THE TREE AND ITS FRUIT
The Torah refers to the etrog as, "peri ess hadar," a "beautiful fruit of
the tree." Hazal saw in this expression two allusions to the etrog as the
intended fruit. Firstly, the phrase, "peri ess" ("fruit of the tree")
suggests that the fruit described is one whose "tree," or skin, features
same taste as the fruit itself. Secondly, the term, "hadar" (literally
translated as, beautiful) can also be read as, "ha-dar," "which resides,"
suggesting a fruit which remains on its tree all year round. And, indeed,
the etrog grows over the course of two or three years until it ripens,
as such, at any given point, one will find both large and small etrogim
growing on the same tree.
Upon further examination, it appears that these two features of the etrog
very much relate to one another, and are, in a certain sense, one and the
How beautiful it is when "the taste of the tree and the fruit are
equivalent," when parent and child share a common language, when their
tastes and priorities are the same, when they live in perfect harmony and
mutual understanding. Is there any joy greater than true "Jewish
However, such joyous harmony is possible only when both parent and child
attach themselves simultaneously to the same tree and together receive
nourishment from the roots of this singular tree. The etrog tree contains
both older and younger fruits, all growing together from the same source,
from the same roots. When parent and child come together to the Bet
Kenesset, sit together at the table on Shabbat and Yom Tov, when they
themselves together to their roots, to their heritage, only then will
tastes be equivalent, and the family unit will continue to grow in peace
"AND THE SUKKAH SHALL SERVE AS PROTECTION FROM THE RAIN"
Over the course of the month of Elul we woke up early each morning for the
recitation of Selihot. On Rosh Hashanah, we crowded the Bet Kenesset to
recite "malchiyot, zichronot, shofarot." On Yom Kippur, we spent
the entire day pouring our hearts and souls before the Almighty in prayer.
We thus completed the forty days of forgiveness, "And Hashem said, 'I have
forgiven as you have said.'" The night following Yom Kippur we picked up
our hammers and got to work on the sukkah, in fulfillment of the pasuk,
"They shall go from strength to strength."
There exists, it would therefore seem, a connection between Yom Kippur and
Sukkot. And, as we know, the final atonement is achieved only on the last
day of Sukkot, on Hoshana Rabbah.
A villager once arrived, for the first time in his life, to the big city.
He walked the streets in awe, his face glowing in excitement. He noticed
how people walked through the city carrying poles, with material spread
the top. As he walked further, he came across a store which advertised
poles in its window, poles of different colors with all types of curious
designs on the material across the top. The visitor turned to the
storekeeper and asked innocently, "Excuse me, Sir, what are these sticks?"
The merchant saw that the person talking to him was an innocent, ignorant
villager, and explained sympathetically, "This stick is called an
and it protects people from the rain."
The villager was dazzled by such a concept. "Really?" he asked. "Anyone
who acquires this stick is protected from the rain?"
The storekeeper laughed. "No, it does not guarantee protection from
rains. Look around - people are carrying them in case it will rain."
The brilliance of the umbrella subsided somewhat in the mind of the
villager. Nevertheless, his interest was aroused enough that he purchased
magnificent, colorful umbrella, if only to boast before his friends back
He returned to the village, and his friends immediately surrounded him to
hear the wonders of the big city.
"You will never believe what kind of new invention they have there!" he
exclaimed. "Do you see this stick? It is called an umbrella. And do you
know what it does? It protects people from rain!"
His friends were awe-struck by the invention. "Look, it just started to
rain," they shouted. "Let's go outside and see how it works!"
The villager, now feeling important and dignified, hung the umbrella on
shoulder as he saw the townspeople doing on that cloudy, overcast day in
city. He proudly and confidently marched outside, only to return within
minutes soaked to the skin. He bitterly remarked that he plans to go back
to city and get his money back from the merchant who caused him to make a
fool out of himself...
He stormed into the store and angrily presented his complaint to the store
The merchant was somewhat surprised to hear that there was a problem with
his merchandise. "Was there a hole in the umbrella?" he asked.
"A hole?" asked the villager, now more confused than before. "How should
know? I put the umbrella on my shoulder and I got soaking wet!"
The shopkeeper laughed uncontrollably. The poor villager was now angrier
than ever, and raised his arm prepared to smack the frivolous storekeeper,
who couldn't stop laughing. "You walked in the rain with a closed
and you got wet!? An umbrella does nothing for you when it is closed.
are supposed to open it and stand under it so the rain doesn't reach you."
