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From where do we derive the law that one should not intermingle one joyous occasion with another? For it is written1: “At that time Solomon instituted the celebration … before Hashem our God for seven days and seven more days, fourteen days.” … Since the verse stated that they celebrated for fourteen days, why does the verse also specify “seven days and seven more days”? From this apparent textual redundancy we learn that these seven days of celebrating the dedication of the Temple are by themselves and these subsequent seven days of the festival of Succot are by themselves, i.e. they are never to be combined. (Gemara Moed Katan 9a) Interestingly, the Talmud Yerushalmi2 provides an alternative source for the law against mixing two joyous occasions. In the story of Yaakov’s marriages, he originally intended to wed Rachel. His father-in-law Lavan tricked him into marrying Leah first. When Yaakov demanded Rachel’s hand in addition, Lavan told him to “complete this week3” and then marry Rachel. The reason for this seven-day waiting period was to allow Leah to have her seven days of bridal rejoicing and not to have her sister’s wedding interrupt her own celebration.4 Shulchan Aruch 546:1 rules that one may not get married on Chol HaMoed (the intermediate days of a festival) because of the prohibition against intermingling two joyous occasions. Rashi explains that two joyous occasions will inevitably result in a lack of attention to one of them. The obvious question, therefore, is why in Israel do we mix the two joyous occasions of Shemini Atzeret and Simchat Torah? Gemara Succah 48a comments on the verse5 “For seven days you shall celebrate to God … and you shall only rejoice” that the extra word “ach (only)” includes the eighth day Shemini Atzeret in the Mitzvah of rejoicing. The Vilna Gaon notes that the word “ach” usually refers to an exclusionary rather than an inclusive clause, so how are we to understand its use in this verse? He answers that whereas on the other days of Succot we have the Mitzvot of Succah, the four species, etc, on Shemini Atzeret we have just one special festive Mitzvah remaining, i.e. Simchat Yom Tov. Therefore the word “ach” is still being used for an exclusionary clause. Gemara Succah 55b presents a parable in which a king tells his servants to prepare a great feast for him and on the final day the king tells only his loved ones to remain with him for an intimate celebration, so that the king may rejoice with them. Similarly, after accepting 70 sacrifices that symbolise the nations of the world, God looks upon Shemini Atzeret as an intimate celebration with His chosen people. The coincidence of Simchat Torah only further illustrates the cherished relationship between us and God, esteeming the very Torah that separates us from the nations of the world. In light of this interpretation, the Simchah of Simchat Torah may be better understood as an integral component of the festival of Shemini Atzeret and thus does not encounter the problem of mixing joyous occasions.6 So, Simchat Torah does not compete with the Simchat Yom Tov of Shemini Atzeret; rather it completes and enhances the Simchat Yom Tov. 1. Melachim I 8:65 and Divrei HaYamim II 7:9 2. Moed Katan 1:7 3. Bereishit 29:27 4. Perhaps the Yerushalmi wants to demonstrate that it is only for two of the same types of joyous occasion (Simchah) that we cannot intermingle, but if there are two different types of Simchah then we can mix them. Whereas our Gemara (Talmud Bavli) wants to maximise the scope of this law, so it is forbidden to mix joyous occasions even if they are two different types of Simchah. 5. Devarim 16:15 6. Rav Herschel Shachter

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