Shabbat Chol HaMoed Sukkot, Hoshana Rabbah, Shemini Atzeret, Simchat Torah, V’zot HaBracha (Deut. 33:1-34:12)

I hadn’t expected the steel tubing to warp.  Maybe it’s because the pieces were stressed last year by being forced into a not totally level configuration for about 2 weeks last year?  (Where’s a good materials scientist or engineer when you need one?) Luckily, only two pieces were visibly not completely linear, and one of those only a bit at one end, so, yes, the sukkah stands, and we’ve spent some very pleasant time in it.

Lots going on in the next few days:

Shabbat Chol HaMoed Sukkot:  There are readings from two scrolls: first, Exodus 33:12 – 34:26, in which Moses sees the Lord’s back, and carves two new tablets; and the covenant is reaffirmed along with some key requirements and a quick rundown of special times.  Second: Numbers 29:26 – 31, about sacrifices for the 5th and 6th days of Sukkot.  That’s for this year. It varies depending what day of Sukkot it is.

Hoshana Rabbah (great hoshana) is Sunday.  See, e.g., . This is the day on which your fate is really, really sealed (as opposed to Yom Kippur, on which it’s just really sealed).     This is a post-biblical elevation of the status of the 7th day of Sukkot.  Instead of one circuit of marching and recitations with lulav and etrog in the synagogue, there are seven.  Then willow branches are beaten five times against the floor.  Torah reading:  Numbers 29:26-34 (sacrifices for 5th, 6th, 7th days of Sukkot). 

Shemini Atzeret, the Eighth Day of Assembly, is Monday.  We pray that rain (geshem) will fall in season in Israel. The Yizkor (memorial) service is said. Torah readings:  Deut. 14:22-16:17 (holidays) and Num. 29:35-30:1  (Shemini Atzeret sacrifices).

Simchat Torah, Rejoicing in the Law, is also Monday if you live in Israel,.  Otherwise, it’s Tuesday (starts Monday night, of course).  Simchat Torah is a post-biblical holiday on which we celebrate the completion and beginning of the Torah reading cycle.  At the Monday night service, we parade around seven times carrying all the Torah scrolls there are and sing and dance, sometimes going out into the street (or parking lot).  Then a short portion of Torah is read; just what can vary, but it’s typically three quick aliyot from Deuteronomy 33.  Both Monday night and Tuesday morning, the kids get flags to wave and candy apples and the adults get to drink something adult.  In the morning, we read from three (count ’em, three) scrolls: First, the portion V’zot HaBracha (“And this is the blessing”), Deut. 33:1-34:12, which includes Moses’ blessing of the Israelites by tribe and his death after seeing the Promised Land from afar.  Everyone who wants to be honored with an aliyah gets one, which can lead to a lot of repetition and/or group aliyot.  The last section of this is a special aliyah given to an honoree referred to as the Hatan Torah (groom of the Torah).  Then we go on to the second scroll and another honoree, Hatan Bereishit, is called up for the reading Gen. 1:1-2:3  (bereishit, in the beginning), the story of creation.  (If your shul is egalitarian and either honoree is female, “Kallat” (bride) is used instead of “Hatan”.)  But wait, there’s more! It wouldn’t be a holiday without a special reading from yet another scroll about obligatory sacrifices. Since there are no Simchat Torah sacrifices in the Torah, there being no Simchat Torah there, we repeat the reading concerning Shemini Atzeret sacrifices, Num. 29:35-30:1.  Then for the haftarah, we read Joshua 1:1-18, which picks up the story right after Deuteronomy 34:12. 


Thus, we celebrate a series of beginnings and completions: the beginning of the year and the end of the holiday season.  The completion of the Israelites’ story in the Torah and the beginning of a nation in the Promised Land, in the book of Joshua.  And, with the completion of the Deuteronomy, the beginning of the Torah reading cycle, once more, with Genesis 1:1.

 Shabbat shalom and Hag Sameah to you all,



Passed along by Arlene M.-S. (Thanks, Arlene!), from a [UTJ-L] posting. Also on the web at, e.g.,

A reference for next year’s sukkah.  Explanatory notes, with sources (a lot from Maimonides), on request.

