The Tripod

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Experience the chagim with a deeper and enriched spiritual perspective with this thoughtful analysis of the Shalosh Regalim (the three major festivals in Judaism).

Did you ever wonder why the Torah groups Pesach Shavuot, and Sukkot together as a unit?

Turns out there are some very important and fascinating reasons that you will discover in this unique book which will shift your perspective on the chagim.

In this work, the author explores the themes and lessons embedded in the structure of the three festivals that illuminate the Torah’s curriculum for learning about G-d and His ongoing role in the world.

Only when we take a step back and appreciate what’s missing in our ability to observe the festivals due to the destruction of the Beit Hamikdash (Holy Temple), are we able to purposefully embrace the observances that we can follow today, thereby enriching our spiritual experience of these holy days.

The Tripod zeroes in on the concept that the Shalosh Regalim, are grouped together as a unit to preserve the fundamental spiritual significance of the major events that contributed to the formation of the Jewish people.

These fundamental spiritual lessons derived from the Shalosh Regalim constitute core Jewish principles that are meant to be passed on from generation to generation.


I was totally mesmerized by this outstanding, extraordinary original and creative analysis of the role the Shalosh Regalim play in representing the most fundamental elements of Jewish faith. In this work, which is organized, compelling, and full of deep wisdom, Rabbi Neil Lauer combines highly rigorous halakhic analysis with deeply thoughtful homiletical insights in a most seamless and clearly presented way. He extracts great wisdom hitherto hidden in plain sight on these important celebrations as well as on a multitude of other Jewish concepts and practices. Over and over again I found myself saying, “I knew this source, but never realized its true full meaning and significance. Of course, now it is obvious.” We owe Rabbi Lauer a great debt for the exceptional gift he has given us. Your understanding and appreciation of the Shalosh Regalim, like mine, will never be the same again.

Rabbi Jacob J. Schacter

 Eye opening insights that will benefit scholar and layman alike. Will most certainly enhance the spiritual pleasure of the hagim.

Rabbi Eli Mansour

 A refreshing and unique viewpoint. For those looking for a deep and penetrative fresh look at the Jewish holidays, enjoy The Tripod

Rabbi Shalom Rosner

Book Reviews

Tradition Journal

The Tripod offers a unique study of the Passover, Shavuot, and Sukkot holidays ranging from the ways they are portrayed biblically to how they are perceived and practiced by Jews today. The book asserts that a deeper understanding of the elements of festival observance, absent from current practice due to the destruction of the Temple, will allow us to grasp a new perspective and spiritual depth to these three intertwined holidays.

NJ Jewish Link

Reviewed by Rabbi Haim Jachter 

What a magnificent work brimming with new and creative approaches to the Shalosh Regalim presented in a gentle, welcoming, and creative style! I highly recommend this work as a must-read book, the quality of which appears only once in years. The beginner and advanced scholar will prosper from enjoying every second he reads this book.

There is no better way to capture the power of this wonderful work than Rabbi Lauer’s words in his introduction. He writes:

“Some have a narrower view of the festivals, while others have a more expansive one. The former view religious holiday observances primarily as an expression of a commitment to the Torah and a display of solidarity with the Jewish people. Others view the festivals differently; they enjoy a broader and more nuanced appreciation of the agendas and significance of each holiday. They appreciate the festival’s impact on all aspects of their life. For them, the festivals represent a richer, more fulfilling experience. Those who possess a narrower perspective on the holidays may not be aware that this is the case, and they likely do not know what they are missing. The point of this work is to help foster a broader, richer appreciation of the function, mechanics and message of the festivals by encouraging one to take notice of certain elements that one may have overlooked in the past.”

Rabbi Lauer is a smashing success in achieving his stated goal! He does not overburden with a flood of sources. Instead, the author cites the most important and relevant citations and develops them clearly and elegantly, building them to bring home his central ideas. He gently and slowly develops his ideas, enticing his readers to join him in this great adventure. Readers will find it very difficult to put down this sefer.

Here are samples of Rabbi Lauer’s magnificent thoughts on the upcoming Yom Tov of Sukkot, using his golden words:

“The issue of what the sukkah, and by extension, the festival of Sukkot, commemorates is the subject of a machloket (dispute) in the Gemara. The Gemara cites a dispute over whether the sukkot we are commemorating are the actual huts we lived in, or the ananei hakavod, the clouds that accompanied and protected us throughout our travels in the midbar …The midbar experience — like the events surrounding our leaving Mitzrayim — can be seen as having both a physical and a spiritual dimension. Both elements of our midbar experience contributed to our physical well-being. The sukkot-mamash approach, which takes the sukkah as representing the huts B’nei Yisrael lived in, however, focuses on God’s providing for our physical needs. By contrast, the ananei hakavod approach addresses not only the fact that God took care of our physical needs, but also it highlights a construct that is emblematic of the relationship we had with God at the time and the appreciation of what God had done for us.”

Regarding the arba minim, Rabbi Lauer writes:

The symbolism of the arba minim is not clear, they do not possess an obvious connection to yetziat Mitzrayim or the midbar experience. Their relationship to Sukkot’s role within the agricultural cycle as the beginning of the rainy season, however, does afford one an insight into their function within the Shalosh Regalim.

The four species of vegetation taken on Sukkot each require a different amount of water to function properly. In this way, they serve to represent the varied nature of hashgacha. Divine providence is not one-size-fits-all. Different people enjoy different levels of Divine providence based on their level of their relationship with Hashem.

