Thousands Gather at Western Wall to Take Part in Rare Biblical Commandment of Hakhel [PHOTOS]

“…At the end of every seven years, in the solemnity of the year of release, in the Feast of Tabernacles, When all Israel is come to appear before the Lord thy God in the place which he shall choose, thou shalt read this law before all Israel in their hearing.” (Deuteronomy 31:10-11)

On Wednesday evening, thousands gathered at the Western Wall Plaza to take part in a rare Biblical commandment carried out only once every seven years.

In Deuteronomy 31:10-12, the nation of Israel is commanded:

“…At the end of every seven years, in the solemnity of the year of release, in the Feast of Tabernacles, When all Israel is come to appear before the Lord thy God in the place which he shall choose, thou shalt read this law before all Israel in their hearing. Gather the people together, men and women, and children, and thy stranger that is within thy gates, that they may hear, and that they may learn, and fear the Lord your God, and observe to do all the words of this law.”

This command, which has become known as Hakhel, involves assembling all men, women and children in Israel – of both Jewish and non-Jewish descent – to hear the reading of the Torah by the king of Israel following the Shmittah year.

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While the Biblical commandment can only be carried out when the entirety of the Jewish nation resides in Israel, this unique event was revived after thousands of years in 1945. Since then, after the conclusion of the Shmittah year, a Hakhel ceremony has taken place at the Western Wall.

People from around the world walk up the street outside the Old City of Jerusalem on their way to Hakhel. (Photo: Adam Eliyahu Berkowitz/ Breaking Israel News)
People from around the world walk up the street outside the Old City of Jerusalem on their way to Hakhel. (Photo: Adam Eliyahu Berkowitz/ Breaking Israel News)
Thousands gather at the Western Wall to take part in Hakhel. (Photo: Adam Eliyahu Berkowitz/ Breaking Israel News)
Thousands gather at the Western Wall to take part in Hakhel. (Photo: Adam Eliyahu Berkowitz/ Breaking Israel News)
Asian tourists gather at the Western Wall to take part in the Biblical commandment of Hakhel. (Photo: Adam Eliyahu Berkowitz/ Breaking Israel News)
Asian tourists gather at the Western Wall to take part in the Biblical commandment of Hakhel. (Photo: Adam Eliyahu Berkowitz/ Breaking Israel News)
Former Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi of Israel Yona Metzger greets those gathered for Hakhel at the Western Wall Plaza. (Photo: Adam Eliyahu Berkowitz/ Breaking Israel News)
Former Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi of Israel Yona Metzger greets those gathered for Hakhel at the Western Wall Plaza. (Photo: Adam Eliyahu Berkowitz/ Breaking Israel News)
A Jewish man prays before the start of Hakhel. (Photo: Adam Eliyahu Berkowitz/ Breaking Israel News)
A Jewish man prays before the start of Hakhel. (Photo: Adam Eliyahu Berkowitz/ Breaking Israel News)
A father and his sons arrive at the Western Wall to take part in Hakhel. (Photo: Adam Eliyahu Berkowitz/ Breaking Israel News)
A father and his sons arrive at the Western Wall to take part in Hakhel. (Photo: Adam Eliyahu Berkowitz/ Breaking Israel News)
(Photo: Adam Eliyahu Berkowitz/ Breaking Israel News)
(Photo: Adam Eliyahu Berkowitz/ Breaking Israel News)
Israeli President Reuven Rivlin addresses the crowd. (Photo: Adam Eliyahu Berkowitz/ Breaking Israel News)
Israeli President Reuven Rivlin addresses the crowd. (Photo: Adam Eliyahu Berkowitz/ Breaking Israel News)
Former Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi of Israel Yona Metzger readying to take out the Torah to be read on Hakhel. (Photo: Adam Eliyahu Berkowitz/ Breaking Israel News)
Former Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi of Israel Yona Metzger readying to take out the Torah to be read on Hakhel. (Photo: Adam Eliyahu Berkowitz/ Breaking Israel News)
(Photo: Adam Eliyahu Berkowitz/ Breaking Israel News)
(Photo: Adam Eliyahu Berkowitz/ Breaking Israel News)
Reading from the Torah in fulfillment of Hakhel. (Photo: Adam Eliyahu Berkowitz/ Breaking Israel News)
Reading from the Torah in fulfillment of Hakhel. (Photo: Adam Eliyahu Berkowitz/ Breaking Israel News)
Raising up the Torah to the crowd. (Photo: Adam Eliyahu Berkowitz/ Breaking Israel News)
Raising up the Torah to the crowd. (Photo: Adam Eliyahu Berkowitz/ Breaking Israel News)
Religious officials and Israeli leaders take front stage during Hakhel. (Photo: Adam Eliyahu Berkowitz/ Breaking Israel News)
Religious officials and Israeli leaders take front stage during Hakhel. (Photo: Adam Eliyahu Berkowitz/ Breaking Israel News)

Adam Eliyahu Berkowitz contributed to this report.