Thoughts on the Weekly Parshah by HaRav Eliezer Chrysler
Formerly Rav of Mercaz Ahavat Torah, Johannesburg

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Vol. 20   No. 52

This issue is sponsored l'iluy Nishmas Yitel bas Aba " with love from her family

Succos

Under the Wings of the Shechinah

The Mishnah at the beginning of Succah invalidates a Succah that whose height is less than ten Tefachim.

In answer to the question from where we learn this (See Daf 4b & 5a) the Gemara initially cites Rebbi Meir, who maintains that the Aron ha'Kodesh that Betzalel made was ten Tefachim tall (one and a half Amos, each Amah consisting of six Tefachim), plus the tefach-thick lid. It bases this theory on a statement of Rebbi Yossi, who states that the Shechinah never descended to a point lower than ten Tefachim - and we know that G-d spoke to the people from the lid of the Aron. From here we see that below ten Tefachim and above it are two different domains. Hence a Succah that is less than ten Tefachim tall is invalid.

The Seifer Chochmas Chayim, based on the Aruch la'Ner who explains the Gemara a little differently, cites the Zohar, which refers to the S'chach of the Succah as 'Tzila di'Meheimnusa'. This means that when somebody sits in the Succah, he is actually sitting in the shade of the Shechinah - he is under Divine protection.

With this Zohar, he explains, we can better understand the otherwise strange connection between the Succah and the Aron ha'Kodesh and its lid. Moreover, it is now feasible to explain that a Succah that is less than ten Tefachim is Pasul, because the Shechinah will not rest on the S'chach, and according to the Zohar, that is the essence of Succah.

More about this Zohar later.

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The Gemara refutes this explanation however. It finally learns the Din of less than ten Tefachim from the K'ruvim (cherubs) in the Mishkan, whose wings were spread out ten Tefachim above the Aron. And the proof for a minimum height of ten tefachim is based on the fact that the Torah uses the expression "sochechim (derivative of S'chach) be'chanfeihem al ha'kapores" (covering the lid with their wings).

This answer too, is based on the opinion of Rebbi Meir, whom we quoted earlier. According to Rebbi Yehudah, who maintains that the Amos of the Holy Vessels comprised five tefachim, all this does not work out. According to him, the Shi'ur of ten Tefachim is included in the principle that all measurements are Halachah le'Moshe mi'Sinai. Incidentally, the Aruch la'Ner explains why we rule like Rebbi Meir regarding the measurements of the Holy Vessels, despite the fact that we generally accept the opinion of Rebbi Yehudah against Rebbi Meir. It is because Rebbi Yossi, whom we quoted earlier, holds like Rebbi Meir, and a. we generally Pasken like Rebbi Yossi against his contemporaries, and b. it is a majority opinion.

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In view of Rava, who explained on Daf 4a that a Succah whose S'chach protrudes below ten Tefachim into the air-space of the Succah because it is a 'Dirah Seruchah' (a Succah that is not fit to live in), the commentaries ask why the Gemara then needs to find another source for the P'sul of a Succah that is less than ten Tefachim tall.

They offer three explanations (See for example Aruch la'Ner): 1. Rava's reason is Lechatchilah, but Bedieved, the Succah there is Kasher. A Succah of less than ten Tefachim is Pasul. 2. Rava's reason is de'Rabbanan. A Succah of less than ten Tefachim is Pasul min ha'Torah. 3. The Gemara's latter reason refers not to the height of the S'chach, but to the height of the walls, even where the S'chach is above ten Tefachim and Rava's reason is not applicable.

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Earlier we referred to the 'Tzila di'Meheimnusa' mentioned by the Zohar. Chazal inform us that the Succah must be a Diras Arai (a temporary dwelling), and that come Succos, one should take leave of our Diras K'va (our permanent residence) to go and live in a Diras Arai for seven days. The message takes on a deep significance if it is seen in conjunction with the Zohar.

A person living on his own needs to may sure that his house is well protected against thieves and against the elements. This will generally entail much time and money to achieve. This is not necessary however, as long as he is living with his parents, whom he knows will lovingly see to all his needs, including protecting him against all forms of harm.

