Fête des Cabanes: Les sionistes ont même inventé Thanksgiving ! (Sukkot 2013: Looking back at the original Thanksgiving)

Chagall-Tabernacles-1916The first Thanksgiving (JLG Ferris)Vous demeurerez pendant sept jours sous des tentes … afin que vos descendants sachent que j’ai fait habiter sous des tentes les enfants d’Israël, après les avoir fait sortir du pays d’Égypte. Je suis l’Éternel, votre Dieu. Lévitique 23: 42-43
Tous ceux qui resteront de toutes les nations venues contre Jérusalem monteront chaque année Pour se prosterner devant le roi, l’Éternel des armées, Et pour célébrer la fête des tabernacles. Zacharie 14: 16
Much has been written about the rejection of socialism by major powers like China and the former Soviet Union. But nowhere is the failure of socialism clearer than in the radical transformation of the Israeli kibbutz. The kibbutz movement started in the early twentieth century in what was then Palestine by Zionist émigrés from Europe who were idealistic and utopian. Capitalism, industrialization, and the conventional family repelled these émigrés. Kibbutzniks, as they were called, replaced these fundamental aspects of modern societies with collective agriculture where all property was owned by the kibbutz, where adults were treated equally regardless of productivity, and they were rotated every few months among the various tasks that had to be performed on a farm, such as milking cows, planting crops, serving meals, and so forth. They considered the close-knit family to be a creation of capitalism, and substituted for that family structure communal dining, a fair amount of promiscuity, and separate communal living for all children, who were allowed only brief visits with their parents each day. (..) The kibbutz movement was motivated in part by the Marxian dictum of « from each according to his abilities to each according to his needs ». By abolishing capitalistic organization, the founders expected members to live in contentment and harmony, and to work for the common good. However, from what I was told and could observe during my brief visit, there was not much harmony-jealousies abounded of those who were only a little better off, including my host because he was allowed to spend some time working at his profession off the kibbutz. Anger was also felt toward those who were considered slackers since they clearly lived off the labor of others. Since everyone ate, worked, and socialized together, small differences were magnified, and became festering sores. Nor were the family arrangements any more satisfactory since parents missed their children, and visa versa. The kibbutz movement was very important in the creation of Israel, and in its early days of independence. Many military leaders came from the Kibbutz, perhaps because they were accustomed to communal living. A disproportionate number of the early political leaders and intellectuals also had a kibbutz background. But as the New York Times recognized in an article this past week, the socialist zeal that propelled the kibbutz movement in its early days has largely now disappeared. A trend that began more than 40 years ago accelerated in the 1980’s as kibbutzim lost many young members, and they failed to attract enough new members. Many of them were forced into bankruptcy, and the future of this movement was exceedingly dim if they continued with their old ways. The vast majority of the kibbutz that remained survived because they changed their ways. They expanded into industry and even real estate, they allowed a substantial degree of private ownership and private enterprise on the kibbutz, pay is no longer equal and is now significantly related to productivity, and parents and children live and eat together privately in their own homes. These changes may have prevented the Kibbutz movement from disappearing along with the many past Utopian experiments, but they did not prevent the kibbutz from becoming of little importance in the Israeli economy as Israel shifted toward privately owned high tech industry, and also toward privately owned farms, including cooperatives, for its much less important agricultural output. The transformation of the kibbutz movement from avowedly socialist to mainly capitalist shows clearly in microcosm what happened in socialist countries. Although even in their most extreme moments these countries were never as radical as the kibbutzim since children continued to live and eat with parents, socialist countries too tried to divorce individual productivity from individual rewards. They also believed that self-interest was a relic of capitalism, and that they could change human behavior to produce « a new socialist man » by abolishing private property and reorganizing society. Instead of the small scale of a kibbutz, countries like China and the Soviet Union tried to created socialism on an enormous scale. Moreover, and this is crucial, while members of any kibbutz voluntarily joined and could leave at will, Russians and Chinese had no choice about whether they wanted to work on collective farms or in government run enterprises, and they could leave only with extreme difficulty and at personal risk. Utopian socialistic experiments like the kibbutz movement, and countries that tried to create large-scale efficient socialism, all failed for the same reasons. They did not realize that while the zeal of pioneers, and the result of revolutions, could sustain a collectivist and other-serving mentality for a short while, these could not be maintained as the pioneers died off or became disillusioned, and as circumstances became less revolutionary. Basically, they ignored the evidence of history that self interest and family orientation is not the product of capitalism, but is human nature due to selection from evolutionary pressure over billions of years. Sure, there is abundant altruism toward one’s family, and some altruism toward others, and the latter might sustain a society for a brief time. But it shows a depressing ignorance of history to believe that a little propaganda and the enthusiasm of some leaders can organize an effective long-term society on the basis of any altruism and desires of mostl persons to help institutions, such as a kibbutz or a country, rather than themselves and those close to them. Gary Becker
Tant le critique que l’aficionado du communisme commettent une erreur. Une expérimentation à assez grande échelle du collectivisme volontaire le plus intégriste a existé. Et l’échec de cette expérience apporte bel et bien la preuve ultime de l’impraticabilité per se du socialisme originel, sous toute ses formes. Un socialisme « idéal » ne peut en aucun cas exister dans le monde réel. L’expérience dont il est question est le développement des Kibboutz en Israël, depuis le début du XXème siècle et plus encore après l’indépendance de 1947. Le prix Nobel d’économie 1992 Gary Becker (photo), sur son blog à 4 mains, nous gratifie d’une remarquable analyse historique et économique des Kibbutzim, qui naquirent dès le début du XXème siècle sous l’impulsion de juifs utopistes. Son compère Richard Posner, spécialiste majeur de l’analyse économique du droit, y ajoute, comme toujours, des compléments d’information pertinents. Selon Becker, nowhere is the failure of socialism clearer than in the radical transformation of the Israeli kibbutz.
