The origin of the Feast of Tishri (also known as the Feast of the Tabernacle) is described in the Old Testament where it is said that the Lord spoke unto Moses saying when “ye [shall] have gathered in the fruit of the land, ye shall keep a feast unto the LORD seven days:… [and] Ye shall dwell in booths seven days…. That your generations may know that I made of Israel to dwell in booths, when I brought them out of the land of Egypt” (Leviticus 23:39,42-43).
Why the Feast of Tishri?
The origins and significances of the Feast of Tishri make it the most Scottish Rite of festivals. Although originally celebrated as a harvest and gathering festival, no other occasion epitomizes the character and purpose of the Rite more wholly than our historic celebration, held in conjunction with the dedication of King Solomon’s Temple (2 Chronicles 7:8-10). To marshal the meanings of the feast is to summarize the principal ideals and traditions of our Fraternity.
First of all, we observe the Feast of Tishri because it is an age-old custom which now has the power of law. Under the Statutes of the Supreme Council, the feast is considered an obligatory observance, a sharing of our fraternal spirit.
Secondly, the rich legendry of the Temple’s dedication, held in connection with the Feast of Tishri, is an essential part of the Fourteenth degree. The symbolic details of the Temple’s position, design, construction, furnishing, and decoration carry special meaning as they apply to the metaphorical temple of Freemasonry built in the heart of every Brother. Through the symbols of the Temple, we learn to recommit ourselves to building Freemasonry “in the hearts of men” and among nations.
Significantly, Solomon, a king of peace and wisdom, built the Temple. The Lord … delivered this responsibility and glory to Solomon, whose very name derives from the Hebrew word shalom, meaning peace. Thus in observing the Feast of Tishri, we reaffirm our dedication to human concord and the brotherhood of all men in a world of peace. As individuals and a Brothers in the Rite, we resolve to build, as Solomon did, through harmony and cooperation, ever seeking peace for all mankind.
The consecration of the Temple must be observed at the Feast of Tishri because it teaches the equality and unity of all members of the Rite. The people of Israel, unified under Solomon, were equal in their devotion to the Lord and equal in their sovereignty to all other nations. In the Feast of Tishri, all Perfect Elus and those of higher Degrees can join at the banquet table and share the bond of fraternal unity.
Yet another reason to keep the Feast of Tishri is that such observance fosters the spirit of fellowship…. Within the context of the Feast of Tishri, we realize more deeply than ever before the value of our fellowmen, without which the individual is lost in a self-imposed prison of human isolation.
Finally, the law, legend, peace, equality, unity and fellowship of the Feast of Tishri combine to make this the Masonic feast of feasts. At the reflection table, all men – Jew, Christian, Muslim, Buddhist, and others – join in a common voice of thanksgiving where every man can share his gratitude and express his sincere thanks to Him who made all things. The Deity has given us life, the strength to live it fully, and the joy of sharing the beauty and goodness of His creation with our fellowmen. Most of all, He has given us freedom. The Feast of Tishri celebrates this freedom which the Israelites won with the guidance of Providence, despite the shackles of Egypt and the armies of the Philistines.
This ancient victory celebrated in the dedication of King Solomon’s Temple is kept forever fresh through our keeping of the Feast of Tishri. It promises to all men that the burdens of tyranny are temporary, that thee darkness will yield to light, that knowledge will conquer ignorance, and that the Creator intended all men to be free. The message of Tishri comes to us strongly and clearly from across the ages because it has been so preserved in the symbolism and allegory of the Scottish Rite. Through our observance of this great feast of thanksgiving, we, as heirs of Solomon, perpetuate his magnificent Temple of freedom in our lives, our communities, our country and, most of all, in our beloved Rite.
-Scottish Rite Ritual Monitor and Guide, Third Edition
by Arturo De Hoyos