The Laws of Sukkah According to Dr. Seuss

      You can build it very small
      You can build it very tall
      You can build it very large
      You can build it on a barge
      You can build it on a ship
      Or on a roof but please don’t slip
      You can build it in an alley
      You shouldn’t build it in a valley
      You can build it on a wagon
      You can build it on a dragon
      You can make the s’chach
(the greenery you put on top)  of wood
      Would you, could you, YES you should
      Make the s’chach from leaves of tree
      but shouldn’t bend it at the knee
      Build your Sukkah tall or short
      No Sukkahs built in the Temple Court
      You can build it somewhat soon
      But never in the month of June
      If your Sukkah is well made
      Youll have the right amount of shade
      You can build it very wide
      You cannot build it on its side
      Build if your name is Jim
      Or Bob or Sam or even Tim
      Build it if your name is Sue
      Do you build it, YES you do!
      From the Sukkah you can roam
      But you should treat it as your home
      You can invite some special guests
      Don’t stay in if there are pests
      You can sleep upon some rugs
      Don’t you build it where there’s bugs
      In the Sukkah you should sit
      And eat and drink but never spit
      If in the Sukkah it should rain
      To stay there would be such a pain
      And if it should be very cold
      Stay there only if you’re bold
      So build a Sukkah one and all
      Make it large or make it small
      Sukkah rules are short and snappy
      Enjoy Sukkot, rejoice be happy.


Under the Weather Jokes (selected)

16. Rumor has it that the new Miami baseball team will be called “Humidity” so that fans in Florida will be able to say, “It’s not the Heat that’s so bad, it’s the Humidity.”

15. The U.S. has only three hurricane warning centers – Coral Gables, FL, Guam, and Honolulu, HI (recently completed). All three have faced Category 4 hurricanes in the past month. Which only goes to show: If you build it, they will come!

11. How to predict weather in Seattle: If you can see Mt Ranier, it’s going to rain. If not, it already is.

9. First cave man to 2nd cave man: “I don’t care what you say. We never had such unusual weather before they started using bows and arrows.”

5. There’s a technical term for a sunny, warm day which follows two rainy days. It’s called Monday.

3. Two Viking invaders are trudging up the beach in the pouring rain. One looks skywards and says, “So this is England. What’s it like?” The other snarls, “Well, if you like the weather, you’ll love the food.”

2. There was a communist named Rudolph. One day he looked out the window and said, “It looks like a storm is coming.” “No it isn’t,” said his wife. “Besides, how would you know?” “Because,” he responded, “Rudolph the Red knows rain, dear.”

1.A weather forecaster took a job in another part of the country. When asked why he transferred he replied, “The weather didn’t agree with me.”

Submitted by Robert


Bar jokes

A willow tree walks into a bar, and a guy sitting next to the counter says to the bartender, Who’s the new guy? And the bartender says, I don’t know, but I’ve heard he’s a shady character!

A guy walks into a bar, sits down and hears a small voice say, You look nice today. A few minutes later he again hears a small voice, That’s a nice shirt. The guy asks the bartender, Who is that? The bartender says, Those are the peanuts. They’re complimentary!

What would you call a drunk who works at an upholstery shop? A recovering alcoholic.

A dyslexic man walks into a bra.


Jewish Redneck Jokes (selected)

You Might be a Jewish Redneck if:

– You think that “KKK” means really really Kosher
– You have a gun rack in your Sukkah
– You have ever fired a gun to the sound of Haman’s name
– You know which brand of grit is Kosher
– You think that a hora is a high priced call girl
– You don’t ride on Shabbat because your car is up on blocks
– Your favorite beverage is a combination of Manischewitz and Mountain Dew, also called “Mountain Jew”
– You’re disappointed when your son tells you he wants to be a doctor or a lawyer, and not a NASCAR driver
– Gefilte fish is the most solid thing you can eat with your tooth
– You know that Santa Claus and the Elves must be Jewish. Who else would work on Christmas Eve?
– You had a combination Bar or Bat Mitzvah and Wedding.
– You hunted game to make your own tefilin and gave the rest of the hide to the local scribe for new Torah scroll material.


Starting Over

The mother of three notoriously unruly youngsters was asked whether or not she’d have children if she had to do over again.

“Sure,” she replied, “but not the same ones.”


Quotes on Endings and Beginnings

Though no one can go back and make a brand new start, anyone can start from now and make a brand new ending.                Carl Bard

All great deeds and all great thoughts have a ridiculous beginning.       Albert Camus

The world is round and the place which may seem like the end may also be the beginning.             Ivy Baker Priest


Kids’ funny ideas about the Bible

* In the first book of the bible, Guinessis, God got tired of creating the
world, so he took the Sabbath off.

* Moses died before he ever reached Canada. Then Joshua led the
Hebrews in the battle of Geritol.

* The greatest miracle in the Bible is when Joshua told his son to stand
still and he obeyed him.

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