Sedra of the Week: Shemini Atzeret | Jewish News – Jewish News

Posted By on October 10, 2020

Shemini Atzeret has a dual identity. It falls on the eighth day, immediately after Succot. It is a festival in its own right, but without rituals.Yet, like Succot, our prayers referto it as the time of our happiness (zeman simchateinu).

One tradition identified in theTalmud is to recite the Prayerfor Rain (Tefillat Geshem) in theShemini Atzeret Musaf service.

From ancient times, water was perceived as a precious resource for all living beings, even if in Britain we take it for granted. By contrast, from 2014 to 2019, Israel experienced a drought exceeding anything in its past 100 years.

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In a Mediterranean climate with a few months of rain at best, Tefillat HaGeshem was a way to beseech God to provide precipitation during the winter months. When rains were delayed, leaders instituted a series of public fasts.

Andalusian poet Salomon Ibn Gabirol beautifully articulated our dependence on rain in his poem Shifat Revivim. Open now Your treasure, give life to all into whom Youve breathed a soul, by causing the wind to blow and the rain to fall.

Atzeret means gathering. We also refer to Shavuot as Chag HaAtzeret. The Babylonian Talmud informs us that just as Shavuot comes 50 days after Pesach, Shemini Atzeret was intended to come 50 days after Succot, but God had compassion on Jewish farmers, not requiring of them another pilgrimage during the rainy season.

Shemini Atzeret thus inspires joy and gratitude. We seldom appreciate what we have until its absent or lost. The past months have shown how blessed we are.

As winter approaches, practising gratitude allows us to see things as they exist, not as we might wish them to be.

Rather than lamenting what weve lost, Shemini Atzeret dually teaches us to find joy in what we have andto be thankful.

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Sedra of the Week: Shemini Atzeret | Jewish News - Jewish News

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