For forty days we woke up in the early morning hours, we recited Selihot,
we beseeched the Almighty for a good year, a year in which all our sins
be forgiven, in which the divine light will shine upon us with blessing
prosperity. We recited the "viduy," confessing our transgressions, and we
promised that we would improve ourselves, that we would straighten
out from here on.
But all this occurred within the walls of the Bet Kenesset, in the "minor
Bet Hamikdash." The prayers eventually concluded, we returned home, we
back to our mundane routine, to our professions and businesses, and we
noticed that our lives are being conducted on two different planes. On
one hand, we experienced the purity and sanctity of sincere prayer, but on
the other plane, our lives are marked by their profanity, by their lacking
of spiritual substance.
Our Creator comes along and tells us, this cannot be. If we want His
divine protection for our lives, our possessions and our families, we must
"open the umbrella," as it were, and reside under its protection at all
times, throughout our lives: "What is the missvah of living in the
That one should eat, drink, sleep, spend his time and reside in the sukkah
all seven days, both day and night, the way he lives in his home" (Shulhan
May we see the fulfillment of the pasuk, "The sukkah shall be for us for
shade by day from heat, and as refuge and protection from storms and rain"
(Yeshayahu 4;6), and we all merit a "gemar hatimah tovah"!
FROM THE WELLSPRINGS OF THE PARASHAH
"You shall reside in the sukkot for seven days"
The Hid"a zs"l explains that the message behind the sukkah, which is but a
temporary residence, is that we must constantly remember that this world
all our possessions are temporary and fleeting. This awareness must be
reflected in the way we conduct our lives, and we must involve ourselves
worldly affairs on only a temporary basis, as Hazal say (Berachot 35b),
early pious ones made their Torah their permanent occupation and their
was only temporary. Both [their Torah and their work] were sustained."
Furthermore, the sukkah is suitable for use even if it contains only
two-and-a-half walls, symbolic of the fact that a person should not strive
to see all his wishes and desires fulfilled, and should therefore minimize
his expenses and his mundane work. This way he will find spare time for
Torah classes and thereby prepare himself for the eternal world.
"You shall reside in the sukkot for seven days"
Many scholars have discussed the well known question, why were we
to build the sukkah to commemorate the Clouds of Glory which encircled us
the desert, but we were given no missvot to commemorate any of the other
miracles which Hashem performed for us in the desert - the mann, the
and the well? Rabbi Hayyim Kefusi Baal Haness zs"l answers, we do not
commemorate miracles so that we remind ourselves of Hashem's unlimited
power. We know that full well already! Rather, we commemorate miracles
because through them Hashem's infinite love for us is manifest. The
Almighty had to provide us with mann, quail, and the well in the desert in
order that we wouldn't die of hunger or thirst. Therefore, His
extraordinary love for us was not manifest through these phenomena. The
Clouds of Glory, by contrast, signified His special affection for us as
served as extra protection from the uncomfortable conditions of the
We therefore commemorate this manifestation of our unique relationship
Hashem, in hope that we merit a "gemar hatimah tovah"!
"You shall reside in the sukkot for seven days"
The sukkot, as we know, commemorate the Clouds of Glory which encircled
Benei Yisrael as they traveled through the wilderness. There were seven
such clouds: one which traveled ahead of the camp, four on each direction
around the people, one above them and the seventh cloud beneath them
Bemidbar 10:34). The author of "Siftei Kohen" zs"l noted that the pasuk
(Devarim 8:4) says, "...and your feet did not wear out for these forty
years." How is possible that the people's feet would remain fully intact,
even though they were walking day and night for forty years? Evidently,
explains, they didn't walk. Rather, the cloud beneath them carried them,
and the nation relaxed, ate and drank as the cloud carried them like a
floating through the water.
Therefore, added the Hid"a zs"l, we were commanded to eat, drink and sleep
in the sukkah, to commemorate the way Benei Yisrael resides in the
wilderness as they were transported by the miraculous Clouds of Glory.
THE GOLDEN COLUMN
Rabbi Hayyim Hori zs"l
The sukkah commemorates the Clouds of Glory which protected Benei Yisrael
through the desert. After leaving Egypt. they demonstrated unbridled
in Hashem, going out into the wilderness with no food or water. The
Almighty, in His mercy, cared for all their needs, he led their way them
with a cloud and the pillar of fire, provided mann, quail, and water from
the well which traveled with them, and He encircled them with the Clouds
Glory. In commemoration, we leave the security of our homes and enter the
unstable environment of the sukkah, thereby demonstrating our faith in the
protection of the Almighty, for divine kindness surrounds he who trusts in
Rabbi Hayyim Hori zs"l, rabbi of Gabs, was once visiting Tunis. On his
back from prayers, he was escorted by Mr. Shalom Yonah.
