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Friday, October 13

The Weekly Shtikle - Shemini Atzeres / Simchas Torah

This past Tuesday was the first Yahrtzeit of HaRav Naftali Neuberger, zt"l of Ner Yisroel. This shtikle is dedicated le'iluy nishmaso, Naftali ben Meir.

The Weekly Shtikle is dedicated le'iluy nishmas my dear Zadie and Bubbie, HaRav Chaim Yaakov ben Yitzchak and Yehudis bas Reuven Pinchas.
 
    In every other Yom Tov, the parsha next in line is not read. Rather, a section of the Torah which is connected to the Yom Tov is read. On Pesach we read about Yetzias Mitzrayim. On Shavuos we read about Matan Torah. Simchas Torah, however, seems at first glance not to follow suit. We read V'zos HaBracha, the next and last parsha in line. Why is Simchas Torah different?

    The answer is, of course, that Simchas Torah is not different. V'zos HaBracha has its connections to Simchas Torah as well. In fact, we find in the gemara Megilla 31a that even when the Torah was read in a three year cycle, V'zos HaBracha was still read on the last day of Yom Tov. Abudarham writes that the reason why V'zos HaBracha is read on Simchas Torah is because that was the time that Shlomo HaMelech would bless the nation as seen in Melachim I 8:14. Therefore, we read V'zos HaBracha which includes Moshe's blessing of the tribes before his passing. Meshech Chachma offers a different answer. The time of Shmini Atzeres is a special time for B'nei Yisroel. Over Succos we bring 70 korbanos corresponding to the 70 nations. Succos holds some significance for the other nations. But Shmini Atzeres symbolizes HaShem's special love for B'nei Yisroel, asking them to stay behind for just one more day as it were (see Rashi Vayikra 23:36). So it is on this day that we read of HaShem's giving the Torah to Bnei Yisroel. The pesukim at the beginning of the parsha (33:2) "vezorach mi'Seir lamo, hofia meihar Paran", according to Rashi, refer to HaShem's offering of the Torah to the other nations and they did not accept it. Just as Shmini Atzeres symbolizes our separation from all other nations, so too, the beginning of V'zos HaBracha illustrates how we differ from all other nations.

Have a good Shabbos and good Yom Tov.

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