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    The rabbi’s retreat – Sh’mini Atzeret

    The Rabbi of Sassov, Rav Moshe Leib, used to ask why Sukkot, Sh’mini Atzeret and Simchat Torah are so different from Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kippur.

    He said he had found an answer when he saw that the Torah said that Sh’mini Atzeret was “a time of retreat (atzeret) for you” (Num. 29:35).

    The Days of Awe, he explained, were times for God, when human beings directed their thoughts to what God wanted of them.

    With Sukkot, however, the emphasis was on “you”, on human needs and desires. What humans want is rain, good crops, health and prosperity, material blessings.

    That’s why Sh’mini Atzeret does not deal so much with rarefied spiritual matters like atonement and repentance but homely, earthly concerns.

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