A unique element of Rabbi Lauer’s sefer is his weaving in references to his daily commute from his Teaneck home to his suspender factory in Brooklyn. Most people view their daily commute as dull and miserable. Not so Rabbi Lauer … He elevates an otherwise difficult and mundane activity into a great opportunity. Rabbi Lauer delightfully surprises his readers at the very start of the book by saying:

“The Sages teach that one should begin one’s remarks by acknowledging one’s hosts, ‘potchim b’kvod achsania (Brachot 63b).’ As such, I want to express my thanks to the Metropolitan Transit Authority and New Jersey Transit for hosting me while composing this volume. In an effort to maintain a productive commute, I wrote this book primarily on the subway and bus, while traveling to and from my suspender factory in Brooklyn, New York. Not coincidentally, mass transit is reflected in some of the analogies used throughout.”

Rabbi Lauer not only succeeds in deepening and enriching our Yom Tov experiences; he also inspires us to aim higher in our Torah lives. The Gemara (Yoma 35b) tells of heroes who overcame substantial challenges and became great masters of the Torah, despite their difficulties. For example, Hillel famously overcame the challenge of poverty, and Rabbi Elazar ben Charsom conquered the challenge of wealth. The Gemara concludes that these great talmidei chachamim obligate the rest of us to become great Torah scholars. After all, if they accomplished so much despite their many demands, everyone else has no excuse for not doing so.

In our generation, Rabbi Lauer is mechayev, obligates all of us. If a busy businessman can compose a very high-quality sefer during his daily commute, what excuse does any one of us have for not spiritually improving ourselves?

You will never celebrate the chagim in the same way, after learning Rabbi Lauer’s “The Tripod.” Therefore, I enthusiastically recommend it as essential Yom Tov reading that will transform and elevate your spiritual life during the holidays and year-round.

Rabbi Haim Jachter is the spiritual leader of Congregation Shaarei Orah, the Sephardic Congregation of Teaneck. He also serves as a rebbe at Torah Academy of Bergen County and a dayan on the Beth Din of Elizabeth.

5 reviews for The Tripod

  1. Gabrielle Foreman

    I can’t recommend this ספר highly enough. Rabbi Lauer is a master of analysis but presents the material in a down to earth, relatable way. By reading this book, you will understand the חגים with a new depth that will add to your שמחת יום טוב. Treat yourselves!

  2. Anonymous

    This book is one of the best sfarim I have ever read. The author has a lot of insight about the Shalosh Regalim and has enhanced my celebration of the holidays. I cannot recommend it enough!

  3. Shoshana Balaban

    Do we go through the Shalosh Regalim – or, do they go through us?

    The three Torah festivals of Pesach, Shavuot and Sukkot, known as the Shalosh Regalim – literally the Three Foot Festivals, form a unit in Jewish thought and practice that have the capacity to powerfully strengthen and re-energize our relationship with G-d.

    Or not. As R. Neil Lauer argues in this wonderfully erudite and thoughtful book, it depends how we look at them. How deeply we understand them, and how much effort we’re prepared to invest in understanding our own role – today, when the Temple no longer stands in Jerusalem, and the actual foot festival, the pilgrimage, is lost.

    “Developing a greater consciousness of the innate connection to spirituality we possess, in the form of our soul, changes the way we view both the Shalosh Regalim and Judaism in general” posits Lauer.

    “The unique ritual composition of each Regel serves a critical role in helping to communicate the underlying lessons of the Shalosh Regalim unit as a whole. The process of learning these lessons and advancing from awareness to understanding is, in turn, an integral part of a person’s progression through the various stages of developing one’s relationship with G-d.”

    Lauer advocates the need to “search out the conceptual underpinnings of practical constructs in order to achieve a better understanding.” Seeing beyond the obvious, he says, is a “critical component of the spiritual element of life and the institutions that highlight it , including aggadah, the Shalosh Regalim and bikkurim. ”

    There’s some deeply rewarding material here: how the three festivals map against the construct of a miracle – reawakening (Pesach) Revelation (Shavuout) and Providence (Sukkot) , plus rich chapters on history, agriculture, aggada and halacha, ritual / objects, pilgrimage, Mikdash and oneself in making the journey.

    The Tripod is a stimulating thoughtful and enjoyable bookthat I’ve benefited from having read, and I’m grateful to R Lauer for his scholarship and contribution.

  4. Barbara Freedman

    The subtitle of The Tripod by Rabbi Neil Lauer is “A New perspective on the Shalosh Regalim” and the book meets and exceeds its promise. A refreshing combination of a wonderful sense of humor, scholarship, and excellent pedagogy, The Tripod is a sefer to be read, reread and appreciated with each holiday.  

    The pedagogical strength is revealed in the clear style of writing and in the manner in which important points are introduced at the beginning and reviewed at the end of every chapter. The summaries at the end are a great “self-check” to make sure you didn’t miss something and a reinforcement to help remember key points. The charts form a valuable graphic that enables better understanding and excellent review. 

    Rabbi Lauer clearly identifies the multiple characteristics of each chag, their commonalities, connections, interconnections, and valuable lessons. The quotes and sources are clear in their presentation and translation and the footnotes are thorough. Scholarship and originality are interwoven in the text. 

    In the summary, Rabbi Lauer writes “We have seen how the Shalosh unit essentially represents the Torah’s program for teaching the fundamentals of spirituality to us physical beings. The series of festivals serve to engender an appreciation of G-d’s role in the physical world and aid our developing a personal relationship with Him.” 

    Rabbi Lauer’s sense of humor and personal reflections help make the sefer very readable and enjoyable. His scholarship makes the sefer invaluable.  

  5. Yitzchak

    WOW!! Amazing read before succos!

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