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THE feast of unleavened bread, or "Passover," begins upon the evening of the 14th day of Nissan (April), and was instituted in commemoration of our ancestors' redemption from Egypt, a memorial forever. During its continuance we are strictly forbidden the use of any leavened thing.

Moses said to the Israelites in the name of the Lord:--

"Draw out and take for yourselves a lamb," etc.

By the observance of this precept they would deserve well of God and He would redeem them, for when He spoke they were "naked and bare" of good deeds and meritorious acts.

"Draw out and take for yourselves a lamb."

Draw yourselves away from the idols which ye are worshiping with the Egyptians, the calves and lambs of stone and metal, and with one of the same animals through which ye sin, prepare to fulfill the commandments of your God.

The planet sign of the month Nissan is a lamb; therefore, that the Egyptians might not think that through the powers of the lamb they had thrown off the yoke of slavery, God commanded His people to take a lamb and eat it,

They were commanded to roast it whole and to break no bone of it, so that the Egyptians might know that it was indeed a lamb which they had consumed.

The Lord said to Moses, "Tell the children of Israel that they shall borrow of the Egyptians gold and silver vessels," in order that it might not be afterward said, "The words 'they will make them serve, and they will afflict them,' were fulfilled: but the words 'they shall go out with great substance,' did not come to pass."

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When Moses told the Israelites that they should go up out of Egypt with great substance, they answered, "Would that we could go even empty-handed," like to the servant confined in prison.

"To-morrow," said the jailer to him, "I will release thee from prison, and give thee much money."

"Let me go to-day, and give me nothing," replied the prisoner.

On the seventh day of the Passover the children of Israel passed through the Red Sea on dry land.

A man was once traveling along the road and his son preceded him on the way. A robber appeared in the path, and the man put his son behind him. Then lo, a wolf came after the lad, and his father lifted him up and carried him within his arms.

The sea was before the Israelites, the Egyptians were behind them, so God lifted up His child and carried it within His arms.

When Israel suffered from the hot rays of the sun God "spread the cloud for a covering;" when they were hungry He sent them bread from heaven; and when they thirsted "He brought forth floods from a rock."


The Feast of Weeks, or "Pentecost," occurs upon the sixth day of the third month, Sivan (June). It is called the Feast of Weeks because forty-nine days, or seven weeks, duly numbered, elapse between the second day of Passover, when (during the existence of the Temple) a sheaf of green barley was offered, and this festival, when two loaves made of the first flour of the wheat harvest were "brought before the Lord." It is also the anniversary of the delivery of the commandment from Mount Sinai.

Why does not the Bible particularize in this as on other occasions, and say directly, "On the sixth day of the third month was the law given?"

Because in ancient times the men called "wise" placed their faith and dependence upon the planets. They divided

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these into seven, apportioning one to each day of the week. Some nations selected for their greatest god the sun, other nations the moon, and so on, and prayed to them and worshiped them. They knew not that the planets moved and changed according to the course of nature, established by the Most High, a course which He might change according to His will, and into their ignorant ideas many of the Israelites had entered. Therefore, as they considered the planets as seven, God made many other things depending on that number, to show that as He made them, so had He made the planets.

The seventh day of the week He made the Sabbath; the seventh year he made the year of rest; after seven times seven years, or after seven Sabbatical years, He ordained the jubilee, or year of release. Seven days He gave to the Passover festival, and seven days to the Feast of Tabernacles. Seven days was Jericho surrounded, and seven priests took seven trumpets and marched round its walls seven times upon the seventh day.

Therefore, after numbering seven weeks during the ripening time of the grain, the Israelites were to hold a holy convocation, to praise the One who can prevent all things, but who cannot be prevented; who can change all things, but is unchangeable.

The first day the Israelites were redeemed from slavery and superstition; the fiftieth day a law was given them for their guide through life; therefore they are commanded to number these days and remember them.

The children of Ishmael, says the legend, were asked to accept the law. "What does it contain?" they asked. "Thou shalt not steal," was the answer. "How can we then accept it," they returned, "when thus was our forefather blessed, 'Thy hand shall be against every man?'"

The children of Esau were asked to accept the law, and they also inquired, "What does it contain?" "Thou shalt not kill," was the answer. "We cannot accept it, then," said they, "for thus did our father Isaac bless us, 'By the sword shalt thou live.'"

When Israel was asked to accept the law, the people answered, "We will do and obey."

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On the first day of the seventh month, Tishri (October), is the commemoration of the creation of the world. Then the cornet is blown to announce to the people that a new year has begun its course, and to warn them to examine strictly their conduct and make amends therein where amends are needed.

