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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 the 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, and, 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 same.

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 'nahat'"?

However, such joyous harmony is possible only when both parent and child attach themselves simultaneously to the same tree and together receive their 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 commit themselves together to their roots, to their heritage, only then will their tastes be equivalent, and the family unit will continue to grow in peace and harmony.


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 virtually 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 over the top. As he walked further, he came across a store which advertised such 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 umbrella, 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 stormy 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 a magnificent, colorful umbrella, if only to boast before his friends back in the village.

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 his shoulder as he saw the townspeople doing on that cloudy, overcast day in the 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 owner. 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 I 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 umbrella and you got wet!? An umbrella does nothing for you when it is closed.

You 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 will be forgiven, in which the divine light will shine upon us with blessing and prosperity. We recited the "viduy," confessing our transgressions, and we promised that we would improve ourselves, that we would straighten ourselves 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 went back to our mundane routine, to our professions and businesses, and we noticed that our lives are being conducted on two different planes. On the 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 sukkah?

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 Aruch, 639).

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"!


"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 and all our possessions are temporary and fleeting. This awareness must be reflected in the way we conduct our lives, and we must involve ourselves in worldly affairs on only a temporary basis, as Hazal say (Berachot 35b), "The early pious ones made their Torah their permanent occupation and their work 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 commanded to build the sukkah to commemorate the Clouds of Glory which encircled us in 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 quail, 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 they served as extra protection from the uncomfortable conditions of the desert. We therefore commemorate this manifestation of our unique relationship with 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 (Rashi, 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, he 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 ship 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.


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 trust 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 of 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 Hashem!

Rabbi Hayyim Hori zs"l, rabbi of Gabs, was once visiting Tunis. On his way back from prayers, he was escorted by Mr. Shalom Yonah.

The ssadik remarked, "Do you want to see the power of trust in the Creator?

Today I have to pay the innkeeper and return home. I have not a penny to my name. But I have ultimate faith in Hashem that by the time I return to the 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 one thousand coins. As they continued walking, another Jew approached asking for a berachah for his son. The man received his blessing and proceeded to 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 his blessing.

"See," said the rabbi to his escort. "They were all sent from the Heavens, 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 this 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.


A Series of Halachot According to the Order of the Shulhan Aruch,
Based on 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 corners and then tie them on all corners. This is because the Torah writes (Devarim 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 tie 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 tying two knots after the first "hulyah," he must nevertheless undo everything and 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 placed 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 they 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 from 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 be 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 prior 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 of the garment as is currently, after the folding and stitching.


The Bamboo

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 man has made from it. The bamboo is, in effect, a large grass belonging to the 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 forty 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 instruments are manufactured from bamboo. A partial list of other items made from this plant includes furniture, utensils, toys, bows, pens, fans and decorative baskets.

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 that man himself lives his life by driving benefit from life, by finding meaning 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 to 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 are we doing today?" Such a person creates meaning for himself all the time by arranging parties, setting himself a goal to excel in such-and-such course, 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, the meaning in life is ever present - to live complete, Jewish lives, and to repent - that is, to turn ourselves from manufacturers of artificial meaning 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 rabbi, whom she was to contact upon arrival, happened to have come to her motel her 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 respite.

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, to 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 on my own. I am already accustomed to life on the run, to wandering from place 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 tears.

"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 are trying to arouse my compassion for your bride? Believe me, I will have more 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 should 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...

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