The incredible high holiday season, beginning with Rosh Hashanah, continuing with Yom Kippur and then Sukkos, finally comes to a climax with the holiday of Shemini Atzeres. And while all the other holidays have unique commandments associated with them (shofar, fasting, lulav and esrog, sitting in a sukkah etc.) there are no special commandments for this final day.
Why is that? Why doesn’t Shemini Atzeres have any unique mitzvahs?
Interestingly, the Rabbis established two practices on this special final day: 1) the blessing for Rain 2) Simchas Torah, the celebration of the completion of the Torah reading cycle. How does this connect to the end of the holiday season? Why did the Rabbis add these two practices to the otherwise Biblically ‘bare’ day of Shemini Atzeres?
In this episode, we take a whole new look at the entire holiday season, uncovering a deep storyline running through all the holidays and coming to a climax on Shemini Atzeres! The story of the holiday season is in a certain sense a story of the world: beginning with the creation of Adam, his sin and judgement and continuing with the search for Adam in the world until he is found and his mission reaccepted.
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Babylonian Talmud, Sukkah 48a, Shemini Atzeres is an independent holiday – https://tinyurl.com/regelatzmo
Tosafist on Tractate Rosh Hashana 8a titled Litkufos, Rosh Hashana is actually the birthday of Adam – https://tinyurl.com/tosrh8a
Derech Hashem, Rabbi Moshe Chaim Lozzatto, Part 2 Ch. 4, Adam was created with potential to impact; Abraham (the Jews) accepted this mission going forward – https://tinyurl.com/derechhashem2-4
Ethics Of Our Fathers, 5:2, generations between Adam and Noah and God’s patience – https://tinyurl.com/ethics5-2
Pirkei DiRebbi Elazar Ch. 31, purpose of Abraham’s tests were to see if he can uphold the Torah (Adam’s mission) – https://tinyurl.com/prde31
Genesis Ch. 22, story of the binding of Isaac – https://www.sefaria.org/Genesis.22?lang=bi&aliyot=0
Pachad Yitzchak, Rav Hutner, Ma’amarei Sukkos #21, “don’t send your hand towards the lad” replaced “let us create man” – not available online
Babylonian Talmud, Yevamos 61a, Jews are called Adam – https://tinyurl.com/yevamos61a
Numbers 29:12-36, listing of the bull sacrifices – https://tinyurl.com/bamidbar29
Babylonian Talmud, Sukkah 55b, 70 bulls correspond to 70 nations and single bull to Jewish nation – https://tinyurl.com/sukkah55b
Rashi, Genesis 10:25, during the lifetime of Peleg the world was divided into 70 nations- https://tinyurl.com/70peleg
Text of the prayer for Rain – https://tinyurl.com/praygeshem
Genesis 2:5, Rashi titled Ki, rain didn’t fall until the creation of Adam – https://tinyurl.com/bereishis2-5
Pachad Yitzchak, Rav Hutner, Ma’amarei Sukkos #118, only once G-d found the new Adam (the Jewish nation) do we pray for rain – not available online