Would not any person of sense, knowing that he must appear before a Court of Judgment, prepare himself therefor? Either in a civil or a criminal case would he not seek for counsel? How much more, then, is it incumbent upon him to prepare for a meeting with the King of kings, before whom all things are revealed. No counsel can help him in his case; repentance, devotion, charity, these are the arguments which must plead in his favor. Therefore, a person should search his actions and repent his transgressions previous to the day of judgment. In the month of Elul (September) he should arouse himself to a consciousness of the dread justice awaiting all mankind.

This is the season when the Lord pardoned the Israelites who had worshiped the molten calf. He commanded Moses to reascend the mount for a second tablet, after he had destroyed the first. Thus say the sages, "The Lord said unto Moses in the month Elul, 'Go up unto me on the mountain,' and Moses went up and received the second tablet at the end of forty days. Before he ascended he caused the trumpet to be sounded through the camp." Since that time it is customary to sound the shophar (cornet) in the synagogues, to give warning to the people that the day of judgment, New Year, is rapidly approaching, and with it the Day of Atonement. Therefore, propitiatory prayers are said twice every day, morning and evening, from the second day of Elul until the eve of the Day of Atonement, which period comprises the last forty days which Moses passed on Sinai, when God was reconciled to Israel and pardoned their transgressions with the molten calf.

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Rabbi Eleazer said, "Abraham and Jacob were born in Tishri, and in Tishri they died. On the first of Tishri the universe was created, and during the Passover was Isaac born. On the first of Tishri (New Year), Sarah, Rachel, and Hannah, three barren women, were visited. On the first day of Tishri our ancestors discontinued their rigorous labor in Egypt. On the first of Tishri Adam was created; from his existence we count our years, that is the sixth day of the creation. On that day, too, did he eat of the forbidden fruit, therefore is the season appointed for one of penitence, for the Lord said to Adam, 'This shall be for a sign in future generations; thy descendants shall be judged upon these days, and they shall be appointed as days of pardon and forgiveness.'"

Four times in the year the Lord pronounces His decrees.

First, New Year, the first of Tishri. Then the judgments of all human beings for the coming year are ordained.

Second, The first day of Passover. Then the scarcity or fullness of the crops is determined.

Third, Pentecost. Then the Lord blesses the fruit of the trees, or bids them bear not in plenty.

Fourth, The Feast of Tabernacles. Then the Lord determines whether the rain shall bless the earth in its due season or not.

Man is judged on New Year's and the decree is made final on the Day of Atonement.

Rabbi Nathan has said that man is judged at all times.

Thus taught Rabbi Akiba. "Why does the law command the bringing of a sheaf of barley on the Passover? Because the Passover is the season of the harvest of the grain. The Lord says, 'Offer for me a sheaf of barley on Passover, that I may bless the grain which is in the field.'

"Why does the Bible say, 'Bring two loaves of the new wheat on Pentecost?' Because at Pentecost time the fruit ripens, and God says, 'Offer for me two loaves of the new wheat, in order that I may bless the fruit which is on the trees.'

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"Why were we commanded to bring a drink-offering of water into the Temple on the Feast of Tabernacles? Because then is the season of rain, and the Lord says, 'Bring the drink-offering of water to me, in order that I may bless the rain of the year.'

"Why do they make the cornet which they blow of a ram's horn? In order that the Lord may remember the ram which was sacrificed instead of Isaac, and allow the merits of the patriarchs to weigh in favor of their descendants, as it is written in the Decalogue, 'Showing mercy to thousands of those who love me and keep my commandments.'"

On New Year's day they recite in the synagogues the record of the binding of Isaac for the same purpose. While God has mercy upon His creatures He gives them a season for repentance, that they may not perish in their wickedness, therefore as it is written in Lamentations 3:40, we should "search through and investigate our ways and return unto the Lord."

During the year man is apt to grow callous as to his transgressions, therefore the cornet is sounded to arouse him to the consciousness of the time which is passing so rapidly away. "Rouse thee from thy sleep," it says to him; "the hour of thy visitation approaches." The Eternal wishes not to destroy His children, merely to arouse them to repentance and good resolves.

Three classes of people are arraigned for judgment: the righteous, the wicked, and the indifferent. To the righteous the Lord awards a happy life; the wicked He condemns, and to the indifferent ones He grants a respite. From New Year's day until the Day of Atonement His judgment He holds in abeyance; if they repent truly they are classed with the righteous for a happy life, and if they remain untouched, they are counted with the wicked.

Three sounds for the cornet are commanded in the Bible. A pure sound (T`kiah), a sound of alarm or trembling (T`ruah), and, thirdly, a pure sound again (T`kiah).

