"שלוש פעמים בשנה יראה כל זכורךאת פני ה' אלקיך במקום אשר יבחר"
“Three times a year all your males should appear before G‑d, your G‑d, in the place that He will choose.” (Devarim 16:16)

QUESTION: Is the word “et” superfluous?

ANSWER: The Gemara (Pesachim 22b) says that Shimon Ha’imsuni held that the word “et” is always written to teach something additional. He would thus analyze every occurrence in the Torah of the word “et” and expound it. When he reached the pasuk, Et Hashem Elokecha tira” — “You shall revere Hashem, your G‑d” (Devarim 10:20) he stopped his practice. Rabbi Akiva explained that the word “et” comes here to include talmidei chachamim — Torah scholars — and the pasuk is instructing that the reverence demanded by the Torah for its teachers is commensurate to that demanded for Hashem Himself.

The Gemara (Rosh Hashanah 16b) says that “on Yom Tov a person is obligated to visit his Rebbe — teacher.” Perhaps, the extra word “et” in the pasuk may be a source to this Rabbinic dictum, “Three times a year all your males should appear before” — “et” — your Rebbe — who is equated to, “penei Hashem Elokecha” — “[appearing before] G‑d, your G‑d.”

* * *

Why didn’t Shimon Ha’imsuni offer an explanation similar to Rabbi Akiva’s?

King Shlomo says, “Kabeid et Hashem meihonecha” — “Honor G‑d with your wealth” (Proverbs 3:9). If the word “et” means to include talmidei chachamim, then the words of King Shlomo indicate that one should honor ettalmidei chachamim — with one’s wealth, i.e. give them money. Therefore, though Shimon Ha’imsuni agreed with Rabbi Akiva, he did not want to say it to avoid suspicion of self-interest.

However, the Gemara (Ketubot 63a) relates that Rabbi Akiva was the son-in-law of Kalba Savu’a, one of the wealthiest people at that time, who shared his wealth with him. Thus, Rabbi Akiva was also very wealthy. Since he wasn’t dependent on anyone for support, he was confident that no one would suspect him of self-interest, and therefore he declared that the word “et” comes to include talmidei chachamim, teaching that they, too, shall be revered.

(פרדס יוסף)


"שלוש פעמים בשנה יראה כל זכורך את פני ה' אלקיך"
“Three times a year all your males should appear before G‑d, your G‑d.” (16:16)

QUESTION: The Gemara (Rosh Hashanah 16b) says that “one is required to visit his Rebbe on Yom Tov.” Does this mitzvah apply in contemporary times?

ANSWER: Rabbi Yechezkeil z”l Landau (Noda B’Yehudah, vol. 2, Orach Chaim 94) asserts that it does not, for the following reason: The Gemara (Kiddushin 33b) says, “A talmid — student — may rise before his Rebbe only morning and evening, so that the honor given to the teacher not exceed the honor of Hashem, to Whom prayers are recited only in the morning and in the evening. Since, in our days, the Beit Hamikdash is destroyed and one cannot properly fulfill the mitzvah of making a pilgrimage and offering sacrifices, if a talmid visits hisRebbe on Yom Tov, it appears that he is giving more honor to his Rebbe than to Hashem.

On the other hand, Rabbi Yehonatan z”l Eibeshitz (Ya’arot D’vash, vol. 1, 12) holds that the obligation of visiting one’sRebbe applies only when there is no Beit Hamikdash. He reasons that when the Beit Hamikdash is standing, one must go to the Beit Hamikdash and cannot fulfill his obligation by visiting one’sRebbe. However, when the Beit Hamikdash is in ruins, one is obligated to visit hisRebbe as a remembrance of the pilgrimage which was normally made to Hashem, since a talmid chacham is in some measure equated to Hashem.

(עי' ברכת אהרן על מסכת ברכות מאמר קס"ז)


שלש פעמים בשנה יראה כל זכורך אל פני האדן ה'
Three times during the year, all your males shall appear before the Master, Hashem. (Shemot 23:12)


שלש פעמים בשנה יראה כל זכורך אל פני האדן ה' אלקי ישראל
Three times during the year, all your males shall appear before the Master, Hashem the G‑d of Israel. (Shemot 34:23)


שלוש פעמים בשנה יראה כל זכורך אל פני ה' אלקיך
Three times in the year, all your males shall appear before Hashem, your G‑d. (Devarim 16:16)

QUESTION: Why is there a different terminology describing before Whom we should appear in the three times the Torah mentions of the mitzvah of aliyah laRegel — pilgrimage?

