Mikra Kodesh: Shabbat and Festivals


In Devarim it is commanded to gather — Hakhel — at the end of the Sabbatical year.

But is there a command to gather together on (every) Shabbat or the Moadim?

Of course Vayikra 23 calls such moments Mikra Kodesh or Holy Convocations, but do these really imply that we should gather and keep these days together? Or are these just general statements in order that we should just proclaim these days as different as the other days and keep the holiness of these specific moments? The words “mikra kodesh” could be taken to mean “a declaration of sanctity,” referring to the holiness of a day or appointed time. While translated as “a holy convocation” it refers to a group of people assembled for a special purpose; they are called together for a holy meeting, “a set-apart-gathering.”

So the question is: If we are really commanded to gather on these days and appointed times, or that these days and appointed times are only to be declared as holy days; i.e. are to be set apart from all other days?

2 years


  1. There is no commandment, per se, to gather together on Shabbat. And even though there are three Holidays known as the “Three Foot Festivals,” the actual obligation to come to Jerusalem and to offer sacrifices in the Holy Temple was incumbent only on those who owned land.

    In any event, the Ramban explains that the word “mikra” comes from the word “keruyim” which means invited. The Torah is teaching that “mikra kodesh” means that the Jewish nation is “invited” to assemble in prayer and to offer up thanks to God. The Seforno offers an insight into the concept by explaining that God is declaring that the Festivals must be celebrated in a state of spiritual elevation and they should not be dedicated to the mundane.

    Best wishes from the AskTheRabbi.org Team