Shemini Atzeret {Ah Tzeh Reht}
Deuteronmy 14:22 - 16:7
Numbers 29:35 - 30:1
1 Kings 8:54 - 9:1

The Day Of Celebration! ©

By Dr. Akiva G. Belk

Dear ones, every Jew is required to observe Shemini Atzeres, “the eighth day,” which follows the seven days of Sukkos. It is important how we describe and understand Shemini Atzeres. Even though Shemini Atzeres follows the seven days of Sukkos, it is separate from Sukkos. Now Shemini Atzeres does not mean exactly “the eighth day.” Shemini means “eight” and Ah Tzeh Reht means “assembly / gathering.” Now this is not to imply that B’nei Yisroel gathered for eight days even though that is the impression one may receive. We need to explore why and how there is a difference between Sukkos and Shemini Atzeres.

The Torah states, “In sukkos [all of] you shall dwell for seven days. All [and the] native [born] In Yisroel shall dwell in the sukkos.” Leviticus 23:42 The purpose of this is explained in the Torah: “So that your generations will know that in Sukkos I caused B’nei Yisroel to dwell.” Leviticus 23:43 So without any question the first seven days are exclusive in regard to B’nei Yisroel. However the eighth day is different. For B’nei Yisroel it is in fact the “eighth day.” Yet for the rest of the world... for the Spiritualists it is not the eighth day. It is actually Hee Ah Tzeh Reht {It is Assembly} or “It [is the day of] assembly.”

Rabbi Zalman Sorotzkin discusses this complex difference in his book, Insights in the Torah, Vayikra. He explains that there is a connection from Shemini Atzeres to the rest of the world, the Spiritualists, that occurs after the war of Gog and Magog. He ties his explanation to Zechariah 14:16-17 where Tenach states,

“And it shall come to pass, that everyone that is left of all the nations which came against Jerusalem shall even go up from year to year to worship the King, the LORD of hosts, and to keep the feast of tabernacles.

“And it shall be all that remain from among all the nations that invaded Jerusalem they will come to prostrate... to worship every year to the King, Hashem of Hosts, and to celebrate the Festival of Sukkos. And it shall be all that from among the families of the earth that do not go up to Jerusalem to prostrate... to worship to the King, Hashem of Hosts there will be no rain shower upon them. And if the family of Mitzriam [for example] does not come up and does not come [to Jerusalem] there will be no rain shower upon them. Hashem will bring everything from Aleph to Sav of the same plague upon any nation that does not go up to celebrate the Festival of Sukkos.” Zechariah 14:16-18

Dear ones, this is speaking to the future after the great victory that Hashem of Hosts brings in behalf of B’nei Yisroel. It is to this future deliverance that the eighth day speaks. Shemini Atzeres is purposely separated from the days of Sukkos for a reason.

So it is incumbent upon all Jews to celebrate this great day marking our future deliverance with the greatest of Joy because not only does it mark our great deliverance but the eighth day marks the entrance of a new age, the Messianic age. This is why so much is made of “the eighth day.” Hashem Created the universe in six days then rested on the seventh day. Up until this deliverance there are only seven days to the week. The eighth day represents an extension of the seventh day. The eighth day represents the entrance into a new age in which all people will worship Hashem of Hosts as the One and Only True King!

Wishing you the best!

Dr. Akiva G. Belk

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