Hakhel
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Hakhel. Parshat Vayeilech. Hakhel Background. Hakhel is a national gathering of the Jewish people Hakhel occurs in the year following shemittah , on the holiday of Sukkot (1 st day of Chol HaMoed) Men, women and children attend

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Hakhel

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Hakhel

Hakhel

Parshat Vayeilech


Hakhel background

Hakhel Background

  • Hakhel is a national gathering of the Jewish people

  • Hakhel occurs in the year following shemittah, on the holiday of Sukkot (1st day of Chol HaMoed)

  • Men, women and children attend

  • Features the public reading of the Torah (parts of Sefer Devarim) by the Jewish king


Big questions

BIG questions

  • Why is hakhel observed during Sukkot?

  • Why is hakhel held in the year following shemittah?

  • Why does the entire nation assemble for hakhel – and why should infants be present?


Big question 1 why is hakhel observed during sukkot

BIG QUESTION #1 Why is hakhel observed during Sukkot?

  • Kli Yakar (1150-1619) says that the purpose of hakhel is to create a public gathering for teshuvah

  • If people don’t feel united or close to one another, it’s difficult to create a “teshuvah mood”

  • Sukkot is a time of Jewish unity

    • Arbeh minim = different types of Jews coming together as one


Big question 2 why is hakhel held in the year following shemittah

BIG QUESTION #2 Why is hakhel held in the year following shemittah?

  • During the shemittah year, the land becomes “ownerless” and may not be worked

  • This makes people “equal”

  • Part of the teshuvah process is humility – recognizing you’ve done something wrong and not viewing other people as “less” than you


Big question 3 why does the entire nation assemble for hakhel

BIG QUESTION #3 Why does the entire nation assemble for hakhel?

  • Rambam says that hakhel is meant to re-create the experience at Har Sinai, where we received the Torah

  • The Jewish people were unified at this time – they were like “one person with one heart”

  • Every person had to be present to re-create the “Har Sinai experience”


Final thoughts

Final Thoughts

  • Hakhel is directly related to teshuvah

  • This explains why our parsha is read this time of the year – just one week before Rosh Hashanah

  • In order for teshuvah to work, we need people to put aside their differences and work together to achieve unity


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