I'm wondering what explanations are offered (preferably by the various Rishonim), if any, as to why we read Lv. 22:26-32 on the first day of Sukkot. The latter part of the reading (23:1 and on) is easier to understand as it deals directly with the festivals. But the opening piece doesn't, discussing the details of minimum age and some other requirements for sacrifices.

וַיְדַבֵּר יְהוָה, אֶל-מֹשֶׁה לֵּאמֹר. שׁוֹר אוֹ-כֶשֶׂב אוֹ-עֵז כִּי יִוָּלֵד, וְהָיָה שִׁבְעַת יָמִים תַּחַת אִמּוֹ; וּמִיּוֹם הַשְּׁמִינִי, וָהָלְאָה, יֵרָצֶה, לְקָרְבַּן אִשֶּׁה לַיהוָה. וְשׁוֹר, אוֹ-שֶׂה--אֹתוֹ וְאֶת-בְּנוֹ, לֹא תִשְׁחֲטוּ בְּיוֹם אֶחָד. וְכִי-תִזְבְּחוּ זֶבַח-תּוֹדָה, לַיהוָה--לִרְצֹנְכֶם, תִּזְבָּחוּ. בַּיּוֹם הַהוּא יֵאָכֵל, לֹא-תוֹתִירוּ מִמֶּנּוּ עַד-בֹּקֶר: אֲנִי, יְהוָה. וּשְׁמַרְתֶּם, מִצְוֺתַי, וַעֲשִׂיתֶם, אֹתָם: אֲנִי, יְהוָה. וְלֹא תְחַלְּלוּ, אֶת-שֵׁם קָדְשִׁי, וְנִקְדַּשְׁתִּי, בְּתוֹךְ בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל: אֲנִי יְהוָה, מְקַדִּשְׁכֶם. לג הַמּוֹצִיא אֶתְכֶם מֵאֶרֶץ מִצְרַיִם, לִהְיוֹת לָכֶם לֵאלֹהִים: אֲנִי, יְהוָה.‏
And the LORD spoke unto Moses, saying: When a bullock, or a sheep, or a goat, is brought forth, then it shall be seven days under the dam; but from the eighth day and thenceforth it may be accepted for an offering made by fire unto the LORD. And whether it be cow or ewe, ye shall not kill it and its young both in one day. And when ye sacrifice a sacrifice of thanksgiving unto the LORD, ye shall sacrifice it that ye may be accepted. On the same day it shall be eaten; ye shall leave none of it until the morning: I am the LORD. And ye shall keep My commandments, and do them: I am the LORD. And ye shall not profane My holy name; but I will be hallowed among the children of Israel: I am the LORD who hallow you, that brought you out of the land of Egypt, to be your God: I am the LORD.

What is the relevance to Sukkot? Do the Rishonim offer any explanations as to the relevance of this to Sukkot?

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    Maybe because until that first day of Sukkot, we were (homiletically) still not "ready" (still tachat imo) but on that day, our t'shuva from the eigel was accepted and we merited being viable, like a korban that can't be viable until the 8th day. Just a thought.
    – rosends
    Oct 16, 2019 at 21:32
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    Maybe because Sukkos (and Pesach, when we read this as well) is when people are bringing various korbanos - you have your עולת ראייה and שלמי חגיגה, plus your נדרים ונדבות from throughout the year, בכור and מעשר, etc. - so we want people to be familiar with the eligibility criteria for korbanos.
    – Meir
    Oct 16, 2019 at 22:07
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    You can ask similarly about the holiday reading from Deuteronomy 16 which opens from 15:19
    – Double AA
    Oct 23, 2019 at 12:15

2 Answers 2


Rabbi Naftali Tzvi Yehuda Berlin in his work Ha'amek Davar (Leviticus 22,26) writes the following:

This section is next to the holiday section and is read on the holidays. There is no doubt that there is an oral tradition dating back to Moses our Master that on the holidays the Torah reading begins with "When a bullock, or a sheep...".

He then goes on to explain the relevance of each verse to the holidays of Sukkot ans Passover.

Another explanation is found in the Torat Ha'mincha by the 14th century scholar Rabbi Yaakov Scilli (pupil of the Rashba):

And where we're we told that that sin (the golden calf - JH) was entirely forgiven and his affection has returned to us like it was in the past? In the section of the holidays. Therefore the section dealing with the holidays sacrifices begins with none other that the bullock, to say that it will no longer serve as remembrance to the sin, as no sin is found in Israel. - Very loosly translated.

He then quotes a Pesikta (chapter 9) that brings the same explanation.

The Tur (417) writes in the name of his brother Rabbi Yehuda that the holidays where given to us in merit of our forefathers Abraham, Issac and Jacob.

The Medrash (Yalkut Shimoni on Leviticus 22,26) says that the bullock is in merit of Abraham, the sheep is in merit of Issac and the goat is in merit Jacob.

Connecting the two together, we can understand why the holiday Torah portion begins with "When a bullock, or a sheep, or a goat...". Both the bullock and Passover were given to us in the merit of Abraham, both Shavuot and the sheep were given to us in the merit of Issac and both the goat and Sukkot were given to us in the merit of Jacob.

Similar to the previous explanation, according to Yonatan Ben Uziel the bullock, sheep and goat allude to Abraham, Issac and Jacob, who's merit we are trying to awaken now that we can no longer bring the sacrifices.

The Ra'avyah (vol II megilla 596) addresses the question:

The holiday section begins with "When a bullock, or a sheep, or a goat...", because the section ends with "that brought you out of the land of Egypt", which is apropos to Passover (and the other holidays as well - JH). and the laws of sacrifices, since many sacrifices are needed on the holidays. It is all one topic and they belong to each other.


My ignorance prevents me from providing sources as you've requested, but I'll dare to offer an explanation of my own.

The Mishna (Megilla 4a) traces the origins of holiday torah reading all the way back to Moses. Later on (30b) the Mishna states that on the first day of Succot the portion regarding sacrifices in Leviticus is read. it would seem that back in the times of the Mishna they did not begin from the same point as we do today.

I'd like to suggest that reading from the beginning as we do today was instituted at a later period. Perhaps in place of dealing with the sacrifices which we no longer have, we read the relevant laws ונשלמה פרים שפתותינו.

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    It can't be that late an addition since there are ancient Piyutim that use the verse שור או כשב in reference to the holiday. The Magen for the Kaliri Kedushta of the first day of Sukkot for example. Also in the Gemara it gives a mnemonic for the reading of the second day of Pesach as "תורא" meaning ox, a clear reference to 22:27.
    – Double AA
    Oct 16, 2019 at 23:19
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    this might be a comment or something else, but the question asks for Rishonim and the Rambam codifies this reading (בסוכות, בשני ימים הראשונים, קורין בפרשת מועדות)
    – rosends
    Oct 16, 2019 at 23:59
  • @DoubleAA which piyutim are you referring to? Are they available online? If so, could you please link to them? Thank you!
    – LuxuryMode
    Oct 25, 2019 at 16:55

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