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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

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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