Tag Archives: Israel

So Many Holy Days!

On the eighth day hold an assembly and do no regular work.

 Bemidbar (Numbers) 29:35

Tishrei is a special month in the Biblical calendar due to the number of Holy Days observed.

 The first day of the month, which the world calls Rosh Hashanah, the so-called Jewish New Year, is really the Festival of the Sounding of the Shofar.Yom Teruah marks the beginning of a time of spiritual introspection and community reconciliation culminating in Yom Kippur. Five days afterwards is the seven-day long, Sukkot. Immediately following the seventh day of Sukkot is another holy day, called in Hebrew Shemini Atzeret, which simply means the “Assembly of the eight (day).”

Shemini Atzeret coincides with the completion and recommencing of the annual cycle of the reading of the Torah. A special celebration, called “Simchat Torah” (Joy of the Torah) is observed. In the Land of Israel Simchat Torah is observed on Shemini Atzeret. Outside of the Land of Israel where certain holy days are doubled, Simchat Torah is observed on the second day of Shemini Atzeret.

If all these special days seems like a lot to you, it’s because one half of this whole Biblical month is given over to a special focus on G-d. Fulfilling all these observances would mean major changes to our normal schedule. In Bible times, celebrating Sukkot meant taking your whole family to Jerusalem for the week.

But I think G-d knows that our normal schedules need upsetting.

In our fast paced society, it seems that we have a lot of difficulty breaking our normal routine to give G-d this kind of attention, but I don’t think we need it any less than the people of ancient times.

Those of us who do take time for G-d often approach him as we do many other things we do. We slot him in somewhere. We spend time with G-d just like any other meeting, rarely taking time to linger in his presence, not to mention setting apart several days just to focus on Him.

When G-d provided His people with His yearly calendar, He directed us to give over to Him large amounts of time. Besides the weekly Sabbath, there are festivals throughout the year. Once a year there would be these two weeks, which includes even more intense time with Him.

Those who know Yeshua but believe the L-rd has “released” His people from Torah may think that we are “free” from such observances. But if the people back then needed this kind of time with G-d, how much more should we want to have intense and prolonged times with him now?

 If we know the love of G-d in Yeshua should we not want to spend more time with him, not less?

Series: 1 and 2 Peter [audio]

The epistles of 1 and 2 Peter (Kefa) contain priceless wisdom for the maturing believer in Messiah Yeshua. Below is a collection of messages from Derek Blumenthal comprising a verse-by-verse study of the two letters.


The Covenants [audio]

This in-depth series provides an overview of the covenants HaShem made with Israel and how through them he gradually revealed His specific plan of salvation – all pointing to Messiah Yeshua. Also explained are several passages of Scripture that are commonly thought of as covenants but don’t actually fit the biblical description.

This series, delivered by Ryan Tyson in June 2013 through January 2014 at Beth Sar Shalom, uses Tim Hegg’s book “The Biblical Doctrine of Salvation” as its main source material.

Each message can be downloaded for offline listening by right clicking on the title and selecting Save Target As or Save Link As.

NOTE: Message 5 is intentionally missing from the playlist since there were errors in the recording.

Intro to Torah Living [audio]

The Intro to Torah Living series is a perfect primer for someone new to the Messianic Torah lifestyle. Covering topics such as Shabbat, holy days, kosher, synagogue liturgy, rabbinic literature, and much more, there is something in there for everyone to learn.

This series, delivered in September through November of 2012 at Beth Sar Shalom, uses Tim Hegg’s “Introduction to Torah Living” book as the primary source material.

Each message can be downloaded for offline listening by right clicking on the title and selecting Save Target As or Save Link As.


