Posted by: R Jonathan Gewirtz | October 14, 2014

So NOT Behind the 8-Ball


At the end of the holiday of Sukkos, there is another holiday, Shmini Atzeres, the “eighth day of assembly.”

It was historically celebrated with extra-special pomp and good foods. Atzeres can be translated as ‘holding back’ and Rashi compares it to a king who invited his children for a feast of so-many days, and at the end says, “Please stay one more day. Kasheh alai praidaschem, it’s hard for me to see you go.” (Lev. 23:36)

There is something unique about this holiday.  On Pesach, we celebrate that HaShem took our forefathers from Egypt.  On Shavuos we celebrate the fact that He gave them the Torah, which we, in turn, received from them.

On Sukkos, we celebrate to recall the care and concern that HaShem afforded the generation that spent forty years in the desert following Moshe.  All these holidays are built around the past.

Not so Shmini Atzeres.  This time, HaShem says, “I want to spend more time with YOU.” Not just those who went up to Jerusalem to celebrate Sukkos – but WE who celebrated Sukkos – it is to US that HaShem expresses the desire to remain close and extend our relationship.  Should we not, then, treat it as an extra-special day?!


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