Dans la plupart des Kibboutz, les parents habitaient une maison modeste appartenant à la communauté. Les enfants en étaient séparés, et dormaient dans un dortoir. Il s’agissait d’éviter que certains enfants ne soient avantagés par l’énergie ou le savoir que tentent de leur transmettre les parents les plus motivés et cultivés… Quelles qu’aient été ses compétences initiales, chacun devait contribuer aux travaux des champs, quand bien même il aurait eu une qualification qui aurait apporté plus à la communauté, et chacun recevait la même part du produit du travail commun. Lorsqu’un membre gagnait de l’argent grâce à une activité en dehors du Kibboutz, il devait le partager avec la communauté, et ne devait rien garder pour lui. La rotation des tâches agricoles était la règle. La promiscuité aussi. Dans les premiers temps, La cohésion des kibboutz fut maintenue à la fois par le sentiment de communauté religieuse, par l’engagement idéologique de leurs premiers membres, et par l’environnement hostile de nations islamiques qui ont déclenché contre l’état Hébreu 4 guerres d’agression en 25 ans, soudant la communauté autour des nécessités défensives. Mais même cette pression extérieure ne put compenser le désamour des membres du Kibboutz vis à vis de l’utopie collectiviste. Très vite, de nombreux Kibboutz connurent des difficultés. Les jeunes, notamment, voulaient quitter cet environnement – ce qu’ils étaient libres de faire, contrairement à un russe ou un chinois, soviétisé de force – dès qu’ils en avaient les moyens, ce qui n’était pas toujours le cas, car leurs parents n’accumulaient pas de capital, et à l’extérieur du Kibboutz, le blocage des loyers introduits par l’état d’Israël (qui fut d’ailleurs fondé sur des bases très socialisantes) avait détruit le marché locatif, là bas aussi. Aussi beaucoup parmi eux se sentaient-ils plus prisonniers économiques du Kibboutz que participants enthousiastes. Les problèmes de jalousie entre membres, de tirage au flanc et de parasitage – problème connu par les économistes sous le nom de « passager clandestin » ou « free rider » : pourquoi se tuer à la tâche si vous recevez autant que celui qui travaille ? -, l’inefficacité du système productif dûe à l’absence de spécialisation des tâches et à la mauvaise utilisation des compétences, le stress né de la séparation des familles, ont provoqué la disparition de certains Kibboutz, et la transformation de la plus grande partie d’entre eux en entreprises de type privée, où les familles vivent réunies, où le marché détermine les rémunérations, où l’immobilier est privé, et où l’initiative individuelle permet de développer des activités autres que l’agriculture, permettant à chacun de se spécialiser. Bref, plus de 70% des Kibboutz sont devenus des entreprises de type capitaliste, dont l’aspect social se limite à la constitution de sociétés de secours mutuel des membres. Les Kibboutz, au nombre d’environ 250, ne représentèrent jamais plus de 7% de la société Israélienne, au temps de leur splendeur. Les quelques kibboutz qui conservent une structure collectiviste (il reste des utopiste croyants…) ne représentent quasiment plus rien, et ne survivent que parce qu’ils appartiennent à un ensemble largement capitaliste qui assure à leurs productions ou leurs actifs fonciers la possibilité d’intégrer un système d’échange libéral, en toute protection du droit de propriété. Bref, l’échec du Kibboutz socialiste est l’argument ultime contre les illusions des derniers zélotes du collectivisme qui ne veulent pas voir dans les échecs de l’URSS et autres pays comparables la preuve de l’absence de viabilité intrinsèque des sociétés communistes sous toutes leurs formes. Même volontairement souscrit par des communautés idéologiquement conquises et initialement très motivées, le communisme ne peut apporter ni satisfaction, ni prospérité aux individus. Vincent Bénard
The Puritans did not believe in fixed holidays. If it was a good season, they would announce a thanksgiving, but it’s not like the Jewish holiday which occurs on the 15th of the month of Tishrei (Sukkot). They did not believe in that. So in that respect it’s different.  In terms of thanking God for a bountiful harvest, the Puritans did learn that from the Bible. They knew what they called the Old Testament, what we call the Hebrew Bible, they knew it, and they were influenced by it. Now they didn’t go out and build huts, obviously. But the notion that one would be thankful for a bountiful harvest was certainly one they would have learned from the Hebrew Bible. Sarna (Brandeis University)
The Separatists at Plymouth did not create an annual holiday. Rather, a holiday that grew in popularity and stabilized into an annual celebration over the course of several decades was later traced back to an event that took place at Plymouth in December 1621. The thesis of my book on Thanksgiving is that it is a holiday rooted in the deeply held convictions of the New England settlers, and in the human love of a holiday. Diana Muir Applebaum
Applebaum explained that the Puritans separated the laws of the Hebrew Bible into two categories. “Some were deemed moral commandments, these applied to all men, at all times,” she said. “The others were regarded as ceremonial or temporal commandments, which applied only to Jews, or only to the olden days, but not to Christians.” For Puritans, the Sabbath was an eternal, moral commandment applying to Christians, but they considered Sukkot, Passover, Shavout, kashruth, and other laws to be ceremonial or temporal commandments, not intended by God to apply to the children of the new covenant, Christians. Puritan theology “supported the proclamation of special days of prayer when unusual events occurred,” Applebaum said. “In the event, for example, of an epidemic, drought, or famine, it was appropriate to call a special day of prayer and fasting in the hope that if the people repented, God would grant relief,” she said. “In the event that God did grant a special providence, such as the lifting of a drought or famine, a special day of prayer and thanksgiving would be proclaimed.” “[People feared that] proclaiming a day of thanksgiving every autumn might ‘harden the people in their carnal confidence’ of God’s grace, and people might begin to take God’s gifts for granted,” Applebaum said. “If a proclamation was expected every year, how was it different from the unbiblical Catholic error of creating fixed annual holidays? On the other hand, [some thought] God’s great bounty in sending the harvest was surely worthy of thanksgiving. And people like holidays. In years when the General Court (the Massachusetts legislature) failed to proclaim a day of thanksgiving, individual congregations sometimes did.” After 1676 in Connecticut, and by the 1690s in Massachusetts, the government of each of those colonies proclaimed a special day of prayer and thanksgiving every autumn. It was celebrated by families returning home to celebrate, with special dishes (mince pie and plum pudding) eaten at Christmas in old England, and with events like ballgames on the village green that would have been inappropriate violations of a Sabbath day. (…) Applebaum said that by the 1700s, Thanksgiving was a holiday throughout New England, and that it spread west with the migration of New Englanders. Settlers from New England largely populated the top third of the states, starting with Ohio and rolling west, she explained. “Because New England had a precocious public school system, it also disproportionately supplied schoolteachers, ministers, lawyers, journalists, and shopkeepers to the entire country, north, south and west,” Applebaum said. “This helped spread the popularity of Thanksgiving when these New England-born thought leaders backed the early 19th century campaign led by Sarah Hale to make Thanksgiving a national holiday,” she said. “Thanksgiving proclamations were issued by state governors.” During the Civil War era, southerners associated the concept of a thanksgiving holiday with Yankee abolitionists, and therefore the holiday “did not become popular in the South until the end of the 19th century,” according to Applebaum. JNS
While we cannot be certain about what motivated those Pilgrim settlers to initiate a feast of thanksgiving, it is likely that they consciously drew on a model well-known to them from the Bible they cherished.“Seeing themselves as new Israelites in a new ‘promised land,’ the Pilgrims surely found inspiration in the Bible, in the Books of Leviticus and Deuteronomy, in which God commands the ancient Israelites to observe the Feast of Booths—in Hebrew, Sukkot, ‘To rejoice before Adonai your God’ at the time of the fall harvest.” (…) Both of these splendid holidays encourage us to stop and acknowledge the manifold blessings God bestows upon us each and every day,” Lieberman said. “Whether we accomplish that stock-taking over a slice of Thanksgiving pumpkin pie or beneath the leafy branches of a sukkah roof—or both—we understand and embrace the impulse which inspired our Pilgrim and our Israelite ancestors. Rabbi Elias Lieberman (Falmouth Jewish Congregation in Massachusetts)

