Back to this week's parsha | Previous Issues

by Daneal Weiner

From the Orchards of Jerusalem

It's a mad house I tell you- a mad house. I don't know why we have to move out to the Sukkah for the realization of this transient existence because the house itself is inside out. Thank G-d we can go out to the Sukkah for a sense of order. But then again, we didn't get that either. Rain and winds turned our Sukkahs outside in. Something is wrong with this picture!

Here's a picture I'm sure you'll like. :) But seriously folks, its says in... in...Jebudiah, bring me my bible... in Leviticus, when it describes the holiday of


23:40, "And you shall take yourselves on the first day the fruit of the Hader tree, of the date palm, the leaves of the hyssop and willow..." (close enough anyway) Before the blessing on these 4 minim (species) most siddurs have a prayer, Y'he Rotsone, in which is said that the 4 minim parallel the 4 letter name of G-d. "...osiyos shimcha hamiyuchad tikarev echad el echad v'hoyu l'achadim b'yadi v'laidah aich shimchah nikrah alai..." "...the letters of Your Name You should bring close, one to one, and unite them in my hand and to know how Your Name is called upon me..." Looks good, huh? Problem is that the Arizal says the 5 books of Moses parallel the FIVE parts of G-ds name; the last 4 books to the 4 letters and the first book to the inscribed crown on the letter yud!

By the way, this reminds me of something I heard from Rabbi Akivah Tatz. When one reads the last 4 books one reads the pshot (the basic contextual understanding of the verse) and has to delve in to understand the deeper meaning. But when one reads Breishis one reads the deeper meaning and has to delve in to figure out what the pshot is. This sounds very much like what the Arizal says. The last four books parallel (in G-d's Name) the basic, obvious letters but Breishis parallels this mysterious encoded crown. Not a digression but lets say a related ramble.

The question is, if G-d's 4 letter name is really 5 parts, then why aren't there 5 minim??? Ya' hear the question, Jebudiah?

Rav Wolfson says the answer is already revealed in understanding the extra portion of the Y'he Ratsone I quoted- "...and to know how Your Name is called upon me..." G-d's Name is on the 4 minim and on us too! WE are the missing species paralleling the sublime crowm over the Yud!!

After bringing ourselves back into G-d's domain with the month of Elul and recognizing He is King with Rosh Hashanah and repenting the 10 days till the spiritually cleansing service of Yom Kippur we have perfected ourselves just like the other 4 species we drive ourselves nuts over, searching for the perfect ones. (Those whom you over hear saying, "Just give me the cheapest you got! Kosher is Kosher!" ...`nuff said.) And this brings us back to the verse from Leviticus, "Take yourselves, the fruit, the palm, etc." Not for yourselves which is the pshot. Take YOU yourselves! We are species #1!!! Next time someone puts out their hand, give them a real shake! (Careful not to poke the person behind you.)

Speaking of the perfect minim, the laws of the etrog can be ignorantly summed up as, it has to be Shalaym- whole. All marks and specks and blemishes are a question of what happened to the etrog when and does that render it not whole. Etrog is spelled Aleph, Tav, Reish, Gimmel. Not only does the Etrog have to be Shalaym but the Aleph stands for Emunah Shalayma, the Tav, Tshuva Shalayma, the Reish, Refua Shalayma, and the Gimmel, Geula Shalayma. All the things we pray and wish should be in their entirety are reflected in the etrog.

Such a cute, simple little vort and yet it reveals the unimaginable. No mitsva stands alone. Each one and every law of each one is just a minute part, a facet, if you will, a proverbial puzzle piece, shall I say but a mere neuron of the billions of interdependant connections we call the Judaic brain. Imagine a brain surgeon comes along. One with new ideas. He wants to conserve, yet reform neurology. So he opens up your brain and says, "This This onnnnnnnne, don't like it. Don't know WHAT these are doing here? This operates right motor skills and this left?! How extremity-insensitive. Lets connect 'em all together. A stronger right hand? The left has rights too. This half creative and this half analytic? Sorry. Not politically correct." If you wouldn't let such a quack near your brain, why let him/her near your soul? But I digress. Probably a digression more important than the rest of the edition but a digression none-the-less.

