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Book the Date (Simchat Torah)

Preview: Why is Simchat Torah celebrated when it is? Perhaps because that is actually when the world’s very first cycle of Torah study was instituted. In fact, that’s a conclusion we might be able to arrive at using little more than the chronology available to us in the Torah itself.

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Collective Wisdom (Sukkot)

Preview: Hakhel is held during the festival of Sukkot that follows the shemittah: that is, during the festival of gathering (=assif) the produce of the field, following a year when we had to let our fields lie fallow. That seems strange! But the contrast is deliberate: assif = material ingathering; hakhel = spiritual ingathering. Indeed, that contrast is shot through the scroll read on Sukkot: Kohelet.

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