1 – Who is a Jew? 8 – Synagogue Liturgy
2 – Judaism Overview 9 – Appointed Times 1 of 3
3 – First Century Judaisms 10 – Appointed Times 2 of 3
4 – Rabbinic Judaism 11 – Appointed Times 3 of 3
5 – Rabbinic Literature 12 – Cycle of Life
6 – History of the Synagogue and the Church 13 – Objects and Symbols Used in Jewish Worship
7 – Synagogue Traditions in Worship

Amidah Explained [audio]

The Amidah (or Shemoneh Esrei, “Eighteen”) is one of the most well-known and central Jewish prayers in the siddur. Much of the prayer dates back to period of the Men of the Great Assembly in the 1st century BCE. Although liturgical prayer can be intimidating to some due to its formality, there is great benefit in using it to guide your prayer time.

This series, delivered in January through April of 2014 at Beth Sar Shalom, explores the history and biblical basis for each of the 19 parts (as well as why it’s called “Eighteen” and not “Nineteen”!)

Each message can be downloaded for offline listening by right clicking on the title and selecting Save Target As or Save Link As.

Messiah in Passover

Then Moses said to the people, “Commemorate this day, the day you came out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery, because the L-RD brought you out of it with a mighty hand.” Shemot / Exodus 13:3.

English: Passover plate with symbolic foods: m...
Passover plate (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Passover is the story of a people – a people of destiny, called by G-d to be a blessing to the entire world, yet trapped as slaves in Egypt. G-d had promised to their ancestors, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, that they would become a great and blessed nation in their own land. But eventually they found themselves in a most impossible and oppressive situation. Finally G-d sent Moses to confront Pharaoh, King of Egypt, demanding the release of his people. Pharaoh’s stubborn refusal resulted in G-d’s demonstration of power through destructive signs and wonders. Yet Pharaoh still refused to let the people of Israel leave.

Even though the celebration of Passover recalls the various elements of this story, the name of the Holy Day focuses on one particular event. While every detail contributed to the eventual release of the people, it was the last plague that made the difference, and it is this that is most essential to remember.

Passover Fun: Death of the First Born Masks
Death of the First Born Masks (Photo credit: Scott Robbin)

When G-d told Moses how to prepare for the final plague, there was no doubt that it would be this that would ensure Israel’s freedom. G-d determined that every firstborn human and animal of Egypt would die. The act of judgment was going to be applied to all Egypt. The only way that Israel would be unaffected would be if they would follow G-d’s specific instructions. Every household was required to take a lamb, slaughter it, and apply its blood to the doorframes of their homes. If and when the L-rd would see the blood on a house, he would pass over it. Thus the name “Passover.”

So year after year we remember the Passover Lamb. During the days of the Temple, the people were to travel to Jerusalem to celebrate Passover. Each family would offer a lamb and eat it along with bitter herbs and matzo (unleavened bread) in order to remember what G-d had done for us. In the modern celebration we have two things that are reminiscent of the annual Passover sacrifice. One is a lamb shank bone and the other is a special piece of matzo, called the afikomen, which is eaten following the meal.

Through all this we see that it is essential to not only remember what G-d did, but also how he did it. Even though G-d determined to rescue us from bondage, and even though he provided a way of escape from oppression, if our ancestors had not applied the blood of the lamb to the doorframes of their homes, we too would have experienced the same judgment as the rest of Egypt.

So year after year we were required to commemorate this great miracle of deliverance, but we also realized that our deliverance from physical slavery was not sufficient. While we were free in body, we remained bound in spirit. Called by G-d to be his special people, we were not up to the task. It became clear that we required another more profound deliverance. A deliverance from those things that prevented us from being the people G-d called us to be.

We read in the Hebrew Scriptures that through the centuries a new hope in Israel emerged – that there would be another deliverer – greater than Moses – who would rescue us from our spiritual bondage. That person became known as the Messiah.

365/106  Lamb
365/106 Lamb (Photo credit: justmakeit)

It should be no surprise therefore that when Yeshua came on the scene he would be called “the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29). For there is another judgment coming, not only upon one nation, but upon the whole world. But just like the Passover of old, so today we too have the opportunity to see that judgment pass over us, if we apply the blood of G-d’s lamb to our lives.

The death (and subsequent resurrection) of Yeshua the Messiah, foreshadowed by Passover is our protection from G-d’s judgment and our guarantee of eternal life. But like Israel of old, we need to apply what He did to ourselves by trusting in Him, our Passover Lamb.

