OCTOBER 2-11, 2009 15-23 TISHREI 5770
"Then Jacob journeyed to Succot and built himself a house, and for his livestock he made succot." (Beresheet 33:17)
The Tur writes in his brother's name that the holiday of Succot, the third of the trio of the Shalosh Regalim, corresponds to Ya'akob Abinu. It is Ya'akob Abinu who coins the very name of this holiday, as it states in Parashat Vayishlah, "He built succot, huts, for his flock." The word flock, "miknehu," can also mean "his acquisitions. So the pasuk says that Ya'akob built for himself a house, but for his acquisitions he built succot, temporary booths.
The Sefer Nahal Kidumim explains that the great sadikim strive to build a permanent house in the next world, by observing the misvot and studying Torah. However, their worldly possessions they regard as temporary. This is the meaning of what Ya'akob did. He built for himself a permanent house for the next world but he regarded his possessions as only temporary things. This should be our attitude on the holiday of Succor, the holiday named by Ya'akob with his life's philosophy. Sitting in the Succah, a temporary booth, is a misvah which attains for us a permanent home in the next world, and our permanent home should be considered as a temporary booth.
As the holiday approaches, Rabbi Eytan Kobre suggests a short Succah quiz: When we come home from shul, do we first make our way to our home-for-the-week, the Succah, or to the familiar comfort of that wood or brick fortress nearby? Have we tried to furnish our Succah in a way that gives it the homey, inviting feel of a place where we and our family will enjoy spending time on a holiday afternoon? Do we make time for ourselves to sit quietly and just be in the Succah and absorb the precious air? The Succah has a air of holiness which the holy books describe that it is like the air of the Land of Israel and the Bet Hamikdash. Enjoy the holiday and absorb the spirit.
Shabbat Shalom, and Tizku Leshanim Rabot. Rabbi Reuven Semah
As we finish Yom Kippur and experience a beautiful closeness with Hashem, we now sit in the succah, which is like sitting in Hashem's clouds of glory. The message of the succah can be both sobering and encouraging. To the powerful and wealthy, the succah says, "Do not rely on your fortune; it is transitory. Even your castle is no more secure than a succah. If you are safe, it is because G-d shelters you as He did your ancestors when all they had was a booth over their heads. Let the starry sky you see through your s'chach teach you to build your castle on a foundation of faith under the benevolent gaze of Hashem."
To the poor and downtrodden, the succah says, "Are you more helpless than millions of your ancestors in the wilderness, without food, water or shelter? What sustained them? Who provided for them? Look around at your succah's frail walls and at the stars through its roof. Let it remind you that Israel became a nation living in such 'mansions' and that's where they became a great and G-dly nation."
Let us enjoy the holiday of Succot with the message that we are in Hashem's Hands at all times. By putting our complete faith in Him we will feel secure and tranquil and appreciate everything we have. Especially during these turbulent and trying times, we need to strengthen our faith that Hashem is the One Who can and will protect us, and the succah is the symbol of being in Hashem's Hands. May we merit to dwell in the succah which will be built for the righteous very soon in our days, Amen. Tizku Leshanim Rabot! Rabbi Shmuel Choueka
When we make Kiddush the first night of Succot, why is the berachah of Lesheb BaSuccah made first and then Shehehiyanu, while on the second night the order is reversed?
Biblically, the Yom Tob of Succot is to be celebrated one day, the fifteenth of Tishrei. The new month would be established by Bet Din on the testimony of witnesses who saw the new moon, and then messengers were dispatched to inform the public. The communities of Israel and the Diaspora that would not be reached by mid month, celebrated Yom Tob for two days out of doubt as to which day was the 15th. Though we now have a pre-calculated calendar, we continue the "custom of our parents" and observe Yom Tob two days.
