Shemini Atzeret - ,rmg hbhna

By Rabbi Dr. Hillel ben David (Greg Killian)


I. Introduction. 1

II. Significance. 8

III. Related events. 9

IV. The Musaf (additional) sacrifices: 9

V. Solomon Celebrates Shemini Atzeret: 10

VI. The services in the synagogue. 10

VII. Yeshua celebrated Shemini Atzeret 11

VIII. Circumcision. 12

IX. Piyut 13

X. The Midrash. 14

XI. Customs. 15

XII. The number eight 15

XIII. Events. 17

XIV. Selected Essays. 17



I. Introduction


In this study I would like to examine Shemini Atzeret (שמיני עצרת – “Eighth [day of] Assembly”), the Biblical festival that occurs on Tishrei 22, and means Eighth Assembly. This feast comes after the last and greatest day of the feast of Succoth, Hoshana Rabbah. It is “The eighth day”. It marks the beginning of the rainy season in Israel. This feast is separate and distinct from Hag HaSuccoth, the Feast of Tabernacles, yet somehow connected to Hag HaSuccoth.


The Torah and Haftarah readings, as well as the prayers and synagogue service, all focus in on The King and His people:



Shemini Atzeret


Shemini Atzeret

Devarim (Deuteronomy)


Devarim (Deuteronomy)


I Kings 8:54-66

Ecclesiastes 1:1 – 12:14


I Kings 8:54-66

Ecclesiastes 1:1 – 12:14



The second day of Shemini Atzeret is also Simchat Torah. Here are the readings for Simchat Torah:


Simchat Torah Evening

Simchat Torah Morning

Devarim (Deuteronomy) 33:1-26

Devarim (Deuteronomy)

33:1 - 34:12


Genesis 1:1-2:3


Joshua 1:1-9


When is Shemini Atzeret? Here are the dates for Shemini Atzeret for the next few years:


2013:   Sundown  September 25-27

2014:   Sundown  October 15-17

2015:   Sundown  October 4-6

2016:   Sundown  October 23-25

2017:   Sundown  October 11-13


In regard to six laws, Shemini Atzeret is considered a festival unto itself, unrelated to Succoth:


Sukkah 48a It has been taught in agreement with R. Nahman, The Eighth Day is a Separate festival with regard to P’Z’R’ K’SH’B’[1] i.e., with regard to balloting it is a separate festival,[2] with regard to the benediction of the season it is a separate festival,[3] with regard to the nature of the festival[4] it is a separate festival,[5] with regard to its sacrifice it is a separate festival,[6] with regard to its psalm[7] it is a separate festival, and with regard to its benediction[8] it is a separate festival.


There are six halachic ingredients, which separate Shimini Atzeret from Succoth. You would never understand the holiday without knowing them. They come with an acronym of six letters: P’Z’R K’SH’B[9].

(1) Payis - Lottery. The priests in the Holy Temple used to conduct a separate lottery for the services on Shimini Atzeret. It shows that Shimini Atzeret is indeed a separated day from Succoth.


(2) Zman - Shimini Atzeret deserves a Shecheyanu blessing on its own indicating, again, that is a separate holiday from Succoth.


(3) Regel - A separate Holiday. A mourner, for instance, counts Succoth as seven days, which are deducted from the thirty obligatory mourning days. He also counts Shimini Atzeret as seven deductible days, since it is considered a Holiday on its own. Now we come to the last three items characterizing Shimini Atzeret, which call for close attention (KShV- also means ‘listen to’).


(4) Korban - Sacrifice, meaning that Shimini Atzeret has its own sacrifice of one ox. It signifies, according to the Midrash, that HaShem is intimately associated with Israel only, in contrast to Succoth where He considers, so to speak, all the seventy oxen, the seventy nations.


(5) Shir - Song. It means that the song, which the Levites sing on Shimini Atzeret, is different from the ones they used to sing on Succoth. But the Rogachov Tzadik z”l said: The ‘song’ here is the Hallel. The Hallel of Shimini Atzeret differs, in its meaning, from the Hallel of Succoth.


(6) Bracha - Blessing - meaning specifying the name of the holiday in Mussaf or the blessing over meals (Beit Yosef, the laws of Shimini Atzeret). But other say: “Bracha - Blessing of the King”.[10] 


This mysterious festival is not linked to an historical event or an agricultural event, as are all of the other festivals.


The Torah indicates that this feast is celebrated on Tishrei 22, eight days after the beginning of Hag HaSuccoth. The following charts details this relationship:


In Eretz[11] Israel


Tishrei 15

Festival Sabbath

Tishrei 16

Chol HaMoed

Tishrei 17

Chol HaMoed, intermediate day.

Tishrei 18

Chol HaMoed, intermediate day.

Tishrei 19

Chol HaMoed, intermediate day.

Tishrei 20

Chol HaMoed, intermediate day.

Tishrei 21

Chol HaMoed, intermediate day.

Tishrei 22

Shemini Atzeret / Simchat Torah This is a Sabbath



Outside Eretz Israel


Tishrei 15

Festival Sabbath

Tishrei 16

Sabbath and Chol HaMoed

Tishrei 17

Chol HaMoed, intermediate day.

Tishrei 18

Chol HaMoed, intermediate day.

Tishrei 19

Chol HaMoed, intermediate day.

Tishrei 20

Chol HaMoed, intermediate day.

Tishrei 21

Chol HaMoed, intermediate day.

Tishrei 22

Shemini Atzeret. This a Sabbath

Tishrei 23

Shemini Atzeret (second day), Sabbath, and Simchat Torah.


Shemini Atzeret was detailed in:


Vayikra (Leviticus) 23:34-44 “Say to the Israelites: ‘On the fifteenth day of the seventh month HaShem‘s Feast of Tabernacles begins, and it lasts for seven days. The first day is a sacred assembly; do no regular work. For seven days present offerings made to HaShem by fire, and on the eighth day hold a sacred assembly and present an offering made to HaShem by fire. It is the closing assembly; do no regular work. (“‘These are HaShem‘s appointed feasts, which you are to proclaim as sacred assemblies for bringing offerings made to HaShem by fire--the burnt offerings and grain offerings, sacrifices and drink offerings required for each day. These offerings are in addition to those for HaShem‘s Sabbaths and in addition to your gifts and whatever you have vowed and all the freewill offerings you give to HaShem.) “‘So beginning with the fifteenth day of the seventh month, after you have gathered the crops of the land, celebrate the festival to HaShem for seven days; the first day is a day of rest, and the eighth day also is a day of rest. On the first day you are to take choice fruit from the trees, and palm fronds, leafy branches and poplars, and rejoice before HaShem your God for seven days. Celebrate this as a festival to HaShem for seven days each year. This is to be a lasting ordinance for the generations to come; celebrate it in the seventh month. Live in booths for seven days: All native-born Israelites are to live in booths. So your descendants will know that I had the Israelites live in booths when I brought them out of Egypt. I am HaShem your God.’” So Moses announced to the Israelites the appointed feasts of HaShem.


Shemini Atzeret means “Eighth Assembly” it is the Feast of Conclusion. Strong’s defines “Shemini” “Atzeret” as:


8066 shemiyniy, shem-ee-nee’; from 8083; eight:-eight.

