Seneca - Letter #18: On Festivals and Fasting (Part 1)


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For the full text of Seneca's Letter #18, click here and skip to pp.92-96.
For Rabbi Joshua Maroof's article, The Celebration of Hanukkah: "Rededicating" the Original Winter Festival, click here.
Rambam – Mishneh Torah: Sefer Zmanim, Hilchos Shevisas Yom Tov 6:19
Even though eating and drinking on the festivals is included within the positive commandment, a person should not eat and drink the entire day. Rather, this is the program: in the morning, the entire populace wakes up early and goes to the synagogues and study halls where they pray and read in the Torah about the themes of the day, then they return to their houses to eat, after which they go back to the study halls to read and learn until midday. After midday they pray the afternoon prayer and return to their houses to eat and drink for the remainder of the day until the night.

Rambam – Moreh ha’Nevuchim 3:43
As for the moral lesson, it is that man should always remember the days of bad amid the days of good, so that his gratitude to God should become great and so that he should achieve humility and submissiveness. Accordingly, matzah and maror must be eaten on Pesach to remind us of what happened to us. Similarly, we leave [our] houses and dwell in huts, as is done by those who toil in deserts and wastelands, in order to remember that this was our situation in times before: "that I made the Children of Israel dwell in huts, etc." and that we were moved from this [situation] to dwell in richly ornamented houses in the best and most fertile places on earth, due to Hashem's kindnesses and His promise to our fathers, inasmuch as they were perfected people in their philosophical outlook and in their moral character; I am referring to Avraham, Yitzchak, and Yaakov. For this, too, is one of the pivots of the Torah, I mean the belief that every benefit that will be or has been granted is due to the zechus Avos (merit of the Forefathers), since "they kept the way of Hashem to do righteousness and justice" (Bereishis 18:19).
If you have questions, comments, or feedback, I would love to hear from you! Please feel free to contact me at rabbischneeweiss at gmail.
Stoicism Resources:
Farquharson translation of The Meditations of Marcus Aurelius
Gummere translation of Letters from a Stoic Master (Seneca)
Long translation of The Discourses of Epictetus
Carter translation of The Enchiridion (Handbook) of Epictetus
YouTube Channel:
"The Mishlei Podcast":
"The Stoic Jew" Podcast:
"Rambam Bekius" Podcast:

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