Attention: un Thanksgiving peut en cacher un autre !

En ce jour où à l’occasion de leur fête des récoltes (dite Fête des Cabanes) …

Nos amis juifs qui eux aussi ont tiré les leçons oubliées de Soukkot

Se remémorent la protection divine dont ils avaient bénéficié durant leur longue traversée du désert après leur expulsion du goulag égyptien …

Comment ne pas y voir les prémices d’une autre fête des récoltes d’un autre groupe de « Pères pèlerins »

Reconnaissants eux aussi d’avoir survécu la plus éprouvante des quêtes de leur Terre promise ?

Is Thanksgiving Rooted in a Biblical Festival?

Mario Seiglie [2]

Historians and Jewish sources point out that America’s Thanksgiving holiday may not have been a totally new celebration—but that its roots may go back thousands of years to the biblical Feast of Tabernacles.

Is Thanksgiving Rooted in a Biblical Festival?

Source: Painting by Jennie Brownscombe, Wikimedia Commons

Did you know that the first Thanksgiving in the United States has some strong similarities to the biblical Feast of Tabernacles? Although the pilgrims did not consciously observe this biblical feast, it is interesting to study the parallels between these two celebrations that share the common spirit of thanksgiving to God.

Both were celebrated in the autumn in the northern hemisphere, and both were a time for giving thanks to God for the blessings of the harvest season. Although forgotten by many, the American Pilgrims were a deeply religious people whose heritage was strictly founded on the Bible, both Old and New Testament.

Why did the Pilgrims have this strong attraction to the Hebrew Scriptures? Is it a coincidence that the Pilgrims were the first successful colony in New England and were able to set their stamp on American culture and religion? Let’s explore these questions and see what history reveals.

Few realize how solemnly and literally the Pilgrims took the Bible. Jewish sources in particular continue to note, although recognizing there is not a direct link between the two, the striking resemblance of the Thanksgiving celebration to the Feast of Tabernacles, which Scripture also calls the Feast of Ingathering.

Here is one typical opinion: « Sukkot, the Jewish Feast of Tabernacles, celebrates the autumn harvest; a similarity to the Thanksgiving holiday observed in the United States which is not coincidental. Prior to making their way to the New World, the Pilgrims, themselves the victims of religious persecution, spent several years among Sephardic Jews in Holland. When they later celebrated the legendary first Thanksgiving, their conscious frame of reference was Sukkot » (« Sukkot [3] , »Cyber-Kitchen.com).

English Harvest Home festival

Now it’s true that the Harvest Home festival was celebrated in England at that time, but among the Pilgrims there was a general rejection of observing these English fall celebrations tainted by pagan traditions.

« The Harvest Home was a holiday, » notes historian Diana Karter Appelbaum, « on which the villagers joined together to bring the last loads of grain from the field and share a merry feast when the work was done…There was sufficient taint of idol worship and evidence of licentious behavior in the old English Harvest Home for Puritans to reject the custom summarily. They recoiled from these remnants of the pagan customs that predated Christianity in England, but memories of the harvest feast lingered all the same.

« The Puritans’ shunning of the ancient Harvest Home left a void in the New England year that might not have been problematic had a similar attitude not been extended to other holidays. But the Puritans had disapproved of so many causes for celebration that a holiday vacuum existed in the young colonies. ‘All Saint’s Day’ had been swept off the calendar along with Christmas and Easter, on the grounds that these mixed ‘popish’ ritual with pagan custom.

« Sunday, the occasion in Europe for afternoon ball games, cockfights, plays, gambling, fishing trips and dances, became the Puritan Sabbath, a day passed in prayer, church attendance and devotional reading…Remaining to New Englanders were three holidays—Muster Day, Election Day and the day of the Harvard Commencement » ( Thanksgiving: An American Holiday, an American History, 1984, p. 20).

Biblical connection of Thanksgiving

So it seems the Pilgrims didn’t base their Thanksgiving celebration on English feasts, which when linked with pagan customs were generally shunned by them. Where then did they get their inspiration for Thanksgiving? Could it have a biblical foundation?

Notice what David Stern says about the Feast of Tabernacles in The Jewish New Testament Commentary: « Families build booths of palm branches, partly open to the sky, to recall God’s providence toward Israel during the forty years of wandering in the desert and living in tents.

« The festival also celebrates the harvest, coming, as it does, at summer’s end, so that it is a time of thanksgiving. (The Puritans, who took the Old Testament more seriously than most Christians, modeled the American holiday of Thanksgiving after Sukkot [the Hebrew name for the Feast of Tabernacles]) » (1996, comment on John 7:2).

This connection is not well known among most secular U.S. historians, but the Jews, who also arrived very early at the New England colonies, have kept track of this historical parallel.

« As Leviticus 23 teaches, » explains Barney Kasdan, « Sukkot was to be a time of bringing in the latter harvest. It is, in other words, the Jewish ‘Thanksgiving.’ In fact, it is widely believed that the Puritan settlers, who were great students of the Hebrew Scriptures, based the first American Thanksgiving on Sukkot » ( God’s Appointed Times, 1993, p. 92).

William Bradford, who became the first Pilgrim governor and proclaimed the first Thanksgiving celebration, used the Scriptures—both Old and New Testaments—for guidance in governing the colony.

« Though it’s a uniquely American tradition, » adds a Jewish Web site, « the roots of Thanksgiving go back to ancient Israel. In a real sense, the Jews invented Thanksgiving. I count 28 references to the word thanksgiving in the King James Bible—all but six in the Old Testament. For the ancient children of Israel, thanksgiving was a time of feasting and fasting, of praising God, of singing songs. It was a rich celebration—and still is for observant Jews today.

« Bradford himself studied the Hebrew scriptures. The Pilgrims took them very seriously. The idea of giving thanks to God with a feast was inspired by that knowledge of the Bible. In a very real way, the Pilgrims saw themselves, too, as chosen people of God being led to a Promised Land…

« In addition to proclaiming a day of thanksgiving, like the ancient Hebrews did before them, Bradford and his flock also praised God’s loving kindness, the famous refrain of Psalms 106 and 107 and Jewish liturgy (‘Give thanks to the Lord for He is good, for His kindness endures forever’) » (« Thanksgiving, The Puritans and Prayer, » shalomjerusalem.com/heritage).

Brief history of the Pilgrims’ journey

It’s fascinating to review the Pilgrim’s history and their roots in America.

Attempting to reform the Church of England, the Puritans wanted to base their religion purely on biblical teaching—both from the Old and New Testaments. In England, they pressured the government so much to establish its laws on biblical principles that they provoked the ire of King James I of England. « King James vowed to make these deviants conform or he would ‘harry [harass] them out of the land or else do worse' » (Martin Marty, Pilgrims in Their Own Land, 1984 , p. 59).

So a group of Puritans fled from England and sailed to Holland. There they enjoyed more religious tolerance, but eventually became disillusioned with the Dutch way of life, believing it was ungodly and that it had a corrupting effect on their children.

A number of these Puritans, seeking a better place to practice their religion, began to set their sights on America. They finally negotiated with a London stock company to finance a journey to the New World.

They sailed from Holland to Plymouth, England, and from there to the new Plymouth they would reach after more than two months at sea. They dropped anchor at Cape Cod in November of 1620. Only about half of the original colonists were true Pilgrims. The rest, whom the Pilgrims called « strangers, » were hired to protect the company’s interests.

The Pilgrims finally disembarked at Plymouth Rock on Dec. 11, 1620. Their first winter was devastating. At the beginning of the following autumn, they had lost 46 of the original 102 who sailed on the Mayflower. But the harvest of 1621 was bountiful and the Pilgrims decided to celebrate with a feast—inviting Native American Indians who had helped them survive their first year. Historians believe that the Pilgrims would not have made it through the year without the help of the natives. The feast lasted three days.

The fledgling Plymouth colony of Puritans would not be the exception to the rule. Over the next 20 years, 16,000 Puritans would migrate from England to the Massachusetts Bay Colony, and many more settled in Connecticut and Rhode Island—thus establishing a lasting influence on American culture and character.

The Pilgrims’ view of themselves

How did the Pilgrims view themselves?

« The Puritans in England, » writes Jewish historian Max Dimont, « regarded themselves as Hebraists. They took the Old Testament as their model of government and tried to reshape the Magna Carta in its image…The British rulers rightly regarded them as Jewish fellow-travelers, and when they departed for the Colonies, the British ruling class wrote them off as good riddance.

« In America, the Puritans modeled their new homeland upon Old Testament principles. When Harvard University was founded in 1636, Hebrew along with Latin was taught as one of the two main languages. Governor Cotton wanted to make the Mosaic Code the law of Massachusetts, and Hebrew at one point almost became the official language of the state » ( The Indestructible Jews, 1971, p. 346).

