The Fall Feasts of Israel by Mitch & Zhava Glaser, Moody Press: Chicago, 1987, 256pp. Purchase this book online.
The Fall Feasts of Israel was primarily written as a resource book for the believer in Yeshua who is a serious student of the Bible. According to the Glasers, "the themes of the fall feasts are especially meaningful to the believer in Jesus. The feast of Trumpets teaches reepentance; the Day of Atonement, redemption; and the feast of Tabernacles, rejoicing."
It should also be a helpful addition to the library of the person seeking to know more about the Jewish roots of Christianity and how these fall festivals speak to the issue of salvation for Jews and Gentiles today. ISSUES readers will be fascinated by the 256 fact-filled pages of this non-technical tome. There is a wealth of material on the three festivals including a comprehensive bibliography, glossary, indexes of rabbinic references, Hebrew terms, apocryphal references and Scripture.
The three feasts are dealt with from five vantage points:
- what the Bible teaches about them,
- their practice in ancient times,
- their practice during the New Testament period,
- how they are celebrated today and
- the more classical beliefs and traditions of the Jewish religion in relation to the feasts.
Fall Feasts is a potpourri of information both for the student of the Bible as well as the curious person who wants to know how certain modern-day practices of the High Holidays and Sukkot came about. For example, the Glasers answer the question of why, if Rosh Hashanah means "head of the year" and it is referred to as the Jewish New Year, does it come out in the seventh month of the Jewish calendar? Or why has there been a controversy over the centuries regarding the chanting of the Kol Nidre at Yom Kippur, so much so that a 12th-century rabbi even called its recitation "dangerous." The authors looked to sources as diverse as the English edition of the Babylonian Talmud and the Jewish Catalogue to make their points.
At times, the Glasers use humor to tell the stories of the fall feasts. In examining the third feast of the season, Sukkot, they describe how the family lives in a sukkah or booth for the seven days of the feast. A scenario of sleeping in the sukkah is then told:
"After the meal is over and the holiday songs have been sung, the family retires to sleep in the sukkah for the night. That is, of course, unless it rains; for if the sukkah were properly constructed the celebrants would get quite wet. What does one do if it rains? Some rabbis say?Çª"
On a more serious note, the authors conclude the book by saying that it’s not really about the fall feasts as much as it is about having a relationship with the One who instituted the feasts:
"God does not merely call upon us to fulfill certain religious duties and obligations. He calls us into a relationship in which we renounce our rebellion and commit ourselves to Him as loyal subjects. That is the message of the fall feasts; that we might commit our lives to God and crown the Lord of the universe Lord of our lives."
The Jewish reader who is not a Christian will be surprised to find out that those Jewish holidays have so much meaning to the ordinary Christian. The Glasers do a good job of showing the link between Christianity and ancient Jewish thought. In origins and ideals these two religions, which are seen as being so very different, are actually much closer than the social observer perceives.