Central to the religious practice of the Judaism is the observance of festivals that occur at fixed times throughout the year. It is by means of these festivals, these “fixed times”, that the people are made holy. We are sanctified in the observance of fixed moments in Time.
You shall be holy as I, your God am Holy.
You shall proclaim my festivals as sacred occasions. (Lev 19:1-2)
How are we to be Holy as God is Holy?
Keep track of the Jewish festivals
and readings with the
Christian Liturgical Calendar
The Book of Leviticus suggests the way…
We are made holy in Time
We are made holy in Place
We are made holy in our relationships with one another
We are made holy through our relationship with the Divine
Made Holy in Time...
The Story of the creation sets up the rhythm of Time.
Scripture tells us:
‘And God said, “Let there be lights in the dome of the sky to separate
from the night; and let them be for signs and for seasons and
for days and years”’ (Gen 1:14)
There is, here in this text at this point, an indication that in the creation God created something more than the physical world. When the Jewish mind [the rabbinic mind] looks at the text it sees more that that which first ‘meets the eye’.
When one reads this verse of scripture (Gen 1:14) one begins at what is called the peshat reading. The word peshat means the simple meaning—the meaning that is immediately and literally apparent. This verse at a first reading speaks of the creation of day and night; the separation of the two by the heavenly bodies (the lights), and the subsequent effects on the world created by the interaction of these heavenly bodies that results in seasons, tides, weather patterns, etc. Our knowledge and experience of these facts enables us to make ‘sense’ of the text.
However, a deeper revelation is revealed in a closer examination. The nuances of the Hebrew words of the creation text create for us a spirituality of time that is developed in the Jewish festival traditions. The “lights” in the sky, created well after and distinct from the creation of Day and Night (Gen. 1:4-5), become a "sign". They are markers in time, pointers to something more ...for festivals (the Hebrew word mo’adim , translated "set times", is also the word for festivals.) Thus these lights are a witness to something more—“Witness”, in Hebrew ed/, is hidden within /set times, moa'adim.
Here, right from the beginning of the biblical text, we find the sanctity of Time integral to the creation story and pointing to fixed “windows” in the days and the years as “fixed times”. In the realm of everyday are built-in sacred times—festivals to witness to the sacred for the days and the years.
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Resources for Jewish Festivals
Entering the High Holy Days
The Jewish Holidays:
A Guide and Commentary
Jewish Traditions: A JPS Guide
~Ronald L. Eisenberg