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Messiah in Purim


English: Esther and Mordechai writing the seco...
English: Esther and Mordechai writing the second letter of Purim. Oil on canvas. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Purim, the Feast of Lots, is observed on the fourteenth day of the Biblical month of Adar (usually February or March on the Gregorian calendar). This is a celebration of the deliverance of the Hebrew people in the Persian Empire over one of the most dastardly plots in history to exterminate them. The biblical book of Esther tells the story of how the beautiful Hebrew woman Esther (Hebrew: Hadassah) and her cousin Mordecai thwart the evil Haman, who plots to massacre the Hebrew people in a jealous rage.


The book of Esther has been referred to as “a monument in the history of anti-Semitism.” The anti-Semitism shown in the book of Esther is ethnically and religiously based, in contrast to the type that is shown in later Hellenistic-Roman literature through to today which is purely ethnic hatred. The Hebrew people have faced elimination as a group many times through ancient, medieval, and modern societies. They have said, “Come, and let us cut them off from being a nation; that the name of Israel may be no more in remembrance.” (Psalm 83:4B)


English: "A symbol that Messianic Jews be...
A symbol that Messianic Jews believe was used to identify the first Messianic congregation, led by Yeshua’s brother Jacob in Jerusalem (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Many people are unaware of this, but Yeshua (Jesus) celebrated the feast of Purim! In John 5, the Lord Yeshua is in Jerusalem for an unnamed feast. Scholars have debated whether the feast was Passover, Purim, Sukkot or even Pentecost. Some have objected to Purim because it is referred to as a “minor” feast and not one of the three “major” pilgrimage festivals (Deuteronomy 16:16). However this argument is irrelevant because Yeshua also celebrated another “minor” holiday, Hanukkah (English: Dedication), as referenced in John 10:22.


Chronologically, the only feast that makes sense is Purim in 28 CE. The feast of John 5 fell on a Sabbath (vs. 9). The only feast day to fall on a Sabbath between 25 and 35 CE was Purim of 28 CE. Some speculate that the Spirit of G-d intentionally left out the name of the feast because G-d’s Name was deliberately left out of the Book of Esther. In John 5, Yeshua healed a man who had an infirmity for 38 years near the Pools of Bethesda (John 5:1-9). It is also the first time in His public ministry that He declared, “G-d was His Father, making Himself equal with G-d” (5:18). He also said that He was the “Son of G-d” (5:25) and the “Son of Man” (5:27).


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.” to the Trash”>Trash


Messiah in Chanukah

Mattathias and the Maccabees

Chanukah originated over 150 years before Yeshua was born. The Hebrew people had fallen to hard times; a clear warning that their relationship with God was not well (see Deut 28). Israel’s enemies to the north attacked and took control of the Hebrew state. The invaders made it illegal to worship the one true and living God. If anyone was found studying or even obeying the Torah, he would be executed. Many people were even forced to worship idols. When the evil soldiers came to the town of the Hasmoneans, now known as the Maccabees (“Hammer”), to force this idolatry on the people the town’s patriarch, Mattathias (Matityahu in Hebrew), refused to offer sacrifice to the false god. There was a volunteer from the crowd however, who worked his way forward to offer sacrifice. In holy indignation Mattathias killed him.

English: Mattathias and the Apostate (1 Macc. ...
English: Mattathias and the Apostate (1 Macc. 2:1-25) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Mattathias and his sons then killed the soldiers and fled to the mountains. From there they gathered together a brave company of men who decided it was time to reclaim their heritage and land. The Maccabees realized that it was the sins of the nation of Israel that resulted
in their conquest: so they earnestly sought God in repentant prayer. They sought HaShem and HaShem heard them.

