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Do we eat in the Sukkah on Shmini Atzeret?

by Rabbi Naftali Silberberg

  

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In Israel where they observe the Biblical seven days of Sukkot, one only eats in the Sukkah for seven days. In the Diaspora, however, where all Biblical holidays extend an extra day (see Why do we add extra holiday-days outside of Israel?), this becomes a very real question. 

Theoretically, the holiday of Sukkot should be no different and it too should extend into an eighth day. The problem, however, is that the eighth day after the inception of Sukkot is Shmini Atzeret (and Simchat Torah) -- a holiday with its own meaning and its own set of laws and customs.

Can two holidays be celebrated simultaneously on one day, the 22nd of Tishrei?
Can two holidays be celebrated simultaneously on one day, the 22nd of Tishrei?

Although there is a difference of custom in this matter, the prevailing custom (based on the Code of Jewish Law) in the Diaspora is to compromise. We only observe Sukkot customs which are not too blatant, thus not interfering with the independent nature of the Shmini Atzeret holiday. We do eat in the Sukkah, because we are only enjoying another few meals in the cool shade of the beautiful autumn season... However, the blessing on eating in the Sukkah is not recited on this day -- that would be a dead giveaway that we are still observing Sukkot. We also do not shake the Lulav and Etrog or mention Sukkot in any of the day's prayers or Kiddush

We do not sit in the Sukkah on Simchat Torah (as it is the "9th" day, which is definately not Sukkot).


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RELATED CATEGORIES

Holidays » Sukkot » The Sukkah

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.
Tishrei
The seventh month of the Jewish calendar. This month, which arrives in early autumn, has more holidays than any other month: Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, Sukkot and Simchat Torah.
Sukkah
The temporary structure in which we are required to dwell for the duration of the holiday of Sukkot. The Sukkah must have at least three walls and its roof consists of unsecured branches, twigs or wooden slats.
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.
Etrog
A citron; a greenish-yellow citrus fruit. We are required to take an Etrog on the holiday of Sukkot and shake it together with a palm branch, a myrtle and a willow.
Kiddush
Prayer recited at the beginning of the Sabbath or Holiday meal--both the evening and afternoon meals. This prayer, acknowledging the sanctity of the day, is recited over a cup of wine or grape juice.
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.
Lulav
A palm branch. One of the Four Species we are required to take on the holiday of Sukkot. We shake it together with a citron, myrtle, and willow.