The ssadik remarked, "Do you want to see the power of trust in the
Today I have to pay the innkeeper and return home. I have not a penny to
name. But I have ultimate faith in Hashem that by the time I return to
inn I will have all the money I need."
Just as he finished speaking, a Jew approached the rabbi and asked for a
berachah. The ssadik blessed him warmly, and the Jew presented him with
thousand coins. As they continued walking, another Jew approached asking
for a berachah for his son. The man received his blessing and proceeded
offer the rabbi a respectable amount of money. As they walked further, a
Jew came every few steps for a berachah, and each gave the rabbi money for
"See," said the rabbi to his escort. "They were all sent from the
in fulfillment of the pasuk, 'One who trusts in Hashem - kindness will
surround him.' Anyone who has genuine faith in the Almighty at every
moment, under any circumstance, will receive unlimited blessing!" For
reason, Sukkot, the festival of our faith in Hashem as we sit under His
protection, is also "Zeman Simhatenu," the festival of joy, for faith
carries with it divine kindness and intense joy, with no worry or anxiety.
ASKING AND EXPOUNDING
A Series of Halachot According to the Order of the Shulhan Aruch,
the Rulings of Rav Ovadia Yossef shlit"a
By Rav David Yossef shlit"a, Rosh Bet Midrash Yehaveh Da'at
Chapter 10: The Laws of Ssissit
If a garment had only three corners, and thus did not require ssissit, but
the individual tied ssissit to the three corners anyway, and then added a
fourth corner to the garment, he must untie the ssissit on the other
and then tie them on all corners. This is because the Torah writes
12:12), "You shall make fringes on the four corners of your garment with
which you cover yourself." Hazal (Masechet Menahot 40b) derive from the
term, "you shall make" that ssissit must be actually tied onto the four
cornered garment, not just be there previously. Since in our case the
ssissit were placed when no obligation existed, one must untie them and
them again after the garment reaches the point when it requires ssissit.
Even if the individual had not completed tying the ssissit while the
garment still had only three corners, but he had rather just begun by
two knots after the first "hulyah," he must nevertheless undo everything
affix the ssissit from scratch after the fourth corner is added.
If, in such a case, the individual placed ssissit onto the new, fourth
corner before he undid the other three sets of ssissit that had been
when the garment still had only three corners, then some authorities
maintain that he needs to untie now only the first three sets of ssissit.
The fourth set, which was affixed onto the new corner, need not be untied.
Some authorities, however, are stringent in this regard, and require that
this fourth set be undone, as well.
If a garment had four corners with proper ssissit, and then one of the
corners was cut and thus became round, thus exempting the garment from the
requirement of ssissit, and thereafter the rounded corner was made square,
the ssissit of the garment need not be untied and applied anew. Since
had initially been tied appropriately, as it had, at the time, required
ssissit, there is no longer a problem of having ssissit on the garment
the time prior to the requirement of ssissit.
A large, wide garment should not be folded so that ssissit could be placed
on the garment as it is folded, since should the garment subsequently be
unfolded, it will not have ssissit on its four corners; the ssissit will
in the middle of the garment, rather than on the edges. Thus, so long as
the garment is folded, ssissit should not be placed on the four corners
resulting from the folding, as we assume that at some point thereafter the
garment will be unfolded. Some authorities maintain that a folded garment
does not require ssissit at all. Since it cannot be worn unfolded due to
its large size, it is exempt from ssissit even when it is folded.
In any event, the opinion of the Shulhan Aruch is that a folded garment is
not exempt from ssissit, since it does, in fact, have four corners.
Therefore, ssissit should be affixed to the four corners that existed
to the folding. According to the Rem"a, however, ssissit should be placed
on the four corners as is currently, in its folded state. No berachah
should be recited on such a garment.
Several poskim write that optimally one should not make a garment folded
into two at all, so as not to enter into a situation subject to dispute
among the authorities. Certainly, as mentioned, no berachah should be
recited on such a garment, since a berachah is never recited when its
requirement is in doubt.
In any event, if a garment was sewn while it was folded, even if only from
one side, it requires ssissit. The ssissit should be tied on the corners
the garment as is currently, after the folding and stitching.