In the preface to his History of Plymouth Plantation, Governor Bradford wrote of his strong desire to learn Hebrew: « Though I am grown aged, yet I have had a longing desire to see with my own eyes something of that most ancient language and holy tongue, in which the Law and the oracles of God were written and in which God and angels spoke to the holy patriarchs of old time . . . My aim and desire is to see holy text, and to discern somewhat of the same, for my own content » (p. xxviii, edited by Samuel Eliot Morison, 1989).

These remarks were followed by some 25 biblical passages in the original Hebrew and their English translation.

It is no accident that the early settlers called their Plymouth Colony « Little Israel, » and they even compared Governor Bradford to Moses. They felt that they had fled lands of oppression and had found a new home, just as the Israelites had once fled Egyptian slavery and settled in the Holy Land.

It is, then, understandable from the association the Pilgrims had with the Bible and the traditions of Israel, that their Thanksgiving festival would be patterned after the biblical festivals of thanksgiving for abundance and harvest as found in the Bible—in particular, during the fall, the Feast of Tabernacles.

Again, this is not saying there is an explicit link here, just a biblical framework for the Thanksgiving celebration to arise.

Similarities of the Massachusetts Bay Colony

Just north of the Pilgrims’ colony of Plymouth, where the Massachusetts Bay Colony was founded in 1629 mostly by Puritans, we see a similar pattern.

« No Christian community in history, » says Gabriel Sivan, « identified more with the People of the Book than did the early settlers of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, who believed their own lives to be a literal reenactment of the biblical drama of the Hebrew nation.

« They themselves were the children of Israel; America was their Promised Land; the Atlantic Ocean their Red Sea; the Kings of England were the Egyptian pharaohs; the American Indians the Canaanites (or the Lost Ten Tribes of Israel); the pact of the Plymouth Rock was God’s holy Covenant; and the ordinances by which they lived were the Divine Law. . .

« [They] saw themselves as instruments of Divine Providence, a people chosen to build their new commonwealth on the Covenant entered into at Mount Sinai » ( The Bible and Civilization, 1973, p. 236).

Puritan laws in America

What kind of laws was the United States founded on?

« In England, » writes Abraham Katsch, « the Puritan identification with the Bible was so strong that some Puritan extremists sought to replace English common law with biblical laws of the Old Testament, but were prevented from doing so. In America, however, there was far more freedom to experiment with the use of biblical law in the legal codes of the colonies, and this was exactly what these early colonist set out to do.

« The earliest legislation of the colonies of New England was all determined by Scripture. At the first assembly of New Haven in 1639, John Davenport clearly stated the primacy of the Bible as the legal and moral foundation of the colony.

« ‘Scriptures do hold forth a perfect rule for the direction and government of all men…The Word of God shall be the only rule to be attended unto in organizing the affairs of government in this plantation' » ( The Biblical Heritage of American Democracy, 1977, p. 97).

Notice how influential were the Old Testament principles in their civil government.

« Subsequently, » adds Rabbi Ken Spiro, « the New Haven legislators adopted a legal code—the Code of 1655—which contained some 79 statutes, half of which contained biblical references, virtually all from the Hebrew Bible. The Plymouth Colony had a similar law code as did the Massachusetts assembly, which, in 1641—after an exhortation by Reverend John Cotton who presented the legislators with a copy of Moses, His Judicials —adopted the so-called ‘Capitall Lawes of New England’ based almost entirely on Mosaic law » ( WorldPerfect: The Jewish Impact on Civilization, 2002, p. 248).

Much to be thankful for

So we should not forget that Thanksgiving is a feast of giving thanks, not only for receiving God’s blessings today, but also for how He founded America mostly on His biblical laws. He also poured Abraham’s blessings on it, intervening time and time again from its very beginnings to turn it into a rich and powerful nation to help lift up the rest of mankind. The nation has not had a perfect record, of course, but it is still trying to defend the weak from oppressors and to provide a home for those being persecuted.

I know—for I am one of those who was persecuted and was received in the United States with open arms—a gesture for which I will be forever grateful.

Also, we should consider that the biblical Feast of Tabernacles is an annual reminder of how we should thank God for all He has done for us. Indeed, Jesus Christ and His disciples celebrated this festival—and I hope one day you will join us in observing it. GN

Source URL: http://www.ucg.org/holidays-and-holy-days/thanksgiving-rooted-biblical-festival

Links:

[1] http://www.ucg.org/files/article/audio/is-thanksgiving-rooted-in-a-biblical-festival.mp3

[2] http://www.ucg.org/author/mario-seiglie

[3] http://www.cyber-kitchen.com/rfcj/category.cgi?category=SUKKOT

[4] http://www.ucg.org/bible/4/JHN/7/2#v2

[5] http://www.ucg.org/tags/american-history

[6] http://www.ucg.org/tags/blessings

[7] http://www.ucg.org/tags/feast-tabernacles-1

[8] http://www.ucg.org/holidays-and-holy-days

[9] http://www.ucg.org/tags/pilgrims

[10] http://www.ucg.org/tags/thanksgiving-3

[11] http://www.ucg.org/good-news-magazine

[12] http://www.ucg.org/holidays-and-holy-days/gods-holy-days/feast-tabernacles

[13] http://www.ucg.org/historian

Voir aussi:

Thanksgiving and Sukkot

What’s the Connection?

John J. Parsons

Hebrew4christians

THE AMERICAN HOLIDAY OF THANKSGIVING certainly has its roots in the Jewish tradition of giving thanks to God, and some historians believe that the early « pilgrims » derived the idea directly from the Biblical festival of Sukkot (i.e., « Tabernacles »). According to some scholars, before coming to the New World, the pilgrims lived for a decade among the Sephardic Jews in Holland, since Holland was considered a safe haven from religious persecution at the time. Since the pilgrims were devout Calvinists and Puritans, their religious idealism led them to regard themselves as « new Israel, » and it is likely that they learned that Sukkot commemorated Israel’s deliverance from their religious persecution in ancient Egypt at that time. After they emigrated to the « Promised Land » of America, it is not surprising that the pilgrims may have chosen the festival of Sukkot as the paradigm for their own celebration. As the Torah commands: « [Celebrate the feast] so that your generations may know that I made the people of Israel dwell in booths when I brought them out of the land of Egypt: I am the LORD your God » (Lev. 23:39-43). The highly religious pilgrims regarded their perilous journey to the new world as a type of « Exodus event » and therefore sought the appropriate Biblical holiday to commemorate their safe arrival in a land full of new promise…

Recall that during the holiday of Sukkot we are commanded to dwell in sukkahs to remind ourselves of the sheltering presence of God given to our ancestors in the wilderness. After the Jews finally began inheriting the land, the theme of Sukkot shifted to an expression of thanks for God’s provision and steadfast love. In that sense, Sukkot is a sort of « Jewish Thanksgiving » celebration. During the fall harvest (traditionally called the « Season of our Joy ») the Torah commands us to « rejoice before Adonai your God » (Deut. 16:11-15; Lev. 23:39-43). When we wave our lulavs (symbols of the fruit of the earth and the harvest), it is customary to recite the following expression of thanks:

הוֹדוּ לַיהוה כִּי־טוֹב כִּי לְעוֹלָם חַסְדּוֹ

ho·du la·Adonai ki tov, ki le·o·lam chas·do

« Give thanks to the LORD for He is good;

for His steadfast love endures forever. »

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The Refrains of Praise

A basic principle in Bible interpretation is to note repeated occurrences of a word or phrase. This is sometimes called the « law of recurrence. » The assumption here is that since God is the consummate Communicator, if a word or phrase is repeated in Scripture, there is surely a good reason. In some cases the function appears to be instructive (such as the two sets of instructions given for building the Mishkan (tabernacle) in Exodus); in other cases it appears to be exclamatory: the LORD doesn’t repeat Himself without the intent of getting our attention.