Though they were terribly outnumbered, they chose to fight. Backed by their faith in the Covenant God of Israel who had promised through Moses that: “…five of you shall chase a hundred, and a hundred of you shall put ten thousand to flight; and your enemies shall fall before you by the sword.” They fought and they won just as God said they would. The small Judean army was victorious in battle after battle. They even retook the beautiful Holy Temple. While they are not canonized scripture it is nonetheless beneficial to read the historical books of 1 and 2 Maccabees for the details.

Remembering the Holy Days

English: A model of the second jewish temple i...
A model of the second Jewish Temple in the Israel Museum in Jerusalem (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Because they rededicated the Jerusalem Temple and returned to the Torah in the winter and due to the fact that up until this time they were unable to celebrate the Holy Days, they then returned to the last Holy Day they missed which was the eight-day festival of Sukkot. (Feast of Tabernacles, see Leviticus 23). This holy time is all about the Messiah dwelling with His people in the coming future. Even today generation after generation of Torah-believing people light miniature menorahs (chanukiahs) on Chanukah to celebrate and remember HaShem’s gift of deliverance. Chanukah honors two types of salvation: physical deliverance from oppressors and the spiritual deliverance from sin.

It should be noted that the Temple was the most sacred place in the Hebrew world. It was at the Temple where HaShem promised to meet with the people and fellowship with them. Each and every day Bible-believing people would sacrifice offerings and draw close to HaShem at the Temple.

Chanukah and the Messiah

The last night of Chanukah; Menorah with all 8...
The last night of Chanukah; (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

About 150 years later the Hebrew people were again under foreign domination, but this time to Rome. Israel had again fallen into a spiritual malaise. They cried out for God to send them the promised deliverer, the Messiah. Many of the Judeans, (some of the progeny of the Maccabees) believed that a humble stonemason named Yeshua might very well be the Messiah. They tried to make Him King but He refused. It wasn’t until after His execution and resurrection that His followers realized the He did provide deliverance. It is important to note while the history of Chanukah is given outside of scripture it was predicted by the Prophet Daniel and the celebration is confirmed by Yeshua Himself in John 10.

He didn’t provide the Maccabeean style of deliverance from Rome they had hoped for, but deliverance from an even more evil and powerful enemy, sin. In addition, Yeshua promised to return one day to deliver His people from their mortal enemies as well.  We eagerly await that promised return.

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Messiah in Sukkot


The Feast of Tabernacles is a week-long autumn harvest festival. The Feast of Tabernacles is also known as the Feast of the Ingathering, Feast of Booths, Sukkoth, Succoth, or Sukkot (variations in spellings occur because these words are transliterations of the Hebrew word pronounced “Sue-COAT”). The two days following the festival are separate holidays, Shemini Atzeret and Simchat Torah, but are commonly thought of as part of the Feast of Tabernacles.

The Feast of Tabernacles was the final and most important Appointed Time of the year. The importance of this festival is indicated by the statement, “This is to be a lasting ordinance.” The divine pronouncement, “I am the Lord your God,” concludes this section on the holy days of the seventh month. The Feast of Tabernacles begins five days after Yom Kippur, on the fifteenth of Tishri (September or October). It is a drastic change from one of the most solemn holy days in our year to one of the most joyous. The word Sukkot means “booths,” and refers to the temporary dwellings that followers of the Torah are commanded to live in during this holy day, just as the Jews did in the wilderness. The Feast of Tabernacles lasts for seven days and ends on the twenty-first day (3×7) of the Hebrew month of Tishri, which is Israel’s seventh month.

This holy day has a dual significance: historical and agricultural (just as Pesach and Shavuot). Historically, it was to be kept in remembrance of the dwelling in tents in the wilderness for the forty-year period during which the children of Israel were wandering in the desert. It is expounded in Leviticus 23:43, “That your generations may know that I made the children of Israel to dwell in booths, when I brought them out of the land of Egypt: I am the LORD your God.”

What were they to remember?

