Shemini Atzeret: Make the Most out of Today by Anna Jacoby

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Shemini Atzeret: Make the Most out of Today By Anna Jacoby

Honored Rabbi, Madame President,

Today, of course, is Simchat Torah, the second day of Shemini Atzeret. Simchat Torah is the Yom Tov Sheni Shel Galuyot, and the last day of the “holidays.”And at this point, many of us are getting tired of the holidays --the cooking, missed work, and time off from school.So, today, it’s easy to think “Shemini Atzeret?Great, one more day and I’m done!”

This morning I would like to share with you an idea that will hopefully change how you think about Shemini Atzeret.Shemini Atzeret literally means “the assembly of the eighth day.”Atzeret comes from the same shoresh as Atzar, which means “stop.”Some have thought this means refraining from work. Our sages, however, have interpreted this as “detaining” or a deliberate extension of the prior seven days.

This idea of extending the holiday makes sense when you also consider the number of sacrifices on Shemini Atzeret. During the time of the Temple, 70 bulls were sacrificed during Sukkot. 13 bulls on the first day, 12 bulls on the second day, 11 bulls on the third day, and so on. Believe me, it adds up to 70.However, on Shemini Atzeret, only one bull is sacrificed.

Our sages explain why Shemini Atzeret is on the eight day, and why only one bull is sacrificed with the following beautiful parable:Hashem is like a host who has invited his whole kingdom to a huge party lasting seven days. After the party was over, and everyone left, the king felt lonely. So, he invited his closest friend to stay an extra day and eat together. This is a small private party, just the king, and his best friend, the Jewish people.

This is why only one bull is sacrificed. Shemini Atzeret is a small party of close friends. In this case, more is not merrier.

This Midrash shows the special relationship between G-D and Israel. The story tells us that G-d loves Beni Yisrael as the king loves his best friend.

I know that many of you are tired and are looking forward to the holidays ending. But I ask you to take advantage of these remaining few hours of Shemini Atzeret, and think about our special relationship with Hashem and what that means to you.

Mo’adim L’Simcha!

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Guest Monday, 22 January 2018