The first sound typifies man's first awakening to penitence; he must search well his heart, desert his evil ways, and purify his thoughts, as it is written, "Let the wicked

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forsake his ways and the man of unrighteousness his thoughts, and let him return unto the Lord."

The alarm sound typifies the sorrow which a repentant man feels for his misconduct and his earnest determination to reform.

The last sound is the pure sound again, which typifies a sincere resolve to keep the repentant heart incorrupt.

The Bible says to us:--

"The word is very nigh unto thee, in thy mouth and in thy heart, that thou mayest do it." This verse teaches us that repentance is nearer to those who believe in God and His book than fanatics would make it. Difficult penances are ordained for the sinner among them. He must fast many days, or travel barefoot through rugged ways, or sleep in the open air. But we are not required to travel to the nether end of the ocean or to climb to mountain tops, for our Holy Word says to us, "It is not in heaven, neither is it beyond the sea, but the Word is very nigh."

In three ways may we repent:--

First, By words of mouth, finding birth in an honest heart.

Secondly, With our feelings, sorrow for sins committed.

Thirdly, By good deeds in the future.

Rabbi Saadiah declared that God commanded us to sound the cornet on New Year's day for ten reasons.

First, Because this day is the beginning of the creation, when God began to reign over the world, and as it is customary to sound the trumpets at the coronation of a king, we should in like manner proclaim by the sound of the cornet that the Creator is our king,--as David said, "With trumpets and the sound of the cornet, shout ye before the Lord."

Secondly, As the New Year day is the first of the ten penitential days, we sound the cornet as a proclamation to admonish all to return to God and repent. If they do not so, they at least have been informed, and cannot plead ignorance. Thus we find that earthly kings publish their decrees with such concomitant, that none may say, "We heard not this."

Thirdly, To remind us of the law given on Mount Sinai, where it is said, "The voice of the cornet was exceeding

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loud." To remind us also that we should bind ourselves anew to the performance of its precepts, as did our ancestors, when they said, "All that the Lord hath said will we do and obey."

Fourthly, To remind us of the prophets, who were compared to watchmen blowing the trumpet of alarm, as we find in Ezekiel, "Whosoever heareth the sound of the cornet and taketh not warning, and the sound cometh and taketh him away, his blood shall be upon his own head; but he that taketh warning shall save his life."

Fifthly, To remind us of the destruction of the Temple and the fearsome sound of the battle-cry of our enemies. "Because thou hast heard, oh my soul, the sound of the trumpet, the alarm of war." Therefore when we hear the sound of the cornet we should implore God to rebuild the Temple.

Sixthly, To remind us of the binding of Isaac, who willingly offered himself for immolation, in order to sanctify the Holy Name.

Seventhly, That when we hear the terrifying sound, we may, through dread, humble ourselves before the Supreme Being, for it is the nature of these martial instruments to produce a sensation of terror, as the prophet Amos observes, "Shall a trumpet be blown in a city, and the people not to be terrified?"

Eighthly, To remind us of the great and terrible Day of judgment, on which the trumpet is to be sounded, as we find in Zeph., "The great day of the Lord is near, and hasteneth much, a day of the trumpet and of shouting."

Ninthly, To remind us to pray for the time when the outcasts of Israel are to be gathered together, as promised in Isaiah, "And it shall come to pass in that day, the great trumpet shall be sounded, and those shall come who were perishing in the land of Assyria."

Tenthly, To remind us of the resurrection of the dead, and our firm belief therein, "Yea, all ye that inhabit the world, and that dwell on the earth, when the standard is lifted upon the mountain, behold, and when the trumpet is sounded, hear!" says the prophet Isaiah.

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Therefore should we set our hearts to these seasons, and fulfill the precept that the Bible commands us, as it is written:--

"And the Lord commanded us to do all the statutes . . . that it might be well with us at all times."


The hearts of all who fear God should tremble with the reflection that all the deeds of the creature are known to the Creator, and will be by Him accounted to them for good or evil. God is ready at all times to acknowledge true penitence; and of repentance there are seven degrees:

First, the righteous man, who repents his misconduct as soon as he becomes aware of his sin. This is the best and most complete.

Secondly, Of the man who has for some time led a life of sin, yet who, in the vigor of his days, gives over his evil ways and conquers his wrong inclinations. As Solomon has said, "Remember thy Creator in the days of thy youthful vigor." While in the prime of life abandon thy evil ways.