But notice that the phrase, hodu la-donai ki-tov, ki le’olam chasdo (« Give thanks to the LORD for He is good, for His stedfast love endures forever ») appears no less than five times in Scripture (1 Chr. 16:34; Psalm 106:1; Psalm 107:1; Psalm 118:1,29; Psalm 136:1), and in each case it is clear that the Holy Spirit is emphasizing that God’s love for us — His chesed — is the primary reason for us to give Him thanks (in Psalm 136, the refrain, « ki le’olam chasdo » occurs no less than 25 times). Notice also that the verb hodu is the imperative of yadah (to confess or express gratitude) and therefore we can understand this verse to mean that we are to « confess » or « acknowledge » that the LORD is good. Indeed, the Hebrew word todah (תּוֹדָה), usually translated « thanks, » can mean both « confession » and « praise. »

A Thanksgiving Seder

Thanksgiving is perfectly compatible with Messianic Jewish observance, and since the holiday always falls on a Thursday there is never a conflict with Sabbath celebrations. You can create a simple « Thanksgiving Seder » by reciting Kiddush (the blessing over the wine and the bread) and then offering a special prayer of thanks before eating the meal. Everyone could recite the refrain: « Give thanks to the LORD, for He is good; His steadfast love endures forever » (see Hebrew text above). The « Shehecheyanu » blessing may then be recited to mark the occasion as spiritually significant:

בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה יְיָ אֱלהֵינוּ מֶלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם

שֶׁהֶחֱיָנוּ וְקִיְּמָנוּ וְהִגִּיעָנוּ לַזְּמַן הַזֶּה

ba·ruch at·tah Adonai E·lo·hei·nu Me·lekh ha·o·lam

she·he·che·ya·nu ve·ki·ye·ma·nu ve·hig·gi·a·nu la·ze·man haz·zeh

« Blessed are You, LORD our God, Master of the Universe,

Who has kept us alive and sustained us and brought us to this season. »

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During the meal, people might take some time to share their own experience of finding freedom in America or to discuss why they regard freedom as important. The connections between Passover (the Exodus), Shavuot (the Sinai and « Pentecost » experiences), Sukkot (God’s care for Israel during their wanderings in the desert), and the American holiday of Thanksgiving would also make an excellent discussion. It is also interesting to note that the Hebrew word for « turkey » is tarnegol hodu (תַּרְנְגוֹל הוֹדו), literally, « Indian chicken, » which is often shortened to hodu (הוֹדוּ). It is a happy coincidence that we customarily eat turkey on Thanksgiving, and this reminds us of the « thanks » connection: « Give thanks (hodu) to the LORD, for He is good; for His steadfast love endures forever. »

Since Yeshua is the ultimate expression of God’s steadfast love (i.e., chesed: חֶסֶד), how much more should we give heartfelt thanks to God for Him? Is there anything greater than the astounding love of God? Can anything overcome it? Can even the hardness of your own heart somehow veto or negate it’s purposes? It was because of His great love that God (יהוה) « emptied Himself » of heavenly glory, becoming clothed in human flesh and becoming disguised a lowly slave (δοῦλος). God performed this act of « infinite condescension » in order to « tabernacle » with us as our « hidden King » (John 1:1,14, Phil. 2:7-8). Ultimately our thanks to God is our praise for Yeshua, our Savior, King, and LORD.

We wish you a joy-filled time of reflection during this Thanksgiving Holiday. May you remember the many blessings that the LORD God of Israel has lovingly bestowed upon you and your family…. Hodu La-Adonai!

Voir également:

Sukkot – The Harvest Holiday and Thanksgiving

Shiksa

September 22, 2010

Did the Jewish holiday of Sukkot inspire the first Thanksgiving?

Sukkot, also known as the Feast of Tabernacles, is a Jewish holiday celebrated on the 15th of Tishrei on the Hebrew calendar. While not as widely known or celebrated as some other Jewish holidays, Sukkot is a very important part of the Jewish experience. Historically many important events have occurred during Sukkot, including King Solomon’s dedication of the First Temple of Jerusalem.

The Sukkot holiday finds its origin in a Biblical mandate. In the Torah, God commands that the Jews must live in temporary outdoor structures for seven days in remembrance of the Israelites who fled from Egypt with Moses:

So beginning with the fifteenth day of the seventh month, after you have gathered the crops of the land, celebrate the festival to the Lord for seven days; the first day is a day of rest, and the eighth day also is a day of rest. On the first day you are to take choice fruit from the trees, and palm fronds, leafy branches and poplars, and rejoice before the Lord your God… All native-born Israelites are to live in booths so your descendants will know that I had the Israelites live in booths when I brought them out of Egypt.

~ Leviticus 23:39 to 23:43

This is an example of an outdoor sukkah structure.

In this passage, God commands the Jews to build “booths” and live in them during the festival of Sukkot. These temporary structures are known as “sukkah,” and they can range in size from small (just large enough for two people) to enormous. A sukkah is constructed with three or four walls and a roof known as a “schach” made from natural organic materials. It must be at least three feet tall, and you must be able to see the sky through the roof—if you can’t, the sukkah is not considered “kosher.” Traditionally, Jewish families decorate the sukkah with a variety of decorations including homemade ornaments, paintings, and streamers. Often decorations are inspired by harvest foods and the seven species of Israel mentioned in Deuteronomy: grapes, figs, pomegranates, olives, dates, wheat and barley.

Rabbinic law encourages Jews to live, sleep, and eat in the sukkah for all seven days of the festival, weather permitting. Most modern Jews do not actually sleep in the sukkah; it is used instead as a special outdoor dwelling place for dining together with family and friends.

Which brings us to what I consider the most exciting part of Sukkot—the food!

Sukkot is a harvest holiday, which means that the foods served are seasonal in nature. The Sukkot menu generally features vegetables and fruits that are harvested at the turn of the season—apples, squash, eggplants, grapes, etc. As a food lover, this holiday is one of my favorites because we are encouraged to create dishes from fresh and delicious seasonal ingredients. The arrival of Sukkot ushers in the autumn season; Sukkot foods are inspired by the bounty of the harvest.

Does this all sound a little familiar? You might have noticed that the Sukkot holiday resembles the American tradition of Thanksgiving. Believe it or not, the similarities between Sukkot and Thanksgiving actually have a historical frame of reference. Before coming to the New World, the Pilgrims lived for a short time among Sephardic Jews in Holland. In fact, our American Thanksgiving tradition may have been indirectly inspired by the Jewish holiday of Sukkot.

“The First Thanksgiving,” painted by Jean Louis Gerome Ferris (1863-1930)

Both the Pilgrims and the Jews were victims of religious persecution. The Sephardic Jews were expelled from Spain in 1492; they scattered and eventually settled in different parts of Europe and the Middle East. A small group of Jews made Holland their home. The Pilgrims escaped England in 1608 to avoid the increasing intolerance of their Separatist views by the Bishop of Lincoln and Archbishop of York. Both the Jews and the Pilgrims settled in Holland because of the country’s religious tolerance.

The Pilgrims only spent a decade in Holland before leaving for the New World (America), but they were certainly there long enough to interact with the local Jewish population; the Pilgrims also would have witnessed Sukkot celebrations while living among the Sephardic Jews of Holland.