ANSWER: The mitzvah of making a pilgrimage applies three times throughout the year, namely during the three Festivals, Pesach, Shavuot and Sukkot. Each of the three pesukim applies to one of the three periods. The change in terminology characterizes the different emphasis of Hashem’s revelation during this period.

On the Festival of Sukkot a total of 70 bullocks were offered on the mizbei’ach — altar — for the 70 nations of the world. Thus, when the command is first mentioned in the book of Shemot it refers to the mitzvah of pilgrimage during Sukkot when we celebrate Hashem’s mastery as the One reigning supreme over the entire world. Hence, He is described as “Ha’adon Hashem” — “The Master, Hashem.”

When Moshe came before Pharaoh as Hashem’s emissary asking him to release the Jews from slavery, Pharaoh arrogantly declared, “Who is Hashem that I should heed His voice, to send out Israel? I do not know Hashem, nor will I send out Israel” (Shemot 5:2). Moreover, Pharaoh pretended to be a god (ibid. 7:15, Rashi) and even declared “Mine is my river, and I have made myself powerful” (Ezekiel 29:3).

To show Pharaoh his ineptness and nothingness Moshe brought a series of plagues upon Egypt until Pharaoh and the Egyptians conceded that the only G‑d, is the G‑d of the Jewish people and that He is the real Master. Thus, the second reference in the Torah to the mitzvah of pilgrimage alludes to Pesach when it was revealed to the entire world that Hashem is “the Master, Hashem, G‑d of Israel.”

Shavuot commemorates “zeman matan Torateinu” — “the time of the giving of our Torah.” Then Hashem declared Anochi Hashem Elokecha — “I am Hashem your G‑d” (Shemot 20:2). This emphasizes the individual relationship between Hashem and the Jewish people and the personal relationship every Jew develops with Hashem by accepting Torah and living according to its guidelines.

Hence, the third reference to the mitzvah of pilgrimage corresponds to the Festival of Shavuot and therefore says, that the purpose of your pilgrimage is to appear “before Hashem Elokecha” — “Hashem your G‑d.”

(ר' מאיר ז"ל שפירא – לובלין)


שלש פעמים בשנה יראה כל זכורך אל פני האדן ה'
Three times in the year all your males shall appear before the Master Hashem your G‑d (Shemot 23:17)


שלש פעמים בשנה יראה כל זכורך ולא יחמוד איש את ארצך בעלתך לראות את פני ה' אלקיך
Three times in the year all your males shall appear before the Master, Hashem, no man will covet your land when you go up to appear before Hashem (Shemot 34:23-24)

QUESTION: Why is Hashem’s assurance that “no one will covet your land when you make your pilgrimage” given at the second time when the Torah speaks of pilgrimage and not at the first in Parshat Mishpatim (23:17)?

ANSWER: The Gemara (Eiruvin 54a) says “Had the first set of Luchot — Tablets — not been shattered, no nation or tongue would have had ascendancy (domination) over the Jewish people, as it says, ‘charut’ — ‘engraved.’ Do not read this as it is written ‘charut’ — ‘engraved,’ but as it were written ‘cheirut’ — ‘freedom.’ ” Thus, the verse can be understood: “freedom on acount of the Tablets.”

The Tablets were shattered because of the Jews’ sinning with the golden calf and had this not occurred every nation would have feared Israel and they would never have been exiled from Eretz Yisrael.

Now, the first mention of pilgrimage occurs in Parshat Mishpatim, which was said before the sin of the golden calf. At that time there was no need to assure the Jews that no one would covet their land since everyone feared the Jewish people and therefore the concern that their land might be coveted in their absence never occurred to anyone.

However, the second Biblical reference to pilgrimage is in Parshat Ki Tissa, and is mentioned after the sin of the golden calf occurred. Hence, the Jewish people were now destined for exile and those who remained would have to live side by side with their captors. They had good reason to fear that if they were all to go up together for the pilgrimage to Jerusalem their land might be coveted by the non-Jews who remained behind. Therefore, Hashem assured them that this would not occur and that they could make the pilgrimage without fear.