A Shehehiyanu is recited at a time of joy, e.g. a Yom Tob or over a misvah which is applicable only at a certain time during the year, e.g. Shofar, reading Megillah, etc. Since there was a time when real doubt existed concerning which day was actually Yom Tob (the 15th of Tishrei) the berachah must be recited each night together with the Kiddush which ushers in the Yom Tob. A person cannot rely on the fact that he said it on the first night of Yom Tob since it is possible that it may not have been the fifteenth of Tishrei if the new month were established on the testimony of witnesses.
However, the Gemara (Succah 46a) says, "One who makes a succah for himself says Shehehiyanu. When he enters the succah during the Yom Tob to sit in it, he says the blessing of lesheb baSuccah." Nowadays, we do not recite the Shehehiyanu upon building the succah, but over the Kiddush cup.
Hence, on the first night the Shehehiyanu is both for the Yom Tob and the succah, and therefore it is recited after we make the berachah of lesheb baSuccah. On the second night there is no longer a need to make a Shehehiyanu over the succah, since (even if the first night were not Yom Tob) one has fulfilled the obligation even if the Shehehiyau were made before Yom Tob upon the completion of the erection of the succah. Therefore, since the Shehehiyanu on the second night is only for the Yom Tob (in the event that the fist night was not 15 Tishrei) and not for the misvah of succah, the Shehehiyanu is recited immediately after the Kiddush. (Vedibarta Bam)
"He who did not see the rejoicing of Bet Hasho'ebah never saw rejoicing in his lifetime" (Succah 51a)
What was so special about the rejoicing of Simhat Bet Hasho'ebah?
In describing the details of Simhat Bet Hasho'ebah, the Gemara (Succah 51a) says that everyone - men and women - would gather in the Bet Hamikdash. "There were golden candelabras fifty cubits high with four golden bowls for oil on top of each and four ladders to each. Young Kohanim would climb up each ladder carrying a pitcher containing thirty lug of oil, and when they lit the lamps the entire city of Jerusalem became illuminated. Heads of Yeshivot, members of the Sanhedrin, pious men, and men of good deeds would clap, sing and act joyously and the general populace would come to watch and listen."
Indeed there are many semahot in the Jewish community where the setting is exquisite, the palate is treated to the most sumptuous foods, the ears are regaled by the most lively music, but still the simhah is incomplete. After careful analysis, one cannot help but notice that not all segments of the community are participating, and still others are present as a result of coercion. The youth does not respect the elders and the elders do not have a common language with the youth. The "simhah" may evoke anxiety and apprehension rather than happiness and unity.
At Simhat Bet Hasho'ebah the people who set the mood were the rashei yeshivah, Hasidim and men of good deeds, and the young illuminated the area under their tutelage and guidance. Simhah in which unity and respect are evident is profound and true simhah. (Vedibarta Bam)
"You shall dwell in booths for seven days…So that your generations will know that I caused the Children of Israel to dwell in booths when I took them out of the land of Egypt" (Vayikra 23:42-43)
Why is the festival of Succot connected to both the time of harvest and the Jews' dwelling in succot during their sojourn in the wilderness?
The message of the succah is two-fold: When the Jews lived in Eres Yisrael, worked the land, and prospered, there was a danger that they would begin to think that it was their strength and wisdom that earned them their wealth. Consequently, when they gathered their crops and their success brought them into a jubilant spirit, Hashem commanded that they dwell in succot to teach them that life on this earth is temporary and that there are no strong "fortresses" that we can build for ourselves. The succah is covered with sechach, through which one can look up and see the heavens, alluding to the fact that our abodes are temporary and our security is dependent on Hashem in the heaven above.
The trials and tribulations of exile create the danger that the Jews, G-d forbid, will suffer disillusionment. Therefore, Hashem gave the Jewish people the festival of succot, "So that your generations will know that I caused the Children of Israel to dwell in booths when I took them out of the land of Egypt - and just as I protected them then and ultimately brought them to safety, so too, will I be with the Jewish people wherever they will be and ultimately bring them Mashiah and cause them to sit in the succah made from the skin of Livyatan." (Vedibarta Bam)
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