I’d like to take just a few moments to explain the Spring biblical festivals millions of Jews around the world are observing.
It is described by Moses in the Book of Leviticus.
Leviticus 23:1-2 reads,
“And the Lord spoke to Moses saying, speak to the children of Israel and say to them, ‘The Feast of the Lord would you shall proclaim to be holy convocations.’ These are my feasts.”
The Spring festivals begin with Passover or as they say, in Hebrew, Pesach. This occurred a few weeks ago. We’re now in the period after Passover. God instructed ancient Israel to commemorate Passover again in Leviticus.
“These are the feasts of the Lord, holy convocations which you shall proclaim at their appointed times. On the fourteenth day of the first month at twilight is the Lord’s Passover.”
The redemption of the Jewish people from Egypt was the beginning of everything that was about to occur.
In Leviticus 23:15-16,
“And you shall count for yourselves from the day after the Sabbath, from the day that you brought the sheaf of the wave offering: seven Sabbaths shall be completed. Count fifty days to the day after the seventh Sabbath; then you shall offer a new grain offering to the Lord.”
We see that Pesach, it begins at a specific time, a specific date, the 14th of the month. But this festival, Shavuot, which means “Weeks” or we’re more familiar with it as being Pentecost, we don’t actually get an exact date. Instead, the Jewish people were to count the days after Passover. So the Jewish people were to count each day, day one of the Omer, day two of the Omer and day three of the Omer. And each day, every single day for forty-nine days.
“Barukh ata Adonai Eloheinu Melekh ha’Olam asher kid’shanu b’mitzvotav v’tizivanu al sefirat ha’omer.” (“Blessed are you, Adonai our God, Sovereign of the Universe, who has sanctified us with your commandments and commanded us to count the omer.”)
God is reminding ancient Israel to look forward to this particular day. So why count up. Why count one, two, three, four when most holidays count down?
The days leading up from the Exodus to Shavuot the numbers ascend like the Jewish people from the desert to a land flowing with milk and honey. As well, it was a spiritual ascent out of a land of paganism. Of the worship of a pantheon of gods. And now they were going to a land where God was to be worshipped, the one true God, the holy one of Israel.
And it is really something when you realize that when God gave Moses the Ten Commandments on Mount Sinai, God actually was becoming engaged to the land of Israel and to her people, the Jewish people, He was betrothed to them. They were His people and still are His people now.
Moses ascended the mountain. The Hebrew word for “ascend” is “Aliyah”. If you’re familiar with Israel, you would know that when a Jew from the Diaspora, from America, Canada or Britain decides “I’m going to go home, I’m going to return to the land of my ancestors”, they’re said to be “making aliyah”. It means to go up. In synagogues around the world when the Torah is read every Saturday, the Sabbath, several Jews from the congregation are called up to say a blessing over the Torah. And they are doing aliyah when they when they do that. God is reminding them during this period between Passover and Pentecost, between Pesach and Shavuot, of their ascent.
Now, something else is going on during the forty-nine days. Shavuot is also a harvest festival, a pilgrimage to Jerusalem, and people would give offerings of grain.
To conclude with another verse from Leviticus 19:9-10,
“When you reap the harvest of your land, you shall not wholly reap the corners of your field, nor shall you gather the gleanings of your harvest. And you shall not glean your vineyard, nor shall you gather every grape of your vineyard; you shall leave them for the poor and the stranger: I am the Lord your God.”
That’s what Leket Israel is all about. And we see the word Leket here when we’re reading about Gleanings, when we’re reading about gathering. This is a biblical Mitzvah, the commandment to ancient Israel, and it means something to us as Christians as well today. We are to remember the poor. Leket Israel is all about is remembering the poor of Israel. And every day we have thousands of volunteers that work with us to rescue food, fresh, nutritious food in Israel, hot prepared meals and harvesting at farms.
And this year, we will rescue over 40 million pounds of food for Israel’s needy. And we love to see you be part of it.