Shemini Atzeret (Hebrew: sheh-MEE-nee ah-TSEH-reht) is celebrated on the eight day of Sukkot marking the conclusion of the fall harvest festival. It starts at sunset on Sunday, October 20, 2019 and ends at sunset on Monday, October 21, 2019. On this day, special ancient prayers were said thanking God for the harvest and asking for winter rains to prepare the ground for the spring planting.
It is also referred to as the “Eighth Day of Special Assembly” and even though it is considered as the eighth day of Sukkot, it is actually an independent festival marking the conclusion of the festivities and observances of Sukkot.
“26 And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, 27 “Now on the tenth day of this seventh month is the Day of Atonement. It shall be for you a time of holy convocation, and you shall afflict yourselves[a] and present a food offering to the Lord. 28 And you shall not do any work on that very day, for it is a Day of Atonement, to make atonement for you before the Lord your God. 29 For whoever is not afflicted[b] on that very day shall be cut off from his people. 30 And whoever does any work on that very day, that person I will destroy from among his people. 31 You shall not do any work. It is a statute forever throughout your generations in all your dwelling places. 32 It shall be to you a Sabbath of solemn rest, and you shall afflict yourselves. On the ninth day of the month beginning at evening, from evening to evening shall you keep your Sabbath.”” (Leviticus 23:26-32)
It’s a holiday of “gathering” or “storing up” the sentiments of gratitude and devotion acquired throughout the entire fall holiday season. In Rabbinic tradition it is taught that it’s the day when then entire world is judged for water (rainfall) for the coming year. This makes it a very important day for agricultural purposes.
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