Thirdly, Of the one who was prevented by some cause from the commission of a contemplated sin, and who truly repents his evil intention. "Happy is the man who fears the Lord," said the Psalmist. The man, not the woman? Aye, all mankind. The word is used to denote strength; those who repent while still in their youth.

Fourthly, of the one who repents when his sin is pointed out to him, and he is rebuked for the same, as in the instance of the inhabitants of Nineveh. They repented not until Jonah proclaimed to them, "Yet forty days more, and Nineveh shall be overthrown." The men of Nineveh believed in God's mercy, and though the decree had been pronounced against them, yet they repented. "And God saw their work, that they had returned from their evil ways, and God bethought Himself of the evil which He had spoken that He would do to them, and He did it not." Therefore say the Rabbis, "Our brethren, neither sackcloth

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nor fasting will gain forgiveness for sins; but repentance of the heart and good deeds; for it is not said of the men of Nineveh, "God saw their fasting and sackcloth," but "God saw their work, that they had turned from their evil ways."

Fifthly, Of those who repent when trouble befalls them. How much nobler is this than human nature! Instance Jephtah: "Did ye not hate me . . . and why are ye come unto me now when you are in distress?" But the infinite mercy of our God accepts even such repentance; as it is written, "When thou art in tribulation, and all these things have overtaken thee . . . then wilt thou return unto the Lord thy God." Founded upon this is the proverb of the fathers, "Repentance and good deeds form a shield against punishment."

Sixthly, The repentance of age. Even when man grows old and feeble, if he repents truly, his atonement will be received. As the Psalmist says, "Thou turnest man to contrition, and sayest, 'Return, ye children of men.'" Meaning, man can return at any time or any age, "Return, ye children of men."

Say the Rabbis, "Although a man has been righteous in his youth and vigor, yet if he rebels against the will of God in his old age, the merit of his former goodness shall be lost to him, as it is written, 'When a righteous man turns away from his righteousness and doeth wrong, and dieth therefor; through his wrong which he hath done must he die." But a man who has been wicked in his early days, and feels true sorrow and penitence in his old age, shall not be called 'wicked' any more. This, however, is not gracious penitence when it is so long delayed."

Seventhly, Is the last degree of penitence. Of the one who is rebellious against his Creator during all the days of his life; turns to Him only when the hand of death is laid upon him.

Say the Rabbis, if a person is sick, and the hour of his decease approaches, they who are by his deathbed should say to him, "Confess thy sins to thy Creator."

They who are near the point of death should confess their shortcomings. The sick man is as the man who is

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before a court of justice. The latter may have advocates to defend him or laud his case, but the only advocates of the former must be penitence and good deeds. As is written in the Book of Job, "If there be now about him one single angel as defender, one out of a thousand, to tell for man his uprightness; then is he gracious unto him, and saith, 'Release him from going down to the pit; I have found an atonement.'"

Thus we have seven different degrees of penitence, and he who neglects them all must suffer in the world to come. Therefore fulfill the duties laid upon you; repent as long as you are able to amend. As the Rabbis say, "Repent in the antechamber, that thou mayest enter the room of state."

"Turn ye, turn ye from your evil ways; wherefore will ye die, O house of Israel!" exclaimed the prophet Ezekiel; and what does this warning mean? without repentance ye shall die.


Penitence is thus illustrated by a parable:--

There was once a great ship which had been sailing for many days upon the ocean. Before it reached its destination, a high wind arose, which drove it from its course; until, finally, becalmed close to a pleasant-appearing island, the anchor was dropped. There grew upon this island beautiful flowers and luscious fruits in "great profusion"; tall trees lent a pleasing, cooling shade to the place, which appeared to the ship's passengers most desirable and inviting. They divided themselves into five parties; the first party determined not to leave the ship, for said they, "A fair wind may arise, the anchor may be raised, and the ship sail on, leaving us behind; we will not risk the chance of missing our destination for the temporary pleasure which this island offers." The second party went on shore for a short time, enjoyed the perfume of the flowers, tasted of the fruit, and returned to the ship happy and refreshed, finding their places as they had left them; losing nothing, but rather gaining in health and good spirits by the recreation of their visit on shore. The third party also visited the island, but they stayed so long that the fair wind did

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arise, and hurrying back they just reached the ship as the sailors were lifting the anchor, and in the haste and confusion many lost their places, and were not as comfortable during the balance of their voyage as at the outset. They were wiser, however, than the fourth party; these latter stayed so long upon the island and tasted so deeply of its pleasures, that they allowed the ship's bell of warning to sound unheeded. Said they, "The sails are still to be set; we may enjoy ourselves a few minutes more." Again the bell sounded, and still they lingered, thinking, "The captain will not sail without us." So they remained on shore until they saw the ship moving; then in wild haste they swam after it and scrambled up the sides, but the bruises and injuries which they encountered in so doing were not healed during the remainder of the voyage. But, alas, for the fifth party. They ate and drank so deeply that they did not even hear the bell, and when the ship started they were left behind. Then the wild beasts hid in the thickets made of them a prey, and they who escaped this evil, perished from the poison of surfeit.

