Shmini Atzeret and Simchat Torah
Parshat Zot Habracha (Deuteronomy: 33:1-34:12) / Parshat Breishit
1. [Shmini Atzeret] On this festival, we begin to pray for rain. Rain, in its proper balance, represents blessing for us. What is the meaning of the fact that rain, our main image for blessing, is not always so pleasant and is sometimes inconvenient for us?
2. [Simchat Torah] On Simchat Torah, we circle the central bimah in the synagogue 7 times while singing and dancing. We are joyous about having received God’s Torah. On the 7th circle, we sing, “He who is dressed in righteousness, may He answer us on the day that we call”. Why do we say that God is “dressed in righteousness” rather than saying that one of His qualities is righteousness?
3. [Hallel] On this festival, we say the whole Hallel after the Amidah, as a prayer of praise to God. “Hallel”comes from the book of Psalms. In the Hallel, it says, “The stone that the builders disliked, has become the main cornerstone”. What does that mean?
4. [Devarim 33:6] “Let Reuven live…” One of the last things that Moshe does in this world, is that he blesses each tribe of Israel separately. Since the Torah values unity and togetherness so much, why does Moshe emphasize the individual nature of each tribe rather than the unity of the people of Israel?
5. [V’zot habracha] All year round, we have a full week to be involved with the parsha of the week. The parsha of “V’zot habracha, however, is different. Most years, we have less than a week and sometimes only a few days. What is gained educationally by starting Breishit immediately after finishing ‘V’zot habracha” on Simchat Torah, even if Simchat Torah is at the beginning of the week?
When a person is joyful, he can give life and energy to another person. That is a very important thing, because most people are full of suffering and worries and various types of pain, and they are unable to express what is in their hearts. But when a person comes with a happy face, he can give the other person renewed life, and that is a very significant thing.
–R. Nachman, 1772-1812, Ukraine.
This study page is dedicated to the memory of Rivkah Rochel bat Ya’akov haLevi and Chaya Kornberg, and Yechiel Eliezer ben Yitzchok Meir and Rochel Laya Kornberg
And this study page is also dedicated to the memory of Gad Eliahu ben David and Kochava–Eli Zucker