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EMOR 5781

The Torah reading this week includes a review of the holidays of the Jewish calendar. The list of holidays is repeated numerous times in the Torah. We find it in the book of Shemot and again in the book of Devarim, and here in our reading in the book of Vayikra. Since there are no needless repetitions in the holy text of the Torah, commentators over the ages have offered many explanations as to why this calendar is repeated so many times.
A closer examination of the context and background to each of these listings of holidays will perhaps offer us an insight and historical overview as to the import of the regular holiday seasons of the Jewish people. In each place where this calendar of holidays is outlined in the Torah, there is a certain specific textual background affiliated with it. It is not merely a repetition of the same ideas three times over, but, rather, an indication to us of the multilayered nuances that these holidays are meant to impart to the Jewish people over its long and varied history. 
Each of the reference to the holidays contains a particular message for a particular time, one that has occurred or will occur, in the long saga of the Jewish story. It is the understanding of this new alliance of text and overview of history that makes these portions of the Torah so important and relevant to us, more than three millennia after they were written down for us by our teacher Moses.
But the context is also relevant according to the personal lives and experiences of the celebrant. In this week's reading, the holidays are attributed to specific historic commemorations and their celebration, when the Jewish people reside in the land of Israel. There are agricultural innovations and seasonal climate references that place these holidays in a geographical context. The Jewish people have a natural existence only when they are in the land of Israel, and even though the first reference mentioned above allows us to celebrate the holidays no matter where we live, and in whatever time frame, this second reference in our reading places it within the framework of the Jewish people in the land of Israel, attached to its land and its traditions.
We also read of the Torah holidays in the book of Bamidbar. There, the backdrop, and reference are related to the offerings of the particular sacrifices in the Temple that were to be brought upon the day of the holiday. It concentrates on the Temple service associated with the holiday, and not necessarily with the reason for the existence of the holiday in the first place. 
The final reference in the book of Devarim seems to sum up all the previous references, for its backdrop in the Temple, the land of Israel and the explanation of the days that the holiday is to be commemorated. Thus, the combination of all these references makes our calendar eternal and valid in all places and for all times and allows us to celebrate the commandments that the holidays bring with them in joy and good purpose.
Shabbat shalom
Rabbi Berel Wein

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