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SEPTEMBER 20-29, 2002 15-23 TISHREI 5763


"In succot you shall dwell...because I placed the Children of Israel in succot when I took them out of Egypt" (Vayikra 23:42-43)

Many have asked the following question: The verse quoted above states that Hashem placed the Jewish people in succot when they left Egypt. It is known that the Jews left Egypt in the springtime month of Nisan. If so, why did Hashem give us the misvah to be observed in Tishrei, which is in the fall? Many good answers have been given to this question. Rabbi Abraham Pam z"l adds a beautiful insight with another true answer.

The builder of the second Bet Hamikdash was Nehemiah. He was a minister to the king of Persia. Nehemiah heard about the frightening conditions of the Jewish remnant in Jerusalem. The people dwelling there were constantly subject to attacks by marauding armies. Nehemiah cried and mourned for his fellow Jews. As a result of this, he appeared extremely sad and depressed. When the king saw Nehemiah, he was startled. How could Nehemiah look so sad? Wasn't he a minister to the king? This alone should always make him happy. Nehemiah was in danger of being punished by the insulted king. However, Nehemiah explained his reason, which found favor in the eyes of the king. The king gave him permission to go to Jerusalem and rebuild the Temple.

This story teaches us that a servant of the king must appear happy, since he is lucky enough to be his servant. On Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur we all coronated Hashem as our King. We made Him our King with songs and praises befitting the Great King. Therefore, afterwards, Hashem gave His people the holiday of Succot, a time of happiness. He gives us an opportunity to celebrate with Him under His royal canopy - the succah. The servants of the king should publicly show their happiness, because this gives honor to the King. We now understand why we have this holiday of happiness right after the Days of Awe. Have a wonderful holiday. Rabbi Reuven Semah

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. Rabbi Shmuel Choueka


"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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