Shemini Atzeret custom #galicia

Richard Gilbert

It wasn’t just in Bolechow.

In Israel Succot lasts only 7 days. Everywhere else it is supposed to last 8 days, but in the Torah the day after Succot is Shemini Atzeret.

Since Shemini Azeret therefore falls on what should be the 8th day of Succot the Rabbis determined that one should continue to dwell in one’s succah on Shemini Atzeret but without making the blessing of dwelling in the succah. In this way, the uniqueness of Shemini Atzeret was preserved but for those Jews living outside of Israel, they do not lose the custom of keeping an extra day for our festivals.

The last day of Succot is known as Hoshana Rabba (The Great Hoshana). It was the day that seven circuits are made round the bimah asking for G-D’s salvation. The person who leads the service on Hoshana Rabba wears a white kittel. This is replicated on Shemini Atzeret when the prayer for rain is recited during the additional musaf service.

Best wishes,

Richard Gilbert
Hertfordshire, England

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