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    Vayakhel & Kohelet

    The name Vayakhel is connected with kahal, a congregation. At the beginning of the sidra Moses is told to assemble the congregation.

    Is there any link with the Biblical Book of Kohelet, any connection between Kohelet and the kahal?

    English versions of the book tend to be called Ecclesiastes, a group assembled to hear a message, though the speaker is the leader, not a mere member, of the group.

    Some translations call the book The Preacher. This indicates a leading speaker, but it is linguistically difficult since k-h-l does not mean to preach but to collect, gather or assemble.

    Though Solomon gave a speech at the dedication of the Temple (I Kings 8:12) the book does not sound like a preachment that fulfils the usual role of a sermon, which expounds the principles of revelation and suggests that reason endorses them.

    Despite the pious ending (12:13-14), Kohelet is argumentative, not exhortatory or exegetical. The book does not lecture or teach but raises discussion points and tests them. In places it tends to talk to itself. Yet the Talmudic sages (BB 15a) think that the book is a sermon or series of them.

    “Why was (Solomon) called Kohelet? Because his words were spoken in public assembly – bakahal; other versions say b’hak’hel – i.e. at the seven-yearly Hakhel assembly on Sukkot where the king recited Kohelet”.

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