--------------- Dictionary Trace ---------------

8083 shemoneh, shem-o-neh’; or shemowneh, shem-o-neh’; fem. shemonah, shem-o-naw’; or shemownah, shem-o-naw’; appar. from 8082 through the idea of plumpness; a cardinal number, eight (as if a surplus above the “perfect” seven); also (as ordinal) eighth:-eight ([-een, -eenth]), eighth.


6116 `atsarah, ats-aw-raw’; or `atsereth, ats-eh’-reth; from 6113; an assembly, espc. on a festival or holiday:-(solemn) assembly (meeting).


Shavuot, the Feast of Weeks, is connected to Pesach, Passover, by the counting of the omer. Therefore, one of the names for Shavuot is Atzeret, assembly. Just as Pesach, a seven-day festival, has an Atzeret, so too does the only other seven-day festival, Succoth, also have an Atzeret, Shemini Atzeret. (I have illustrated the bi-modality of the calendar in a study titled:  RAINS.)


The Gemara, in Succah 48a, calls Atzeret a “holiday unto itself.” In fact, the only connection made between Succoth and Shemini Atzeret in the literature is for the purpose of making up for neglected haggiga offerings[12], which is also true for the day after Pesach too. For this reason, there is no obligation to take lulav and etrog, to sit in the Succah (except outside of Eretz Israel, where due to the uncertainty in the calendar, the two overlap).


In the Talmud, Shemini Atzeret is called Atzeret shel Chag, the Atzeret of Succoth, as opposed to Shavuot which is called Atzeret without a qualifier[13]. In fact, the Midrash[14] takes the effort to explain why Shemini Atzeret isn’t fifty days after Succoth, why it differs from Shavuot:


Midrash Rabbah - Shir HaShirim (Song of Songs) VII:4 Another explanation: HOW BEAUTIFUL ARE THY FOOTSTEPS IN SANDALS (NE ‘ALIM): in two closings (ne’alim).[15] R. Hana b. Hanina said: It is as if two traders went into a town together, and one of them said to the other: ‘ If we both offer our wares together in the town, we will bring down the price. So do you offer yours one week, and I will offer mine the next.’ R. Hananiah the son of R. Ibi said: It is written here, HOW BEAUTIFUL ARE THY FOOTSTEPS not in the sandal, but IN SANDALS. There are two closings: the closing of Passover and the closing of Tabernacles. Said the Holy One, blessed be He, to Israel: ‘You close before Me at Tabernacles, and I close before you at Passover. You close your work before Me at Tabernacles,[16] and I open the heavens and cause winds to blow and bring up clouds and make rain fall and cause the sun to shine and make plants grow and ripen produce, and provide each one of you with a table set out with his needs, and each body according to its requirements. And I close [the heavens] before you at Passover,[17] and you go out and reap and thresh and winnow and do all that is required in the field and find it rich in blessing.’ R. Yahoshua (Joshua) b. Levi said: By rights, the Eighth Day of Assembly should have followed Tabernacles after an interval of fifty days, as Pentecost follows Passover. But since at the Eighth Day of Assembly summer passes into autumn, the time is not suitable for travelling. [God was like] a king who had several married daughters, some living near by, while others were a long way away. One day they all came to visit their father the king. Said the king: ‘Those who are living near by are able to travel at any time. But those who live at a distance are not able to travel at any time. So while they are all here with me, let us make one feast for all of them and rejoice with them.’ So with regard to Pentecost, which comes when winter is passing into summer, God says, ‘The season is fit for travelling.’ But the Eighth day of Assembly comes when summer is passing into autumn, and the roads are dusty and hard for walking; hence it is not separated by an interval of fifty days. Said the Holy One, blessed be He: ‘These are not days for travelling; so while they are here, let us make of all of them one festival and rejoice.’ Therefore Moses admonishes Israel, saying to them, On the eighth day ye shall have a solemn assembly (Num. XXIX, 35). Thus we may say, HOW BEAUTIFUL ARE THY FOOTSTEPS IN NE’ ALIM.


Similarly, Succoth is compared to Pesach, Passover. As we just said, both play the role as the precursor to an Atzeret. The fact that both are on the fifteenth of the month is no coincidence, numerous halachot are built upon that comparison.[18] Further, the mitzva of Succah and the mitzva of Matzah are compared (ibid). Just as matza is obligatory on the first night of Pesach, and for the rest of Pesach it’s only a restricted means of eating (one may eat baked goods only if they have not leavened), so too Succah, one is required to sit in it the first night, the rest of Succoth one must only sit in the Succah when one wants to eat.


In fact, the parallelism starts even earlier in the season. Yom Kippur is called by the Torah “Yom HaKippurim“, which is explained homiletically[19]; in the days of the Mashiach it will become a “Yom”, a day, “Ki”, like, “Purim“.


Thus, we find the Jewish year divided about two triads: one, Atzeret Yimay Tishuvah which climaxes at Yom Kippur, followed by Succoth and Shemini Atzeret; the other, Purim, Pesach and Shavuot. The first before the winter, the second in the beginning of spring.


Succoth is in celebration of divine sustenance. It is Z’man Simchateinu, a time to be happy with our lot. It is before winter, when we gather in the grain that will allow us to survive the upcoming months. It has a universal theme, that of HaShem feeding and sustaining the world.


It can only come after Yom Kippur. We have just been judged, “who will live and who will die ... who will be in famine, and who in drought ...” We are confident our prayers were accepted, and thus, we come to the Temple to celebrate our lot.


This progression culminates on Shemini Atzeret. It is a continuation of Yom Kippur, as we pray for rain in musaf. Tehillim 27, “Of David”, a prayer for aid in our repentance is added to the end prayer until Shemini Atzeret. It is also a culmination of our celebration of Succoth. We rejoice in the role our role as the upholders of the Torah in insuring the world’s existence. The seventieth musaf cow, the one corresponding to the B’nei Israel, is brought. We end and begin the torah, showing our continuing dedication to our responsibilities in exchange for this aid. We never pause at the completion of the Torah, we must go on, “for they [the words of the Torah] are our lives, and the length of our days.”


The sequence from preparation, to celebration, to culmination is also found in the other triad at the other extreme of the year.


We are the chosen nation only because we chose HaShem first[20]. After we celebrate the finalization of the acceptance of the Torah, we celebrate HaShem‘s relationship with us. He took us out of Egypt “to be for Him a treasured people and a holy nation.” The entire calendar is based upon the demand that Pesach be in the spring. Celebration of our birth as a nation can only be at the time of regeneration of nature.


This culminates with Shavuot. HaShem presents us with the Torah. This is the wedding feast between HaShem and Israel. HaShem only took the Children of Israel out of Egypt only to give them the Torah. Shavuot is the Atzeret of Pesach, without Shavuot, Pesach would lack meaning.


Only in this structure of the Jewish year, can we properly observe Shemini Atzeret. It is an Atzeret, a culmination. We end the season dedicated to the sustenance of the world. As opposed to Shavuot, a re-creation of the giving of the Torah, of HaShem and Israel, here we take pains to show that we are rejoicing in the continual nature of Torah and mitzvot. We are celebrating the Torah as a source of sustenance for us and the universe at large. For this reason, we celebrate the continuation of Torah study on the second day of Shemini Atzeret, Simchat Torah. It is only our continual study and observance of the Torah that perpetuates the universe’s existence.


