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Leviticus Chapter 23
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Special Days: The Sabbath
23:1 God spoke to Moses, telling him to
23:2 speak to the Israelites and say to them:

There are special times that you must celebrate as sacred holidays to God. The following are My special times:

23:3 You may do work during the six weekdays, but Saturday is a Sabbath of Sabbaths. It is a sacred holiday to God, when you shall do no work. Wherever you may live, it is God's Sabbath.

Passover
23:4 These are God's festivals that you must celebrate as sacred holidays at their appropriate times:
23:5 The afternoon of the 14th day of the first month is [the time that you must sacrifice] God's Passover offering.
23:6 Then, on the 15th of that month, it is God's festival of matzahs, when you eat matzahs for seven days.
23:7 The first day shall be a sacred holiday to you, when you may not do any service work.
23:8 You shall then bring sacrifices to God for seven days. The seventh day is a sacred holiday when you may not do any service work.

The Omer
23:9 God spoke to Moses, telling him to
23:10 speak to the Israelites and say to them:

When you come to the land that I am going to give you, and you reap its harvest, you must bring an omer of your first reaping to the priest.

23:11 He shall wave it in the motions prescribed for a wave offering to God, so that it will be acceptable for you. The priest shall make this wave offering on the day after the first day of the [Passover] holiday.
23:12 On the day you make the wave offering of the omer, you shall prepare an unblemished yearling sheep as a burnt offering to God.
23:13 Its meal offering shall be two-tenths [of an ephah] of wheat meal, mixed with oil, a fire offering to God. Its libation offering shall be one-fourth hin of wine.
23:14 Until the day that you bring this sacrifice to your God, you may not eat bread, roasted grain or fresh grain. This shall be an eternal law for all generations, no matter where you live.

Counting the Omer; Shavuoth
23:15 You shall then count seven complete weeks after the day following the [Passover] holiday when you brought the omer as a wave offering,
23:16 until the day after the seventh week, when there will be [a total of] 50 days. [On that 50th day] you may present new grain as a meal offering to God.
23:17 From the land upon which you live, you shall bring two loaves of bread as a wave offering. They shall be made of two-tenths [of an ephah] of wheat meal, and shall be baked as leavened bread. They are the first-harvest offering to God.
23:18 Together with this bread, you shall sacrifice seven unblemished yearling sheep, one young bull, and two rams. These, along with their meal offerings and libations shall be a burnt offering to God, a fire offering as an appeasing fragrance to God.
23:19 You shall also prepare one goat as a sin offering, and two yearling sheep as peace sacrifices.
23:20 The priest shall make the motions prescribed for a wave offering before God with the bread for the first-harvest offering and the two sheep. They belong to the priest as something sacred to God.
23:21 This very day shall be celebrated as a sacred holiday when no service work may be done. This is an eternal law for all generations, no matter where you may live.
23:22 [Furthermore,] when you reap your land's harvest, do not completely harvest the ends of your fields. [Also] do not pick up individual stalks that may have fallen. You must leave [all these] for the poor and the stranger. I am God your Lord.

Rosh HaShanah
23:23 God spoke to Moses, telling him to
23:24 speak to the Israelites and say:

The first day of the seventh month shall be a day of rest. It is a sacred holiday for remembrance [and] sounding [of the ram's horn].

23:25 Do not do any service work [on that day]. Bring a fire offering to God.

Yom Kippur
23:26 God spoke to Moses, saying:
23:27 The 10th of this seventh month shall be the Day of Atonement for you. It is a sacred holiday when you must fast and bring a fire offering to God.
23:28 Do not do any work on this day; it is a day of atonement, when you gain atonement before God your Lord.
23:29 If anyone does not fast on this day, he shall be cut off [spiritually] from his people.
23:30 [Similarly,] if one does any work on this day, I will destroy him [spiritually] from among his people.
23:31 Do not do any work [on this day]. This is an eternal law for all generations, no matter where you may live.
23:32 It is a sabbath of sabbaths to you, [and a day] when you must fast. You must keep this holiday from the ninth of the month until [the next] night.

Sukkoth
23:33 God spoke to Moses, telling him to
23:34 speak to the Israelites, as follows:

The 15th of this seventh month shall be the festival of Sukkoth to God, [lasting] seven days.

23:35 The first day shall be a sacred holiday when you may not do any service work.
23:36 For seven days then, you shall present a fire offering to God.

The eighth day is a sacred holiday to you when you shall bring a fire offering to God. It is a time of retreat when you may do no service work.

23:37 The above are God's special times which you must keep as sacred holidays. [They are times] when you must present to God a burnt offering, a meal offering, a sacrifice and libations, each depending on the particular day.
23:38 [This is in addition to] God's Sabbath [offerings], and the gifts, and the specific and general pledges that you offer to God.
23:39 On the 15th of the seventh month, when you harvest the land's grain, you shall celebrate a festival to God for seven days. The first day shall be a day of rest, and the eighth day shall be a day of rest.
23:40 On the first day, you must take for yourself a fruit of the citron tree, an unopened palm frond, myrtle branches, and willows [that grow near] the brook. You shall rejoice before God for seven days.
23:41 During these seven days each year, you shall celebrate to God. It is an eternal law for all generations that you celebrate [this festival] in the seventh month.
23:42 During [these] seven days you must live in thatched huts. Everyone included in Israel must live in such thatched huts.
23:43 This is so that future generations will know that I had the Israelites live in huts when I brought them out of Egypt. I am God your Lord.
23:44 Moses related [the rules of] God's special times to the Israelites.