The "ship" is our good deeds, which bear us to our destination, heaven. The "island" typifies the pleasures of the world, which the first set of passengers refused to taste or look upon, but which when enjoyed temperately, as by the second party, make our lives pleasant, without causing us to neglect our duties. These pleasures must not be allowed, however, to gain too strong a hold upon our senses. True, we may return, as the third party, while there is yet time and but little bad effect, or even as the fourth party at the eleventh hour, saved, but with bruises and injuries which cannot be entirely healed; but we are in danger of becoming as the last party, spending a lifetime in the pursuit of vanity, forgetting the future, and perishing even of the poison concealed in the sweets which attracted us.

Who hath sorrow? Who hath woe?

He who leaves much wealth to his heirs, and takes with him to the grave a burden of sins. He who gathers wealth without justice. "He that gathereth riches and not by

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right in the midst of his days shall he leave them." To the portals of eternity his gold and his silver cannot accompany the soul of man; good deeds and trust in God must be his directing spirits.

Although God is merciful and pardons the sins of man against Himself, he who has wronged his neighbor must gain that neighbor's forgiveness before he can claim the mercy of the Lord. "This must ye do," said Rabbi Eleazer, "that ye may be clean from all your sins before the Lord. The Day of Atonement may gain pardon for the sins of man against his Maker, but not for those against his fellow-man, till every wrong done is satisfied."

If a man is called upon to pardon his fellow, freely he must do it; else how can he dare, on the Day of Atonement, to ask pardon for his sins against the Eternal? It is customary on this day for a man to thoroughly cleanse himself bodily and spiritually, and to array himself in white fresh clothing, to typify the words of Isaiah, "Though your sins should be as scarlet, they shall become white as snow."


It happened that the mayor of a city once sent his servant to the market to purchase some fish. When he reached the place of sale he found that all the fish save one had been sold, and this one a Jewish tailor was about purchasing. Said the mayor's servant, "I will give one gold piece for it;" said the tailor, "I will give two." The mayor's messenger then expressed his willingness to pay three gold pieces for it, but the tailor claimed the fish, and said he would not lose it though he should be obliged to pay ten gold pieces for it. The mayor's servant then returned home, and in anger related the circumstance to his master. The mayor sent for his subject, and when the latter appeared before him asked:--

"What is thy occupation?"

"A tailor, sir," replied the man.

"Then how canst thou afford to pay so great a price for a fish, and how dare degrade my dignity by offering for it a larger sum than that offered by my servant?"

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"I fast to-morrow," replied the tailor, "and I wished the fish to eat to-day, that I might have strength to do so. I would not have lost it even for ten pieces of gold."

"What is to-morrow more than any other day?" asked the mayor.

"Why art thou more than any other man?" returned the other.

"Because the king hath appointed me to this office."

"Well," replied the tailor, "the King of kings hath appointed this day to be holier than all other days, for on this day we hope that God will pardon our transgressions."

"If this be the case thou wert right," answered the mayor, and the Israelite departed in peace.

Thus if a person's intention is to obey God, nothing can hinder its accomplishment. On this day God commanded His children to fast, but they must strengthen their bodies to obey Him by eating on the day before. It is a person's duty to sanctify himself, bodily and spiritually, for the approach of this great day. He should be ready to enter at any moment into the Fearful Presence with repentance and good deeds as his companions.

A certain man had three friends. One of these he loved dearly; the second he loved also, but not as intensely as the first; but toward the third one he was quite indifferently disposed.

Now the king of the country sent an officer to this man, commanding his immediate appearance before the throne. Greatly terrified was the man at this summons. He thought that somebody had been speaking evil of him, or probably accusing him falsely before his sovereign, and being afraid to appear unaccompanied before the royal presence, he resolved to ask one of his friends to go with him. First he naturally applied to his dearest friend, but he at once declined to go, giving no reason and no excuse for his lack of friendliness. So the man applied to his second friend, who said to him:--

"I will go with thee as far as the palace gates, but I will not enter with thee before the king."

In desperation the man applied to his third friend, the one whom he had neglected, but who replied to him at once:--

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"Fear not; I will go with thee, and I will speak in thy defense. I will not leave thee until thou art delivered from thy trouble."