1. The meaning of their beginning, and the low and desolate state out of which God advanced them.

2. The mercy of God to them, that, when they dwelt in tabernacles, God not only set up a tabernacle for Himself among them, but with the utmost care and tenderness imaginable, hung a canopy over them, even the cloud that sheltered them from the heat of the sun. God’s former mercies to us and our fathers ought to be kept in everlasting remembrance. The eighth day was the great day of this festival, because then they returned to their own houses again and remembered how, after they had long dwelt in tents in the wilderness, they came to a happy settlement in the land of promise, where they dwelt in goodly houses. And they would more sensibly value and be thankful for the comforts and conveniences of their houses when they had been seven days dwelling in booths. It is good for those that have ease and plenty sometimes to learn what it is to endure hardness.

They were to keep this holy day in thankfulness to God for all the increase of the year; however, the emphasis is that Israel’s life rested upon redemption which in its ultimate meaning is the forgiveness of sin. This fact separates this holy day from the harvest festivals of the neighboring nations whose roots lay in the mythological activity of the gods.

Was the first Thanksgiving a Feast of Tabernacles Celebration?

Many Americans, upon seeing a decorated Sukkah for the first time, remark on how much the Sukkah (and the festival generally) reminds them of Thanksgiving. The American pilgrims, who originated the Thanksgiving holiday, were deeply religious people. As they were trying to find a way to express their thanks for their survival and for the harvest, it is quite possible that they looked to the Bible (Leviticus 23:39) for an appropriate way of celebrating and based their holiday in part on the Feast of Tabernacles.
Note: celebrating Thanksgiving on the third Thursday of November was established by the American government and may not necessarily coincide with the pilgrim’s first observance.

Sukkot, The Festival of Booths

Four days after Yom Kippur, we join together to celebrate Sukkot. The holiday is celebrated from the 15th of Tishri through the 21st or 22nd of Tishri, depending if you live in Israel or in the Diaspora. Sukkot usually falls in late September or early October.

After the harvest from your threshing floor and your vineyards, you shall celebrate the Feast of Booths for seven days. (Deuteronomy 16:13)


You shall live in booths seven days in order that future generations may know that I made the Israelite people live in booths when I brought them out of the land of Egypt. (Leviticus 23:42-43)


Historically, Sukkot commemorates the wanderings of the Israelites, which began with the exodus from Egypt (Passover) and continues with the giving of the Torah at Sinai (Shavuot) and ends with the wandering in the desert for the full 40 years as punishment for the sin of the golden calf. A major agricultural festival, Sukkot is also the third of the shalosh regalim, or three pilgrimage holidays, when it was the custom of Jews everywhere to converge onto Jerusalem every Passover, Shavuot and Sukkot. Sukkot also marks the end of a long harvest, the time of year when farmers finish their work. Traditionally, this was the time for grapes to be gathered and made into raisins or wine; for olives to be picked and pressed into oil; and fruits to either ripen, or be eaten or stored.

To celebrate their hard work, the farmers and their families would go to the temple in Jerusalem to offer thanks. They built Sukkot, or booths, to remember how the children of Israel built booths in the desert. The pilgrims lived in them for seven days while they, and the families they brought to Jerusalem, celebrated.
This is also why Sukkot is known as hag-ha-asif, the festival of ingathering.

You shall celebrate the festival of ingathering, at the end of the year, when you gather in your labors out of the field. (Exodus 23:16)


In addition, because of its strong agricultural elements, some scholars believe that the current custom of building your own Sukkah stems from the harvest when workers would live in temporary huts in fields. They argue that our Sukkot with their open roofs bear more resemblance to the harvester’s huts than they do with the dwellings the Jews lived in the desert.

Sukkot is a happy festival. In biblical times, Sukkot was considered to be the most important festival. It was actually referred to as ha-chag, The Festival (Kings 12:32). King Solomon chose Sukkot as the holiday during which he consecrated the first temple. It was also the occasion every seven years for the ceremony hak’heil, the public reading of the Torah before the whole people (Deuteronomy 31:10-13). Sukkot is also said to be the festival of the future, when in the messianic period, all nations will come to Jerusalem and celebrate.

