February 28, 2024 |

My Weekly Drash (a mini D'var Torah) -- Sh'mini Atzeret 5770

Remember when you and your whole family would get together for Sh'mini Atzeret? It was a festive holiday, with fresh food and a joyous atmosphere, right? Unless you're at least 2000 years old, you probably don't have any such memories. Indeed, in spite of being one of the Yom Tovim mandated in the Torah, it is a holiday often overlooked or considered merely an extension of Sukkot. Yet if you can put yourself in the mind of the Jews of the First Temple period, you can rediscover what made Sh'mini Atzeret so special. You'd just finished the introspection and trepidation of the High Holy Days, and the sacrifices and festivities of Sukkot. What holidays lay ahead on your schedule? Forget about such secular holidays as Thanksgiving and President's Day. The events leading to Chanukah and Purim lay in the future. Even the observances of Simchat Torah had yet to be created. No, other than Shabbat and Rosh Chodesh, the next big date on the calendar was Pesach, six months away. So rather than an attitude of "Will these holidays never end?" the observance of Sh'mini Atzeret ought to be observed with gladness, and the thought, "It's a long way to Pesach."

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Daniel M. Kimmel

Joined: October 2, 2007

Daniel M. Kimmel is a Boston area film critic, lecturer and author. He does these weekly mini-lessons for the Mishkan Tefila Brotherhood's newsletter. You are free to use them for similar purposes.

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