Since beginning my journey towards living a traditionally observant Jewish life more than two decades ago, I’ve become very sensitive to the moon’s phases, for Jewish holidays are celebrated according to their Hebrew calendar dates; and every new moon marks the start of a Hebrew month.
We have three Jewish pilgrimage festivals, during which the ancient [male] Israelites living in the Kingdom of Judah would make a pilgrimage to the Temple in Jerusalem to bring offerings, as commanded by the Torah. In Jerusalem, they would participate in festivities and ritual worship in conjunction with the services of the kohanim (“priests”) at the Temple. These three festivals are Sukkot (Feast of Tabernacles), Pesach (Passover), and Shavuot (Pentecost).
After the Second Temple was destroyed by the Romans in 70 C.E. the pilgrimage festivals continued to be celebrated, but primarily as synagogue-based worship services. For the past ~2,000 years, since the cessation of the pilgrimages to the Temple in Jerusalem, these holidays have retained the title of “pilgrimage” festivals.
Interestingly, only two of the three pilgrimages began under a full moon, in the middle of their respective Hebrew months when travel was safest. Unlike Sukkot and Pesach, the Festival of Shavuot, which we celebrated last week, is held towards the beginning of its Hebrew Month of Sivan, while the moon is growing fuller. As such, ancient Jewish pilgrims would have enjoyed the sight of the Flower Moon with their families only after returning home from Jerusalem.
full moon flowering high above our humble homes finds us together
Haibun Monday at d’Verse:
Friends, yesterday’s haibun Monday prompt at d’Verse was: the Flower Moon. For haibun Monday, we wax (hybrid) poetic, blending prose and haiku together.