On Succos, we leave the safety of our protected homes to go and live in temporary unprotected structures. This is a public demonstration of faith. It is an announcement that we are about to move to the safety of the Tzila di'Meheimnusa - the Divine protection of our Father in Heaven.

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The Four Species - a Korban

" Bind the festival offering with cords on to the corners of the Mizbe'ach" (Tehilim 118:27).

Seeing this as a hint to the Mitzvah of Lulav, the Gemara in Succah (Daf 45) comments that it is said about whoever takes a threesome Hadas and the bound Lulav, it is as if he has brought a Korban to Hashem.

An exciting prospect indeed, today, when we cannot otherwise bring Korbanos.

There are three Mitzvos by which the Torah uses the word "lochem": Lulav ("u'Lekachten lochem"); Counting the Omer ("u'Sefartem lachem") and Tzitzis ("ve'Hoyu lochem").

Hence, says the Yalkut Yitzchak, they are all performed standing.

We learn the other two from Omer, where the Torah specifically writes "When the scythe begins to cut the standing corn (ba'komoh" [with reference to counting the Omer]). Chazal say 'Don't read it "Ba'komoh", but be'koimoh" (in a standing position).

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Succos

" because I settled Yisrael in huts (ba'Succos) when I took them out of Egypt" (23:43).

Rebbi Akiva and Rebbi Eliezer argue over the interpretation of the word "ba'Succos" - whether it refers literally to 'huts' (R. Akiva) or 'Clouds of Glory' (R. Eliezer).

It is easy to understand what is special about the Clouds of Glory and why we need to commemorate them, Indeed, the Shulchan Aruch rules like R. Eliezer, and it is important to bear this in mind as, there is a specific Mitzvah to mention the miracle that G-d performed with us at that time. But it is not at first clear what is so special about huts, and why we need to mention them at all?

The answer is that it is well and good to construct huts when living in an area where wood is readily available, and where there is no shortage of stores where building materials are readily available. But when one thinks in terms of having to construct tens of thousands of huts in a desert, where trees do not grow and where there is nobody from whom to purchase wood, it can only be attributed to a wondrous miracle, made even more significant by the question as to what sort of tools they used and from where they obtained them? As Rabeinu Bachye points out; The Mitzvah of Succah reminds us that so many hundreds of thousands of people, men women and children lived for forty years in an uninhabitable desert, with all their needs, such as food, housing and clothes automatically supplied.

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Hosha'na Rabah

The Yalkut Yitzchak remarks that Yom Kipur takes place ten days after Rosh Hashanah ('Yud'); Succos, five days after Yom Kipur ('Hey'); and Hosha'na Rabah, six days after Succos ('Vav'). Note that these numbers spell the basic letters of G-d's Holy Name (as the second 'Hey' in His Name is but a repetition of the first).

Citing the Rokei'ach, he points out how on the seventh day of Succos, the Torah writes "ke'mishpotom" (in the plural), a hint that how G-d judges each individual on Rosh Hashanah and seals on Yom Kipur, is reflected in a person's shadow on the eve of Hosha'na Rabah. That is why in Tehilim, he explains, the Pasuk writes "before Hashem when he comes, when He comes (twice)" - once corresponding to Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kipur, and once corresponding to Hosha'ana Rabah.

Also, he says, Nisuch ha'Mayim (the Water Pouring ceremony) is hinted on the three days of Succos (in the extra letters of "ve'NiskeiheM", "u'NesocheYhoh" and "ke'MishpotoM" (which together spell 'Mayim'). This in turn, he explains, corresponds to the Pasuk in Tehilim "Shofech BUZ ('Beis' 'Vav' 'Zayin') al nedivim", with reference to punishing the affluent.

It is at the end of Succos that G-d allocates water (symbolical of Parnasah) to every person. Consequently, the night before, it is essential to know exactly how many portions are required. So the angels make a reckoning. When they come across somebody who is destined to die during the year, they announce that so and so has no need of water. "Their shadow has been removed from on them" (as Kalev said about the Cana'anim, in an attempt to convince the people that they were all as good as dead). Therefore he says, in the Pasuk "Sor tzilom me'aleihem, va'Hashem itonu", "Sor tzilom me'eleihem" has the same Gematriyah as "Sor shonoh", because anyone whose shadow has been removed on the night of Hosha'nah will not survive the year.

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