Simchat Torah at Tribeca Synagogue
“A Confusing Time in our Calendar”
The conclusion of the holiday season can be hard to decipher, especially outside of the land of Israel when the holiday of Sukkot blends into the holiday of Shemini Atzeret. And the last day of Sukkot gets the moniker Hoshana Rabah because of its deep meaning.
So, technically Sukkot ends this Friday and after that there is no more lulav and etrog. However, that day is profoundly important as we are told that the actual sealing of the judgment (chitum hadin) happens that day. As such a kittel is worn by the leader like on Yom Kippur and prayers are chanted with the high holiday niggun. Finally, the ritual of the Arava with which we beat the ground with the willow concludes the long service. The following days are not in fact Sukkot but the first day seems like it because we sit in the sukkah for Rabbinic reasons. But the truth is that they are a separate holiday called Shemini Atzeret (8th day of the assembly) which has no non temple ritual but has many Rebbinic overlays to it.
Firstly, we recite Yizkor on the first day, which this year is Shabbat and we have a special prayer for rain (tefilat geshem) that morning. Secondly, we complete the reading of the Torah on the second day which is such a celebration that we dance and sing both night and day making 7 circuits.
So much of these procedures and rituals are guided by mystical sources so it is difficult to properly explain their significance in this forum but for now, hopefully, this clarifies the complicated ins and outs of the conclusion of our holiday season.
More hopefully, we will see you to help us finish this season with a bang!
Friday, October 6
Friday evening services
Saturday, October 7
11:15 am approx.
Farewell to the Sukkah
Party and dancing
Sunday, October 8