(by Christopher from Brutal Planet and the PaRDeS Radio Torah Portions on PaRDeS Radio and KKVV 1060AM)
One thing I often see in terms of those new to Torah observance is an unhealthy paranoia in terms of the times and dates of the feasts. Often times the closer we get to the observance of the feasts in Leviticus 23 there are many congregational splits that happen over calendar. I attended once a congregation that split because of a lack of spiritual maturity that ensued on both sides of the argument in terms of the dates of the Torah readings and the feasts. This is one of the most divisive things in our faith as Netzari I am sad to say and I see much destruction happen to the body at this time. There are spiritually mature ways to handle these things.
First of all, if there are disagreements on calendar these are issues that should be discussed during the summer when there is a time for adjustment if adjustment is seen to be needed within a congregation or a household. The times approaching the feasts is the wrong time to discuss such things cause a person's focus needs to be on preparation of what the feast is about not on timing.
Look at it like a child who's birthday is coming up, the parents celebrate the child's birthday on the day of his birthday, he gets his cake his presents and he has a good time. Then the child's grandparents come into town and bring him yet another cake and more presents, is the child going to say to the grandparents; “I cannot accept this cause my birthday, take the gifts and the cake back”? Of course he isn't.
I have been hit with many questions surrounding this situation, many have disagreed with their congregations on calendar and have contemplated not attending their congregation's functions for the days they believe the feasts start. I would say whether the congregation has the right or wrong day(s) if the person in disagreeance doesn't attend then it is not the congregation that is at fault nor the rabbi. Instead it is the person who chooses not to attend because of the disagreement who is sinning. The reason for this is especially during Succos this festival is a gathering of brethren and a time to reflect together as brethren, as brothers and sisters. In many cases, despite whether the congregation has the right day(s) or not a person is choosing to put themselves outside the camp. We see the same thing in the Torah in terms of Miryiam and Korach.
The thing we often do not realize is the most essential part of the feasts, festivals and fasts, and that is it is not about us. When we start to argue with other brethren over the days of celebration then the focus is no longer on Hashem, rather it is put upon one's own ego. This is why the rabbis in the Talmud say in the tractate Shabbat that the “new moons and feasts are consecrated”, when we focus not on the representation of the feast of festival we are not consecrated to Hashem. Rather we are seeking validation to put the spotlight on one's self. Many young in their walk act this way often.
So therefore how do we handle such issues of calendar and feasts in terms of one's congregation having a different view than yourself? Follow your personal conviction, if Pesach falls on a different day in the way that your congregation does, I would say hold a private consecrated celebration at your home or with friends who believe the same AND as well attend your congregation's observed days as well, because if one is wanting to be close to Hashem then it is like the child having two days of cake and presents on their birthday, we should have the same amount of joy to celebrate on anther day than we do on the day we feel convicted to keep. A discussion of correction on calendar should NEVER take place during these times and again the reason is “it is not about us”.
I have also gotten several emails from individuals who have roommates who celebrate different feast days. This is often a more sticky situation yet it can still be resolved by again establishing the most important thing mentioned before several times, “it is not about me”. Discuss these issues around the summer when there is a major spread between feasts and work out a compromise if it is important to you and your roommate to celebrate the feasts together. One solution is rotating calendars, the fall feasts being celebrated on one person's calendar and the spring feasts on the other's calendar. Purim and Chanukah should also be discussed during that time and a compromise on those days as well. Another compromise could simply be, “do both”.
When I am personally asked about the timing of the feasts and festivals, the thing I always ask is if the person has a rabbi. If so I always reply, “I am not your personal rabbi so I cannot discuss that halaka with you, it is something you must discuss with him.” The fact is despite the arguments many try to make to make their case Hashem realizes we have been dispersed, He realizes we get contradicting messages from many teachers and views and opinions etc. The thing He wants more than anything is for us to have the relationship with Him and not worry so much on who is right who is wrong etc. Cause then the focus is off of Hashem and it is put upon self and put upon the elevation of another. And this is never a good thing. These petty arguments are what cause people to not be able to grow in Hashem, which causes them to be stationary and their hearts hardened towards those who may simply have a different view. It is a stone in the joint of the body which causes it to be immobile, causes it not to be able to move.
Theological Insights from Rabbi Eved Banah at Beit Geulah in Morganton, NC (www.BeitGeulah.com)