Thoughts on the Weekly Parshah by HaRav Eliezer Chrysler
Formerly Rav of Mercaz Ahavat Torah, Johannesburg

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Vol. 10   No. 53

This issue is sponsored by the Glassman Family
Jerusalem - Efrat - Johannesburg - Edenvale
in loving memory of their grandmother
Zahavah bas Chayim Yosef Luria z"l


The Water Libation

The significance of the Nisuch ha'Mayim ceremony can best be explained by stressing the fact that the Simchas Beis ha'Sho'eivah that preceded it took place in its honour. If Chazal describe the Simchah that took place throughout the night as an unparalleled experience, then the ceremony itself must have been exceptionally meaningful. Indeed, Chazal have taught that Nisuch ha'Mayim was the catalyst that brought in its wake a bountiful rain season (and what would we not do today to have the rainfall under our control?).

In fact, the source for the above combination (of the water libation together with the Simchah) is the Pasuk in Yeshayah (12:3) "And you shall draw water with joy".

And if Chazal also explained the word 'water' in this context to mean Ru'ach ha'Kodesh (because Yisrael attained levels of Divine revelation on Succos), then that is surely a direct result of the joy that they experienced in the knowledge that G-d is both Almighty and Good. Because Simchah shel Mitzvah leads to the highest levels.


Nisuch ha'Mayim, says the Rambam in Hilchos Temidin (10:6), is Halachah le'Moshe mi'Sinai. In addition, it is hinted in the Torah (in the Musafin in Parshas Pinchas), where (in one of the various hints) the Torah inserts an extra 'Mem', 'Yud' and 'Mem' (which spell 'mayim'), when, instead of "ve'niskoh", it writes "ve'niskeihem", "u'nesochehoh" and "ke'mishpotom" on the second, sixth and seventh days respectively.

The Mishnah in Sucah (5:4 & 4:9) describes the ceremony that took place in the time of the second Beis-Hamikdash, which began at dawn-break of the second day, immediately following the first night of the Simchas Beis-ha'Sho'eivah. The ceremony began with the two Kohanim, who were standing, trumpets in hand, at the upper gate (Sha'ar Nikanor) which led from the Azarah via fifteen steps (corresponding to the fifteen 'Shir ha'Ma'alos' composed by David Hamelech) to the Ezras Nashim. The moment the cock crowed, they blew 'Teki'ah, Teru'ah, Teki'ah' (a signal to begin the proceedings), and the Kohen with the golden flask (that held three Lugin) began his descent, led by the Kohanim and followed by a procession of onlookers. When they reached the tenth step, the Kohanim again blew 'Teki'ah, Teru'ah, Teki'ah', and they continued to blow until they reached the Ezras Nashim, which they duly crossed.

Upon reaching the eastern gate, they turned their faces westwards and declared 'Our fathers who were in this place (in the time of the first Beis-Hamikdash), facing east, with their (uncovered) backs to the Heichal, prostrated themselves to the sun; but our eyes are turned towards G-d ... (le'Koh eineinu)'.


The procession then made its way to the Shilo'ach (a spring that was situated not far from Yerushalayim, and filled the flask with water, before returning to the Azarah via the Sha'ar ha'Mayim (one of the southern gates of the Azarah. Once they reached the Sha'ar ha'mayim, the Kohanim would again blow three notes on the trumpets, and the Kohen with the now full flask, ascended the ramp of the Mizbei'ach. This was timed to coincide with the pouring of the wine of the Tamid shel Shachar, as we shall see.

Upon reaching the top of the ramp, the Kohen turned left, and walked to the south-western Keren (a wooden block on the corner of the Mizbei'ach), where he found two silver bowls, one behind the other; the western one for water, the eastern one, for wine. Each one contained a hole, the western hole was slightly smaller, the eastern one, slightly larger, so that the water and the wine of the Nesech (which were poured out simultaneously), should empty simultaneously, too. (This is based on the fact that wine is slightly denser than water). In the event that one inadvertently poured them into the wrong bowls, it did not matter.