What is the ‘Blessing of the King?’[21]

Rashi, in his commentary on the Talmud (Succah) explains:


“From the Tosefta we may derive that they blessed the King (of Israel), as it is said: ‘Shimini Atzeret has Blessing of its own - since it is written (on King Solomon) - On the eighth day he sent them home and they blessed the King (of Israel)” (Kings 1:8). And Abudarham concurs: “And he reads the Maftir from Kings: ‘When King Solomon finished (building the holy Temple) etc.’. And the reason for the reading from this particular Haftarah is because it is said in it ‘And on the eighth day he sent them away and they blessed the king”.


And Abudarham adds:


“And the reason for reading the Haftarah his because King Solomon blessed them on the eighth day of the holiday (Shimini Atzeret) as it is said ‘And he blessed the entire congregation of Israel’ (Kings 1:8-14). So from here we derive That the blessing which separates Shimini Atzeret from Succoth is indeed ‘The Blessing of the King of Israel’.


Meaning King of flesh and blood. That the reading of both the Haftarah and Vezot Habracha is related to the Blessing of the King. Moshe, who was the first King of Israel. And the Talmud says explicitly: “The last Yom Tov they read Kol Habchor, and they finish with Vezot Haberakhah, and then they read from the Haftarah, ‘And Solomon stood up and said’ etc. (Megilah 31) Hence the reading of the Torah, in Vezot Haberakhah, and the Haftarah (Kings 8:54-66) from Kings are inter-related and has nothing to do with Simchat Torah, the ending of the reading cycle, which is an historically ‘recent’ custom of ‘only’ one thousand years old, from the Geonim’s time. And the ‘Blessing of the Kings’ is responsible for the three readings on Succoth:


(1) Reading from Kings “And they gathered around King Solomon“, on the second day of Succoth.


(2) Reading: ‘And when Solomon finished praying‘, on the first day of Shimini Atzeret.


(3) Reading: ‘And Solomon stood up and said‘, On the second day of Shimini Atzeret.


Meaning: The events surrounding the Blessing of the King were so important that we repeat them no less then three times, one on Succoth and twice on Shimini Atzeret! What is in this particular story of King Solomon that is so important? Let us discuss first Kings chapter 8, and Divrei HaYamim (2 Chronicles), chapters 5-7.


The Blessing of King Solomon

As King Solomon finished building the holy Temple, says the book of Kings and Divrei HaYamim (Chronicles), he gathered the entire nation of Israel to Jerusalem for a prolonged celebration which lasted fourteen days: Seven days for the dedication of the Altar, and seven days for the Succoth. The Yom Kippur Fast was postponed, the only such an event in our history. And when the celebrations and the happiness came to a climax, and the entire people of Israel eat multitudes of peace offerings, the holy Ark with the Torah in it was brought in multitudes of people to the new Temple, and all the priests and the Levites surrounded it with great honor. And here, says the Midrash, an unexpected trouble occurred: The gates of the Temple shut themselves off and did not allow Solomon to enter with the Ark! One can imagine the horror Solomon felt. Is HaShem rejecting his young kingship, in front of the eyes of all Israel? Is Solomon, the son of David and Bat Shevah, a ‘kosher’ king? Is the house of David rejected forever because David shed so much blood, though defending Israel? These must have been the thoughts running in the heads of all the people standing by. And the Midrash says that the Levites started singing:

“Who is the one who would go up on His holy mountain?” They tried hard to influence the gates to open up. “A (person) whose hands are clean and his heart is free of sin“. After all, Solomon should not be punished for the sins of his father. But the gates were stubborn: They refused to open and let Solomon and the Ark enter “Raise your heads, gates, and let the Majestic King enter”, continued the Levites. But instead of opening, the gates bowed their heads forwards, threatening to take the life of Solomon. Is he so arrogant to call himself “The Majestic King?” So the Levites corrected themselves in haste: “HaShem is resourceful and mighty, HaShem is a mighty warrior”. And the gates straightened themselves up, yet remaining closed. And all that time the people were watching attentively. Will the new king be able to open the gates? Will HaShem accept him? -So Solomon continued: (we read all the following verses in the Esnoga on the second day of Shimini Atzeret, which is Simchat Torah):


“There is no one like you Elokimin Heavens and Earth - (Divrei HaYamim (Chronicles) 2, 6, 14), “Stand up, HaShem, to your rest, you, and your mighty Ark”. Your priests will wear salvation, and your righteous ones will be happy in the goodness” (there). “HaShem Elokim, do not reject the face of your Messiah“.


Yet all these callings were ineffective, and the gates remained closed. But king Solomon did not give up, he continued: “Remember the favor of your slave David”. As soon as he mentioned his father David, the gated opened and allowed him to enter with the Ark into the hall. At that very moment the Kingship of David and His House was established forever. Is there any other more appropriate day to celebrate the Kingship of David than Shemini Atzeret? Is there any wonder the people went to his palace to bless and greet him, and to be blessed by him, year after year?


Indeed, it was on Shimini Atzeret day when they came to his home. As we read in the Haftarah of the day: “And it happened on the eighth day that he sent them away, and they blessed the king, and they went back each to his tents happy and content for the goodness that HaShem has done to His slave David and to His people Israel“. After the people blessed the King, he stood up and in turn blessed the people:


“And he stood up and he blessed the entire congregation of Israel a great voice saying: Blessed are you HaShem who has given rest to His people of Israel.... Let HaShem be with us as He has been with our fathers...let Him not forsake us and abandon us” “So that all the nations on Earth will know that HaShem is Elokim, there is no other”.


And we do recognize these verses said by Solomon as the ones we use today upon the removal of the Torah from the Ark on Simchat Torah.

So in summary, so far, we have seen: That the readings on Shimini Atzeret in the Torah and the Haftarah, are connected to the inauguration of the holy Temple, to the blessing the people gave to Solomon, and the Blessing he gave the people, and to the establishment of the kingship of David.


The Special Hallel of Shemini Atzeret

But there is one more important component in the story of king Solomon and Shemini Atzeret. When the people saw that the gates were open, and the fire came down from heaven to consume, the first time, everything which was placed on he altar, they were filled with an extreme Simcha, joy, and they bowed, and prostrated on the floor of the Holy Temple, and sung, for the first time ever in the bible, the Hallel of David Ki Leolam Chasdo”. Then they stood up, and the music instruments which David had made were playing, and they sang again the Hallel of David “Ki Leolam Chasdo”. This time not prostrating but standing. And here we encounter a new type of the Hallel. It is not said after a miracle of saving from the hands of the enemies, not as a Hallel which accompanies a mitzva, not as a song for the holiday, but as a thanksgiving song. For the general goodness of all the good which HaShem has done to Israel and to David. Moreover, that type of the Hallel was said while prostrated, and then while standing. Hence, the only Hallel which is equal to the Song of the day, where they prostrated themselves on the floor of the holy Temple, was on Shemini Atzeret.


So Shemini Atzeret is the “birthday’ of:


(1) The Holy Temple


(2) The Fire from heaven on the Altar, which burned, without interruption, for four hundreds years.


