Weekly D'rash And Parsha Shemini Atzeret
The Weekly D'rash and the Scriptures that we will be reading this Shabbat for Sh'mini Atzeret Shabbat from Rabbi Howard Silverman
TORAH ~ Deuteronomy 14:22-16:17
HAFTARAH ~ 1 Kings 8:54-9:1 BRIT CHADASHA ~ John 8:12-30
Sukkot is a seven-day festival. However, in Leviticus 23:37 and 39, we read that there is an "eighth day." It is called a day of rest and a holy convocation. In Numbers 29:35–38, we read the instructions for offerings on the "eighth day." Our ancient Sages surmise that it means that God so desires to meet with His people that He added an extra day! Over the years, several traditions developed that give the eighth day or "Shemini Atzeret" (eighth assembly) as it is known, unique meaning. It is the day when Israel prays for rain. It is also a day when we remember our deceased loved ones and say a special prayer called "Yizkor" (like on Yom Kippur).
In Israel, it is also Simchat Torah when we take special joy in the Torah by completing the annual reading cycle and beginning again. Outside of Israel, Simchat Torah is a "ninth day." The Yizkor prayer is a brief part of the service. Overwhelmingly, Shemini Atzeret is a very joyful day. It is considered a separate holiday from Sukkot. We do not shake the lulav and etrog, and we no longer dwell in our sukkah. The emphasis is joy in the provision of God, specifically the Torah. The prayer for rain is significant because it is now the beginning of the rainy season. The eighth day reminds us of the day of circumcision, as well as the first day of a new week. The "eighth" is a day of new beginnings. We begin by praying for the blessing of God in the rainy season and rejoicing in the Torah.
This Shabbat is Shemini Atzeret. In the morning we will have our regular service. Then, in the evening at 7pm we will celebrate Simchat Torah by completing the reading cycle and rolling the Torah Scroll back to Genesis. It will be a joyous day! The Haftarah portion for the day is a description of what happened after Solomon finished his speech dedicating the Temple. It is found in 1 Kings 8:54–66. Solomon blesses the people in a way that is timeless. I encourage you to read this blessing carefully in 1 Kings 8:54–61.
"Blessed be the LORD, who has given rest to His people Israel, according to all that He promised; not one word has failed of all His good promise, which He promised through Moses His servant. May the LORD our God be with us, as He was with our fathers; may He not leave us or forsake us, that He may incline our hearts to Himself, to walk in all His ways and to keep His commandments and His statutes and His ordinances, which He commanded our fathers. And may these words of mine, with which I have made supplication before the LORD, be near to the LORD our God day and night, that He may maintain the cause of His servant and the cause of His people Israel, as each day requires, so that all the peoples of the earth may know that the LORD is God; there is no one else. Let your heart therefore be wholly devoted to the LORD our God, to walk in His statutes and to keep His commandments, as at this day."
It was the beginning of a new era in Israel, and Solomon prays for a new day of obedience to the calling of Israel which would bring blessing to the nations. However, we know that while there were various times when there was revival, it was not until Messiah Yeshua arrived that the fulfillment of this desire of Solomon’s began to unfold. Yeshua has "inclined" our hearts to God. Through His death and resurrection, we have now been empowered via the Ruach HaKodesh to walk in his ways. It is through Messiah Yeshua that the people of the earth can know that there is only one true God.
Notice that after this blessing of Solomon, at the very end of the passage we read that the people went home joyful. They were filled with hope at the words of Solomon. Shemini Atzeret/Simchat Torah is a time of new beginnings and hope. May I suggest that it was on the eighth day, Shemini Atzeret, that Yeshua said: "I am the Light of the world; the one who follows Me will not walk in the darkness, but will have the Light of life." Shemini Atzeret/Simchat Torah is a time to give thanks for the Light of life. After the completion of the journey from Rosh Hashanah through Sukkot, we now begin the new year full of joy and hope—because God is indeed faithful and we still have a living hope in Messiah Yeshua! Yeshua prayed that we would have His joy (Jn 17:13). Let us pray for a spiritual rain of the fullness of the power of God to fall upon us! May this be a new year of revival and restoration!
Chag Sameach and Shabbat Shalom!
TORAH READING: DEUTERONOMY 14:22 – 16:17
14:22 "You shall surely tithe all the produce from what you sow, which comes out of the field every year.
23 "You shall eat in the presence of the L-RD your G-d, at the place where He chooses to establish His name, the tithe of your grain, your new wine, your oil, and the firstborn of your herd and your flock, so that you may learn to fear the L-RD your G-d always.
24 "If the distance is so great for you that you are not able to bring the tithe, since the place where the L-RD your G-d chooses to set His name is too far away from you when the L-RD your G-d blesses you,
25 then you shall exchange it for money, and bind the money in your hand and go to the place which the L-RD your G-d chooses.
26 "You may spend the money for whatever your heart desires: for oxen, or sheep, or wine, or strong drink, or whatever your heart desires; and there you shall eat in the presence of the L-RD your G-d and rejoice, you and your household.
27 "Also you shall not neglect the Levite who is in your town, for he has no portion or inheritance among you.
28 "At the end of every third year you shall bring out all the tithe of your produce in that year, and shall deposit it in your town.
29 "The Levite, because he has no portion or inheritance among you, and the alien, the orphan and the widow who are in your town, shall come and eat and be satisfied, in order that the L-RD your G-d may bless you in all the work of your hand which you do.
15:1 "At the end of every seven years you shall grant a remission of debts.
