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Shmini Atzeret

One More Day

While Shemini Atzeret is related to Sukkot it is indeed a separate holiday. The Bible mandates that Sukkot be observed for seven days. However, in Numbers 29:35 we are told, "On the eighth day you shall hold a solemn gathering; you shall not work at your occupations." But what is the occasion for this extra day of rest? The Sages and Rabbis have explained it as such: The Creator has invited all of us at Sukkot to sit with Him in our Sukkahs. Sukkot is a joyous holiday in which we have sung His praises. When the time comes for us to leave, He has enjoyed His people so much that He asks us to stay another day. So, we stay one more day in the Sukkah getting closer to G-d.
The only additional tradition for Shemini Atzeret is the 'Tefitat Geshem'. In Biblical times at Shemini Atzeret the Jewish people brought offerings to the Temple in Jerusalem asking G-d to bring the life giving rains to The Land. Whilst the Temple was destroyed long ago, we still take this day to pray to G-d for rain. Rain only comes to Israel in the fall and winter so it is an appropriate time to ask G-d to bless us with water.

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