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Home -- Content: Series 7 (Laws) -- Translation: English -- Book: 1 (Tora) -- Part: 1 (Positive) -- Command: 169 -- Text
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The Sharia of Moses in the TORA
Part 1 - The 248 Positive Commandments of the Tora


Leviticus 23:40 -- “And you shall take for yourselves on the first day the fruit of beautiful trees, branches of palm trees, the boughs of leafy trees, and willows of the brook; and you shall rejoice before the LORD your God for seven days.”

The whole city of Jerusalem is embraced in this term, according to Maimonides.*

* Mishneh Torah, Zmanim, Hilchoth Shofar II, 8

In the temple, the priests circled in a procession around the altar once each day during the first six days of the Festival of Tabernacles, and on the seventh day, they did so seven times.*

* Mishneh Torah, Zmanim, Holchoth Lulab VII, 23

The procession of the willow-branch as observed in the temple is described in the Mishnah thus: “There was a place below Jerusalem called Moza. Thither they went and cut themselves young willow-branches, and then came and set these up at the sides of the altar so that their tops bent over the altar. They then blew on the shofar a sustained, a quavering and another sustained blast.”* This rite, described by the Sages as a ‘law given to Moses on Sinai’**, was performed each day during the first seven days of Tabernacles. Not, however, being ordained explicitly in the Torah, it is observed to-day. ‘in memory of the temple’, only on its most important day – that is, on the seventh day of Tabernacles. By a custom which dates back to the prophets, the willow-branch is beaten on the ground several times.***

* Suk. 45a
** ibid., 44a
*** Mishneh Torah, Zmanim, Hilchoth Lulab VII, 21- 22

“The joyfulness which one should manifest both in fulfilling a commandment and in revealing his love of God, who has enjoined them upon us, is an important aspect o worship. He who keeps himself from partaking of this joyfulness merits retribution (by the hand of Heaven), as it is said, Because you did not serve the LORD your God with joy and gladness of heart (Deuteronomy 28:47); while he who indulges in vain glory, promoting his own honor and reveling in self-esteem on such occasions, is both a sinner and a fool. It is against such conduct that King Solomon admonishes us (in the words), Do not exalt yourself in the presence of the king, (Proverbs 25:6). On the other hand, he who humbles and belittles himself on these occasions is the one who is truly great and honored, since he worships (the Lord) out of love. Thus David, King of Israel, said And I will be even more undignified than this, and will be humble in my own sight. (2 Samuel 6:22); there being no true greatness and honor other than that which is manifested in serving (the Lord) out of love, as it is said, And saw King David leaping and whirling before the LORD (2 Samuel 6:16)”.*

* Mishneh Torah, Zmanim, Hilchoth Lulab VIII, 15


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