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Shemini Atzeret 5782 Times and Torah readings never to stop

Do you have another day?

A king had invited his sons to a feast for a number of days. Sometimes we do have our family staying at our place. But they cannot stay all the time. After every visit there comes a time to depart. When the time came for the king’s sons to leave, he said:

“My sons! Please, stay one more day; it is difficult for me to part with you!” (Midrash)

We can imagine when they stayed, they had again some other talks remembering old things whilst enjoying some good food.

According to the custom of most communities we also still eat in the sukkah where the candles are lit.

Simchat Torah or Simḥath Torah (also Simkhes Toreh, Hebrew: שִׂמְחַת תורָה, lit., “Rejoicing with/of the Torah,”) is a celebration marking the conclusion of the annual cycle of public Torah readings, and the beginning of a new cycle.

At the beginning of 5782, we have taken the time to think how we managed in the previous year, looking at the different seasons, where the world also had to tackle the Coronavirus, which still is not gone yet. But luckily it was a year we could see an end coming at the lockdown and found ourselves again allowed to meet each other. We can imagine that several of our brothers and sisters on these days of reflection, could flip back in their minds to both the good and the not-so-good times.

The holidays of Tishrei run through a whole palette of emotions: from the foreboding and triumphant grandeur of Rosh HaShanah, to the gravitas and genuflection of Yom Kippur, to the pure family-centric joy of Sukkot, to the statement of vulnerability as we beat willow branches on the floor Hoshana Rabba, to the wild dancing and singing with abandon of Simhat Torah. {Make Our Garden Grow – Shemini Atzeret 5782 / Yizkor}

This weekend, kiddush and sumptuous holiday meals are enjoyed. We take special time to thank the Elohim for the provision of His Word and for all the good things, sunshine, rain, growing plants, lots of vegetables, fruits and nuts that we could receive throughout the year.

Is it not marvellous how Moshe wrote down those precious Words of the Elohim and made it possible for the whole world to have his Torat or the Torah which can be our guide to life.

On Shemini Atzeret (“the Eighth of Retention”) a Yom Tov day, a day of happiness and family meals. For months (more than 2 years) we were not allowed to come together with many, but now there is not such a problem or something holding us back to gather with many (though still not with too much people). Some families lost some close ones to that terrible virus, and for them, we have yzor. We implore Hashem to remember the souls of our relatives and friends that have passed on. Though reciting Yizkor, we renew and strengthen the connection between us and our loved ones. Those not alive anymore we carry in our heart and on this day it is good to bring back fond memories of those deceased.

After the opening blessings of praise, the central section of the Shabbat Musaf is this weekend extra special because remembering our people wandering in the desert but at last entering the Holy Land, we are today also looking forward to the time that we shall return to the Holy Land and the restoration of the Temple service.

Looking at those wandering people we have the mirror reflection of us also having similar questions as they, and also continuing onward and upward, around and around as we grow and mature and learn and fail and succeed. Yes, all those failures of the previous year we soon want to forget, but all the successful moments we shall carry with us in the new year.

These are days on which we remember not only grief and loss, but also joy and happiness and celebration. And we also remember to keep in perspective what enables us to keep going around in that upward spiral, that sense of taking each day as it comes, trying to do the right thing for ourselves and each other, working and learning and playing and spending time with friends and family.

Good things will happen in the coming year: people will get married; babies will be born; children will graduate from high school; there will be moments of joy. And so too will beloved family members die, and get divorced, and projects will fail and people will have financial hardships, and there will be bored moments and suffering and of course more disease and corruption and malfeasance. {Make Our Garden Grow – Shemini Atzeret 5782 / Yizkor}

But whatever happens, we have that assurance that El ʿElyon (God Most High) is willing to accompany us.

It may seem strange that in the synagogue we first read the last chapter of the Torah and then immediately continue with the first chapter. By this, we indicate that reading from the Torah never stops. The one who reads the last chapter is called Bridegroom of the Law (Chatan Torah) and the one who reads the first chapter is called Bridegroom of the Beginning, Chatan Bereeshite.
Reading from the Torah daily strengthens us. On days like this, we feel it even more intensely. On the ninth and last day of Sukkot, the entire Torah (written down on scrolls) is read through and read through, and people start all over again in the synagogue. Or rather, the Torah continues to be read, because every time we can come across new things and be enlightened. As such, we learn about the richness of God’s Word.

For the entire 8th day counted from the beginning of Sukkot (called Sjemini Atseret / Semini Atseret or Shemini atzeret), one eats in the Sukkah but says no beracha when doing so. Then one takes leave of the Sukkah and says the Yehie Ratson –

`May it be Your will, O G’d, that we may sit in the Sukkah of the Leviathan’.

The Leviathan is a big fish but the word Leviathan actually means `guide’.

Leaving the Sukkah or small Sanctuary does not have to mean we lose the connection with the Highest. We hope that we may continue to sit in God’s shadow and `guide’ God throughout the time of the Mashieach.
Literally, Sh’mini Atzeret means ‘the eighth day of gathering’.

“By itself, seven days is enough, but it is hard for God to say goodbye, which is why the Jews stay another day.”

With pleasure, we are happy to stay another day by our King.

On this day of Yizkor, this day of remembrance, let us not forget that those whom we remember in these moments, who gave us life and nurtured us and gifted us their talents and wisdom and yes, sometimes even their flaws, are still a part of the weave of that tapestry.

And as we conclude this holiday season, we also remember that, in the words of Candide, we’re neither pure, nor wise, nor good, but we will do the best we know. We will try to be satisfied with sacrificing the perfect for the sake of the good enough. And that is perhaps the most valuable message we might take away from right now, as we add another year, another layer. {Make Our Garden Grow – Shemini Atzeret 5782 / Yizkor}

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News Update: Offbeat Jewish News Edition

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Find also to read

  1. Setting Up the Sukkah Today 🍋🌿
  2. Looking forward to Shemini Atzeret and Simchat Torah
  3. Moshe Rabbenu and Torat Moshe

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