The 8th day of Sukkot, Shemini Atzeret, is a day for a more intimate celebration of Sukkot between G-d and the Jewish people. It is also the day we complete the annual reading of the Torah. This means a double dose of celebration.
We celebrate life’s milestones by inviting friends and family, making a Lechayim and spending time together. When celebrations are over you don’t really want it to end, so you ask those your closest ones to stay on just a little longer to have a more intimate time together.
Sukkot is a celebration for the world at large. Even the nations of the world paid homage to the Temple in Israel over Sukkot. At the end G-d would say to the Jewish people, stay an extra day, and let’s celebrate as a family. Sukkot is seven days, and so the eighth day, the extra day is aptly called Shemini Atzeret – the Eight Day of Gathering, a special day of even more feasting and joy.
Historically we completed the annual reading of the Torah on this one day, and outside of Israel, as for all the Pilgrim festivals over two days, the second day outside of Israel, and is called Simchat Torah – the joy of the Torah.
So not only does the family gather round and share the stories of the past, but it also sings and dances with the Torah, with its ancestry and traditions, providing a beautiful finale of an anniversary celebrated once again.
Spend time with your family, and dance with your Torah – figuratively the Torah being your children, your grandchildren. Nothing beats a family get together!