“With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation.”

– Isaiah 12:3

The Simchat Beit HaShoeiva (Rejoicing of the Water-Drawing House), occurred during Chol HaMoed (the Intermediate Days) of Sukkot. Every morning, water was poured out on the mizbeach (altar); in the evening, there would be a celebration. The water was drawn from the Breikhat Shiloah (Pool of Siloam) in Jerusalem; then the water was brought in a joyous procession to the Temple. Sukkot is the only time throughout the year, that water was poured out upon the mizbeach.

What is the significance of the water-drawing, and its being poured out upon the mizbeach? Actually, both wine and water were poured out upon the mizbeach, during the Nusach HaMayim (Pouring of the Water). One rendering on a symbolic level is as follows: the red color of the wine may be said to represent judgment, while the water represents chesed (mercy).

Therefore, in continuation of this analogy, when seeking atonement for our sins on Yom HaDin (the Day of Judgment), and Yom Kippur, we ask the L’RD to show us chesed (mercy). The resultant joy of knowing that our sins are forgiven is expressed during the holiday of Sukkot. This is why the chag is also called Zeman Cheruteinu – the season of our joy.

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