2 "This is the manner of remission: every creditor shall release what he has loaned to his neighbor; he shall not exact it of his neighbor and his brother, because the L-RD'S remission has been proclaimed.
3 "From a foreigner you may exact it, but your hand shall release whatever of yours is with your brother.
4 "However, there will be no poor among you, since the L-RD will surely bless you in the land which the L-RD your G-d is giving you as an inheritance to possess,
5 if only you listen obediently to the voice of the L-RD your G-d, to observe carefully all this commandment which I am commanding you today.
6 "For the L-RD your G-d will bless you as He has promised you, and you will lend to many nations, but you will not borrow; and you will rule over many nations, but they will not rule over you.
7 "If there is a poor man with you, one of your brothers, in any of your towns in your land which the L-RD your G-d is giving you, you shall not harden your heart, nor close your hand from your poor brother;
8 but you shall freely open your hand to him, and shall generously lend him sufficient for his need in whatever he lacks.
9 "Beware that there is no base thought in your heart, saying, 'The seventh year, the year of remission, is near,' and your eye is hostile toward your poor brother, and you give him nothing; then he may cry to the L-RD against you, and it will be a sin in you.
10 "You shall generously give to him, and your heart shall not be grieved when you give to him, because for this thing the L-RD your G-d will bless you in all your work and in all your undertakings.
11 "For the poor will never cease to be in the land; therefore I command you, saying, 'You shall freely open your hand to your brother, to your needy and poor in your land.'
12 "If your kinsman, a Hebrew man or woman, is sold to you, then he shall serve you six years, but in the seventh year you shall set him free.
13 "When you set him free, you shall not send him away empty-handed.
14 "You shall furnish him liberally from your flock and from your threshing floor and from your wine vat; you shall give to him as the L-RD your G-d has blessed you.
15 "You shall remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt, and the L-RD your G-d redeemed you; therefore I command you this today.
16 "It shall come about if he says to you, 'I will not go out from you,' because he loves you and your household, since he fares well with you;
17 then you shall take an awl and pierce it through his ear into the door, and he shall be your servant forever. Also you shall do likewise to your maidservant.
18 "It shall not seem hard to you when you set him free, for he has given you six years with double the service of a hired man; so the L-RD your G-d will bless you in whatever you do.
19 "You shall consecrate to the L-RD your G-d all the firstborn males that are born of your herd and of your flock; you shall not work with the firstborn of your herd, nor shear the firstborn of your flock.
20 "You and your household shall eat it every year before the L-RD your G-d in the place which the L-RD chooses.
21 "But if it has any defect, such as lameness or blindness, or any serious defect, you shall not sacrifice it to the L-RD your G-d.
22 "You shall eat it within your gates; the unclean and the clean alike may eat it, as a gazelle or a deer.
23 "Only you shall not eat its blood; you are to pour it out on the ground like water.
16:1 "Observe the month of Abib and celebrate the Passover to the L-RD your G-d, for in the month of Abib the L-RD your G-d brought you out of Egypt by night.
2 "You shall sacrifice the Passover to the L-RD your G-d from the flock and the herd, in the place where the L-RD chooses to establish His name.
3 "You shall not eat leavened bread with it; seven days you shall eat with it unleavened bread, the bread of affliction (for you came out of the land of Egypt in haste), so that you may remember all the days of your life the day when you came out of the land of Egypt.
4 "For seven days no leaven shall be seen with you in all your territory, and none of the flesh which you sacrifice on the evening of the first day shall remain overnight until morning.
5 "You are not allowed to sacrifice the Passover in any of your towns which the L-RD your G-d is giving you;
6 but at the place where the L-RD your G-d chooses to establish His name, you shall sacrifice the Passover in the evening at sunset, at the time that you came out of Egypt.
7 "You shall cook and eat it in the place which the L-RD your G-d chooses. In the morning you are to return to your tents.
8 "Six days you shall eat unleavened bread, and on the seventh day there shall be a solemn assembly to the L-RD your G-d; you shall do no work on it.
9 "You shall count seven weeks for yourself; you shall begin to count seven weeks from the time you begin to put the sickle to the standing grain.
10 "Then you shall celebrate the Feast of Weeks to the L-RD your G-d with a tribute of a freewill offering of your hand, which you shall give just as the L-RD your G-d blesses you;
11 and you shall rejoice before the L-RD your G-d, you and your son and your daughter and your male and female servants and the Levite who is in your town, and the stranger and the orphan and the widow who are in your midst, in the place where the L-RD your G-d chooses to establish His name.
12 "You shall remember that you were a slave in Egypt, and you shall be careful to observe these statutes.
13 "You shall celebrate the Feast of Booths seven days after you have gathered in from your threshing floor and your wine vat;
14 and you shall rejoice in your feast, you and your son and your daughter and your male and female servants and the Levite and the stranger and the orphan and the widow who are in your towns.
15 "Seven days you shall celebrate a feast to the L-RD your G-d in the place which the L-RD chooses, because the L-RD your G-d will bless you in all your produce and in all the work of your hands, so that you will be altogether joyful.
16 "Three times in a year all your males shall appear before the L-RD your G-d in the place which He chooses, at the Feast of Unleavened Bread and at the Feast of Weeks and at the Feast of Booths, and they shall not appear before the L-RD empty-handed.
17 "Every man shall give as he is able, according to the blessing of the L-RD your G-d which He has given you.
HAFTARAH READING: 1 KINGS 8:54 – 9:1