So much for a little Sukkos vort. Just around the corner is

Hoshannah Rabbahah.

We've almost reached the pinnacle of our climb. A week before Rosh Hashanah we started saying Slichos during which we opened the Ark to recite a paragraph. This continued thru till Yom Kippur when we left the Ark open for the entire N'ilah service. Then came Sukkos in which we open the Ark and take out a Sefer Torah for the whole congregation to circle. Now, on HoshanahRabbah, we take out all the Torah scrolls and circle them 7 times. Almost there.

Speaking of 7, Its was on the 7th day that G-d completed creating the world. It is against these 7 days that Psalm 29 has the word `kol', `voice' 7 times. The wisdom of these `voices' is that they in turn parallel the 7 fundamental notes of the music scale. This psalm or zemer is the 7th of the Kabbalas Shabbos, the Friday night service which welcomes in the 7th day. With the 7th zemer, the scale is complete and the singing can begin. And it does... "Le-echa dodiii likras kaaalah..."

In the medrish, Pirkei D'Rebbi Eliezer, it's brought down that there are 7 seas in the world, the 7th being Israel's Kineret. Every Shabbos morning we add the prayer Nishmas kol chai in which we say, "Eelu finu malai shira k'yam," "Even if our mouths were filled with song like the sea." The pshot of the verse means `like the sea is filled with water' but Chazal say that the 7 seas sing G-d's praise and it is the Kineret which leads them in song.

Of the 7 `pure' animals listed in the Torah, the list is complete only by the 7th animal, the Zemer. Very different but similar is the list of 7 ushpizin, the 7 guests welcomed into our Sukkahs. David Hamelech, the composer, singer and accompanyment to Psalms is the 7th ushpizin. His instrument of choice is the Kinor, the 7 string harp which shares the same root letters as Kineret.

The 7 days of Sukkos parallel the 7 days in which the world was created and on Sukkos sacrafices were offered on behalf of the 70 nations of the world. Comparable to the Sabbath service which is a time worthy of song and praise so too is Hoshanah Rabbah.Hoshanah Rabbah is the only nonİconsecrated day of the year when we say the Shabbos morning `Psukai d'Zimra' which consists of about twice as many zmiros of David Hamelech as the weekday.

The Ba'al Hatanya, the first Lubavitcher Rabbi, explained that the 7th day of Pesach is like the Shabbos of Pesach and the Torah does command us to consecrate it. It is a holiday in that all non-cooking related work is forbidden. On Hoshanah Rabbah we're already saying Shabbos morning prayers yet we weren't commanded to make it holy. Why isn't this 7th day a consecrated day as well?

Our Sages tell us that Rosh Hashanah has with it an aspect of the fear of Yitschak. Fear of recognizing G-d as King. Yom Kippur has with it the mercy of Yaakov. Only with G-d's mercy do we have a chance of surviving. And they continue that it's Hoshanah Rabbah which has the kindness of Avraham Aveinu. The kindness is that it is not a holy day in which only few have the ability to rise to meet it. It is a weekday by which all of Bnei Yisrael have the ability to relate to it. Not just those Jews like the Esrog who smell and taste the splendor of Torah and mitsvos but even those like Aravos, the willow leaves, barren of the taste and smell.

During Hallel, when we shake the minim in all 6 directions by the words "Give thanks to Hashem for he is good, for forever is His kindness," it is at the word `kindness' that the minim are shaken towards the ground. A similar indication of the kindness extended to those whose live's are connected only to the temporal existence of the earth.

It just occured to me, Hoshanah Rabbah is also when we take the Aravos and whack 'em against the ground. Think about that one! And while you're doing that, I'll move on to the pinnacle, the peak, the climax, the zennith, the culmination of it all...

Shmini Atseres/Simchas Torah

The Ark is opened, all the Torah Scrolls are taken out and everybody sings and dances, circling 7 times WITH the Torah scrolls in hand! Since the 7 days of creation, 7 symbolizes nature. 8 represents beyond nature. During the 7 days of Sukkos the `nature' is the distance between us and Torah. We encircle it like its ours but we really have no connection. Its is perfect and infinite and we are flawed and finite. It is only on day 8, when we step outside of nature that with the kindness of H' we can take the Torah in our arms and dance with it in our circle celebrating our acquisition.