(3) The Kingship of the House of David.


(4) The Hallel of David, recited in a standing position and the Hallel of David which is recited in awe, happiness, and gratitude, in a prostrated position on the Temple floor. The Hallel of Shemini Atzeret is the ONLY Hallel which is recited in both a standing and in a prostrated position.


(5) The Love of HaShem for His people Israel, One nation united in Jerusalem.


(6) The first time we hear about the musical instruments made by David.


Festival Theme[22]

We read in:


Vayikra (Leviticus) 23:36 For seven days present offerings made to HaShem by fire, and on the eighth (Shemini) day hold a sacred assembly (Atzeret) and present an offering made to HaShem by fire. It is the closing assembly; do no regular work.


“...The eighth day is a sacred assembly to you when you shall bring a fire offering to HaShem; it is a day of solemn assembly. Then in Bamidbar, the Torah declares:


Bamidbar (Numbers) 29:35 “‘On the eighth day hold a solemn assembly and do no regular work.


Not until Devarim do we extrapolate the deeper significance of this festival from a seemingly extra word:


Devarim (Deuteronomy) 16:14-15 Be joyful at your Feast--you, your sons and daughters, your menservants and maidservants, and the Levites, the aliens, the fatherless and the widows who live in your towns. For seven days celebrate the Feast to HaShem your God at the place HaShem will choose. For HaShem your God will bless you in all your harvest and in all the work of your hands, and your joy will be complete.


“Celebrate to G‑d your L‑rd for seven that you will be altogether joyous.” (Deut. 16:15)


In Hebrew, the preceding italicized phrase is a translation of the words, vehayita ach sahmayach, the word ach reinforcing one‘s potential for joyousness. The context in which this verse appears in Parsha Re’eh is an account of the yearly festivals, and since the previous verse (16:14) already speaks of joy, the repetition a verse later seems unnecessary. The question is brought up in Tractate Pesachim 71a, and Rashi (ad locum) summarizes the Talmudic discussion that the word “ach” comes to emphasize the joy of the final day, which is Shemini Atzeret.


The celebration would now be in the home and not in the succah. The festival thus marks a change in emphasis, from the universalism of Succoth (as represented by the seventy sacrifices for the nations of the world) to the intimacy of a people and its Maker: “Now bring a sacrifice for yourselves[23]“.


II. Significance


Although the word Atzeret means “Assembly” it also has the meaning of holding back. And our sages were unable to find any special purpose to the festival of the Eighth day except as expressed in the following parable:


HaShem is like a king who invites all his children to a feast to last for just so many days; when the time comes for them to depart, He says to them: “My children, I have a request to make of you. Stay yet another day; I hate to see you go.”

That the sages saw Shemini Atzeret in terms of “sweet sorrow”, is typical of their attitude to all festival days. These were days of joy, not of burden; of pleasure, not only of duty, in which they were guests in the palace of HaShem.


III. Related events


Musings....Are these `Eighth Day’ things related to Shemini Atzeret?


Shemot (Exodus) 22:29-30 “Do not hold back offerings from your granaries or your vats. “You must give me the firstborn of your sons. Do the same with your cattle and your sheep. Let them stay with their mothers for seven days, but give them to me on the eighth day.


Vayikra (Leviticus) 12:2-3 “Say to the Israelites: ‘A woman who becomes pregnant and gives birth to a son will be ceremonially unclean for seven days, just as she is unclean during her monthly period. On the eighth day the boy is to be circumcised.


Yechezkel (Ezekiel) 43:25-27 “For seven days you are to provide a male goat daily for a sin offering; you are also to provide a young bull and a ram from the flock, both without defect. For seven days they are to make atonement for the altar and cleanse it; thus they will dedicate it. At the end of these days, from the eighth day on, the priests are to present your burnt offerings and fellowship offerings on the altar. Then I will accept you, declares the Sovereign HaShem.”


IV. The Musaf (additional) sacrifices:


Bamidbar (Numbers) 29:35-40 “‘On the eighth day hold an assembly and do no regular work. Present an offering made by fire as an aroma pleasing to HaShem, a burnt offering of one bull, one ram and seven male lambs a year old, all without defect. With the bull, the ram and the lambs, prepare their grain offerings and drink offerings according to the number specified. Include one male goat as a sin offering, in addition to the regular burnt offering with its grain offering and drink offering. “‘In addition to what you vow and your freewill offerings, prepare these for HaShem at your appointed feasts: your burnt offerings, grain offerings, drink offerings and fellowship offerings.’” Moses told the Israelites all that HaShem commanded him.


In contrast to Pesach and Shavuot, where two oxen were offered; and during the Feast of Succoth seventy oxen were offered, on Shemini Atzeret only a single ox was offered. Why is this? In the Midrash the Sages explained:


Midrash Rabbah - Bamidbar (Numbers) XXI:24 ON THE EIGHTH DAY YE SHALL HAVE A SOLEMN ASSEMBLY (XXIX, 3 5). This bears on what Scripture says: In return for my love they are my adversaries; but I am all prayer (Ps. CIX, 4). You find that on the Tabernacles Festival Israel offer to Him[24] seventy bullocks as an atonement for the seventy nations. Israel say: ‘ Sovereign of the worlds! Behold, we offer for them seventy bullocks and they ought to love us, yet they hate us.’ As it says, ‘In return for my love they are my adversaries.’ The Holy One, blessed be He, in consequence, said to them: ‘Now, therefore, offer a sacrifice on your own behalf; ON THE EIGHTH DAY YE SHALL HAVE A SOLEMN ASSEMBLY.’ YE SHALL PRESENT A BURNT-OFFERING, AN OFFERING MADE BY FIRE, OF A SWEET SAVOUR UNTO THE LORD: ONE BULLOCK, ONE RAM (XXIX, 36). This may be compared to the case of a king who made a banquet for seven days and invited all the people in the province during the seven days of the feast. When the seven days of the feast were over he said to his friend: ‘We have already done our duty to all the people of the province, let us now make shift, you and I, with whatever you can find-a pound of meat, or of fish, or vegetables.’ In like manner the Holy One, blessed be He, said to Israel: ‘ON THE EIGHTH DAY YE SHALL HAVE A SOLEMN ASSEMBLY; make shift with whatever you can find; with ONE BULLOCK, ONE RAM!’


The offering of a single ox on Shemini Atzeret is the same as the offerings of Yom Teruah (Rosh HaShana, the Feast of Trumpets), and Yom HaKippurim, the Day of Atonement. The identical, and unique, korban Musaf, are detailed in Parshat Pinchas. Unlike any other holiday, on each of these holidays we offer an additional burnt offering of’ one bull, one ram, and seven sheep. This offering connects these three festivals together. Since atonement is the major theme of Yom Teruah and Yom HaKippurim, we know that it is a part of Shemini Atzeret. Indeed the Sages say that Shemini Atzeret is the day for the final sealing of Divine judgement.


