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Were the Bnei Yisroel obligated to keep Shavuot, Sukkot and Pesach during the 40 years in the Midbar?

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    Why might they not have?
    – Double AA
    May 19 at 18:48
  • Rashi on Bamidbar 9:1 says that they only offered the Qorban Pesah once in the Midbar... I assume that they still ate masah and refrained from hames. The Mishnah on Menahoth 4:3 has all of the Tannaim agreeing that Shavuoth was observed in the Midbar (with disagreements on which qorbanoth brought). The Mabit (Beth Elohim, Sha'ar ha-Yesodoth, ch. 37) says that Sukkoth was only observed upon entry into the Land. May 19 at 19:31
  • Great observation of @Deuteronomy. Please also see Tosfos on Kiddushin 38b: dafyomi.co.il/kidushin/tosfos/kd-ts-038.htm
    – Shmuel
    May 19 at 19:52

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The Bustan al Uqul by R. Netanel al Fayyumi says that there was no obligation of Shavuos in the midbar. Although this is a chiddush, on second consideration, it makes some sense. In Parshas Emor, it seems that the obligation of Shavuos depends on the minchas ha’omer and שתי הלחם, which were only brought once they entered Eretz Yisrael. The Ramban explains that the pasuk specifically obligates Shavuos forever for this reason:

והוצרך לומר "חוקת עולם לדורותיכם בכל מושבותיכם" באיסור החדש (פסוק יד) ובשביתת חג השבועות (פסוק כא) מפני שהוא תלוי בהנפת העומר ובמנחה חדשה לומר שאפילו אחרי גלותנו בחוצה לארץ שאין עומר ומנחה יצוה בהם

R. Aharon Cohen (Beis Aharon), the late rosh yeshivah of Chevron, also suggested that Shavuos did not apply in the midbar for this reason (although he did not quote the Bustan al Uqul).

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  • Cool source כמו שצוה ה׳ על בני ישראל מצות הנוהגות בארץ ישראל ועדיין לא נכנסו לשם וקבלום מתוך משמעת לבוראם כגון המצות ולחם הפנים והחדש וחג שבועות וזולתם מן המצות הנוהגות בארץ about half way through the sixth chapter. It's mentioned in a list of grain based mitzvot like matza probably since they didn't have grain. I wonder if he originally meant something like "[the offering of] Shavuot".
    – Double AA
    May 20 at 13:21
  • @wfb It is interesting to note that Dr. David Levine's translation of the text from the Arabic states that they did in fact observe it: archive.org/details/dli.ernet.247563/page/105/mode/2up Unfortunately my Arabic is not strong enough to understand whether there is some ambiguity in the language such that R. Qafih translated it to Hebrew that way and that Dr. Levine translated it to English in the opposite manner. Though I would generally defer to R. Qafih, in light of this it may be best to preface your answer by stating that it is according to R. Qafih's translation of the text. May 20 at 16:53
  • @Deuteronomy he says there was no obligation, but that they observed it anyway. I just wrote that they were not obligated
    – wfb
    May 22 at 2:23
  • @wfb I must have accidentally conflated reading the Qafih translation in DoubleAA's comment with your answer. My apologies. Nevertheless, I do think it is interesting and of note. May 22 at 11:52

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