Moed: An appointed time

In the Jewish view, dates and appointed times are gates through which time flows in a cyclical, upward spiral fashion, toward a purpose.

Rabbi Moshe Kempinski ,

Moshe Kempinski
Moshe Kempinski

Torah portion of EMOR. Leviticus 21:1–24:23

We read in the Torah portion of Emor the following

“And Hashem spoke to Moses, saying,Speak to the children of Israel and say to them: Hashem's appointed holy days (MOADEI HASHEM) that you shall designate as holy occasions (MIKRAEI KODESH) . These are My appointed holy days (MOADAY) : (Leviticus 23:1-2)

We see that in the verse two different names are used to describe the Festivals of Hashem, MOED and MIKRAEI KODESH. We will explore how those two terms and their interplay reveal one of the most powerful truths of Hashem's running of our world.

The day that our people celebrate Rosh Hashannah (the Jewish New Year) on the first day of the seventh month, actually does not commemorate the actual birth of the world, but rather the birth of Adam and of Eve.(Vayikra Rabbah 29:1)

That first day was not only the day of new possibilities with the birth of mankind, it was also the day of failed opportunities after the sin with the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of good and evil.

Along with the creation of Mankind came the creation of the concept of time as well.

When man was immortal, the passage of time was unperceivable. When man became mortal and was faced with the prospect of death, the passage of time became an issue of great importance. The ticking clock of mortality prods mankind to find purpose and meaning in a life that otherwise tumbles towards death and lack of meaning.

We must remember that the Biblical concept of "time" differs radically from that of the world.

“Time” is viewed by the world as a linear line moving from point A to point B. According to such an understanding, time is always moving ahead, leaving the past behind. Time passes us by like a raging river.

Yet in the Jewish and Biblical view of the world, specific dates and appointed times are gates through which time flows in a cyclical and upward spiral fashion, toward a purpose. Time is not a raging river that carries us into the unknown away from our beginnings. It is actually an invitation into an appointed destiny, a Moed.

In fact time does not just simply pass us by. The Hebrew word for time ZMAN is related to the Hebrew for invitation, hazmana or a Zimun (Rabbi Moshe Shapiro Zt”l).

Time does not pass us by it actually beckons us forward.

What then is that invitation meant to achieve in our lives? The other term used to describe these appointed days may shed some light.

The name Mikraei Kodesh ,(Leviticus 23:35) is usually translated in the world as "Convocations" or Holy Occasions.

The Baal HaTanya and the Hidushei Harim offer another understanding.

They teach that the term Mikraei Kodesh literally, means a ”Calling of Holiness ”. They understand each festival as a gateway in the passage of time at which we are given the power to “call forth” the specific spark of spirituality and holiness ensconced within this appointed time and hidden within our very souls. The special mitzvoth of each festival are the tools with which we begin to “call forth” that holy spark that is so unique to that moment

When we sound the shofar on Rosh Hashannah we are actually calling forth the sparks of Awe and Majesty ensconced within our souls and releases them. When we enter the Sukkah we unleash the spark and empowerment to truly depend on G-d’s protection. The gateway of Passover unearths the spiritual power of redemption from the Egypt in our personal lives.

With those released sparks we are given more enlightenment regarding our lives, our purpose and our destiny. Time , then, is not a raging river that carries us into the unknown. It is actually an invitation into an Appointed Destiny, a MOED, not just an Appointed Encounter.

Yet the deepest level of understanding revolves around the question of Who is inviting Whom.

We read in Shmot ( Exodus) "And Hashem spoke to Moshe and Aaron in the land of Egypt, saying: 'This month shall be unto you the beginning of months; it shall be the first month of the year to you.(Exodus12:1) Hashem commands this seemingly powerless slave people to declare a new month.

That is an incredible revelation to a slave people that had no control over their own lives, let alone their time. Yet now Hashem was telling them that based on their sanctification of the new month, He will declare the fifteenth of that month to be a time of holiness and an appointed time of meeting.

That is a great lesson for a subjugated people. They have been given a great power and mastery over time. They have been given the power to fill time with meaning. It is then that they are filled with the understanding that Hashem is waiting for us to partner with him in the job of bringing holiness and purpose into this world. That is the way He created the world.

That, then, is the great power of a Moed.

The power to bring sanctification and meaning into the realm of time essentially releases us from the hold Time has on our lives.

It is with that revealed strength that we begin to realise that it is in fact true that an Eternal people has no fear of the long voyage.

LeRefuat Kol Hacholim. Lerefuat Yehudit Bat Golda Yocheved

Rabbi Moshe Kempinski, author of "The Teacher and the Preacher", is the editor of the Jerusalem Insights weekly email journal and co-owner of Shorashim, a Biblical shop and learning center in the Old City of Jerusalem, www,