Both Sukkos and Pesach are extended holidays. They each contain an
entire week in which the people visiting Jerusalem could offer their
sacrifices, then each culminates with an additional Yom Tov.
The culminating holiday after Sukkos is a separate festival: Shmini
Atzeres. It has little connection to Sukkos: no blessing is said on the
Sukkah, the lulav/palm branch is no longer taken. Because it is an entirely
new holiday, the blessing "Shechechianu" is again recited. The opposite is
true of the final days of Pesach: The final festival appears mainly to be
an extension of Pesach. The same matza is eaten; the same leaven is
forbidden. No new "Shechechianu" is recited.
Still, the question needs to be addressed: Are the last days of
Pesach merely a continuation of the first days, or do they commemorate an
additional aspect of the Exodus? The issue is discussed at length in the
Nisan 1984 issue of Hadarom, in an article entitled "Atzmuso shel Shvi'i
shel Pesach," by Rav M. Rokeach.
Rashi tells us that the Splitting of the Sea occurred on the night
of the seventh day of Pesach. In the morning, the Israelites sang in unison
at the sight of the incredible miracle.
In Parshas Shlach, the Torah describes the commandment of the
Tzitzis -- the strings at the corners of the talis garment. Rashi, quoting
the Medrash, explains that there are to be eight strings corresponding to
the eight days from the beginning of Pesach until the Israelites sang at the
The Medrash there clearly indicates that the splitting of the sea
occurred on the eighth day. Maybe this is so, but it contradicts what Rashi
himself had said, that the date was the seventh from Pesach...
The Gur Aryeh of the Maharal answers that the "eight days from the
beginning of Pesach until the Israelites sang at the sea" do not begin from
Pesach itself, but from "Erev Pesach," from the time of the slaughtering of
the Paschal lamb. Eight days later would be the seventh day of Pesach.
Indeed, we find that the prohibition against leaven begins at noon on Erev
Pesach -- the same time that the period for the offering of the Paschal lamb
What is the logical connection that would make eight strings
correspond to eight days from Erev Pesach?
Rav Rokeach explained that the idea of the passover -- the denial of
the idolatrous worship, began actually at the time of the slaughtering of
the lamb, the day before Pesach. The lamb had been worshipped by the
Egyptians. The denial of idolatry was not complete, yet...
In relation to the miracle at the sea, the Torah states:
"Let them return and encamp before Pi Hachiros, between Midgal and the sea,
before Baal Tzafon..."
This was a great test of faith for the Israelites -- they were
commanded to head backwards toward Egypt, in order to entice the Egyptians
to pursue them. But, further, Rashi explains that the terms 'Pi Hachiros'
and 'Baal Tzafon' refer to idolatrous entities!
"Pi Hachiros (lit. the mouth of freedom):" is the same as Pisom. Here it
is called "Pi Hachiros" because they had become free... (It actually refers
to) two tall rocks, and the mouth between them is called "the mouth of the
The commentaries explain Rashi's meaning. There had been an idolatry in
that place, which (it was thought) did not let anything past. Therefore it
had been called Pisom, meaning: "closed mouth." Now that the Israelites had
passed it, they referred to it as "Pi Hachiros" -- "the mouth of freedom."
"Baal Tzafon:" It alone remained of all the idolatries of Egypt -- in order
to trick them -- that they should say that their god was still powerful.
It is clear that idolatrous belief still remained. Only at the
showdown at the sea would it be clarified that the idol would do nothing to
save or help. The demonstration of faith began with the slaughtering the
idol of their masters and becoming circumcised at G-d's command. This
demonstration would become complete at the sea, when they would head back
towards Egypt, and, without fear, walk into the water with the Egyptian Army
trailing behind! There, the verse says, "They believed in G-d and Moshe His
servant." The eight strings of the tzitzis remind us of faith -- "you will
see them and remember, and not turn astray after your heart and your