The Thanksgiving cornucopia bears a strong resemblance to the Jewish shofar, blown during Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur.

This possible tie between Thanksgiving and Sukkot is pretty intriguing, and can be seen on many symbolic levels. While harvest festivals were not unique during that time period (many Christian groups had their own harvest celebrations), there are some particular aspects of Thanksgiving that seem at least loosely connected to Sukkot. The first Thanksgiving meal in 1621 is said to have been eaten out-of-doors, which would correspond to the Sukkot tradition of dining outside in the sukkah. Sukkot, like Thanksgiving, is a holiday of welcoming; the Pilgrims welcomed the Wampanoag Native Americans to the original Thanksgiving table just as Jews are encouraged to welcome friends and extended family to dine in the sukkah. This was only fitting; the Wampanoag people and their leader, Massasoit, taught the Pilgrims vital harvesting and life skills after their arrival in the New World; the Pilgrims would not have survived without their help and guidance. The cornucopia, a Thanksgiving symbol of plenty, resembles the Jewish shofar that is blown during Yom Kippur (the holiday that precedes Sukkot). And of course, there’s the food: both Sukkot and Thanksgiving feature bountiful menus of delicious, seasonally-inspired foods.

Details on the very first Thanksgiving meal are slim. According to the Oxford Companion to American Food and Drink, “The first association between the Pilgrims and Thanksgiving appeared in print in 1841, when Alexander Young published a copy of a letter dated December 11, 1621, from Edward Winslow, who described a three-day event held after the crops were harvested. In a footnote to the letter Young claimed that this was ‘the first Thanksgiving.’” Beyond these details, we know very little about that first Thanksgiving meal. We do know that it was a multi-day celebration, similar to Sukkot– some accounts say it lasted three days, others say seven. Over the years, it became customary to celebrate a single day of thanks during the harvest season, which evolved into the holiday we now celebrate as Thanksgiving.

While we may never know if the first Thanksgiving was directly inspired by Sukkot, it is fun to ponder!

Voir encore:

Thanksgiving: A Harvest Festival with Roots in Sukkot

Rabbi Elias Lieberman

Interfaith family

October, 2000

I have the great good fortune to live on Cape Cod, just a short drive from Plimoth Plantation. It was there, in the Plimoth settlement, that history records the first « Thanksgiving. »

The intervening centuries have made it difficult to sort fact from Hallmark-fiction, but this much we do know, from one contemporaneous account from 1621: There were three days of feasting, in the company of Native Americans. The Thanksgiving holiday that we celebrate did not become a national holiday until President Abraham Lincoln declared it one in 1863. And it wasn’t until the 1941 that its date was firmly established by Congress as the fourth Thursday in November.

While we cannot be certain about what motivated those Pilgrim settlers to initiate a feast of thanksgiving, it is likely that they consciously drew on a model well-known to them from the Bible they cherished. Seeing themselves as new Israelites in a new « promised land, » the Pilgrims surely found inspiration in the Bible, in the Books of Leviticus and Deuteronomy, in which God commands the ancient Israelites to observe the Feast of Booths — in Hebrew, Sukkot, « to rejoice before Adonai your God » at the time of the fall harvest [Lev. 23:40].

In Jewish tradition, the Festival of Sukkot is a joyous occasion to give thanks and praise to the Source of Creation for the bounty we enjoy. In fact, we are told that during Sukkot, « you shall have nothing but joy. » [Deut. 16:15] Jews erect a sukkah, a harvest booth, in which they eat their meals, and sometimes sleep, during the festival. It is a reminder of the booths in which their ancestors are said to have dwelled during their forty-year Sinai sojourn. It is also precisely the kind of structure farmers in the Middle East still construct at the edges of their fields as crops come ripe and the need to rise early for harvesting makes it prudent to sleep nearby.

The sukkah is a temporary structure, hung with fruits and symbols of the harvest season. Its roof is thinly covered with branches, admitting sunlight, starlight, wind, and rain, reminding of us the precariousness of our existence in the face of the forces of nature. But the sukkah is also a powerful reminder of the many reasons for which we feel grateful to God, not the least of which is the fact that for the other fifty-one weeks of the year most of us are blessed to have solid roofs over our heads, clothes to wear, and food enough to fill our bellies.

Such was not always the case for the Pilgrims, who often contended with illness, meager rations, disappointed hopes, and death. During that very hard winter before the first « Thanksgiving, » it is recorded that food became so scarce in some settlements that the daily ration of food per person per day was five kernels of corn. In order to remember those harsh times and maintain their gratitude for the plenty they now enjoyed, some New Englanders started the custom of putting five kernels of corn on each plate at their feast.

There is a strong thread which runs from the Israelite wilderness experience to that of the Pilgrims and the harsh years they endured as they strove to sink roots in this new land. Like the ancient Israelites of whom they read in the Bible, they were people of great faith who believed themselves to be sustained through God’s great mercy and beneficence.

That they should rejoice and give thanks at harvest time was as natural an impulse for the Pilgrims as it was for the ancient Israelites.

Few of us today are farmers; we « gather » our food pre-packaged from the supermarket, far removed from the natural processes which make or break a harvest. But Thanksgiving and Sukkot come to remind us that there is far more to be grateful for in this world than a bounteous crop. Both of these splendid holidays encourage us to stop and acknowledge the manifold blessings God bestows upon us each and every day. And whether we accomplish that stock-taking over a slice of Thanksgiving pumpkin pie or beneath the leafy branches of a sukkah roof — or both — we understand and embrace the impulse which inspired our Pilgrim and our Israelite ancestors.

Rabbi Elias Lieberman

Rabbi Elias Lieberman has served the Falmouth Jewish Congregation in Falmouth, Mass., since 1990.

Voir de même:

Feast of Tabernacles

Mary Fairchild

About.com Guide

Bible Feasts:

Paul said in Colossians 2:16-17 that the Jewish feasts and celebrations were a shadow of the things to come through Jesus Christ. And though as Christians we may not commemorate these holidays in the traditional biblical sense, as we discover the significance of each, we will certainly gain a greater knowledge of God’s Word, an improved understanding of the Bible, and a deeper relationship with the Lord.

Sukkot – Feast of Tabernacles or Feast of Booths:

Sukkot or the Feast of Tabernacles is a week-long fall festival commemorating the 40-year journey of the Israelites in the wilderness. It is one of the three great pilgrimage feasts recorded in the Bible when all Jewish males were required to appear before the Lord in the Temple in Jerusalem. The word Sukkot means « booths. » Throughout the holiday, Jews continue to observe this time by building and dwelling in temporary shelters, just like the Hebrew people did while wandering in the desert. This joyous celebration is a reminder of God’s protection, provision, and faithfulness.

Time of Observance:

Sukkot begins five days after Yom Kippur, from the 15-21 day of the Hebrew month of Tishri (September or October).

• See Bible Feasts Calendar for the actual dates of Sukkot.

Scripture Reference:

The observance of the Feast of Tabernacles is recorded in Exodus 23:16, 34:22; Leviticus 23:34-43; Numbers 29:12-40; Deuteronomy 16:13-15; Ezra 3:4; and Nehemiah 8:13-18.

About Sukkot or the Feast of Tabernacles:

The Bible reveals dual significance in the Feast of Tabernacles. Agriculturally, Sukkot is Israel’s « thanksgiving, » a joyous harvest festival to celebrate the ingathering of grain and wine. As an historical feast, it’s main characteristic is the requirement to dwell in temporary shelters or booths in remembrance of God’s protection, provision and care during their 40 years in the wilderness. There are many interesting customs associated with the celebration of Sukkot. These are explained in detail by About.com’s Judaism Guide, Ariela Pelaia.

