This week’s Alumni Dvar Torah is by Yehuda Gale
Why do we bring many fewer sacrifices on Shemini Atzeret than on Sukkot? Midrash Tanchuma offers this explanation:
.(והקרבתם עולה [אשה ריח ניחוח לה’] פר אחד איל אחד (במדבר כט לו
,משל למלך שעשה סעודה שבעה ימים
,וזימן כל בני המדינה בשבעת ימי המשתה
,כיון שעברו שבעת ימי המשתה
,כבר יצאנו ידי בני המדינה
:נגלגל אני ואתה במה שתמצא
,ליטרא בישרא או דג או ירק
:כך אמר הקב”ה לישראל
,כל קרבנות שהקרבתם בשבעת ימי החג – על אומות העולם הייתם מקריבים
,”אבל “ביום השמיני – עצרת תהיה לכם
.גלגלו במה שאתם מוצאים, בפר אחד ואיל אחד
but ye shall present a burnt-offering, an offering made by fire, of a sweet savour unto the LORD: one bullock, one ram
This is like a King who makes his feast for 7 days
And he invites all the people of the district for the seven days of the feast
Once the seven days of the feast were over,
He said to his beloved friend:
We have already fulfilled our obligation to the people of the district,
You and I will celebrate with what you find:
a litra of meat or fish or greens
So too The Holy One Blessed be He says to Israel:
All the sacrifices that you brought on the seven days of Chag were for the nations of the world,
but “on the eighth day, an extension will be for you”
Celebrate with what you find, one bullock and one ram
When I learned this Midrash with Tzipporah Machlah Klapper, she pointed out that the parable sounds a lot like the Purim story:
.בִּשְׁנַת שָׁלוֹשׁ, לְמָלְכוֹ, עָשָׂה מִשְׁתֶּה, לְכָל-שָׂרָיו וַעֲבָדָיו: חֵיל פָּרַס וּמָדַי, הַפַּרְתְּמִים וְשָׂרֵי הַמְּדִינוֹת–לְפָנָיו
.בְּהַרְאֹתוֹ, אֶת-עֹשֶׁר כְּבוֹד מַלְכוּתוֹ, וְאֶת-יְקָר, תִּפְאֶרֶת גְּדוּלָּתוֹ; יָמִים רַבִּים, שְׁמוֹנִים וּמְאַת יוֹם
וּבִמְלוֹאת הַיָּמִים הָאֵלֶּה, עָשָׂה הַמֶּלֶךְ לְכָל-הָעָם הַנִּמְצְאִים בְּשׁוּשַׁן הַבִּירָה לְמִגָּדוֹל וְעַד-קָטָן מִשְׁתֶּה–שִׁבְעַת יָמִים: בַּחֲצַר, גִּנַּת בִּיתַן הַמֶּלֶךְ.
In the third year of his reign, he made a feast unto all his princes and his servants; the army of Persia and Media, the nobles and princes of the provinces, being before him;
When he showed the riches of his glorious kingdom and the honour of his excellent majesty, many days, even a hundred and eighty days.
And when these days were fulfilled, the king made a feast unto all the people that were present in Shushan the castle, both great and small, seven days, in the court of the garden of the king’s palace;
Here too the King makes two parties, one for those close to him and one for everyone. Here too the first one is large, lasting a full 180 days, while the second party, while still respectable, is a fraction of the length.
But there is one key difference: Achashverosh throws the larger party for those closer to him, while God throws the smaller party for his friends.
The difference here is the relationship between the King and His different subjects.
Achashverosh is friendly to his princes and servants because he wants them to love and serve him. He therefore tries to endear himself to them with gifts and lavish parties. Achashverosh’s two feasts have the same purpose, to engender loyalty from different groups of people to a greater or lesser degree.
God’s two “feasts” have two different purposes. One is to bring the nations closer to God; that is why we bring sacrifices to God on their behalf. The other is to celebrate the existing love between God and His people. As God tells Yirmiyahu: “I remember for thee the affection of thy youth, the love of thine espousals; how thou wentest after Me in the wilderness, in a land that was not sown.”
Yehuda Gale (SBM 2011-2014, 2016) is a junior at Yeshiva College.