Weekly Sidra: Shemini Atzeret (the Eighth [day] of Assembly)
Torah Portion: Devarim / Deuteronomy 14:22-16:17
Maftir: Bamidbar / Numbers 29:35 – 30:1
Haftorah: Melachim Alef / I Kings 8:54 – 8:66
On the fifteenth day of this seventh month is the Festival of Sukkot, seven days for HaShem… on the eighth day, there shall be a holy convocation for you. (Leviticus 23:34)
On the eighth day he let the people go. They bade the king good-bye and went to their homes, joyful and glad of heart over all the goodness that the Lord had shown to His servant David and His people Israel. (I Kings 8:66)
Shemini Atzeret is commonly thought of as part of Sukkot, but that is technically incorrect; Shemini Atzeret is a holiday in its own right and does not involve some of the special observances of Sukkot. We do not take up the lulav and etrog on these days, and our dwelling in the sukkah is more limited, and performed without reciting a blessing.
Shemini Atzeret literally means "the assembly of the eighth (day)." Rabbinic literature explains the holiday this way: our Creator is like a host, who invites us as visitors for a limited time, but when the time comes for us to leave, He has enjoyed himself so much that He asks us to stay another day. Another related explanation: Sukkot is a holiday intended for all of mankind, but when Sukkot is over, the Creator invites the Jewish people to stay for an extra day, for a more intimate celebration.
Shemini Atzeret actually represents the world to come or Olam Haba. It follows the end of the messianic kingdom in which Maran Yeshua will reign for one thousand years. At the end of the millennial era represented by Sukkot we will have to make a choice between the world to come or perpetual separation from HaShem.
We can choose right now to follow in the ways of HaShem or to follow a path of Torahlessness. We can have life with blessings and joy or we can go through life trying to reconcile a Torah-based life in a non-biblical way.
Tags: bamidbar, blessings, devarim, eighth day, fifteenth day, good bye, HaShem, holy convocation, intimate celebration, lulav and etrog, melachim, messianic kingdom, observances, servant david, sidra, sukkah, sukkot, Tabernacles, torah portion, Yeshua
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