Page:Guideforperplexed.djvu/422

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Egyptian, because thou wast a stranger in his land" (ibid.), although the Egyptians have subsequently oppressed us very much, as is well-known. See how many moral lessons we have derived from these precepts. The last two precepts do not belong to the seventh class: but the discussion of the preference due to relatives as regards inheritance led us to speak of the Egyptians and the Edomites.

CHAPTER XLIII

THE precepts of the eighth class are enumerated in "the Section on Seasons" (Sefer zemannim). With a few exceptions, the reasons for all of them are stated in the Law. The object of Sabbath is obvious, and requires no explanation. The rest it affords to man is known; one-seventh of the life of every man, whether small or great, passes thus in comfort, and in rest from trouble and exertion. This the Sabbath effects in addition to the perpetuation and confirmation of the grand doctrine of the Creation. The object of the Fast of Atonement is evident. The Fast creates the sense of repentance; it is the same day on which the chief of all prophets came down [from Mount Sinai] with the second tables, and announced to the people the divine pardon of their great sin; the day was therefore appointed for ever as a day devoted to repentance and true worship of God. For this reason all material enjoyment, all trouble and care for the body, are interdicted, no work may be done; the day must be spent in confession; ever- one shall confess his sins and abandon them.

Other holy days are appointed for rejoicing and for such pleasant gathering as people generally need. They also promote the good feeling that men should have to each other in their social and political relations. The appointment of the special days for such purposes has its cause. The reason for the Passover is well known. It is kept seven days, because the period of seven days is the unit of time intermediate between a day and a month. It is also known how great is the importance of this period in Nature, and in many religious duties. For the Law always follows Nature, and in some respects brings it to perfection; for Nature is not capable of designing and thinking, whilst the Law is the result of the wisdom and guidance of God, who is the author of the intellect of all rational beings. This, however, is not the theme of the present chapter: let us return to our subject.

The Feast of Weeks is the anniversary of the Revelation on Mount Sinai. In order to raise the importance of this day, we count the days that pass since the preceding festival, just as one who expects his most intimate friend on a certain day counts the days and even the hours. This is the reason why we count the days that pass since the offering of the Omer, between the anniversary of our departure from Egypt and the anniversary of the Lawgiving. The latter was the aim and object of the exodus from Egypt, and thus God said, "I brought you unto myself" (Exod. xix. 4). As that great revelation took place only on one day, so we keep its anniversary only one day: but if the eating of unleavened bread on Passover were only commanded for one day, we should not have noticed it, and its object would not have been manifest. For it frequently happens that we take the same kind of food for two or