To what extent does one "live in" the Sukkah on Shmini Atzeret?
There are a variety of customs in connection with the degree to which the Sukkah is "lived in" on Shmini Atzeret. One custom is to eat both the evening meal and the following day's meal in the Sukkah, as on Sukkot. A second custom is to eat at night but only make Kiddush during the day, still another just to make Kiddush at night (and any other permutation and combination, perhaps, as well), because the Mitzvah of Sukkah has really terminated with the end of the seventh day. The various customs arise from the idea of not to "just run out" of the beautiful and meaningful Sukkah. All of the above customs agree that the blessing "Layshev BaSukkah," "To dwell in the Sukkah" is not said on Shmini Atzeret , again because the Mitzvah is really over.
There is a widely, if not universally, accepted custom to eat cake or fruit, and have a drink (alcoholic or non-alcoholic) in the Sukkah on the afternoon of Shmini Atzeret. After this is done, usually in a party-like setting, we say goodbye to the Sukkah for the current year by reciting the following prayer:
"May it be Your will, Hashem, our G-d and the G-d of our forefathers, that just as I have fulfilled the mitzvah and dwelled in this Sukkah, so may I merit in the coming year to dwell in the Sukkah of the skin of the Leviathan(2)."
Next Year in Jerusalem
2. The Leviathan, according to the Midrash, is a giant fish, created by G-d on the fifth day of Creation; it rules over all the creatures of the sea. Originally, two were created, a male and a female, as with all other species. However, G-d saw that if these two fish were allowed to mate and multiply, they would destroy the entire world by dint of their great strength and numbers, for the Leviathan is so enormous that all the water that flows from the Jordan river is not enough to quench its thirst. (Bava Basra 74b) G-d, therefore, killed the female and preserved it in brine, to be eaten by the righteous in the Time to Come.
Another huge beast whose flesh will be served to the righteous in the World to Come is the Behemoth, created on the sixth day of the Creation of the world. The Behemoth is a gigantic ox, and, like the Leviathan, possesses enormous strength. It, too, was created male and female, and, like the Leviathan, had to be prevented from multiplying, lest the world be destroyed. G-d therefore neutered the male and eliminated the female's desire to propagate. (Bava Basra 74b)
When the Messiah comes, , G-d will signal to the Leviathan and the Behemoth to fight one another. The result will be that the Leviathan will slaughter the Behemoth with a cut from his very sharp fins. Simultaneously, the Behemoth will kill the Leviathan with a blow from its horns. (Leviticus Rabbah 13:3)
From the beautiful skin of the Leviathan, G-d will construct canopies to shelter the righteous from the sun. (Bava Basra 75a) These canopies are referred to in our prayer as the Succah of the skin of Leviathan. Under these canopies, they will eat the meat of the Leviathan and the Behemoth, amid great joy and merriment (ibid. 74b)
It is not clear that the Midrash presented above should be taken literally, as many teachings of the Midrash should not, but rather they should be understood, if they can be understood, on a deeper, perhaps Kabbalistic, level. Back to Text