And the Ninth: The Holiday of Sukkot is almost behind us. On Sunday we celebrate Hoshana Rabba (see The Great Hosanna), which is technically the seventh day of the Festival of Booths.
And Monday is the Holiday of Shemini Atzeret, the Eighth Day of Assembly. In the Land of Israel, it's also Simchat Torah; here in חו״ל (the Diaspora), Simchat Torah is the day after Shemini Atzeret. You know - the ninth day of Yontif.
Chabad tells us that Shemini Atzeret is a special holiday, reserved for G-d and the Jewish People only:
After Sukkot, during which all nations, Jews and non-Jews, celebrated and brought sacrificial offerings to the Temple, G‑d makes a special request of the Jewish people (Leviticus 23:36):
On the eighth day [from the start of Sukkot], it shall be an atzeret to you . . .
The commentator Rashi elaborates that the term atzeret, literally “holding back,” is one of affection, as a father would say to his children who are departing him:
Your departure is difficult for me. Please stay with me for just one more day!
After all the other nations have gone home, G‑d asks the Jewish people to “hold back” for one more day of celebration—Shemini Atzeret.
And as we recite Yizkor ...
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