The "first friend" is a man's wealth, which he must leave behind him when he dies. The "second friend" is typified by the relatives who follow him to the grave and leave him when the earth has covered his remains. The "third friend," he who entered with him into the presence of the king, is as the good deeds of a man's life, which never desert, but accompany him to plead his cause before the King of kings, who regardeth not person nor taketh bribery.

Thus taught Rabbi Eleazer:--

"On this great and tearful day the angel Samal finds no blots, no sins on Israel." Thus he addresses the Most High:--

"'O Sovereign Lord, upon the earth this day one nation pure and innocent exists. Even as the angels is Israel on this Atonement Day. As peace exists in heaven, so rests it now upon this people, praying to Thy Holy Name.'

"God hears this testimony of His angel, and pardon's all His people's sins."

But though the Almighty thus forgives our sins, we may not repeat them with impunity, for "to such a one as saith, 'I will commit a sin and repent,' there can be no forgiveness, no repentance."


The Feast of Tabernacles begins on the fifteenth day of the seventh month, Tishri (October), and during its continuance, seven days, the Israelites are commanded to dwell in tabernacles or booths. This is designed to keep fresh in their memory the tents with formed their homes during their forty years' sojourn in the wilderness. The symbols of the festival are branches of the palm, bound with sprigs of myrtle and willow, and a citron.

The Lord said, "This is not to be to you a fast as the Day of Atonement; eat, drink, be merry, and sacrifice

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peace-offerings thereon." The Bible says, "Seven days unto the Lord"; therefore we should in all our merriment devote a few serious thoughts to Him.

The Feast of Tabernacles is held in the autumn, after the fruits of the field have been garnered in the storehouses, according to the words of the Bible, "The Feast of Tabernacles shalt thou hold for thyself seven days when thou hast gathered in the produce of thy thresh-floor and thy wine-press."

This dwelling in booths is also to bring to mind the manner in which the Israelites lived for forty years after they left Egypt. With merely temporary walls to protect them from summer's heat and winter's cold, from wind and storm. God was with them through all their generations, and they were protected from all evil.

According to the opinion of some of the Rabbis, the Israelites did not really dwell in booths in the wilderness, but were surrounded by clouds-by seven clouds. Four clouds, one at each of the four sides; a fifth, a shadow, to protect them from the hot rays of the sun; the sixth, a pillar of fire to give them light by night (they being able to see as clearly by night as by day); and the seventh, to precede their journeying and direct their way.

The children of Israel departed from Egypt in Nissan (April), and obtained immediately these booths, which they made use of for forty years. Thus they were in booths during the entire cycle of the year, and we could as easily commemorate this fact in the spring as in the fall, in the summer as in the winter. Why, then, has God made autumn, and neither spring nor summer, the season of observance? Because if we dwelt in booths in the summer, it would be a question whether we did so in obedience to God's behest or for our own gratification for many people seek airy retreats during this season but in the fall, when the trees lose their leaves, and the air grows cold and chilling, and it is the time to fix our houses for the winter, then by inhabiting these temporary residences, we display our desire to do as our Creator has bidden us.

The Feast of Tabernacles is also the Feast of Ingathering, when we should thank God for the kindness shown us,

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and the treasure with which He has blessed us. When the Eternal has provided man with his sustenance, in the long evenings which follow he should meditate and study his Bible, and make this indeed a "feast to the Lord," and not entirely for personal gratification.

The four species belonging to the vegetable kingdom which we use in this festival, are designed to remind us of the four elements of nature, which work under the direction and approval of the Most High, and without which all things would cease to exist. Therefore the Bible commands us on this "feast of the Lord," to give thanks, and bring before Him these four species, each typifying one of the elements.

"Ye shall take for yourselves the fruit of the tree hadar" (the citron). Its color is high yellow and resembles fire. The second species is the palm branch (Heb. Lulab), The palm is a high tree, growing up straight in the air, and its fruit is sweet and delicious to the taste; this then represents the second element, air. The third is the bough of the myrtle, one of the lowliest of trees, growing close to the ground; its nature, cold and dry as earth, fits it to represent that element. The fourth is "the willow of the brook," which grows in perfection close beside the water, dropping its branches into the stream, and symbolizing thus the last element, water.

The Bible teaches us that for each of these four elements we owe special thanks to God.

The citron we hold in the left hand, and the other three we grasp together in the right. This we do because the citron contains in itself all that the others represent. The outside skin is yellow, fire; the inside skin is white and damp, air; the pulp is watery, water; and the seeds are dry, earth. It is taken into the left hand, because the right hand is strongest, and the citron is but one, while the other emblems are three.

