September 24-October 3, 1999 15 Tishri 5760
by Rabbi Shmuel Choueka
The Midrash compares the Jews when they wave the lulab, to someone who emerges victorious from a courthouse and waves his hands up in triumph.
We see from here that by passing our judgment on Kippur, we are confident of victory and therefore we wave the lulab and other species on the Succot holiday.
We should take that as a symbol that we ought to be proud of our misvot and let them be seen by others. Some of us are embarrassed by our customs and hold the lulab and the other species in an inconspicuous manner so as not to be seen with them. We see from here that this should make us hold them upright in a way that shows we are proud of our misvot.
Indeed, the lulab is like the spine of a person which symbolizes the backbone of a Jew, which should be straight and tall. We must always hold ourselves straight and tall and realize that our misvot are what kept us around for all these years. They should make us proud to be a Jew and we should feel that confidence and security in these beautiful symbols.
Tizku Leshanim Rabot. Happy Holidays.
by Rabbi Reuven Semah
"You shall dwell in the succah for seven days" (Vayikra 23:42)
It is always a pleasure to anticipate the holiday of Succot. We leave the High Holidays on a spiritual "high" only to reach greater levels of happiness as we build and decorate our succah. It is recorded in the Talmud (Succah 11b) that there are two opinions as to what the succah represents. Rabbi Eliezer says that the Jewish people were enclosed and protected by Heavenly clouds as they traveled through the desert after leaving Egypt. These clouds protected them from possible enemies, and also provided a perfect 'climate control.' Rabbi Eliezer says the succah represents these special clouds. Rabbi Akiba holds that the Jews in the desert actually lived in little booths that protected them from the sun.
According to Rabbi Akiba, our booths represent these booths in the desert.
Rabbi Isaac Sher contemplates these two reasons and says that his first thought was that the idea of the special clouds seemed more important than the idea of the simple booths. After all, these were special clouds that Hashem sent from Heaven, and are much more important than little huts made of wood. However, with further reflection, it seems that the wooden booths are the greater ones. The clouds were sent by Hashem to the nation as a whole. They deserved the clouds by virtue of being His chosen nation, and every individual benefited from being part of that group. The nation deserved it because they followed Hashem in the desert - men, women, children and babies - without food and water. But this doesn't show Hashem's love for each and every family. But the booths were erected by each household. Where did they find the wood, the tools, the bamboo, etc.? Obviously we must conclude that each family experienced Hashem's intervention to provide a succah for them. This showed Hashem's love for each small family in the desert. These succot that Hashem helped them build protected them from the sun, dangerous creatures and more. They felt the love of a father for His children.
When we enter the succah, we should remember the clouds which showed Hashem's love for the Israelites as a nation. We should also remember the booths which showed Hashem's love for each individual, as Hashem does until today.
Tizku Leshanim Rabot!
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