Jesus and Sukkot:

During Sukkot, two important ceremonies took place. The Hebrew people carried torches around the temple, illuminating bright candelabrum along the walls of the temple to demonstrate that the Messiah would be a light to the Gentiles. Also, the priest would draw water from the pool of Siloam and carry it to the temple where it was poured into a silver basin beside the altar. The priest would call upon the Lord to provide heavenly water in the form of rain for their supply. During this ceremony the people looked forward to the pouring out of the Holy Spirit. Some records reference the day spoken of by the prophet Joel.

In the New Testament, Jesus attended the Feast of Tabernacles and spoke these amazing words on the last and greatest day of the Feast: « If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him. » (John 7:37-38 NIV) The next morning, while the torches were still burning Jesus said, « I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life. » (John 8:12 NIV)

More Facts About Sukkot:

The booth of Sukkot is called a sukkah. These shelters consist of at least three walls and are framed with wood and canvas. The roof or covering is made from cut branches and leaves, placed loosely atop, leaving open space for the stars to be viewed and rain to enter.

It is common to decorate the sukkah with flowers, leaves and fruits.

Today, the requirement to dwell in the booth can be met by eating at least one meal a day in it. However, some Jews still sleep in the sukkah.

Since Sukkot is a harvest celebration, typical foods include lots of fresh fruits and vegetables.

More about Sukkot.

Voir encore:

Did Sukkot help shape Thanksgiving?

Posted on August 14, 2013 by Robert Gluck / JNS.org and filed under Special Sections, Sukkot.

Robert Gluck

JNS.org

Thanksgiving-Brownscombe.jpg

Click photo to download. Caption: « The First Thanksgiving at Plymouth, » by Jennie A. Brownscombe. JNS.org examines whether Thanksgiving was shaped by Sukkot. Credit: Jennie Augusta Brownscombe via Wikimedia Commons.

Did Sukkot help shape America’s Thanksgiving?

According to one of the foremost experts on American Judaism, Dr. Jonathan Sarna, the biblical holiday did not exactly guide the Puritans’ thinking during colonial times, but they were generally influenced by the idea of thanking God for their bounty.

“The Puritans did not believe in fixed holidays,” Sarna—the Joseph H. & Belle R. Braun Professor of American Jewish History at Brandeis University and chief historian of the Philadelphia-based National Museum of American Jewish History—told JNS.org. “If it was a good season, they would announce a thanksgiving, but it’s not like the Jewish holiday which occurs on the 15th of the month of Tishrei (Sukkot). They did not believe in that. So in that respect it’s different.”

In terms of thanking God for a bountiful harvest, the Puritans did learn that from the Bible, Sarna said.

“They knew what they called the Old Testament, what we call the Hebrew Bible, they knew it, and they were influenced by it,” he said. “Now they didn’t go out and build huts, obviously. But the notion that one would be thankful for a bountiful harvest was certainly one they would have learned from the Hebrew Bible.”

Thanksgiving did not become a fixed holiday in America until President Abraham Lincoln declared it as such in 1863. The holiday also did not have a firm date until Congress established one—the fourth Thursday of each November—in 1941.

Although “you’ll commonly read all over the place” about the connection between Thanksgiving and Sukkot, Sarna said that Diana Muir Applebaum—a Massachusetts-based historian who wrote the book “Thanksgiving: An American Holiday, An American History”—set him straight on the subject when he consulted with her.

Applebaum believes there is always some difficulty in discovering the “first” of anything.

“The Separatists at Plymouth did not create an annual holiday [of Thanksgiving],” Applebaum told JNS.org. “Rather, a holiday that grew in popularity and stabilized into an annual celebration over the course of several decades was later traced back to an event that took place at Plymouth in December 1621. The thesis of my book on Thanksgiving is that it is a holiday rooted in the deeply held convictions of the New England settlers, and in the human love of a holiday.”

But did the Bible have any influence on the Puritans’ festival of thanks?

Applebaum explained that the Puritans separated the laws of the Hebrew Bible into two categories. “Some were deemed moral commandments, these applied to all men, at all times,” she said. “The others were regarded as ceremonial or temporal commandments, which applied only to Jews, or only to the olden days, but not to Christians.”

For Puritans, the Sabbath was an eternal, moral commandment applying to Christians, but they considered Sukkot, Passover, Shavout, kashruth, and other laws to be ceremonial or temporal commandments, not intended by God to apply to the children of the new covenant, Christians. Puritan theology “supported the proclamation of special days of prayer when unusual events occurred,” Applebaum said.

“In the event, for example, of an epidemic, drought, or famine, it was appropriate to call a special day of prayer and fasting in the hope that if the people repented, God would grant relief,” she said. “In the event that God did grant a special providence, such as the lifting of a drought or famine, a special day of prayer and thanksgiving would be proclaimed.”

There were robust debates among the Puritans in the mid-1600s over the propriety of issuing a proclamation of a day of thanksgiving every autumn. Was an ordinary harvest a routine event, or was it a special providence?

“[People feared that] proclaiming a day of thanksgiving every autumn might ‘harden the people in their carnal confidence’ of God’s grace, and people might begin to take God’s gifts for granted,” Applebaum said. “If a proclamation was expected every year, how was it different from the unbiblical Catholic error of creating fixed annual holidays? On the other hand, [some thought] God’s great bounty in sending the harvest was surely worthy of thanksgiving. And people like holidays. In years when the General Court (the Massachusetts legislature) failed to proclaim a day of thanksgiving, individual congregations sometimes did.”

After 1676 in Connecticut, and by the 1690s in Massachusetts, the government of each of those colonies proclaimed a special day of prayer and thanksgiving every autumn. It was celebrated by families returning home to celebrate, with special dishes (mince pie and plum pudding) eaten at Christmas in old England, and with events like ballgames on the village green that would have been inappropriate violations of a Sabbath day.

But there are those like Rabbi Elias Lieberman, leader of the Falmouth Jewish Congregation in Massachusetts, who see a stronger biblical influence on Thanksgiving.

“While we cannot be certain about what motivated those Pilgrim settlers to initiate a feast of thanksgiving, it is likely that they consciously drew on a model well-known to them from the Bible they cherished,” Lieberman told JNS.org. “Seeing themselves as new Israelites in a new ‘promised land,’ the Pilgrims surely found inspiration in the Bible, in the Books of Leviticus and Deuteronomy, in which God commands the ancient Israelites to observe the Feast of Booths—in Hebrew, Sukkot, ‘To rejoice before Adonai your God’ at the time of the fall harvest.”

The fact that Jews eat in temporary structures during Sukkot “is a reminder of the booths in which their ancestors are said to have dwelled during their 40-year Sinai sojourn,” Lieberman noted. The sukkah is also a powerful reminder “of the many reasons for which we feel grateful to God, not the least of which is for the other 51 weeks of the year most of us are blessed to have solid roofs over our heads, clothes to wear, and food to fill our bellies,” he said.

“Such was not always the case for the Pilgrims, who often contended with illness, meager rations, disappointed hopes, and death,” Lieberman said. “During that very hard winter before the first Thanksgiving, it is recorded that food became so scarce in some settlements that the daily ration of food per person per day was five kernels of corn. In order to remember those harsh times and maintain their gratitude for the plenty they now enjoyed, some New Englanders started the custom of putting five kernels of corn on each plate at their feast.”

Applebaum said that by the 1700s, Thanksgiving was a holiday throughout New England, and that it spread west with the migration of New Englanders. Settlers from New England largely populated the top third of the states, starting with Ohio and rolling west, she explained.

