As we speak, Jews across the world are preparing to celebrate Shemini Atzeret and Simchat Torah. Shemini Atzeret, or the 8th Day of Assembly, is the closing festival after the 7 days of Sukkot mentioned in Leviticus 23. Simchat Torah, the Joy of Torah, is a joyous occasion marking the fact that the Jewish people have finished reading the Torah for this year and start reading it anew for the year to come, demonstrating that the Torah is a cycle that is part of the daily life of the Jewish people.
In Israel, Shemini Atzeret is attached to Simchat Torah as one holiday. However, in the Diaspora, it’s celebrated as a separate holiday. Nevertheless, even though Israelis celebrate Shemini Atzeret and Simchat Torah as one holiday, the Talmud stresses that Shemini Atzeret is a holiday in its own right. According to Leviticus 23:36: “For the seven days of Sukkot, you shall bring a fire offering to G-d; on the eighth day, it shall be a holy convocation for you.”
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