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Finding the greatest Joy and Delight !
October 9, 2009, 2:20 pm
Filed under: SHIMINI ATZEROT, Smimini Atzerot-Simchat Torah


Smini Atzeret is not linked to an historical event or an agricultural event, like all of the other Biblical festivals. But the following events all took place during Shemini Atzeret. The people blessed Solomon and he dismissed the people at the end of the Temple dedication ceremony as discussed below. also Rebecca’s nurse, Deborah, died. Book of Jubilees, Moses waged war on Og as taught in Midrash Tanchumah parsha Chukkat.

The festival of Shemini Atzeret does not have special rituals as  the other festivals. There is no Etrog, no menorah or Matzah. The word Atzeret means “Assembly” and it also means holding back. And our sages explain the special purpose of this  festival of the Eighth day by 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.”

From Midrash Rabbah – Bamidbar (Numbers) we learn concerning Shimini Atzeret that 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[1][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. 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!


But From Rashi’s, in his commentary on the Talmud (Succah) we learn that: The people blessed the King of Israel, on: ‘Shimini Atzeret as its written of King Solomon “On the eighth day he sent them home and they blessed the King ” (Kings 1:8). The Abudaram also comments that When King Solomon finished building the Holy Temple) finished its 7 days of celebration of dedication on the eighth day he sent the people 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’.

We see in the book of  Kings chapter 8, and Divrei HaYamim (2 Chronicles), chapters 5-7. That when  King Solomon finished building the Holy Temple, he gathered all of the 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:

“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. This all happened on Shemini Atzeret

When the people saw that the gates were open, and the fire came down from heaven to consume,  everything which was placed on he altar, they were filled with an extreme  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”.

We see in 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.

On the eighth day, Shemini Atzeret, we “absorb”  become “pregnant” with all of the lights that shined throughout the month of Tishrei !

In the 10th century the Jewish Community of Babylon, present day Iraq, invented the holiday we call “Simchat Torah”. It was they who also began the custom of dancing with the Torah. From Babylon it spread to the rest of the Jewish world. In the 12th century in France the “Ata Horeita” verses added and they began to read “Vezot Habrachah”  (the last Torah portion) many times “until the entire congregation had an “aliya.” They also instituted that a “Chatan Beraishith” should read the beginning of of parsha “Beraishith”. While in the same period, the Jews of Spain began to recite the beginning of Genesis by heart. Rabbi David Abudraham explained this aspect of Simhat Torah saying that  “And the reason we start again at Bereishit… just as we have merited to finish the Torah, so may we merit to begin her again”. In Germany in the 14th century, they invented the “kol hane’arim aliya” so that all the children in the synagogue could have a collective “aliya” In the early 15th century they added “hakafot” in the evening.  The Ari and his students instituted that there should be seven hakafot around the “bima”.

Nothing illuminates the eyes of a man as secrets of the Torah. Rabbi Shimon bar Yochi said secrets are the “light”. If one learns correctly they will pray correctly, do mitzvot correctly all in simcha  (joy) in good spirit. If one prays and knows “cavanot” (meditations) of Teffila there is no greater joy in the world than this.1 After the soul goes above to the world of yetzera. The soul rises by way of the gillgulim, the soul of the planets which is Asiyah it rises to the birds of song of the “hachelot” (the palaces) of the lower gan aden. From there the soul can rise palace by palace to the upper Gan Aden. Those who serve Hashem in joy are received in the Palace called “atzom Shamym” (essence of Heaven), what great joy this is. The Vilna Goan in Safer Hachalot teaches that the light of lightening is in Hod (splendor) of Bina (Divine Understanding). From the lightening of ”botzina kadisha” are 12 illuminations are given in the reception of the 22 letters of the Torah in ”hachel Atzom Shamayim”. Here is “The angel of face”  . The whiteness of Atik floats on red till here in ”Atzom Shamayim”. Here is revealed ”Chesed Elyon”. “Dinim” are illuminated as here shines the Ruach in the face of the king. Here is the white Ruach (Spirit) illuminating the whiteness of life. Here You must say your sign. Here are all the garments. As it says ”Hod and hadar are her garments”. This is the ”hachel” of Hod. Here is ”Chashmal” (voice of God) . Here are 378 illuminations. They are the 370 lights from the ”Tepuchin” (apples). The beauty of Adam was from the glow of Aba as He had a Nashama from Aba of Atzilut, Chava’s Nashama was from Ima of Atzilut. Adam could not look at the face of Chava after they were turned face to face. As she had 370 myriad lights in her face..1 In the second verse of the Torah it states “ Ruach elokim moved on the face of the waters “ This is the spirit of Mashiach. In order to manifest the spirit, which we have been waiting for since creation in full revelation Rabbi Moshe Cordevero teaches in Pardes Remonim that we need “din” (judgment), but in the aspects of chesed and teferet. This “din” makes joy and increases flow. This is the din of Masiach.1

Every sadeek needs to pray for healing of sick people, barren women and  every man’s individual lack. At times becouse of the individuals sins the sadeek’s prayer can be God forbid be prevented from helping the person. Then he needs to pray with all his thought for only the Glory of Hashem, raising and exulting Hashem’s glory. Then the complaining mouth will be closed. Then there will be to you תענוג (delight) and flow, as the cow wants to give more then the calf wants to suck.1 Torah is the source and root of the essence of light of the Nefesh Ruach Chayah and Yachida. It spreads out in every parzuf. It is light of the Ayn Sof. A man occupied in the Torah gives delight to his creator when he does it for its own sake, and guards the commandments. This man when he leaves this world his soul will find rest and not require “gilgul” (reincarnation).1

1. 1safer lecutim-ar’i p.427

1. 1Avodat Yisrael p.15

1. 1Pardes-Moshe Cordevero P.44

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