Vayikra 23:33-36 discuss the celebration of Succot. Then, verses 37-38 interrupt the discussion by saying a general statement that these are the holidays when you should offer sacrifices. Then, verses 39-43 return to discussing laws related to Succot, again.

Why is there an interruption in the discussion of Succot? Why not move verses 37-38 after the whole discussion of Succot has been completed, as it seems to summarize everything?


Although not too many earlier commentators seem to have been bothered by this issue, there are a few who have mentioned it:

  1. Seforno: it is a completely unique holiday in that it has an eighth day, and requires moving to another dwelling place as well as taking four plants

    • Personally, I'm not sure what the big deal is regarding the "special mitzvos" of the day, since Pesach and Shavuos also have special laws (specifically, matzah and shtei halechem)
  2. Rav S. R. Hirsch, if I understand him correctly, says that the Torah does this to emphasize two distinct aspects of Sukkos: one is that it is a culmination of the yearly agricultural-holiday cycle, in which each holiday is just another "moed", all with the same purpose of getting close to God, and the second is a festival of harvest/in-gathering when we are supposed to appreciate harvest that is meant to sustain us until the next season/year.

  3. R. Dovid Zvi Hoffman: the interruption emphasizes that certain elements of the Sukkos celebration could only be performed once the people would enter the land, but not while in the desert. Additionally, he notes that the phenomenon of the Torah having a closing passage, and then adding more details afterwords, is not unique to this parshah.

  4. R. Tamir Granot: in the second description of Sukkos, it is described as a "shabbaton," besides for merely a "mikra kodesh". Thus, the Torah first re-introduces the general heading to observe both the shabbasos and the mikraei kodesh.

  • I'll have another two answers for you in a few days; ping me if I forget May 17 '16 at 9:10

The Seforno on 23:29 answers your question:

אך בחמשה עשר יום אחר שהזכיר את הדברים הכללים שכל המועדים מסכימים בהם וזה במה שכולם מקראי קדש וטעונים קרבן מוסף כאמרו אלה מועדי ה' אשר תקראו אותם מקראי קדש להקריב אשה וכו' אמר אך בחמשה עשר יום וכו' והודיע שחג הסכות נבדל משאר המועדים ראשונה שהשמיני שלו מקרא קדש כאמרו וביום השמיני שבתון לא כן בימי השבוע ובימי חג המצות וכן בחדשים ובשנים שבהם קדש השביעי לא השמיני. שנית במה שזה החג טעון שנוי דירה כאמרו בסכות תשבו. שלישית שטעון נענוע ארבע מינים כאמרו ולקחתם לכם ביום הראשון פרי עץ הדר וכו':

אך בחמשה עשר יום, after the Torah had discussed the subject of the festivals in general terms, i.e. their common denominator being that these days are called מקראי קודש on which fire offerings on the altar are being offered on the altar in the presence of the Lord, the Torah continues 'אך בחמשה עשר יום וגו, by showing that the festival of Sukkot is different from all the other festivals:
1) The eighth day of that festival is called as we know from וביום השמיני שבתון, that the eighth day of that sequence of days is to be regarded as a kind of Sabbath. Such a concept does not exist as a special, day in the “week,” nor on the festival of matzot, neither in connection with months or years. In respect of all of these only the number seven has a connotation of holiness, not the number eight.
2) This is the only festival in which the Jew is required to change his home, move out of his regular home, as stated clearly in verse 42.
3) It requires that every Jew take four plants of specific categories and wave them in the 6 directions on earth.

Thus, according to the Seforno, it is separated in part from the other holidays because it is inherently a different kind of holiday.

I final word from Mori V'Rabbi, Rabbi Dr. Aaron Ross: Sukkot is a combination of two groups of holidays (Shalosh Regalim and Tishrei Holidays). This statement gives another way that Sukkot is different (it also, by the way, serves as an explanation as to why there are 14 sheep and 2 goats brought each day of Sukkot, instead of 7 sheep and 1 goat, like other Yamim Tovim).

  • You forgot a title: Yodeyan.
    – Isaac Moses
    May 16 '16 at 2:30
  • So, essentially, the mentioning of the sacrifices ends the previous idea that is common to all the holidays including Succot. Then, the Torah begins a new idea and mentions something unique about Succot?
    – DanF
    May 17 '16 at 13:41

The korbanot on each day of Pesach are the same, the korbanot on each day of Succos are different. For this reason we say half hallel on Pesach but complete the hallel on Succos.

The implication of this seems to be that the avodah of Succos is 'korbandik', I.e. the essential nature of the festivities is encapsulated in the korbanot.

Whereas the korbanot on Pesach provide background music for the essential festivity of Pesach which is freedom (ignoring the agricultural aspects of both yamim tovim).

Simply put, the rejoicing on Succot is sublimation of our physical acquisitions to Hashem, the rejoicing on Pesach is in the gift of freedom and richness of life bequeathed to us.

Therefore the Torah emphasises the relationship of the avodat ha'karbanot to Succos.

  • This is interesting analysis. Please source it. As is, it could be your own "drash".
    – DanF
    May 12 '16 at 2:19
  • But doesn't Sukkot have two mitzvot Hayom, as opposed to the other holidays that only have one? Isn't it a mitzvadik holiday?
    – user9907
    May 15 '16 at 19:23
  • @ephraimhelfgot Pesach has Matza, Maror, Korban Pesach, Sippur YM, No Chametz
    – Double AA
    May 15 '16 at 19:58
  • @DoubleAA Vayikra 23 deals with holidays להקריב אשה לה' עולה ומנחה זבח ונסכים דבר יום ביומו. Chag HaPesach does not fit in that category, and so is mentioned very tersely. Only Matza and No Chametz are really mitzvot of Pesach, and they're flip sides of the same coin (even halachically-- women must eat Matza due to this relation).
    – user9907
    May 15 '16 at 23:53
  • Additionally, Shavuot, which is focused so heavily on Korbanot, should be included at the end, according to this reason.
    – user9907
    May 15 '16 at 23:54

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