(It only happens once a year! We’re about to finish the cycle of the Torah…!)

Portion: Deuteronomy 14 -16

Haftorah: I Kings 8:54 - 8:66; in some congregations to 9:1

The reading on Shemini Atzeret is the famous portion of Asser t'asser, to which we have already referred. It begins with the laws of tithes (Messmer - a tenth part of the produce given away). Sukkot, the Festival of Ingathering, was the time when the various tithes were given away to the Levites and to the poor. There were two tithes each year.

The First Tithe had to be given to the Levites, and the Second Tithe bad to be taken to Jerusalem and enjoyed there. Every third and sixth year there was a Poor Man's Tithe instead of the Second Tithe. (No tithes were due from anything that grew on the seventh "sabbatical" year, which anyway did not belong to the owner, but was free to all.) The portion also speaks of the Sabbatical Year (shemittah) and the remission (forgiveness) of debts, as well as the liberation of slaves on that year.

For maftir, in the second Torah, a short portion is read from Numbers 29:35-39, on the sacrifices of the Eighth Day, Shemini Atzeret. The haftorah is a continuation of the theme of the haftorah of the first day of Sukkot. After King Solomon concluded his moving prayer and supplication, pouring out his heart to G‑d in the Beit Hamikdosh just completed, he rose to his feet and blessed the people of Israel. 'We quote some of his concluding words, for they are truly inspiring:

"Blessed be G‑d who hath given rest unto His people Israel, according to all that He promised; there hath not failed one word of all His good promise, which He promised by the hand of Moses His servant. May G‑d our G‑d be with us, as He was with our fathers. Let Him not leave us, nor forsake us; that He may incline our hearts unto Him, to walk in all His ways, and to keep His commandments, and His statutes, and His judgments, which He commanded our fathers.

"And let these my words, wherewith I have made supplication before G‑d, be nigh unto G‑d our G‑d day and night; that He maintain the cause of His servant, and the cause of His people Israel at all times; that all the people of the earth may know that G‑d is G‑d, and that there is none else.

"Let your heart therefore be perfect with G‑d our G‑d, to walk in His statutes, and to keep His commandments as on this day."

We can well imagine bow great was the rejoicing and inspiration on that eventful Sukkot, when the newly built magnificent Beit Hamikdosh was dedicated. We are told in the haftorah that "On the eighth day he

(King Solomon) sent the people away, and they blessed the king and went to their tents joyful and glad of heart for all the goodness that G‑d bad done for David His servant and for Israel His people."

The Complete Story of Tishrei
Kehot Publication Society