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    The festivals don’t just happen – Emor

    Parashat Emor calls the festivals mikra’ei kodesh, usually rendered “holy convocations”.

    Mikra is from kara, “to call”; “convocation” is from Latin and means “to call together or assemble”.

    Kara also means “to happen”. An example is Lev. 1:1 when, according to the sages, Moses denied that God deliberately appointed or called him; the communication just happened.

    In this sense, mikra’ei kodesh are sacred times (Targum Onkelos’ translation) marking events which occurred as the Israelites traversed the wilderness.

    Had certain things not happened during the years in the wilderness, the festivals would not have come into existence. This explains historical events like Pesach, Shavu’ot and Sukkot, but not Rosh HaShanah or Yom Kippur, yet they too are mikra’ei kodesh.

    Maybe we can posit this theory: God told the people to respond to historical events by means of annual celebrations; they did so with such enthusiasm that He gave them two non-historical occasions (Yom Kippur has a possible historical connection) on which to look into their own souls and not just commemorate events.

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