V. Solomon Celebrates Shemini Atzeret:


II Divrei HaYamim (Chronicles) 7:1-10 When Solomon finished praying, fire came down from heaven and consumed the burnt offering and the sacrifices, and the glory of HaShem filled the temple. The priests could not enter the temple of HaShem because the glory of HaShem filled it. When all the Israelites saw the fire coming down and the glory of HaShem above the temple, they knelt on the pavement with their faces to the ground, and they worshiped and gave thanks to HaShem, saying, “He is good; his love endures forever.” Then the king and all the people offered sacrifices before HaShem. And King Solomon offered a sacrifice of twenty-two thousand head of cattle and a hundred and twenty thousand sheep and goats. So the king and all the people dedicated the temple of God. The priests took their positions, as did the Levites with HaShem’s musical instruments, which King David had made for praising HaShem and which were used when he gave thanks, saying, “His love endures forever.” Opposite the Levites, the priests blew their trumpets, and all the Israelites were standing. Solomon consecrated the middle part of the courtyard in front of the temple of HaShem, and there he offered burnt offerings and the fat of the fellowship offerings, because the bronze altar he had made could not hold the burnt offerings, the grain offerings and the fat portions. So Solomon observed the festival at that time for seven days, and all Israel with him--a vast assembly, people from Lebo Hamath to the Wadi of Egypt. On the eighth day they held an assembly, for they had celebrated the dedication of the altar for seven days and the festival for seven days more. On the twenty-third day of the seventh month he sent the people to their homes, joyful and glad in heart for the good things HaShem had done for David and Solomon and for his people Israel.


VI. The services in the synagogue


The services in the synagogue are modeled after the ones in the Temple. HaShem gave the services in the Temple to David who passed them on to Solomon:


I Divrei HaYamim (Chronicles) 28:11-13 Then David gave his son Solomon the plans for the portico of the temple, its buildings, its storerooms, its upper parts, its inner rooms and the place of atonement. He gave him the plans of all that the Spirit had put in his mind for the courts of the temple of HaShem and all the surrounding rooms, for the treasuries of the temple of God and for the treasuries for the dedicated things. He gave him instructions for the divisions of the priests and Levites, and for all the work of serving in the temple of HaShem, as well as for all the articles to be used in its service.


The exiles return from Babylon to celebrate one of the greatest Succoth ever:


Ezra-Nechemiah 8:13-18 On the second day of the month, the heads of all the families, along with the priests and the Levites, gathered around Nehemiah the scribe to give attention to the words of the Law. They found written in the Law, which HaShem had commanded through Moses, that the Israelites were to live in booths during the feast of the seventh month. And that they should proclaim this word and spread it throughout their towns and in Jerusalem: “Go out into the hill country and bring back branches from olive and wild olive trees, and from myrtles, palms and shade trees, to make booths”--as it is written. So the people went out and brought back branches and built themselves booths on their own roofs, in their courtyards, in the courts of the house of God and in the square by the Water Gate and the one by the Gate of Ephraim. The whole company that had returned from exile built booths and lived in them. From the days of Joshua son of Nun until that day, the Israelites had not celebrated it like this. And their joy was very great. Day after day, from the first day to the last, Nehemiah read from the Book of the Law of God. They celebrated the feast for seven days, and on the eighth day, in accordance with the regulation, there was an assembly.


From the days of Joshua (about 1400 B.C.E) till the days of Nehemiah (about 530 BCE) which is about 870 years!


VII. Yeshua celebrated Shemini Atzeret


Yochanan (John) 7:1 - 8:1 After this, Yeshua went around in Galilee, purposely staying away from Judea because the Jews there were waiting to take his life. But when the Jewish Feast of Tabernacles was near, Yeshua‘ brothers said to him, “You ought to leave here and go to Judea, so that your disciples may see the miracles you do. No one who wants to become a public figure acts in secret. Since you are doing these things, show yourself to the world.” For even his own brothers did not believe in him. Therefore Yeshua told them, “The right time for me has not yet come; for you any time is right. The world cannot hate you, but it hates me because I testify that what it does is evil. You go to the Feast. I am not yet going up to this Feast, because for me the right time has not yet come.” Having said this, he stayed in Galilee. However, after his brothers had left for the Feast, he went also, not publicly, but in secret. Now at the Feast the Jews were watching for him and asking, “Where is that man?” Among the crowds there was widespread whispering about him. Some said, “He is a good man.” Others replied, “No, he deceives the people.” But no one would say anything publicly about him for fear of the Jews. Not until halfway through the Feast did Yeshua go up to the temple courts and begin to teach. The Jews were amazed and asked, “How did this man get such learning without having studied?” Yeshua answered, “My teaching is not my own. It comes from him who sent me. If anyone chooses to do God’s will, he will find out whether my teaching comes from God or whether I speak on my own. He who speaks on his own does so to gain honor for himself, but he who works for the honor of the one who sent him is a man of truth; there is nothing false about him. Has not Moses given you the law? Yet not one of you keeps the law. Why are you trying to kill me?” “You are demon-possessed,” the crowd answered. “Who is trying to kill you?” Yeshua said to them, “I did one miracle, and you are all astonished. Yet, because Moses gave you circumcision (though actually it did not come from Moses, but from the patriarchs), you circumcise a child on the Sabbath. Now if a child can be circumcised on the Sabbath so that the law of Moses may not be broken, why are you angry with me for healing the whole man on the Sabbath? Stop judging by mere appearances, and make a right judgment.” At that point some of the people of Jerusalem began to ask, “Isn’t this the man they are trying to kill? Here he is, speaking publicly, and they are not saying a word to him. Have the authorities really concluded that he is the Mashiach? But we know where this man is from; when the Mashiach comes, no one will know where he is from.” Then Yeshua, still teaching in the temple courts, cried out, “Yes, you know me, and you know where I am from. I am not here on my own, but he who sent me is true. You do not know him, But I know him because I am from him and he sent me.” At this they tried to seize him, but no one laid a hand on him, because his time had not yet come. Still, many in the crowd put their faith in him. They said, “When the Mashiach comes, will he do more miraculous signs than this man?” The Pharisees heard the crowd whispering such things about him. Then the chief priests and the Pharisees sent temple guards to arrest him. Yeshua said, “I am with you for only a short time, and then I go to the one who sent me. You will look for me, but you will not find me; and where I am, you cannot come.” The Jews said to one another, “Where does this man intend to go that we cannot find him? Will he go where our people live scattered among the Greeks, and teach the Greeks? What did he mean when he said, ‘You will look for me, but you will not find me,’ and ‘Where I am, you cannot come’?” On the last and greatest day of the Feast, Yeshua stood and said in a loud voice, “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him.” By this he meant the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were later to receive. Up to that time the Spirit had not been given, since Yeshua had not yet been glorified. On hearing his words, some of the people said, “Surely this man is the Prophet.” Others said, “He is the Mashiach.” Still others asked, “How can the Mashiach come from Galilee? Does not the Scripture say that the Mashiach will come from David’s family and from Bethlehem, the town where David lived?” Thus the people were divided because of Yeshua. Some wanted to seize him, but no one laid a hand on him. Finally the temple guards went back to the chief priests and Pharisees, who asked them, “Why didn’t you bring him in?” “No one ever spoke the way this man does,” the guards declared. “You mean he has deceived you also?” the Pharisees retorted. “Has any of the rulers or of the Pharisees believed in him? No! But this mob that knows nothing of the law--there is a curse on them.” Nicodemus, who had gone to Yeshua earlier and who was one of their own number, asked, “Does our law condemn anyone without first hearing him to find out what he is doing?” They replied, “Are you from Galilee, too? Look into it, and you will find that a prophet does not come out of Galilee.” Then each went to his own home. But Yeshua went to the Mount of Olives.


