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What is the name of the holiday - Shmini Atzeret or Simchat Torah?

by Rabbi Naftali Silberberg

  

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The Torah commands us1 to observe the eighth day from the start of Sukkot as a festival. This festival is known as Shmini Atzeres. In the Diaspora we observe all one-day festivals for two days; the second day of Shmini Atzeret is called Simchat Torah.

Simchat Torah is a day of rejoicing for it is the day when we complete the reading of the Torah (Talmud, Megillah 31a). The various traditions and customs associated with this day go back (at least) 1000 years
Simchat Torah is a day of rejoicing for it is the day when we complete the reading of the Torah.2 The various traditions and customs associated with this day go back (at least) 1000 years.


[Ed. note: Also read "What is Shmini Atzeret/Simchat Torah?"]

Footnotes

  • 1. Leviticus 23:36.
  • 2. Talmud, Megillah 31a.

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Torah
Torah is G–d’s teaching to man. In general terms, we refer to the Five Books of Moses as “The Torah.” But in truth, all Jewish beliefs and laws are part of the Torah.
Sukkot
A seven day autumn festival commemorating the miracle of the Heavenly Clouds which enveloped the Jews while traveling in the desert for forty years. On this holiday we dwell in makeshift booths and shake the Four Species.
Simchat Torah
An extremely joyous one-day autumn festival following the holiday of Sukkot. In Israel it is the eighth day of Sukkot, outside of Israel it is celebrated the next day, the day after Shmini Atzeret. Every Sabbath we read a portion of the Torah. On this holiday we celebrate the completion of the yearly cycle.
Shmini Atzeret
A joyous one-day autumn festival immediately following the holiday of Sukkot. Outside Israel this holiday is celebrated for two days, the second day is known as Simchat Torah.