“Because New England had a precocious public school system, it also disproportionately supplied schoolteachers, ministers, lawyers, journalists, and shopkeepers to the entire country, north, south and west,” Applebaum said.

“This helped spread the popularity of Thanksgiving when these New England-born thought leaders backed the early 19th century campaign led by Sarah Hale to make Thanksgiving a national holiday,” she said. “Thanksgiving proclamations were issued by state governors.”

During the Civil War era, southerners associated the concept of a thanksgiving holiday with Yankee abolitionists, and therefore the holiday “did not become popular in the South until the end of the 19th century,” according to Applebaum.

Whether or not its formation was actually influenced by Sukkot, the parallels between the holidays serve as meaningful symbolism for individuals like Rabbi Lieberman.

“Both of these splendid holidays encourage us to stop and acknowledge the manifold blessings God bestows upon us each and every day,” Lieberman said. “Whether we accomplish that stock-taking over a slice of Thanksgiving pumpkin pie or beneath the leafy branches of a sukkah roof—or both—we understand and embrace the impulse which inspired our Pilgrim and our Israelite ancestors.”

Voir enfin:

Le Kibboutz, preuve ultime de la faillite du communisme

Gary Becker

traduction Objectif liberté

Lorsque vous osez affirmer à des communistes impénitents que les crimes de Staline – qu’ils sont bien obligés de reconnaître – et de Lénine – sacrilège ! -, ainsi que l’état pitoyable des anciens pays du pacte de Varsovie après des décennies de soviétisation, disqualifient toute forme de collectivisme en tant que doctrine, vous vous entendez répondre – parfois poliment, parfois par des insultes – que le vrai communisme, celui des phalanstères et de Proudhon, celui de Marx, voire du « gentil Lénine » – prière de ne pas rire – n’a jamais eu la chance de pouvoir s’exprimer, qu’il a été dénaturé par des dictateurs qui n’étaient pas, en fait de « vrais » communistes.

Notre réponse à cette absurdité consiste généralement affirmer qu’une doctrine que jamais personne n’a jamais pu mettre en oeuvre sans l’accompagner de massacres de masse, de déportations, de répressions, et qui a toujours conduit les pays qui se le sont vu imposer à la misère, est une doctrine perverse dès le départ. Ce qui nous emmène généralement, si l’éducation de l’interlocuteur le permet encore, vers une discussion sur le rôle essentiel du droit de propriété dans la préservation de la liberté individuelle.

Mais votre opposant communiste ne voudra pas en démordre: « le vrai communisme, volontaire et partageur, on ne l’a jamais vu à l’oeuvre, il faudrait laisser une chance à ce vrai communisme là ».

Or, tant le critique que l’aficionado du communisme commettent une erreur. Une expérimentation à assez grande échelle du collectivisme volontaire le plus intégriste a existé. Et l’échec de cette expérience apporte bel et bien la preuve ultime de l’impraticabilité per se du socialisme originel, sous toute ses formes. Un socialisme « idéal » ne peut en aucun cas exister dans le monde réel.

Gary Becker L’expérience dont il est question est le développement des Kibboutz en Israël, depuis le début du XXème siècle et plus encore après l’indépendance de 1947. Le prix Nobel d’économie 1992 Gary Becker (photo), sur son blog à 4 mains, nous gratifie d’une remarquable analyse historique et économique des Kibbutzim, qui naquirent dès le début du XXème siècle sous l’impulsion de juifs utopistes. Son compère Richard Posner, spécialiste majeur de l’analyse économique du droit, y ajoute, comme toujours, des compléments d’information pertinents. Selon Becker, nowhere is the failure of socialism clearer than in the radical transformation of the Israeli kibbutz.

Dans la plupart des Kibboutz, les parents habitaient une maison modeste appartenant à la communauté. Les enfants en étaient séparés, et dormaient dans un dortoir. Il s’agissait d’éviter que certains enfants ne soient avantagés par l’énergie ou le savoir que tentent de leur transmettre les parents les plus motivés et cultivés… Quelles qu’aient été ses compétences initiales, chacun devait contribuer aux travaux des champs, quand bien même il aurait eu une qualification qui aurait apporté plus à la communauté, et chacun recevait la même part du produit du travail commun. Lorsqu’un membre gagnait de l’argent grâce à une activité en dehors du Kibboutz, il devait le partager avec la communauté, et ne devait rien garder pour lui. La rotation des tâches agricoles était la règle. La promiscuité aussi.

Dans les premiers temps, La cohésion des kibboutz fut maintenue à la fois par le sentiment de communauté religieuse, par l’engagement idéologique de leurs premiers membres, et par l’environnement hostile de nations islamiques qui ont déclenché contre l’état Hébreu 4 guerres d’agression en 25 ans, soudant la communauté autour des nécessités défensives. Mais même cette pression extérieure ne put compenser le désamour des membres du Kibboutz vis à vis de l’utopie collectiviste.

Très vite, de nombreux Kibboutz connurent des difficultés. Les jeunes, notamment, voulaient quitter cet environnement – ce qu’ils étaient libres de faire, contrairement à un russe ou un chinois, soviétisé de force – dès qu’ils en avaient les moyens, ce qui n’était pas toujours le cas, car leurs parents n’accumulaient pas de capital, et à l’extérieur du Kibboutz, le blocage des loyers introduits par l’état d’Israël (qui fut d’ailleurs fondé sur des bases très socialisantes) avait détruit le marché locatif, là bas aussi. Aussi beaucoup parmi eux se sentaient-ils plus prisonniers économiques du Kibboutz que participants enthousiastes.

Les problèmes de jalousie entre membres, de tirage au flanc et de parasitage – problème connu par les économistes sous le nom de « passager clandestin » ou « free rider » : pourquoi se tuer à la tâche si vous recevez autant que celui qui travaille ? -, l’inefficacité du système productif dûe à l’absence de spécialisation des tâches et à la mauvaise utilisation des compétences, le stress né de la séparation des familles, ont provoqué la disparition de certains Kibboutz, et la transformation de la plus grande partie d’entre eux en entreprises de type privée, où les familles vivent réunies, où le marché détermine les rémunérations, où l’immobilier est privé, et où l’initiative individuelle permet de développer des activités autres que l’agriculture, permettant à chacun de se spécialiser.

Bref, plus de 70% des Kibboutz sont devenus des entreprises de type capitaliste, dont l’aspect social se limite à la constitution de sociétés de secours mutuel des membres. Les Kibboutz, au nombre d’environ 250, ne représentèrent jamais plus de 7% de la société Israélienne, au temps de leur splendeur. Les quelques kibboutz qui conservent une structure collectiviste (il reste des utopiste croyants…) ne représentent quasiment plus rien, et ne survivent que parce qu’ils appartiennent à un ensemble largement capitaliste qui assure à leurs productions ou leurs actifs fonciers la possibilité d’intégrer un système d’échange libéral, en toute protection du droit de propriété.

Bref, l’échec du Kibboutz socialiste est l’argument ultime contre les illusions des derniers zélotes du collectivisme qui ne veulent pas voir dans les échecs de l’URSS et autres pays comparables la preuve de l’absence de viabilité intrinsèque des sociétés communistes sous toutes leurs formes. Même volontairement souscrit par des communautés idéologiquement conquises et initialement très motivées, le communisme ne peut apporter ni satisfaction, ni prospérité aux individus.

10 commentaires pour Fête des Cabanes: Les sionistes ont même inventé Thanksgiving ! (Sukkot 2013: Looking back at the original Thanksgiving)

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