VIII. Circumcision


Yeshua was circumcised on the Feast of Conclusion (Shemini Atzeret):


Luqas (Luke) 2:21-40 On the eighth day, when it was time to circumcise him, he was named Yeshua, the name the angel had given him before he had been conceived. When the time of their purification according to the Law of Moses had been completed, Joseph and Mary took him to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord (As it is written in the Law of the Lord, “Every firstborn male is to be consecrated to the Lord”), And to offer a sacrifice in keeping with what is said in the Law of the Lord: “a pair of doves or two young pigeons.” Now there was a man in Jerusalem called Simeon, who was righteous and devout. He was waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him. It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not die before he had seen the Lord’s Mashiach. Moved by the Spirit, he went into the temple courts. When the parents brought in the child Yeshua to do for him what the custom of the Law required, Simeon took him in his arms and praised God, saying: “Sovereign Lord, as you have promised, you now dismiss your servant in peace. For my eyes have seen your salvation, Which you have prepared in the sight of all people, A light for revelation to the Gentiles and for glory to your people Israel.” The child’s father and mother marveled at what was said about him. Then Simeon blessed them and said to Mary, his mother: “This child is destined to cause the falling and rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be spoken against, So that the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. And a sword will pierce your own soul too.” There was also a prophetess, Anna, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was very old; she had lived with her husband seven years after her marriage, And then was a widow until she was eighty-four. She never left the temple but worshiped night and day, fasting and praying. Coming up to them at that very moment, she gave thanks to God and spoke about the child to all who were looking forward to the redemption of Jerusalem. When Joseph and Mary had done everything required by the Law of the Lord, they returned to Galilee to their own town of Nazareth. And the child grew and became strong; he was filled with wisdom, and the grace of God was upon him.


IX. Piyut


The following piyut, poem, is recited at Arbit, the evening service, on Shemini Atzeret:


t The eighth, I pour forth heart and soul like water, before Him Who rides in His grandeur upon the heavens -

on the eighth day.


c The eighth [day of the mishkan’s inauguration], [so that Aaron] the minister and his offspring may serve in the priesthood, Moses called to Aaron and his sons -

on the eighth day.


d The eighth, the decree of the amount of rain, whether abundant or scarce, is recorded -           

on the eighth day.


s The eighth, He sought the sign of the covenant, to save the remnant [nation] from wrath -           

on the eighth day.


v The eighth, [the Festival] prepared for the faithful [nation], set a portion for [the] seven [days of Succoth] and also for [the] eight[h day] -  

on the eighth day.


u The eighth, [when] those assembled in the succah are released, to dwell in [their] houses and courtyards -                                 

on the eighth day.


z The eighth [day of it’s life] is the time set for an animal, to be acceptable [for sacrifice] before Him Who dwells on high -

on the eighth day.


j The eighth, He decided to attach it to the seven, not to overburden [Israel, the nation called] She-who-bore-the seven -

on the eighth day.


y The eighth was established for the congregation to bless their king, when he sent the people on their way -                                     

on the eighth day.


h The eighth [day] was set aside by Him Who is cloaked in light, for a small but goodly sacrificial offering -              

on the eight day.


f The eighth [day’s circumcision] overrides [Yom] Kippur and [the Sabbath] contentment, to fulfill the commandment of Him Who forgives iniquity -

on the eighth day.


k The eighth indicates increased joyfulness, to strum the eighth [string] when He performs wonders -

on the eighth day.[25]


n The eighth [string] is prepared for the Time to Come, to rejoice on it with His intimate people -

on the eighth day.


b The eighth is called Atzeret [Day of Assembly], for the nation guarded like the pupil [of the eye] -

on the eighth day.


x The eighth [day of circumcision] is established in the Torah, and on it thirteen covenants were made-

on the eighth day.


g The eighth [day of circumcision] is prepared to save those sealed by it, to shield [them] and protect [them] from Gehinnom -

on the eighth day.


p The eighth, to cast lots on it, to slaughter the sacrificial offering and to prepare it -                 

on the eighth day.


m The eighth, He commanded to recite the Shehecheyanu, to bless God, the Faithful One -

on the eighth day.


e The eighth, established as a festival unto itself, that His people may rejoice on it -

on the eighth day.


r The eighth, favor is to be found in the bringing of it’s unique offering, to Him Whose glory fills the entire earth -                           

on the eighth day.


a The eighth, a special song to recite on it alone, and to complete Hallel on it -

on the eighth day.


, The eighth, gives a blessing of it’s own, to Him Who gives strength and power to the weary -           

on the eighth day.


The eighth, those who foster the praise of Your Oneness, please, they come to bow to Your abundant kindness. Hurry, help them from Your holy place, in the merit of Your devout ones, with the aid [of the merit] of those who sang Your witness at the Sea.


X. The Midrash


Yalkut Shimoni, Parashat Pinchas 782 Why were they kept back another day? Rav explained: The matter can be compared to a king who celebrated a holiday. His servants came and honored him, the members of his household came and paid him homage. An important woman hinted to them, “While he is still engaged with you, ask him to meet your needs.” The Torah offers the same hint to Israel [telling them], “Ask Him to meet your needs [for during the holiday, Israel had sought only the welfare of the seventy nations].” When they did not understand [that they should seek their own welfare], she [the Torah] stopped them for an additional day - Shemini Atzeret.


Pesika d’Rav Kahana R. Levi said: During every month of the summer, God wanted to give Israel a Festival. In Nisan, He gave them Pesach. In Iyar, He gave them Pesach Sheni [on the 14th of the month, a day when the Pesach offering was brought by those who could not offer it on the 14th of Nisan]. In Sivan, He gave them Shavuot. In Tammuz, He wanted to give them a major festival, but they made the golden calf and He annulled [the Festivals that had been set for] Tammuz, Av, and Elul. When Tishrei came, He repaid them with Rosh HaShanah, Yom Kippur, and Succoth. God said, “Tishrei repays others [i.e., makes up for the festivals missing in the previous three months]. Shall he not take for himself as well [i.e., is it possible that the month not have its own Festival]?” He therefore gave it one day - Shemini Atzeret.


Midrash Rabbah - Bereshit (Genesis) C:7 R. Jeremiah and R. Hiyya b. Abba taught in the name of Resh Lakish: And I will turn your feasts into mourning (Amos VIII, 10). As the days of the Feast (hag)[26] are seven, so are the days of mourning seven. R. Hiyya said: The eighth day ranks as a separate Festival.[27]


Midrash Rabbah - Bamidbar (Numbers) IX:6 It was taught[28]: one who has not brought his festival sacrifice on the first day of the festival[29] should bring it on any day of the pilgrimage festival[30] and the last holy day.[31] If the pilgrimage festival has passed without his having brought it, he is not bound to make good afterwards.[32] Of such neglect it says, ‘That which is crooked cannot be made straight.’


