The Great Sigd Holiday

[Be-Ahavah U-Be-Emunah – Chayei Sarah 5772 – translated by R. Blumberg]

Sigd, a holiday of Jewish immigrants from the Ethiopian Diaspora, falls out each year on the 29the of Cheshvan. This year, since it falls on Shabbat, it is pushed forward to Thursday. True, this is a holiday of Ethiopian Jewry, but its content applies to the entire Jewish people. Sigd includes the seven foundations of faith to which every Jew must cling.
1. Torah. The Torah is our life. We love it. It is the most pure thing in our life, and the most lofty. Therefore, for the Sigd holiday, Jews ascend a pure, lofty mountain, a sort of Mount Sinai. They climb the mountain together with the “Orit”, i.e., the Oraita, the Torah, in song and praise, as a sign of the yearly renewal of the giving of the Torah. Let us derive strength from the Torah.
2. Repentance. Ideally one must keep the Torah, but there is no man on earth who only does good and never sins. Therefore, after the Torah comes repentance. Fifty days after Yom Kippur comes Sigd. It is a day of fasting and repentance, because it is not enough to only repent on Yom Kippur. We have to repent all the time, every day and every moment. And just as we count fifty days from Pesach to Shavuot, so do we count fifty days from Yom Kippur to Sigd, which is a sort of “Mini Shavuot”. Let us derive strength from the Mitzvot.
3. Covenant. God forged an everlasting covenant with His people. Even when we sin and fall, we are still God's people. Every year we must renew the covenant. As the book of Nechemiah teaches:
“On the 24th day of this month, the Israelites assembled, fasting, in sackcloth, and with earth upon them. Those of the stock of Israel separated themselves from all foreigners, and stood and confessed their sins and the inequities of their fathers. Standing in their places, they read from the scroll of the teaching of Hashem their G-d for one quarter of the day, and for another quarter they confessed and prostrated themselves before Hashem their G-d” (Nechemiah 9:1-3).
With the return to the Land of Israel, the covenant was renewed between God and His Nation. Likewise, down through the generations, every year there is the Sigd holiday which represents the renewal of the covenant between the Jewish People and G-d, the “Amana” ceremony, a day of prayer for the sake of Israel's redemption. In our own day, we see that all the prayers recited about redemption and about Jerusalem spoke the truth, and now the vision is being fulfilled before our eyes.
4. Unity. All of us, all of the Ethiopians, climb the mountain together. We are united. And now, not just Ethiopians, but the entire Jewish People. Once more we are seeing the fulfillment of "who is like your nation Israel, a united nation in the Land” (Shmuel 2 7:23).
The process of reunification is no simple task. It contains many difficulties, but we are moving forward.
5. Rejection of Christianity. In the year 4085, about 1700 years ago, the Habashite Empire was proclaimed by the king as a Christian country. Then began a civil war between Habashite Christians and Jews, whom the regime called “Beta Yisrael”. The Ethiopian Jews, headed by Phineas, established a Jewish state, the kingdom of Beta Yisrael. The wars came to an end in about 4400, and King Gideon established the Sigd holiday as a means of saying thank you to G-d for His miracles. This Jewish kingdom existed for about 1300 years, until it was conquered by the Ethiopian empire. Certainly, that whole magnificent country and all of those wars so full of bravery, were born on the foundation of opposition to Christianity.
6. Valor. As noted, a Jewish kingdom existed in strength and valor for 1300 years, and now, such valor is returning to the Jewish people. We have excellent soldiers and officers – including many Ethiopians.
7. The Service of God. The purpose of all life is to serve God. Such is the meaning of the word “Sigd”, like Hebrew “lisgod”, to worship G-d, to bow down to G-d. That is the most important thing in life.