One More Cycle of Holidays
Shabbat Shalom and Chag Sameach from Rabbi Daniel Schweber
October 5, 2012 / 19 Tishrei, 5773
One More Cycle of Holidays – An Explanation and Invitation to Join Us
Today is the fifth day of Sukkot and it was only this morning when we reached the halfway point of this holiday seasons of simcha of rejoicing. I would like to take this opportunity to explain these upcoming days and invite you to join us for them.
Shabbat of Sukkot - Wednesday, yesterday, today, and this coming Sunday belong to a special time period called chol ha’moed. The first two days of the festival were Yom Tov and had a Shabbat like aspect to it. These other days are weekdays but they are infused with an extra holiness of the holiday when we eat in the sukkah (weather permitting!) and shake the lulav and rejoice. Tonight begins Shabbat when the routine holiness of Shabbat is enhanced by the celebration of Sukkot. We will eat dinner in the sukkah and rejoice by singing the hallel in the morning. We will also reflect with the chanting of kohelet - Ecclesiastes. Join us at 9:15 on Saturday morning.
Hoshanah Rabbah - This Sunday is the last day of chol ha’moed Sukkot has an extra holy character to it. In Temple times, Sukkot was observed with a celebratory/petitionary circuit around the altar. We recognize God’s gifts of the harvest and look to another year of rain and good crops. On the first six days there was one circuit, on the seventh and final day there were seven circuits. In the synagogue we commemorate this Temple ritual by parading around the synagogue with the lulav and etrog. Just as in the temple, we parade seven times. Join us at 9am on Sunday.
Shmini Atzeret - The Torah tells us that the holiday season doesn’t end after the seven days of Sukkot. We have one more holiday – Shmini Atzeret -an eighth day of celebration. Today we observe the holiday by moving our focus to the upcoming rainy season in Israel and with the recitation of Yizkor. Join us at 9:15am on Monday.
Simchat Torah – The second day of Shmini Atzeret developed in the early middle ages into a celebration of the Torah. It was a celebration of the completion of the Torah reading cycle as well as a celebration of the Torah’s teaching which guide us all year round. The grandest of celebrations is the wedding. In some ways the Torah is seen as the spouse of the Jewish people. Therefore, with a little bit of irony, many wedding rituals were adapted to the celebration of Simchat Torah. We dance with and around the Torah like a bride and groom. And then in the morning we literally have brides and grooms. We toast them and celebrate them. Join us on Monday evening at 6:15pm for a light dinner and 7:00pm for the dancing. On Tuesday morning at 9:15am we will celebrate Jackie Bruskin, Judi Sachs and Jack Weiss.
We have already been to synagogue lots but that was the hard work of the High Holidays. Now it is time for joy.
Shabbat Shalom and Chag Sameach
Rabbi Daniel Schweber