In Deuteronomy 31; 10-12 Moses conveys the Torah’s 612th commandment: “…at the end of every seven years… on the Festival of Sukkot. When all Israel comes to appear before the Lord, your G-d, in the place that He shall choose, you shall read this Torah before all Israel in their hearing. Assemble the people the men, women, and the little ones, and your stranger… so that they may hear, and so that they may learn; and revere the Lord your G-d and observe to perform all the words of this Torah.”
This in-depth mini-series focuses on the page in Masechet Sotah that records the teachings of our Sages about this rare Mitzvah. The Talmud (and its multi-layered commentaries) richly define and elucidate the details that govern the fulfillment of this enigmatic biblical commandment.
Series on Hakhel, Part Two. Tractate Sotah, Chapter Seven, Page 41a
“POMP AND CIRCUMSTANCE” ~ An Appreciation of the Formalities of Assembly
The inaugural Episode opened the Mishna addressing Hakhel; the biblically ordained, septennial Jewish National Assembly, and its unique connection to the Monarchy.
In the second Episode we see the Mishna going into the details of a seemingly superfluous multi-level ceremonial hand-off that ultimately leads into the practical performance of this unique Gathering.
Yet since the Mitzvah is specifically about Reading the Torah not passing it around; why, how, and what is the purpose of these elaborate formal exercises? It’s noteworthy that these formalities are entirely absent from the Scriptural narrative.
Part Two of this Hakhel series has been sponsored by Michelle Kahn in loving memory of Tzvi Mordechai ben Harav Moshe (z”l), celebrating the life of her beloved father on his 23rd Yahrzeit on the First of Kislev.