The Ramchal on the Yomim Tovim

[5] The Highest Wisdom also decreed to give Israel additional sanctity by granting them holy days other than Shabbos, when the Jew receives various levels of holiness. None of these holy days, however, have as much Influence and sanctity as Shabbos.

The degree to which a person must abstain from worldly occupations on these days depends on the level of their Influence. Various types of work are therefore forbidden on many of these days.

Yom Kippur is the highest of these holy days, and therefore the prohibition against work is the most severe.

Below this are the other festivals, and on a still lower level, their intermediate days (Choi ha-Mo’ed).

Lower yet is the New Moon (Rosh Chodesh), when only women abstain from work.

Finally, there are Chanukah and Purim, when work is not curtailed at all. On Chanukah thanks are offered, and in addition to this, Purim is a time of joy. All these levels depend on the particular sustenance granted, which is the spiritual Light that shines on that particular day.

[6] Besides the sanctification that exists to various degrees depending on the holiness of each particular day, there is another concept that is specific to each one.

On each of these special days, something happened whereby at this time a great rectification was accomplished and a great Light shone. The Highest Wisdom decreed that on every anniversary of this period, a counterpart of its original Light should shine forth, and the results of its rectification renewed to those who accept it.

We are therefore commanded to observe Pesach with all its rituals to recall the Exodus. At the time of the Exodus, we experienced an extremely great rectification, and therefore, on the anniversary of this event, there shines forth a Light that parallels the one that illuminated us then. Since the results of that rectification are renewed in us, we are obliged to keep all these rituals.

Shavuos likewise involves a great rectification, since it is the time when the Torah was given.

Sukkos involves the Clouds of Glory, as it is written (Vayikra 23:43), “That future generations may know that I made the children of Israel dwell in sukkos Even though this is not celebrated on the anniversary of the Exodus, the Torah set a time that is appropriate for its commemoration.

Chanukah and Purim also involve this same concept. The is true of the days mentioned in the Scroll of Fasts (Me. Ta’anis). These were annulled, however, because the could not abide by them, and were therefore exempted commemorating them to stimulate their original light.

Translation from the Way of G-d – Feldheim

Here are the dates and approximate year of the Yomim Tovim

3924 BCE – Creation of the physical universe

3924 BCE – Creation of man: – Rosh Hoshana (1st of Tishrei)

3924 BCE – Rest from Creation – Shabbos

1476 BCE – Exodus from Egypt – Passover – 1st day (15th of Nissan)

1476 BCE – Splitting of Red Sea – Passover – last day (22th of Nissan)

1476 BCE – Receiving Torah at Mount Sinai – Shavuos (6th of Sivan)

1476 BCE – Golden Calf & Breaking of 1st Tablets- (17th of Tammuz)

1476 BCE – Second Set of Tablets – Yom Kippur (10th of Tishrei)

1476 BCE – Return of Clouds of Protection – Succos (15th of Tishrei)

4 comments on “The Ramchal on the Yomim Tovim

  1. Shmuel, probably not, because I wouldn’t have delved that deep into the Ramchal. As you probably know, the contrast of two opinions forces you to try and gain greater clarity on both of them.

    I don’t think that it’s a forced explanation and might in fact have been the Ramchal’s intention. (Note: I added the word “perhaps” to number 4 above)

    I just looked this up in the Elucidated Derech Hashem by Rabbi Abba Zvi Naiman and he brings down both the Gaon and the Tur, but does state an opinion on how he thinks the Ramchal holds. I stated an opinion because Micha asked a Kasha (a question).

  2. Mark, would you have said steps 1-4 if you had read only the Ramchal and weren’t aware of the Gra’s idea?

  3. Micha, I did include the clouds of glory on the 15th based on the Gaon and I’m not convinced that the Ramchal disagrees.

    Here’s a Monday morning quick analysis and possible reconciliation:

    1) There were 2 sets of clouds, both of which indicate Hashem’s protection

    2) The question is: around which set should Succos be celebrated

    3) The havamina (intial thought) is that it should be the first set because they came between the Exodus and the giving of the Torah and the Regalim are centered around the Exodus and Matan Torah

    4) That is perhaps what the Ramchal is pointing out when he says “even though this is not celebrated on the anniversary of the Exodus”

    5) The question then becomes, why didn’t the Torah set Succos around the first set which is more closely related to the Exodus

    6) According to Tur and the Gemora, it is a practical consideration, in that Hashem was concerned that observance in the spring would not have the same effect as observance in the fall, so the second set was picked

    7) According to the Gaon and possibly the Ramchal, the spiritual energy and tikkun associated with the second set is stronger because there was an aspect of Teshuva involved and therefore the second is when Sukkos is celebrated. Perhaps that’s what Ramchal meant when he said “the Torah set a time that is appropriate for its commemoration”.

    8) It’s even possible that everybody agrees with both reasons, it’s just a question of the primary reason, or the more revealed reason versus the more hidden reason

  4. Did you include the return of the clouds of glory on your timeline because of the Vilna Gaon’s idea that the clouds of glory returned on the 15th if Tishrei? (We received final atonement and the 2nd Tablets on Yom Kippur, the 10th, plus the days it took before started the building of the Tabernacle gets you to the 15th. We started the construction on the 15th, so the clouds returned on the 15th, and therefore Sukkos is on the 15th.)

    Because I think the Ramchal’s implication is more directly that of the Tur and the Sages of the Talmud; that Sukkos is at a time of year when sitting in the Sukkah is both likely (before the Israeli rainy season) but the weather is no longer so summery that one would sit in a hut if it weren’t a mitzvah to do so. Thus making it a clear commemoration. Or as your translation, “Even though this is not celebrated on the anniversary of the Exodus, the Torah set a time that is appropriate for its commemoration.”

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