These four emblems represent likewise the four principal members of the human body. The citron is shaped somewhat like a heart, without which we could not live, and with which man should serve his fellows; the palm branch represents the spine, which is the foundation of the human

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frame, in front of which the heart lies; this signifies that we should serve God with our entire body. The branches of the myrtle resemble a human eye, with which man recognizes the deeds of his fellows, and with which he may obtain a knowledge of the law. The leaves of the willow represent the lips, with which man may serve the Eternal and thank Him. The myrtle is mentioned in the Bible before the willow, because we are able to see and know a thing before we can call its name with our lips; man is able to look into the Bible before he can study the same. Therefore, with these four principal parts of the human frame should we praise the Creator, as David said, "All my bones shall say, O Lord, who is like unto Thee?"

Maimonides, in his work called Moreh Nebuchim ("The Guide of the Perplexed "), explains that God commanded the Israelites to take these four emblems during this festival to remind them that they were brought out from the wilderness, where no fruit grew, and no people lived, into a land of brooklets, waters, a land flowing with milk and honey. For this reason did God command us to hold in our hands the precious fruit of this land while singing praises to Him, the One who wrought miracles in our behalf, who feeds and supports us from the productiveness of the earth.

The four emblems are different in taste, appearance, and odor, even as the sons of men are different in conduct and habits.

The citron is a valuable fruit; it is good for food and has a most pleasant odor. It is compared to the intelligent man, who is righteous in his conduct toward God and his fellow-man. The odor of the fruit is his good deeds; its substance is his learning, on which others may feed. This is perfect among the emblems, and is, therefore, always mentioned first, and taken by itself in one hand.

The palm branch brings forth fruit, but is without odor. It is compared to those people who are learned, but who are wanting in good deeds; they who know the law, but transgress its mandates.

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The myrtle is compared to those people who are naturally good, who act correctly toward God and man, but who are uneducated.

The willow of the brook has neither fruit nor odor; it is, therefore, compared to the people who have no knowledge and who perform no good deeds.

The Rabbis have said that he who has failed to participate in the keeping of the Tabernacle Festival in Jerusalem has failed to taste real enjoyment in his life. The first day of the feast was kept with great solemnity, and the middle days with joy and gladness in various methods of public amusement.

The Temple in Jerusalem was provided with a gallery for the women, which was called the apartment of the women, and the men sat below, as is still the custom of the synagogue. Thither all repaired. The young priests filled the lamps of the large chandeliers with oil, and lighted them all, even that the place was so bright that its reflection lighted the streets of the city. Hymns and praises were chanted by the pious ones, and the Levites praised the Lord with harps, cornets, trumpets, flutes, and other instruments of harmony. They stood upon fifteen broad steps, reaching from the lower floor to the gallery, the court of the women. And they sang fifteen psalms as they ascended, beginning with "A song of Degrees," and the large choir joined voices with them. The ancient Hillel was accustomed to address the assemblages on these occasions.

"If God's presence dwells here," he was used to say, "then are ye here, each one of you, the souls of each; but if God should be removed from your midst through disobedience then which of you could be here?" For the Lord has said, "If thou wilt come to My house, then will I come to thy house, but if thou refusest to visit My dwelling, I will also neglect to enter yours;" as it is written, "In every place where I shall permit My name to be mentioned I will come unto thee and I will bless thee."

Then some of the people answered:--

"Happy were the days of our youth, for they have not set to blush the days of our old age." These were men of piety.

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Others answered:--

"Happy is our old age, for therein have we atoned for the sins of our youth." These were repentants.

Then joining together, both parties said:--

"Happy is the one who is free from sin; but ye who have sinned, repent, return to God, and ye will be forgiven."

The festival was continued during the entire night; for when the religious exercises concluded the people gave themselves up to innocent but thorough enjoyment.

This festival was also called the "Festival of Drawing Water."

Because, during the existence of the Temple, wine was offered during the year for a burnt-offering, but on the Feast of Tabernacles they offered two drink-offerings, one of wine and one of water. Of the other they made a special festival on the second day of the Tabernacle assemblage, calling it the Feast of Drawing the Water. It was founded upon the words of the prophet

"And ye shall draw water with joy from the fountains of salvation."


This festival is observed for eight days during the ninth mouth Kislev (December), and commemorates the dedication of the Temple after it had been defiled by Autiochus Epiphanes, whose armies were overthrown by the valiant Maccabees, Hashmoneans.