The only time celebrating Sukkot was suspended was during the Babylonian exile since the festival was so connected to rejoicing at the temple and harvesting the land. During the next century, when the Jews returned to Israel under the leadership of Ezra and Nehemiah, they were ready to embrace the Torah’s commandments. The Jews, ecstatic to be reunited with the land, built Sukkot out of olive, pine, myrtle, and palm branches. The importance of Sukkot continued during the second temple era, with pilgrims coming to Jerusalem from Jewish communities all over. They participated in praying and singing and joining in the religious processions.

The etrog and the four species- palm, willow and myrtle, which are bundled together to make a lulav – became part of the ritual.

Arba Minim: The Four Species

On the first day, you will take for yourselves a fruit of a beautiful tree, palm branches, twigs of a braided tree and brook willows, and you will rejoice before the L-RD your G-d for seven days. (Leviticus 23:40)


Another observance during Sukkot involves what are known as the Four Species (arba minim) or the lulav and etrog. We are to take these four plants and use them to “rejoice before the L-rd.” The four species in question are an etrog (a citrus fruit similar to a lemon native to Israel; in English it is called a citron), a palm branch (in Hebrew, lulav), two willow branches (aravot) and three myrtle branches (hadassim). The six branches are bound together and referred to collectively as the lulav, because the palm branch is by far the largest part. The etrog is held separately. With these four species in hand, one recites a blessing and waves the species in all six directions (east, south, west, north, up and down), symbolizing the fact that G-d is everywhere. Detailed instructions for this ritual can be found under Sukkot Blessings.

The four species are also held and waved during the Hallel prayer in religious services, and are held during processions around the bema.

Why are these four plants used in this service? It can be said that they represent different parts (or Believers) within the body of Messiah. The etrog, which has both a pleasing taste and a pleasing scent, represents those who have achieved both knowledge of Torah and performance of mitzvot. The palm branch, which produces tasty fruit, but has no scent, represents those who have knowledge of Torah but are lacking in mitzvot. The myrtle leaf, which has a strong scent but no taste, represents those who perform mitzvot but have little knowledge of Torah. The willow, which has neither taste nor scent, represents those who have no knowledge of Torah and do not perform the mitvot. We bring all four of these species together on Sukkot to remind us that every one of these four kinds of Believer is important to G-d, and that we must all be united as we grow together in Him.

Sukkot changed little following the destruction of the second temple. However, in its memory, Rabbi Yokhanan ben Zakkai, a leading rabbinic authority at the time, instructed that ceremonies using the four species be performed every day of the week except on Shabbat, even though the Torah only commands to use them on the first day of the festival (Leviticus 23:40).

Sukkot Berachot (Blessings)

Stand facing the east (or whatever direction is toward Jerusalem from where you are). Take the etrog in your left hand with the stem (green tip) up and the pitam (brown tip) down. Take the lulav (including the palm, myrtle and willow branches bound together) in your right hand. Bring your hands together and recite the blessing.

Barukh atah Adonai, Elohaynu, melekh ha-olam
Blessed are you, Lord, our God, king of the universe

asher keedishanu b’meetzvotav v’tzeevanu
who has sanctified us with His commandments and commanded us

al n’tilat lulav (Amein)
to take up the lulav (Amen)

After you recite the blessing, turn the etrog so the stem is down. With the lulav and etrog together, gently shake forward (East) three times, then pull the lulav and etrog back in front of your chest. Repeat this to the right (South), then over your right shoulder (West), then to the left (North), then up, then down.

Hoshanah Rabbah

“L-rd Save, with great (power)!”

The seventh (and last) day of Sukkot is called Hoshana Rabbah. Tradition records that the heavenly decrees made on Yom Teruah/Rosh Hashanah (and sealed on Yom Kippur) are actually sent out on Hoshana Rabbah. Our sages taught us that the nations of the world are judged on this day.