Commentary:

Saturday
  Literally, 'the seventh day.'

work
  See Exodus 20:10.

first month
  Nissan. See Exodus 12:2.

service work
  Melekheth avodah in Hebrew. This includes all work that is not necessary for preparing food, as in Exodus 12:16 (Rambam; Ralbag; Hirsch).

bring sacrifices...
  See Numbers 28:16-25.

omer
  This is 1/10 ephah ( Exodus 16:36), the daily measure of manna, and the usual measure for a meal offering ( Leviticus 5:11, 6:13, Numbers 15:4, etc.). It is about 2 quarts. The omer offering consisted of barley (see Leviticus 2:14).

prescribed
  See comment on Exodus 29:24.

after the first day of the Passover holiday
  That is, the omer was offered on the second day of Passover (Rashi; Yad, Temidim 7:3; Sefer HaMitzvoth, Positive 44).

one-fourth hin
  A little less than a quart (0.8 liter).

you may not eat
  This is the law of chadash, which forbids the eating of new grain until after the second day of Passover (Sefer HaMitzvoth, Negative 189). Thus, any grain that has not begun to take root before Passover is forbidden until the next Passover (Yad, Maakhaloth Assuroth 10:4; Yoreh Deah 293:3). Therefore, if wheat is planted in the late spring after Passover, and harvested in the fall, it may not be eaten until after the next Passover. See next comments.

roasted grain
  Kali in Hebrew. See Leviticus 2:14.

fresh grain
  Karmel in Hebrew. See Leviticus 2:14.

no matter where you live
  Even outside the Holy Land (Orlah 3:4; Rashi). However, others say that the law of chadash does not apply outside the Holy Land (Kiddushin 37a; Turey Zahav, Yoreh Deah 293:4). Others say that gentile grain is not included in the prohibition (Beth Chadash, Yoreh Deah 293). The chassidic custom is to follow the opinions that permit chadash outside the Holy Land (cf. Zikhron Tov 12b; Sefer Baal Shem Tov 6). Many non-chassidim, however, regard it as forbidden.

You shall then count
  This is the commandment to count the Omer (Sefer HaMitzvoth, Positive 161).

50th day
  (Rashi). Pentacost in Greek.

you may present new grain
  (Menachoth 84b; Sifra; Rashi; Yad, Issurey Mizbeach 5:10). Or, 'you shall bring an offering of new grain,' namely the two loaves mentioned in Leviticus 23:17 (Menachoth 83b; Yad, Temidim 8:2).

two loaves
  The loaves were rectangular, 4 x 7 handbreadths, and 4 fingerbreadths high (12' x 21' x 3') (Menachoth 97a; Yad, Temidim 8:10).

first-harvest offering
  Bikkurim in Hebrew.

meal offerings and libations
  See Numbers 15:1-12.

to the priest
  (Ralbag; cf. Yad, Temidim 8:11).

an eternal law...
  To count the omer, even when there is no sacrifice (Sforno).

when you reap...
  See Leviticus 19:9.

seventh month
  This is Tishrei, the seventh month counting from Nissan (See Leviticus 23:5). The Torah is speaking of Rosh HaShanah, the New Year.

remembrance
  (Targum; Rashi; Rosh HaShanah 32a). Or, 'commemorative sounding' (Chizzkuni). Others translate zikhron here as 'sounding' (Saadia; Ibn Janach; cf. Numbers 10:9).

ram's horn
  (Sifra; Ralbag; cf. Rosh HaShanah 26a).

fire offering...
  See Numbers 29:1-6.

seventh month
  Tishrei.

Day of Atonement
  Yom HaKippurim in Hebrew. Usually abbreviated to Yom Kippur.

fast
  See Leviticus 16:29.

fire offering...
  See Numbers 29:7-11.

work
  See Leviticus 16:29. Here the Torah says 'work,' rather than 'service work,' because on Yom Kippur, it is forbidden to do work to prepare food, just as it is on the Sabbath. See comment on Leviticus 23:7.

seventh month
  Tishrei.

Sukkoth
  Denoting 'thatched huts.' See Leviticus 23:42.

fire offering...
  See Numbers 29:12-38.

eighth day
  This is Shemini Atzereth. See next comment.

time of retreat
  Atzereth in Hebrew. It is a time when one must 'hold back' from doing work (Saadia; Ibn Ezra; Radak, Sherashim) and maintain a level of holiness (Sforno). Others say it is a 'holdover' for the holiday (Rashi; Ibn Ezra).

offerings
  (Sifra).

citron tree
  (Targum; Saadia). Hadar in Hebrew, usually referred to as Ethrog.

unopened palm frond
  (Sukkah 32a; Rashi).

myrtle branches
  (cf. Sukkah 32b; Rashi). The practice is to place three such branches in the bunch.

willows...
  (cf. Sukkah 34a). Two are placed in the bunch, together with the palm frond and myrtle.

thatched huts
  Sukkoth in Hebrew.

Everyone included...
  (cf. Sifra; Rashi).

huts
  This was in the fall, when it generally begins to become cold, and Sukkoth is therefore celebrated in the fall (Ramban). Others say that after being in the desert, it is proper to thank God for the harvest at this time (Rashbam; see Exodus 23:16). Some say that the 'huts' denote the clouds of glory that surrounded the Israelites in the desert (Sukkah 11b; Rashi).





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