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Home » Shoftim

Shoftim: Family Values

Submitted by on August 13, 2006 – 4:18 amNo Comment | 2,363 views

Rotational Shifts

The twenty-four families of the Kehunah, priesthood, arranged their service at the Bet Hamikdash on a weekly rotation by which each family served one shift every twenty-four weeks.  The week of a festival was naturally more demanding than a regular week but it would also bring more offerings to the family, who served during that week.

Our Parsha teaches that “should a Levite arrive through one of your gates…with all the fervor of his heart” even on a day that is not his shift, he would be entitled to participate in the temple worship as well as collect a share of the week’s offerings. Our sages were quick to point out that this liberty applied only during the three annual pilgrimages.

How is this derived, and why is the week of pilgrimage unique?

Unity of Pilgrimage

The words “through one of your gates” are superfluous unless they teach a point otherwise unknown. According to our tradition, as recorded in Sifri, these words inform us that the entitlement applies only when “All Jews walk, into the Bet Hamikdash, through one gate i.e. during a week of pilgrimage.”

We now understand the power of the pilgrimage. When all Jews are present, furthermore when all Jews enter through a single gate, we become a family. A brother is welcome in his sibling’s home, he feels a sense of belonging; he is happy to pitch in and help and feels comfortable with accepting his sibling’s offerings.

Point of Reflection

As the New Year approaches let us become one family. Let us feel free to pitch in and help one another. Let us also entitle our siblings to help themselves to anything we might offer.