Pilgrimage is not a foreign concept to the Jewish people, especially after wandering in the desert for forty years. This journey is commemorated on Passover, but aside from this important pilgrimage, we commemorate two other pilgrim festivals: Shavuot and Sukkot. These three major festivals originate in the Torah, and are described as both agricultural festivals and historic events, commemorated by traveling to the ancient Temple in Jerusalem.
“Three times a year shall all your men appear before the Lord your God in the place that God will choose, on the festivals of Pesah (Passover), Shavuot (the Feast of Weeks), and Sukkot (the Festival of Booths). They shall not appear empty handed. Each shall bring his own gift, appropriate to the blessing which the Lord your God has given you” Deutronomy 16:16.
This passage defines these three festivals as both pilgrim and agricultural festivals: each man must bring a gift, products from the Land of Israel. How does each festival reflect the agricultural theme and importance to Jewish history in the names and symbols?
Chag haAsif, Hebrew for the festival of gathering, is the gathering festival of crops in the land of Canaan. Sukkot celebrates the last harvest before winter arrives and commemorates the wandering of Israelites in the desert for 40 years.
The Four Species: Etrog, Lulav, Aravot and Hadassim, make for very important plants of the land of Israel, representing the unity of Israel and known in Hebrew as Arbah Minim.
This Etrog box in wood is a wonderful box to store the citron fruit on Sukkot and the holiday’s nature as an agricultural holiday
Originally marked the early harvesting of the Barley, also called Chag haAviv, Hebrew for ‘spring festival’. It is time of growth, when the land of Israel wakes up from the winter and everything begins to grow, it is spring harvest time.
The theme of Jerusalem and spring is beautifully displayed in this traditional wooden Seder plate, painted with illustrations of Jerusalem in beautiful colors
Biblically, this is solely an agricultural celebration. Falling exactly seven weeks after Passover, which places it occurs at the time of the late spring harvest. It marks the harvest of the wheat crop, the last grain harvest of the season and the beginning of fruit season. This feature was translated to the act of bringing Bikkurim to the Temple in Jerusalem. Bikkurim, means the brining of the first fruit in beautiful decorated baskets.
This Tree of Life Tallit set is adorned with the marvelous Tree of Life depiction in full view. There is no better representation of nature and Land of Israel fruits than this stunning tallit worn on Shavuot, before the Western Wall
The Seven Species, Jerusalem and Tree of Life are three of the most important symbols in Judaism and decorate Passover, Sukkot and Shavuot Judaica with grace and profound meaning, reminding all of G-d’s presence in our lives and the gifts we receive from our land.
In biblical times the three Jewish pilgrim festivals entailed traveling to Jerusalem, to Beit Hamikdash in Jerusalem that stood there, whereas today we travel and pray before the Western Wall. The journey brings the community together, reaffirming the Covenant with G-d as community and sanctifying together Jerusalem as a nation.
Discover more interesting articles about Jewish occasions and holidays in our OyVey Jewish blog.