THE WONDERS OF CREATION
The bamboo rod is a common plant that many use for the "sechach" on their
sukkah. The bamboo is quite a remarkable plant, both in terms of its
characteristics as well as the method of its growth. Another amazing
feature of the bamboo, if you will, is the limitless number of uses that
has made from it. The bamboo is, in effect, a large grass belonging to
family of cereal plants, and it grows mainly in hotter climates. There
exist around two hundred species of bamboo and virtually all of them have
proven to be of immense economic value. Some species of bamboo are two or
three meters tall, whereas others can reach thirty-five to forty meters
high, the height of a nine-story building. Bamboo can be found along
riverbanks and tropical forests, though some species of bamboo can survive
in colder climates, as well. Scientists who researched the growth process
of the various bamboo poles found, surprisingly, that this plant grows
centimeters each day - four meters over the course of just ten days. Once
every few years, in no particular pattern, the bamboo will blossom, thus
sending millions of tiny seeds falling to the ground. Mankind has come up
with many different uses for the bamboo. Flutes and other wind
are manufactured from bamboo. A partial list of other items made from
plant includes furniture, utensils, toys, bows, pens, fans and decorative
One can only be amazed how man can derive so much benefit from what seems
such a simple plant. Undoubtedly, this testifies to man's awareness and
ingenuity, his ability to usurp nature for his needs. This reminds us
man himself lives his life by driving benefit from life, by finding
in the life he lives. It seems that man cannot survive without meaning.
Let's be honest with ourselves - without meaning it is simply impossible
live. This is the why the question constantly echoes within one who does
not observe the Torah and missvot, "So, what are we doing tonight? What
we doing today?" Such a person creates meaning for himself all the time
arranging parties, setting himself a goal to excel in such-and-such
etc. But let's face it - someone who must resort to such means of finding
significance in life deserves our pity. He is, for all intents and
purposes, a slave to the constant need to come up with meaning. For us,
meaning in life is ever present - to live complete, Jewish lives, and to
repent - that is, to turn ourselves from manufacturers of artificial
to people who live within the existing meaning of life. This privilege is
granted to all who truly seek it.
The Deserted Woman of Jerusalem (14)
A story taken from the book, "Hasaraf MiBrisk,"
the story of the life of
Maharil Diskin zs"l
Flashback: Merieshah, the deserted woman from Jerusalem, was sent by the
Seraf of Brisk to search for her unscrupulous husband in Paris. The
whom she was to contact upon arrival, happened to have come to her motel
very first night there to officiate at a wedding. She entered the wedding
hall and identified the groom as her husband, whereupon she fainted. The
rabbi spoke with her, heard her story, and then brought the groom into the
hotel manager's office for a private meeting.
As soon as the door shut behind them, the groom broke out in a lengthy
monologue. He complained of how his bad luck seems to leave him no
Even now, as he decided to begin a new chapter in his life, as he set his
mind upon ending his adventures, as he has come to marry a girl from a
well-respected family and his father-in-law invited him to join the family
business, as he is finally prepared to settle down and build his family,
start his life anew - everything once again is about to collapse, and he
will become the laughing stock of everyone around him.
He lowered his voice to an impassioned whisper: "Believe me, rabbi, my own
tragedy is not what stands before my eyes at this moment. I can do fine
my own. I am already accustomed to life on the run, to wandering from
to place, sleeping in inns and motels. I could very easily just sneak out
of here, and head over to London or emigrate to America. The entire world
is open to me. But she, the bride sitting outside waiting for me, dressed
in her wedding gown; and the parents, the relatives and guests. They will
just sit here waiting, they will suffer the most. The bride will drown
herself in tears, and her father, such a distinguished member of the
community, will assuredly die of embarrassment. I pity them, rabbi. At
least for them we must find some solution." His voice was choking from
emotion, and he drew a handkerchief from his vest-pocket to wipe away the
"Put away the handkerchief," lashed the rabbi. "I believe neither your
words nor your tears! If you had any heart at all, you would have
compassion for your poor wife, whose life and heart you destroyed. You
trying to arouse my compassion for your bride? Believe me, I will have
compassion on her if you actually marry her! Better she drown herself in
tears for a week than cry a lifetime over her marriage. Perhaps she
meet your wife to hear of her experiences!"
"No!" exclaimed the groom desperately.
"Why? I think it's a good idea," insisted the rabbi. "But first the idea
needs some confirmation," he continued, as he went to open the door...
to be continued...