Shemini Atzeret: Leaving the Sukkah

There is certainly much joy when we enter the sukkah and bask in the presence of the Shechinah, but why should leaving the sukkah be cause for celebration?

Aloh Naaleh,

Judaism לבן ריק
לבן ריק
Arutz 7
Shemini Atzeret marks the last day of the Yom Tov season. While it is quite clear why we celebrate Rosh HaShanah, Yom Kippur and Sukkot, the reason why we celebrate one last holiday is not quite as obvious.

Indeed, Rashi seems to indicate that there is no real reason for Shemini Atzeret. Rather, God says, as it were: Please remain with Me just one more day, for your departure is difficult for Me to endure. The Ramban suggests that the eighth day of Sukkot alludes to the idea that the Jewish people are the partner to the seventh day, Shabbat, and thus it is observed as a holiday.

We would like to share a thought advanced by Rabbi Ben-Tziyon Ferrer, in his book LeYom Chagenu.

The Targum of Yonatan Ben Uziel for parashat Pinchas explains the significance of Shemini Atzeret as follows: "On the eighth day you shall gather in joy as you leave your sukkah and return to your home." There is certainly much joy when we enter the sukkah and bask in the presence of the Shechinah, but why should leaving the sukkah be cause for celebration?

Rabbi Ferrer explains that the sukkah represents God's protection as we wandered in the desert for forty years. By living in a temporary dwelling, we reaffirm the fact that God always protects His nation. When were we able to leave the sukkah, to build our permanent homes and lives? That occurred when we arrived in Eretz Israel.

The joy of Shemini Atzeret is the joy of leaving our temporary dwelling and entering our final destination - the place where we can set up permanent shop together with the Shechinah - in the Holy Land.
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Shulamith Cohn is the director of Midreshet AMIT at Beit HaYeled, a post-highschool seminary opening next year.

Rabbi Joel Cohn is the former Principal of SAR of Bronx, New York.



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