“Yes! I tell you that there are some people standing here who will not experience death until they see the Son of Man coming in his Kingdom!” Six days later, Yeshua took Kefa, Ya‘akov and his brother Yochanan and led them up a high mountain privately. As they watched, he began to change form—his face shone like the sun, and his clothing became as white as light. Then they looked and saw Moshe and Eliyahu speaking with him. Kefa said to Yeshua, “It’s good that we’re here, Lord. I’ll put up three shelters if you want—one for you, one for Moshe and one for Eliyahu.” While he was still speaking, a bright cloud enveloped them; and a voice from the cloud said, “This is my Son, whom I love, with whom I am well pleased. Listen to him!” When the talmidim heard this, they were so frightened that they fell face down on the ground. But Yeshua came and touched them. “Get up!” he said, “Don’t be afraid.” So they opened their eyes, looked up and saw only Yeshua by himself. As they came down the mountain, Yeshua ordered them, “Don’t tell anyone what you have seen until the Son of Man has been raised from the dead.” The talmidim asked him, “Then why do the Torah-teachers say that Eliyahu must come first?” He answered, “On the one hand, Eliyahu is coming and will restore all things; on the other hand, I tell you that Eliyahu has come already, and people did not recognize him but did whatever they pleased to him. In the same way, the Son of Man too is about to suffer at their hands.” Then the talmidim understood that he was talking to them about Yochanan the Immerser. (Matthew 16:28-17:13)


(See also Mark 9:1-13 and Luke 9:27-36)

For when we made known to you the power and the coming of our Lord Yeshua the Messiah, we did not rely on cunningly contrived myths. On the contrary, we saw his majesty with our own eyes. For we were there when he received honor and glory from God the Father; and the voice came to him from the grandeur of the Shechinah, saying, “This is my son, whom I love; I am well Pleased with him!” We heard this voice come out of heaven when we were with him on the holy mountain. (2 Peter 1:16-18)


The next day a great multitude that had come to the feast, when they heard that Yeshua was coming to Jerusalem, took branches of palm trees and went out to meet Him, and cried out:

“Hosanna! ‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the LORD!’ The King of Israel!”

Then Yeshua, when He had found a young donkey, sat on it; as it is written:

“Fear not, daughter of Zion; Behold, your King is coming, Sitting on a donkey’s colt.”

His disciples did not understand these things at first; but when Jesus was glorified, then they remembered that these things were written about Him and that they had done these things to Him. Therefore the people, who were with Him when He called Lazarus out of his tomb and raised him from the dead, bore witness. For this reason the people also met Him, because they heard that He had done this sign. The Pharisees therefore said among themselves, “You see that you are accomplishing nothing. Look, the world has gone after Him!” (John 12:12-19)


Shemini Atzeret

The day following the seventh day of Sukkot, called Shemini Atzeret (The Eighth Day of Assembly), was reserved for a special set of sacrifices for the benefit of Israel and for a special prayer for rainfall. Not completely understood, Shemini, meaning eight, and Atzeret, meaning solemn assembly; referred to an extra set of rituals performed at the close of the holiday. A midrash, or allegory, explains that as the children of Israel are about to take leave of G-d after having rejoiced with Him since the beginning of Rosh Ha Shanna. G-d, like the parent of a child about to end a cherished visit, says, “It is difficult to have you leave me. Stay another day.”

Simchat Torah

As life in the Diaspora continued, it became customary on the second day of Shemini Atzeret, to remove Torah scrolls from the ark and circle around the bimah, the traditional stage located in the center of the synagogue where the Torah is read. The timing of the celebration is significant in that the cycle of Torah study begins anew at the following Shabbat. The celebration marks the completion of a whole year of Torah study and the anticipation of what HaShem will teach is as we begin again.

Named Simkhat Torah, “rejoicing with the Torah”, the custom became its own holiday, especially for children, with dancing and singing in the synagogue and festive meals at home. In Israel, Shemini Atzeret and Simchat Torah are celebrated together on theday after the seventh day of Sukkot.

In modern times, the custom of building Sukkot was reestablished in the early 1900s. Since then, Jews everywhere celebrate the seven or eight days of Sukkot, (depending where you live) including Shemini Atzeret and Simchat Torah from the Diaspora and from Israel.