XI. Customs


The Halakah prohibits labor on this festival. We are permitted to prepare the food that we eat on this festival, on the festival itself. These requirements are the same requirements as we have for all of the other festival Sabbaths.


We light the candles and say a blessing to usher in this festival.


We also say the Shehekiyanu blessing.


Kiddush is recited in the succah over a glass of wine.


On Shemini Atzeret we begin to add a sentence to the Amidah to praise HaShem for sending rain. We add: He causes the wind to blow and the rain to fall. This is still just a hint of asking for rain. We won’t get blunt in our request for rain until the seventh of Heshvan.


Yiskor, the memorial prayer for the dead, is recited, just as it is on the last day of a festival. This day is, therefore, also considered the last day of Succoth.


The festival of Shemini Atzeret does not have special rituals as do the other festivals, except for one: Extraordinary simcha.[33] The mitzva of simcha on this day is ordained by the Torah in the verse “you shall be only joyful”.[34]


Commentators note that this verse is not only a precept but also a promise: “if you will fulfill the mitzva of simcha, you are assured that you will be joyful forever.”


XII. The number eight

The first use of the number eight is in Bereshit 17:12.


Bereshit (Genesis) 17:12  And he that is eight days old shall be circumcised among you, every man child in your generations, he that is born in the house, or bought with money of any stranger, which [is] not of thy seed.


On the eighth day of the inauguration of the Mishkan the Divine Presence descended and “inhabited” the Mishkan. For, the number eight always alludes to a departure from the “natural”. world, and entry into the supernatural world (which is why Chanukah also is eight days long). Therefore, brit milah acts as a threshold of sorts for the new baby, over which he crosses to enter into the world ABOVE mazel.


The “eighth day” in the cycle of millennia is not a millennium after all, but a new creation, an eternal one. It is called the Olam haBa, the “coming age” or “world to come”. Bereans (Hebrews) 6:5 speaks of those who have the Holy Spirit as “tasting the powers of the world to come”. Death is swallowed up in victory, there is no more sin, and everything is restored back to HaShem. Jewish children begin to be taught about such things from right after their birth! HaShem said that circumcision is given as an “everlasting covenant“.


The child was circumcised on the eighth day to speak of a “new beginning”, a new covenant. Tzefet (Peter) tells us that this is why there were eight persons on the ark of Noah, symbolizing this new beginning, and he relates this to baptism, which bears the same symbolism (1 Tzefet (Peter) 3:20-21; 2 Tzefet (Peter) 2:5).


The harp of Messianic days has eight strings, while the harp of the world to come has ten strings.           


Midrash Rabbah - Bamidbar (Numbers) XV:11 TAKE THE LEVITES (VIII, 6). Halachah: How many cords should there have been in the harp upon which the Levites played? R. Judah said: There were seven cords in the harp, as may be inferred from the text, Fulness of (soba’) joy in Thy presence, sweet melodies in Thy right hand (Ps. XVI, 11)[35]: do not read ‘soba’’ (fullness of) but sheba’ (seven joys).[36] Similarly, David says, Seven in the day[37] do I praise Thee, because of Thy righteous ordinances (ib. CXIX, 164). In the days of the Messiah it will be made of eight cords; for so in fact says David in the melody, For the Leader; with string-music; on the Sheminith--eight- stringed  (ib. VI, 1). In the time to come it will be made of ten; for it says, O God, I will sing a new song unto Thee, upon a psaltery of ten strings (ib. CXLIV, 9). Who ordained the instruments for them? Shmuel (Samuel) and David; as it says, Whom David and Shmuel (Samuel) the seer did ordain in their set office (I Chron. IX, 22).[38] It was they who established the divisions for the singing.



XIII. Events


The following events all took place during Shemini Atzeret:



 Shimini Atzeret The Eighth day, Sabbath, Simchat Torah. Solemn assembly. Vayikra (Leviticus) 23:34, Bamidbar (Numbers) 29:33

 Solomon dismisses the people at the end of the Temple dedication ceremony 1 Melakim (Kings) 8:66

 Yeshua is circumcised. Luqas (Luke) 2:21

 Yeshua begins His ministry. (Yeshua is 30 years old - Luqas (Luke) 3:23). Luqas (Luke) 3:23

 Yeshua is transfigured before Tzefet (Peter), Yochanan (John), and Yaaqov (James). Tzefet (Peter) wants to build 3 succoth. Luqas (Luke) 9:28-36

 Torah section is Devarim (Deuteronomy) 14:22-16:17, Bamidbar (Numbers) 29:35-30:1. Haftorah is 1 Melakim (Kings) 8:54-66.



 Rebecca’s nurse, Deborah, dies. Book of Jubilees

 Moses waged war on Og. Tanhuma, Hukkat 24

 Solomon sends the people home, with joyful and glad hearts. II Divrei HaYamim (Chronicles) 7:10

 Yeshua rebukes a demon in a boy and heals him. Luqas (Luke) 9:37-45

 Adulteress brought to Yeshua. He says, “let him who is without sin cast the first stone”. Yochanan (John) 7:27 - 8:11

 Yeshua spends the night on the Mount of Olives. Yochanan (John) 7:37-53

 The disciples debate “who will be the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven.” Luqas (Luke) 9:44-48

 Torah section is Devarim (Deuteronomy) 33:1 - 34:26, Bereshit (Genesis) 1:1 - 2:3, Bamidbar (Numbers) 29:35 - 30:1. Haftorah is Yahoshua (Joshua) 1:1-18.


XIV. Selected Essays


Insights on the Month of Tishrei

By Rabbi Yitzchak Ginsburgh


A Chassidic Meditation for the High Holidays, the Festival of Succoth, Shemini Atzeret, and Simchat Torah.


The first two days of the month of Tishrei are Rosh HaShanah, the New Year, literally “the head of the year.” According to Kabbalah, there are two spiritual levels that are called “head.”


The first, higher “head“ is the highest sefirah (Divine emanation), the supernal crown (keter), whose physical image in the Kabbalah is the skull, situated above and encompassing the brain. Spiritually, it corresponds to the power of will. On this first day of Rosh HaShanah, we “crown” G-d, our King, by nullifying our will to His will.


The second “head“ is the next sefirah, wisdom (chachmah), or more specifically, the origin of wisdom within the crown itself, which “shoots” its “arrows”—flashes—of insight to the revealed, conscious wisdom of the mind. On the second day of Rosh HaShanah, we continue the service of the previous day, but with the special emphasis of nullifying our “thoughts” to G-d’s “thoughts” (by “remembering” Him, for which reason Rosh HaShanah is called “the Day of Remembrance”, He remembers us and we remember Him).


The two levels of “head“—”crown” and “wisdom”—are considered one, for in the secret of HaShem‘s essential Name (the Tetragrammaton), they correspond to the yud (wisdom) and the upper tip of the yud: both levels are united in the first letter (the “head“) of HaShem‘s Name. (This is why, with regard to certain aspects of Jewish law, the two days of Rosh HaShanah are considered one “long” day.)


