This week’s parsha lists the Torah-based Jewish holidays (as opposed to those that were established after the giving of the written Torah — mainly Chanukah and Purim). God tells Moshe to instruct the Jewish people on how to observe Pesach, Shavuot, Sukkot, Rosh HaShanah, Yom Kippur, and Shmini Atzeret. Back in the book of Shemot, we also got a listing of holidays, but just Pesach, Shavuot, and Sukkot, the “pilgrimage festivals,” which are seasonally-based on the harvest and the solar calendar. Here, in the book of Vayikra, God adds the Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, Sukkot, and Shmini Atzeret, all in the Hebrew month of Tishrei and all based on the lunar calendar.
Multiple times throughout the Torah we encounter such lists of holidays – lists of specific times and seasons in the calendar that help us to both mark the passage of time as well as be reminded of the circular nature of time in our Jewish tradition. Each year a holiday comes around, it’s similar to what we experienced individually and collectively last year, but we are somewhat different this time, having grown and changed over the past year. Growth and change can be a slow process, and often returning to a familiar moment in the calendar can be just the thing to help us pause to take stock of where we have been and where we are headed.
This summer will be mine and my family’s second year at Camp Yavneh, and the first time we’ll be able to come back and take stock during this new recurring event in our family’s calendar. We’ll be heading back to the same place to share another amazing summer together, but inside we’ll have grown and changed over the past year. As we pack everything to head to camp in a few weeks, I’m personally reminded of how much I now get to benefit from having Camp Yavneh as a moment in my calendar to help me take note of and appreciate the passage of time. I look forward to continuing to share this annual “pilgrimage” to camp with all of you, this summer and for years to come.
Questions for the Shabbat Table:
- How does camp’s place on your calendar help you and your family mark the passage of time?
- Aside from the Jewish holidays and camp, what else plays a recurring role in your calendar?