[Avodah] Shemini Atzeres as a time for Hislamdus

Micha Berger micha at aishdas.org
Fri Oct 9 09:28:09 PDT 2020

Why do we celebrate Shemini Atzeres?

Rashi on Vayiqra 23:36 writes (taken from Sefaria):

    The word ["atzeres"] is derived from the root /`-tz-r/ -- "to hold
    back" and suggests: I keep you back with Me one day more. It is
    similar to the case of a king who invited his children to a banquet
    for a certain number of days. When the time arrived for them to
    take their departure he said, "Children, I beg of you, stay one day
    more with me; it is so hard for me to part with you!" (cf. Rashi on
    Numbers 29:36 and Sukkah 55b).

Shemini Atzeres is a day to stop. We just crowned Hashem as King, got
judged, repented for the negative things that judgment process dragged
up, and celebrating Hashem's blessing the year's efforts with success
including His giving us the ability and opportunity to remake ourselves,
to improve. Don't just rush back off into the regular year, spend another
moment with the Creator.

In that sense, Shemini Atzeres is a holiday about hislamdus. We just
had all these experiences. Hashem asks us to take one more day to think
about them. To choose what we're going to hold on to as we go into the
rest of 5781.

It is therefore unsurprising that the second day of Shemini Atzeres
evolved into Simchas Torah.

But first, a pitstop to look at RSWolbe's introduction to Hislamdus,
to where he links Hislamtus to Torah. We start with his quoting the

	A woman who learned Torah receives reward, but not like the reward
	of a man, because she isn't obligated. Etc... And even though
	she receives reward, our sages commanded that a man not teach
	his daughter Torah, because most women's intellects aren't ready
	lehislameid. Rather, they find the words of Torah to be words
	of emptiness according to the poverty of their intellect. Our
	sages said that one who teaches his daughter Torah is like he
	taught her foolishness.

	    - Hil' Talmud Torah 1:13

    The Rambam teaches us through this that the purpose of Torah study
    is hislamdus, and someone whose intellect isn't ready lehislameid he
    is released from the obligation of Torah study....

Why does the cycle of reading parshios begin and end now? Why not on
Shavuos, the holiday actually about getting the Torah?

After we get the Torah, and fill our minds with Torah, we have to learn
how to apply the Torah, to internalize it. And that is what we are
celebrating on Simchas Torah. Not "simply" our getting the Torah, but
having the hislamdus of Shemini Atzeres to figure out how to live Torah.

Gutt Shabbos, Gutn Moieid, a Gutn Kvitl, un Gutt Yontef!
Or, if that's your flavor: Shabbat Shalom, Mo'adim leSimchah, Pisqa Tava,
veChag Sameiach!

Micha Berger                 The goal isn't to live forever,
http://www.aishdas.org/asp   the goal is to create so mething that will.
Author: Widen Your Tent
- https://amzn.to/2JRxnDF

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