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Shemini Atzeres - Supreme Court Justice

By Reb Eliezer Bulka

Posted on 09/30/18

The hoshanos ritual which is performed daily on Sukkos ends with a passage from Shelomoh HaMelech's prayer upon the completion of the beis hamikdash: (Melachim I 8:59-60) "May these words of mine, which I have suplicated before HaShem, be near to HaShem, our God, by day and by night; that He bring about justice for His servant and justice for His people, Israel, each day's need on its day..." On Shemini Atzeres, when we no longer perform the hoshanos ritual, this passage appears once again in the haftarah.


There are some obvious and practical reasons for the inclusion of this passage but I would like to suggest another. The mishnah (Rosh HaShanah 16a) states the virtually obvious, that we are all judged on Rosh HaShanah. However, the opinion of R' Yose in the gemara is that we are in fact judged every day. The pasuk which the gemara eventually determines is R' Yose's source, is the above quoted pasuk from Melachim.


The final seal of the judgement of Yom Kippur is said to stretch until Hoshana Rabba. As the intensity of the yemei hadin wanes, one might tend to feel that the judgement is "over." One might feel that we will not be judged again until the next Tishrei. This is certainly not the mindset with which we want to be leaving the great month of Tishrei. The repetition of this pasuk throughout Sukkos, and then one last time on Shemini Atzeres, drives home the message that Divine judgement is not something reserved only for Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kippur but something we must be constantly aware of on a daily basis.