Rialto bridge in Venice, Italy

Jugglers and Simchat Beit Hashoeva

Hello dear readers,

Our trip to our sukkot hotel in Italy is still months away, but one family member is already excited about visiting (and performing) in a new country. That little performer is, of course, little Reuven, age 10, and the performance is juggling at “simchat beit hashoeva” or “rejoicing in the house of the drawing of water” (what a mouthful—the Hebrew name is better!).

The Talmud tells us that on sukkot the world is judged for rain. The holiday has a lot of references to rain, such as the beating of aravot (willow branches) on hoshanah rabbah and the addition of “mashiv haruach u’morid hageshem” on the second days of yom tov. But one important part that doesn’t always get as much publicity is simchat beit hashoeva. On Sukkot in the times of the beit hamikdash, water was drawn from the spring and poured on the altar (instead of wine), and there were celebrations all night long. The Talmud says that these celebrations were so epic, “He who has not seen the rejoicing at the Place of the Water-Drawing has never seen rejoicing in his life.”

Well, I don’t think the simchat beit hashoeva celebrations that we’ve been to have been so epic, but they’re always fun for us (and especially the kids) to go to. In the past we’ve been to events with music and food and dance, but last year when we took the kids we saw a juggler.

Juggling was (and is) a fun part of Jewish celebrations. I remember cousin Andrew juggling at my wedding, but did you know that juggling isn’t just wedding shtick? According to the Talmud, famous rabbis juggled on simchat beit hashoeva: Abaye juggled eggs, Rabbi Shimon ben Gamliel juggled torches, Rabbi Levi juggled knives and Rabbi Yehuda HaNasi juggled full cups of wine (?). Interestingly, all of them juggled eight of their items.

The juggler last year had torches and balls and knives (but no eggs or cups of wine), and I’m pretty sure that Reuven had seen a juggler at a simchat beit hashoeva in the past, but this time he was mesmerized.

I remember Reuven telling us on the way home that he was going to learn to juggle (and I remember Ronit saying “how about you clean your room first?”). Well, the room still looks like two tornadoes tore through it, but sure enough a month later Reuven was juggling three oranges. For Chanukah we got him three juggling balls because the oranges all had bruises. (No Reuven, we are not getting you juggling torches!). Juggling eight anything (even balls) might be hard, but Reuven has three down pat.

So this year for simchat beit hashoeva, Reuven wants to be one of the performers. We’ll make sure to pack his juggling balls for the celebration in Italy!

More soon,


Make Sukkot this year one to remember. Contact Leisure Time Tours today at 718-528-0700 to find out more about our Sukkot family vacations.

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