A once-in-seven-years “Hakhel” event was held at the Western Wall on Wednesday evening with music and the participation of Israeli public figures such as President Isaac Herzog, chief rabbis past and present, and other prominent leaders.

Hakhel refers to the communal ceremony coinciding with Israeli farmers’ return to work after the conclusion of the “Shemitah” sabbatical year in a seven-year cycle. Only when all Jews are physically present in Israel is the biblical mitzvah of Hakhel in force.

In modern times, Jews follow the ancient tradition by assembling to promote Jewish unity and Torah observance.

The root of the tradition comes from Deuteronomy 31:10-12, which states, “At the end of every seven years, at an appointed time, in the Festival of Sukkot [following] the year of Shemitah. When all Israel comes to appear before the Lord, your God, in the place He will choose, you shall read this Torah before all Israel, in their ears. Assemble the people: the men, the women, the children.”

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