We are at the end of the craze of holidays that define this month in the Jewish calendar. We have traversed Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, and all the days of Sukkot, and now stand at the entrance to the final holiday: Shemini Atzeret.
Shemini Atzeret is a peculiar holiday on the Jewish calendar. It has none of its own defining rituals. It does not require a sukkah, lulav, or etrog. The holiday exists purely as one "extra" day before returning to the routine of life after the holiday season. In fact, the rabbis of the Midrash describe this holiday in exactly the same terms. It is one extra day to spend with God. A day made just for you and no one else.
How often do we find the time for just a single day to ourselves? Our lives are wrapped up with others in countless ways. We often live with others. We work with others. We are always surrounded by other people. The idea of Shemini Atzeret can be seen as a call to not forget time for yourself and what matters most to you.
This Shemini Atzeret take some time to be with yourself. Nowadays, these moments are far and few in between, so treasure that time. No fancy rituals. No special prayerbooks. Just you, and a castle built in time.
Yechiel and Ben