Even though “crown” is the highest sefirah, it possesses an inner dimension, which corresponds to the super-rational pleasure that motivates will. On Yom Kippur, this inner dimension of the “crown” reveals itself in the third sefirah, “understanding” (binah), which corresponds to the second letter of HaShem‘s Name, the first hei. In Kabbalah, binah is associated with the image of the “mother” who “cleanses” her “children” (the emotions, as we will presently explain) from their impurities. On this day, we cleanse our consciousness of all “impurity“ by “returning” to HaShem (“returning,” in general, corresponds to the property of “mother,” as explained in the Zohar), and dedicate our lives to His service and the fulfillment of His purpose in Creation.


The seven days of the festival of Succoth correspond to the next seven sefirot, the attributes of the heart: the six emotions of love (chesed), fear (gevurah), mercy (tiferet), trust (netzach), sincerity (hod), devotion (yesod); and the origin of humility (malchut) within one‘s devotion to HaShem. We are taught by the Arizal that, the seven components of the four species we “shake” on Succoth (the three myrtle branches, the two willow branches, the lulav itself and the etrog), correspond to these emotions of the heart. These seven levels—days—are all included in the secret of the third letter of HaShem‘s Name, the vav. In our Divine service, these are days to radiate the light of joy (in the liturgy, Succoth is called “the time of our joy”) into each of the emotions of our hearts.


On the eighth day, Shemini Atzeret, we “absorb” (become “pregnant” with) all of the lights that shone throughout the month of Tishrei. This is the secret of our prayers for rain, to permeate and fertilize the earth, on this day. This corresponds to the final sefirah, malchut, which corresponds to the fourth letter of HaShem‘s Name, the final hei. In Kabbalah, malchut is associated with the image of the “bride,” whose marriage to her “groom” is consummated on this day. The service of Shemini Atzeret is to “open” ourselves in full, in humility (malchut), to bring the Divine influx of light and energy into our beings.


Simchat Torah (part of the eighth day in Israel; the ninth day in the Diaspora) is the secret of the statement of Sefer Yetzirah, “the end is enwedged in the beginning.”


Sefer Yitzirah 3:1 Ten Sefirot out of nothing. Stop your mouth from speaking, stop your heart from thinking, and if your heart runs (to think) return to a place of which it is said “they ran and returned”; and concerning this thing the covenant was made; and they are ten in extent beyond limit. Their end is infused with their beginning, and their beginning with their end like a flame attached to a glowing ember. Know, think [reflect, meditate] and imagine that the Creator is One and there is nothing apart from Him, and before One what do you count?


Yeshayahu (Isaiah) 46:10 Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure:


For this reason, we conclude the reading of the Torah and begin it anew on this day. Malchut returns to keter, at its most sublime level of simple, absolute faith (above even the pleasure within will, the inner dimension of keter, as explained above with regard to Yom Kippur). On Simchat Torah, we dance round and round, endlessly, with the Torah scroll. This highest level of keter is mirrored in our focus on the experience of our dancing feet, the lowest level of our bodies. In simple faith, there is no beginning and no end; all is absolutely one.


May it be HaShem‘s will that we be privileged to experience all the revelations described above, and may we all be blessed with a good and sweet year, in all things material and spiritual, culminating in the revelation of Mashiach and the true and ultimate redemption for the whole world.



Summary Chart


First day of Rosh HaShana


Nullifying our will to do his

tip of yud

Second day of Rosh HaShana

Coronation - with emphasis on remembrance

Nullifying our thoughts to his thoughts


Yom Kippur

Purification & return

Dedicating our lives to his service


The Seven days of Succoth

The emotions of the heart

Shining the light of joy into our hearts


Shemini Atzeret


Humility; opening ourselves to the Divine influx




Simchat Torah

The endless cycle

The climax of joy in the dance of simple faith


The Inner Dimension Gal Einai Institute of Israel - Disseminating the Teachings of the Inner Dimension of the Torah in the Land of Israel and in the Diaspora as taken from the teachings of Rabbi Yitzchak Ginsburgh


* * *


This study was written by

Rabbi Dr. Hillel ben David

(Greg Killian).

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[1] A mnemonic acrostic formed by the initial letters of ‘balloting’, ‘season’, ‘festival’, ‘sacrifice’, ‘psalm’, ‘benediction’

[2] There were so many sacrifices on the first seven days, that the balloting for duty among the courses of priests was unnecessary. On the Eighth Day there was but one bullock offered and it was balloted for (cf. infra 55b).

[3] Unlike the last days of Pesach, when the shechiyanu is omitted, on Shemini Atzeret, the shechiyanu blessing is recited.

[4] The festival laws are different from those of Succoth. On Shemini Atzeret [in eretz Israel where it is only a one day festival] we do not eat in the succah. [Even outside of Eretz Israel the succah blessing is omitted when eating in the succah on Shemini Atzeret; and the succah is not used on Simchat Torah.]

[5] That it is unnecessary to dwell on it in the Sukkah.

[6] The number of bullocks offered is not six as might have been expected if the sixth day had been regarded as the eighth of the days of Tabernacles on each of which the number of bullocks was reduced by one.

[7] The Levites “song” that accompanied the sacrificial service on Shemini Atzeret was one especially suited to the day: A Song on the eighth, Psalm 12

[8] In the Amidah and in the Birchat Hamazon blessings the festival is called by the name Shemini Atzeret and not Succoth.

[9] This section is excerpted from Sod Siach Shmini Azereth Dr Zvi Aviner

[10] Abudarham, Rashi

[11] “Eretz Israel” means The Land of Israel.

[12] Yoma 3a

[13] Minachot 65a

[14] Shir HaShirim 7:2

[15] As explained infra.

[16] Or, you complete your pi1grimages then, Tabernacles being the third and last pilgrimage festival of the year (M.K.).

[17] Rain ceases then (Radal).

[18] Succah 27a

[19] Yoma 2a a.e.

[20] Rambam, Igeres Teiman

[21] This section is excerpted from Sod Siach Shmini Azereth Dr Zvi Aviner

[22] Major parts of this section were excerpted, and modified, from an article written by Rabbi Shlomo Riskin.


[24] Cur. edd. ‘Thee’.

[25] Deuteronomy 16:15

[26] Hag, the word used in the text quoted, as the name of a Festival always refers to Tabernacles, which lasts seven days and is followed by ‘a solemn assembly’ (Num. XXVIII, 35), known as ‘the eighth day of the solemn assembly’ (shemini ‘azereth).

[27] And not as a continuation of Tabernacles; for if it did, the foregoing analogy would teach that mourning must last eight days.

[28] Hag. 9a.

[29] Tabernacles; consisting, according to the Bible, of seven days, one holy day at the beginning and one at the end, and five intermediate days.

[30] V. preceding. So called on account of the pilgrimage to Jerusalem prescribed for every male Israelite (cf. Deut. XVI, 16).

[31] The day following the seven, known as ‘the eighth day of solemn assembly‘ (shemini ‘azereth), v. Num. XXIX, 35. This was held to be a separate festival, nevertheless the festival sacrifice of Tabernacles could be brought on that day.

[32] And cannot make it good, even if he desires.

[33] rejoicing

[34] Re’ey 16:15

[35] E.V. ‘In Thy presence is fullness of joy, in Thy right hand bliss, etc.

[36] Each cord is a separate joy.

[37] I.e. on a seven-stringed harp. E.V. ‘Seven times a day’.

[38] This refers to the various of officials in the Sanctuary.