Shmini Atseres reaches another kind of a peak in that a regular Parsha is read from the Torah, giving it a kind of a Shabbos like status shared by no other holiday. Both this and the previous paragraph are my ideas. Feel free to print them and wrap some fish.

To hear from someone who knows, Rav Wolfson brings the Shulchan Aruch, the Laws of Sukkos saying the reason for the Sukkah is a commemeration to the Clouds of Glory. Actually, in the Gemorah it is a debate between Rabbi Eliezer and Rabbi Akivah as to the reason for the Sukkah. Rabbi Eliezer says it's in memory of the Clouds of Glory and Rabbi Akivah says its because of the actual Sukkahs B'Y had to live in in the desert. A rule in the Gemorah is that when Rabbi Akivah argues with a single fellow Sage, Rabbi Akivah wins. He has the superior understanding of Written and Oral law. Why does the Shulchan Aruch quote Rabbi Eliezer?

A commentary earlier than the Shulchan Aruch offers an answer by way of his own explanaton of the Gemorah. The Rokayach says that when Rabbi Akivah refered to the actual sukkahs, he was refering to the time they needed actual sukkahs- when those who went out to war had to leave the protection of the Clouds of Glory and had to build shelters by the battle fields. The obvious question, what kind of shelter is a sukkah? A trench, ok. A bunker, for sure. But a sukkah?

The Rokayach continues to explain that even though these men left the Clouds of Glory, it's protective force accompanied them into their Sukkahs. The shade of their roofs was actually the protective shadow of H'. So Rabbi Akivah's sukkahs were actual extensions of the Clouds of Glory which makes the Shulchan Aruchs reason as much Rav Akivah's as it is Rabbi Eliezer's. This idea is also the idea of Shmini Atseres. For 7 days we dwelled in the Clouds of Glory. Now that we leave it the protection follows us into the house. The Sfas Emes puts it that the sukkah comes into the house on Shmini Atseres. It gets even better.

Other Torah giants say that the sukkah is the idea of the Bais Hamikdash itself! Even though the Torah commands the 4 minim only the first day, Chazal decreed it should be taken all 7 days in memory of the Bais Hamikdash. We have a few things in memory of the destruction of the Bais Hamikdash, but what else have Chazal said is in rememberance of it? Perhaps this is what the Arizal had in mind when he said that one should bring the 4 minim into the sukkah. Why bless on it in the house when you could be standing in the air of the Bais Hamikdash?

Rather than our hearts should fill with sorrow that the end of this magnificent holiday is upon us, Rav Wolfson brings advice from the Maharal based on a Gemorah in Brachos. "Since the day the Bais Hamikdash was destroyed, there isn't to H', in His world [such an ediface] but the 4 amos of halacha." The Maharal backs this up with another Chazal in Gemorah Menachos which says "Whoever busies himself with [learning] the laws of the Sin Offering it is as if he offered it up."

The advice is clear. To continue to dwell in the atmosphere of the Bais Hamikdash, even in exile, all we need do is make for ourselves our 4 amos of Torah and mitsvas. Rather than show sadness for what we leave behind we take out the Torahs and happily rejoice for what we take with us. With the Simchas of Torah we sing "The year to come in Jerusalem." Not this time next year in Jerusalem but every day of the year it should be like we're in Jerusalem, in the holiest place of the holy city.

The Medrish tells us that when H' created the world He built Himself a sukkah on the Temple Mount. With the destruction of the Temple H's sukkah was also destroyed. In the days to come Chazal say H' will build for us a sukkah made of the skin of the Leviathan. Leviathan comes from the root `Levia', which means `escort.' In the merit of our sitting in the Sukkah and in the merit our 4 amos of Torah and Mitsvos which brings the sanctity of the sukkah into our daily lives, may it be an awakening from below to on High so H' will soon rebuild His sukkah in our Holy city and build our sukkah of the Leviathan that we all may sit in it's protective walls and dwell eternally in the shadow of it's Creator. Chag Samayach!!!

Back to this week's parsha| Previous Issues