(משך חכמה)


"שלוש פעמים בשנה יראה כל זכורך את פני ה' אלקיך"
“Three times a year all your males should appear before G‑d, your G‑d.” (16:16)

QUESTION: The Gemara (Pesachim 3b) relates that a gentile once boasted to Rabbi Yehudah ben Beteira that he would make a pilgrimage to Jerusalem and partake of the Pesach-offering. Wanting to send a message to the people in Jerusalem, Rabbi Yehudah ben Beteira told him that in the future he should ask to be served the fatty, delicious tail of the animal. Since the lamb is the most commonly used animal for the Pesach-offering and its tail is burned on the altar (and not eaten), he hoped that the Jews would be suspicious of this man. Indeed, the next year when the gentile requested the fatty tail, they investigated him and realized that he was a non-Jew.

Tosafot questions why Rabbi Yehudah ben Beteira himself did not make the pilgrimage, and gives as one reason that only those who owned land in Eretz Yisrael were required to make the pilgrimage (see Pesachim 8b).

Why did Rabbi Yehudah ben Beteira not have a plot of land in Israel?

ANSWER: The prophet Yechezkeil once came across a valley filled with dry bones, which he resurrected at Hashem’s behest. In the Gemara (Sanhedrin 92b) there is a dispute concerning whether this was a real event or merely a parable in which Yechezkeil was shown a vision of the dried bones and their resurrection, symbolizing that the Jews will be resurrected from the “grave” of their exile and returned to Eretz Yisrael. Rabbi Eliezer the son of Rabbi Yosi Hagelili said that the dead Yechezkeil resurrected went up to Eretz Yisrael, married, and fathered sons and daughters. In support of this opinion, Rabbi Yehudah ben Beteira stood up and declared, “I am one of their descendants and these are the tefillin my ancestors handed down to me.”

“Who were these dead that have been resurrected?” the Gemara asks. Rav said, “These were the people of the tribe of Ephraim who calculated the end [of the Egyptian exile] and erred.” Rav was referring to their unsuccessful attempt to leave Egypt before the actual exodus. All the would-be escapees were killed by the people of Gath (Philistines—see I Chronicles 7:21).

According to the Gemara (Bava Batra 117a), the land of Eretz Yisrael, which became the inheritance of the Jews, was divided and apportioned either to those who came out of Egypt or to those who entered into Eretz Yisrael. Since Rabbi Yehudah ben Beteira drew his genealogy to members of the tribe of Ephraim, who were not among the Jews who left Egypt, and who did not come to Eretz Yisrael together with the Jewish people, he did not have his own share in the land.

(קול אליהו)


מגביהן אותו (השלחן) ומראין בו לעולי רגלים לחם הפנים ואומרים להם ראו חיבתכם לפני המקום סילוקו כסידורו
“They would lift the table and display to the festival pilgrims the lechem hapanim bread upon it, and they would say to them: “See your belovedness before the Omnipresent, for the bread at its removal from the table is as hot and fresh as it was at the time of its arrangement it the previous Shabbat. (Chagigah 26b)

QUESTION: There were many miracles that occurred in the Beit Hamikdash, as mentioned in Pirkei Avot (5:5). Why was particularly this miracle (which is not mentioned among the others in Pirkei Avot) pointed out to those who made the pilgrimage?

ANSWER: When King David was in the wilderness of Yehudah, he sang to Hashem “My soul thirsts for You, my flesh yearns for You in a barren land and weary with no water. Just as I once beheld You in the Sanctuary; to see Your might and Your glory” (Psalms 63:2-3). Simply understood, King David is expressing his yearning now to be as close to Hashem as he was within the Sanctuary.

The Ba’al Shem Tov provides a Chassidic explanation that King David is actually praying that he should retain the thirst and yearning he has for Hashem while in a barren and distant land also when he is actually within the Sanctuary.

People typically yearn for things that seem distant and inaccessible. Once obtained, however, the object of desire often loses its appeal. Thus, a child away from home yearns to see his parents, and as the days approach for his return home, his excitement increases greatly. However, when he is finally home, he neglects his parents and takes them for granted.

Therefore, King David expresses the wish that even after he is granted the opportunity of again being close to G‑d and beholding G‑dliness in the Sanctuary, his aspiration and strong desire for G‑dliness should not be lessened.

The Jews were shown the lechem hapanim to demonstrate that just as the freshness of the show-bread was constantly maintained, so too their desire and longing for Hashem before the pilgrimage should be retained once they are in Jerusalem, and even after leaving.

(בנוגע למאמר הבעש"ט עי' כתר שם טוב ע' נ"ב ובהנסמן שם)