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The last day of Sukkos is Shemini Atzeres which is actually a holiday unto itself. According to our tradition, we celebrate the conclusion and recommence of the reading of the Torah in the Synagogue on the Sabbaths. In Israel, where only one day is celebrated, these two concur on the same day. Even in the Diaspora, where two days are held and the second is called Simchas Torah, it is really a repeat of Shemini Atzeres. I often wonder, what is the connection between the two?
The Sages compared the holiday of Shemini Atzeres to a king who was visited by his children, who lived far away and did not come too often. After celebrating with them for seven days, it was time for them to return to their homes. The king knew that he would not be seeing his beloved family for awhile so he turned to them with a special request. “Please, my children, stay one more day and let us celebrate together a little more.” Of course they complied, and that day they enjoyed each other even more than the entire week.
Similarly, after rejoicing with His children, the Jewish People, for the entire week of Sukkos, Hashem asks us to remain another day and rejoice with him on Shemini Atzeres when the happiness is at its peak.
The Kabbalists describe the timeframe from Rosh Hashanah until after Sukkos as a wedding process which culminates on Shemini Atzeres with a total union between Hashem, the groom, and His beloved bride, Israel.
Extending this allegory a bit more, who is the shadchan between this lovely couple? It is none other than the Torah itself. For it was the Torah which brought us together in the first place. Hashem offered the Torah to all of the nations of the world and they refused; but the Jews accepted it with joy at the Mountain of Sinai. And it was then and there that we became Hashem’s Chosen People, never to part.
This being the case, can anyone imagine a shadchan who worked very diligently to make a perfect match not being invited to the couple’s wedding? Of course not! Quite the contrary, he is the most honored guest at the affair and everyone in the happy families wants to dance with him. Therefore, on Shemini Atzeres, the wedding day of Hashem and Israel, the Torah, our shadchan, is the focus of everyone’s attention as we dance with it and sing songs of delight.
But it’s not enough to just dance with the Torah. The most important thing is to designate some time, every single day, to learn its holy words. Whether with a chavrusa (a study partner), or at a shiur (a lesson given by a teacher) or even alone if must be, everyone must learn something every day of his life.
May the holidays bring real joy to all of us and may we all have a very happy New Year, replete with Hashem’s blessings of Peace, Health and Prosperity. And may we all be privileged to take part in the Final Redemption soon, by the hands of Moshiach, Amen.
Shema Yisrael Torah Network