice (Deut. 26:11) while giving the first-fruits offerings to the Temple, and the Chumash says that according to Rashi, the phrase “rejoice” means “that the fruits could only be given during the season of rejoicing, viz. between Pentecost and Tabernacles.”   So Rashi is saying that in Temple times the summer and early fall (roughly June-Oct.) were the “season of rejoicing.”

I can’t say he’s wrong.  But it does appear to me that the season between Shavuot and Succot is the opposite of the season of rejoicing today.  After Shavuot we get (1) three weeks of mourning in the summer, bookended by two fasts (17th of Tammuz, 9th of Av), (2) Rosh Hashanah, (3) a third fast (Fast of Gedaliah) right after Rosh Hashanah and (4) Yom Kippur.  Four fasts in four months – not exactly a “season of rejoicing.”  In post-Talmudic Judaism, when is our season of rejoicing?  I would say that it starts with Sukkot, then goes to Hanukah, then Purim- in short, late fall and winter, the opposite of the Temple-era season of rejoicing.

I guess the Destruction of the Temples really did change everything (as well as the evolution from an agricultural to a more commercial economy, I suspect).


One Comment

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  1. Shira Salamone / Sep 1 2015 1:39 pm

    That’s an interesting point.

    I’ve always found it more than a little suspicious that Jewish periods of mourning tend to coincide with periods in which the non-Jewish population is enjoying the we-can-finally-leave-the-house-without snow-boots weather, namely spring (Sefirah) and summer (The Three Weeks/Drei Vachen, Shalosh HaShavuot ending in Tisha B’Av). As Alfred Lord Tennyson wrote in the poem Locksley Hall, “”In the Spring a young man’s fancy lightly turns to thoughts of love.” If I were a conspiracy theorist, I’d think that the rabbis deliberately distracted us from the obvious by insisted that we observe periods of mourning while everyone else was, um, otherwise occupied.

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