• Issue: April 2002
  • Designer: Aharon Shevo
  • Stamp Size: 30.8 mm x 40 mm
  • Plate no.: 471 - no phosphor bar
  • Sheet of 15 stamps Tabs: 5
  • Printers: Government Printers
  • Method of printing: Offset

Hakhel origin

Hakhel events historically, during the First and Second Temple periods, were
among the most beautiful and magnificent events held on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. In the Biblical source (Deuteronomy Ch. 31, Verse 12) the Israelites were instructed to come to Jerusalem on the Succot festival after the conclusion of the Shemittah year (when the Israelites were to let the land lie fallow every seventh year) to listen to the king reading from the Torah in front of the men, women and children.

Hakhel symbolized unity among the people of Israel (Arvut Hadadit) and acknowledged Jerusalem as the center of the State of Israel. A story expressing such unity is found in the Mishna and repeated by Josephus: when King Agrippas (of Edomite origin) was reading from the Torah during the Hakhel ceremony and came to the verse "From your own people, you should appoint your king", he broke into tears because he felt he was not qualified to be king. Members of the Sanhedrin and all of the people who were present on the Temple Mount cried out three times: "You are our brother" (Sotah, Ch. 7, Pg. 48).

Hakhel today

At the beginning of the modern Zionist movement (the end of the 19th century), Rabbi Rabinowitz-Teomim, Chief Rabbi of Jerusalem, was the first to suggest the reintroduction of the Hakhel custom. InĀ 1945, Chief Rabbi Herzog held the first modest Hakhel event. Since then, Hakhel has been celebrated seven times.

In 1987, when the late Zevulun Hammer, was Minister for Religious Affairs, he initiated a major Hakhel event in which the then-President of Israel, Chaim Herzog, read from a Torah scroll at the Kotel (Western Wall). Shofars and trumpets were blown. The event was broadcast live around the world via satellite.

This year, when President Moshe Katzav, read from the Torah on Succot during the Hakhel celebration, he announced an innovative new custom: Hakhel would be celebrated with the holding of special events all year long. The President suggested that Bar-Ilan University's International Jewish Identity Center be appointed to coordinate the Hakhel events. This suggestion was accepted by the Ministerial Committee for Symbols and Events.

The "Pilgrimage Bill" (a private member's bill) was tabled in the Knesset by MK Zevulun Orley to give legal standing to those making the pilgrimage to Jerusalem.

Dr. Yaacov Eliav
Director Jewish Identity Center

Mr. David Bruckenthal
Coordinator Hakhel Events

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