The Most Holy One has frequently wrought wonders in behalf of his children in their hour of need, and thereby displayed His supreme power to the nations of the world. These should prevent man from growing infidel and ascribing all happiness to the course of nature. The God who created the world from naught, may change at His will the nature which He established. When the Hashmoneans gained, with the aid of God, their great victory, and restored peace and harmony to their land, their first act was to cleanse and dedicate the Temple, which had been defiled, and on the twenty-fifth day of Kislev, in obedience to the teachings of the Rabbis, we inaugurate the "Dedication {p. 393} Feast" by lighting the lamps or candles prepared expressly for this occasion. The first night we light one, and then an additional one each succeeding night of its continuance. We also celebrate it by hymns of thanksgiving and hallelujahs.

This feast is foreshadowed in the Book of Numbers. When Aaron observed the offerings of the princes of each of the tribes and their great liberality, he was conscious of a feeling of regret, because he and his tribe were unable to join with them. But these words were spoken to comfort him, "Aaron, thy merit is greater than theirs, for thou lightest and fixest the holy lamps?"

When were these words spoken?

When he was charged with the blessing to be found in Numbers 6:23, as will be found in the Book of Maccabees in the Apocrypha.

The Lord said unto Moses, "Thus say unto Aaron. In the generations to come, there will be another dedication and lighting of the lamps, and through thy descendants shall the service be performed. Miracles and wonders will accompany this dedication. Fear not for the greatness of the princes of thy tribe; during the existence of the Temple thou shalt sacrifice, but the lighting of the lamps shall be forever, and the blessing with which I have charged thee to bless the people shall also exist forever. Through the destruction of the Temple the sacrifices will be abolished, but the lighting of the dedication of the Hashmoneans will never cease."

The Rabbis have ordained this celebration by lighting of lamps, to make God's miracle known to all coining generations, and it is our duty to light the same in the synagogues and in our homes.

Although the Lord afflicted Israel on account of iniquities, He still showed mercy, and allowed not a complete destruction, and to this festival do the Rabbis again apply the verse in Leviticus 26: 44:--

"And yet for all that, though they be in the land of their enemies, will I not cast them away, neither will I loathe them to destroy them utterly, to break my covenant with them, for I am the Lord their God."

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And thus do the Rabbis explain the same:--

"Will I not cast them away." In the time of the Chaldeans I appointed Daniel and his companions to deliver them.

"Neither will I loathe them." In the time of the Assyrians I gave them Matthias, his sons and their comrades, to serve them.

"To destroy them." In the time of Haman I sent Mordecai and Esther to rescue them.

"To break my covenant with them." In the time of the Romans I appointed Rabbi Judah and his associates to work their salvation.

"For I am the Eternal, your God." In the future no nation shall rule over Israel, and the descendants of Abraham shall be restored to their independent state.

The dedication commemorated by Hannukah occurred in the year 3632--129 B. C. E.


This festival, occurring on the fourteenth day of the twelfth month, Adar (March), is to commemorate the deliverance of the Hebrews from the wiles of Haman, through the God-aided means of Mordecai and Esther.

Although the Holy One threatens the Israelites, in order that they may repent of their sins, He has also tempted them, in order to increase their reward.

For instance, a father who loves his son, and desires him to improve his conduct, must punish him for his misdeeds; but it is a punishment induced by affection which he bestows.

A certain apostate once said to Rabbi Saphra--

"It is written, 'Because I know you more than all the nations of the earth, therefore I visit upon you your iniquities;' how is this? If a person has a wild horse, is it likely that he would put his dearest friend upon it, that he might be thrown and hurt?"

Rabbi Saphra answered:--

"Suppose a man lends money to two persons; one of these is his friend, the other his enemy. He will allow his

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friend to repay him in installments, that the discharge of the debt may not prove onerous; but from his enemy he will require the amount in full. The verse you quote will apply in the same manner, 'I love you, therefore will I visit upon you your iniquities;' meaning, 'I will punish you for them as they occur, little by little, by which means you may have quittance and happiness in the world to come.'"

The action of the king in delivering his signet ring to Haman had more effect upon the Jews than the precepts and warnings of forty-eight prophets who lectured to them early and late. They clothed themselves in sackcloth, and repented truly with tears and fasting, and God had compassion upon them and destroyed Haman.

Although the reading of the Book of Esther (Megilah) on Purim is not a precept of the Pentateuch, 'tis nevertheless binding upon us and our descendants. Therefore the day is appointed as one of feasting and gladness, and interchange of presents, and also of gifts to the poor, that they too may rejoice. As in the decree of Haman, no distinction was made between rich and poor, as all alike were doomed to destruction, it is proper that all should have equal cause to feel joyful, and therefore in all generations the poor should be liberally remembered on this day.