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Dvar Shemini Azteret 5764

Hello Reader,

Welcome to the Lelamed Weekly Dvar, where we always look to share the beauty of Judaism with as many people as we can think of, so feel free to share this with someone else, or share your thoughts by responding. As always, enjoy...

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In its formal structure, Sukkot most closely resembles Pesach. Both are seven days long, and both arrive on the 15th day of their respective months, exactly half a year apart. Yet, Pesach doesn't have a post- holiday gathering, while Sukkot has the 8th day, Shemini Azteret, which is a distinct, separate festival. For the first time in a week, we stop "living" in the Sukkah and put away our Lulav and Etrog. So what is this "Eighth day holiday" really about?

The Targum says that the word "Atzeret" means "gathering". One major part of Sukkot is the necessity for the Jewish people to gather together as Jews. Shemini Atzeret is a festival that is dedicated to the Achdut (unity), of the Jews. Although other holidays may also fulfill this same purpose, Shemini Atzeret, a holiday with no distinct reason, is dedicated to the theme of unifying all Jews.

Especially in these modern times, the issue of 'Who is a Jew' sometimes grows more important than 'What is a Jew'. Shemini Atzeret is a time where G-d doesn't want any Jews to become separated. He wants all Jews to be unified, no matter what their level of observance. I want one more day where all Jews can be unified as one. Asking for Teshuva on Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur is a great emotional strain. Building a Sukkah and preparing for the holidays can tire a person out physically. We may feel relieved when all the holidays are done with and we can return to our normal routines.

Shemini Atzeret shows us that we should feel exactly the opposite. We should say, "Please, stay one day longer." Don't be so eager to leave! Let us have one more day where all Jews can stand side-by-side and celebrate in unity!

Quotation of the Week:
"When you learn, teach.... when you get, give!"

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Last Updated: Monday, October 03, 2005