As the Kohen began to pour the water into the bowl, they would order him to raise his hand for all to see (so that they should not suspect him of being a Tzedoki, a sect that did not accept anything not written expressly in the Torah, and that therefore denied Nisuch ha'Mayim). Because on one occasion, a Kohen Gadol Tzedoki poured the water at his feet, and the people pelted him with their Esrogim.


Rebbi Yehudah disagrees with the Chachamim in three of the above details. According to him - 1. ... the procession, on its way to the Shilo'ach, did not just say 'Our eyes are turned to G-d', but added 'and to G-d are our eyes turned'; 2. ... the bowls were made, not of silver, but of lime (only they looked silvery, because of the wine that was constantly poured into them); 3. ... the Nisuch ha'Mayim did not last seven days with three Lugin of water, but eight (including Shemini Atzeres) with one Lug.


Trumpets Only

The Mishnah in Ta'anis teaches us that in the Beis-Hamikdash they would always blow on both trumpets and on Shofros, though their placing differed on Rosh Hashanah and on fast-days, as did the length of their respective blasts.

It is significant that for the Simchas Beis-ha'Sho'eivah, there is no mention of Shofros, implying that they only blew trumpets. The reason for this, one may assume, is as follows. The trumpets signify Midas Rachamim and Simchah; the Shofar, Midas ha'Din and Teshuvah (as the Ha'amek Davar explains [as quoted in the Rosh Hashanah issue]). On the two occasions mentioned in Ta'anis, it is a matter of balance (for we are obligated to accept even G-d's Midas ha'Din with Simchah, as we learn in the Mishnah in B'rachos, and on the other hand, it is essential for one's joy to be tempered with Din).

But the Simchas Beis ha'Sho'eivah is different. Anyone who has not witnessed the Simchas Beis ha'Sho'eivah, says the Mishnah in Sucah, has never seen Simchah in his life. There, the Midas ha'Din had no place, and that's why the Shofar was not blown!


Where Heaven and Earth Meet

We cited above the Mishnah in Sucah, which describes how the procession on their way to Shilo'ach, stopped on the tenth step, and the Kohanim blew the trumpets.

The Gemara is not sure whether they stopped on the tenth step from the top (leaving five steps to go), or the tenth step from the bottom, (having already descended five steps).

The She'eilah may require elaboration (what difference does it make whether it was ten steps from the top or ten steps from the bottom). One thing however, is clear. The ten ('Yud') and the five ('Hey') represent the two letters with which Hashem created the two worlds, as is well known. And not only that, but the Name of G-d that they spell is the Name which figures prominently in the Beis-Hamikdash (as we learned above ... ' le'Koh eineinu').

Bearing in mind that earth represents Olam ha'Zeh, and Heaven, Olam ha'Ba, can it perhaps have something to do with the fact that the Beis-Hamikdash is the location where Heaven and earth meet? And can that in turn, have any connection with the fact that in Heaven, there is a Beis-Hamikdash shel Ma'alah, corresponding exactly with the Beis-Hamikdash shel Matah, as Chazal have taught?


Succos Snippets

Sucah v Lulav

Considering that Sucah is the predominant Mitzvah of the Yom-tov (as indicated by the name of the Chag), why, asks the Ha'amek Davar, does the Pasuk in Emor first deal with the Mitzvah of Lulav, and only then, with that of Sucah?

And he explains it with the Medrash, which connects Succos to Yom Kipur with the Mashal of the captain who returned victorious from the battlefront and who brandished his sword, waving it in all directions in his elation. So too, after having vanquished the Satan (and his prosecuting cohorts) on Yom Kipur, we demonstrate our elation by brandishing our Lulavim (which resemble swords, perhaps in more ways than one). This idea may well be connected to the concept of Teshuvah out of fear (Yom Kipur) and Teshuvah out of love (Succos).

In any event, the Ha'amek Davar concludes, based on this Medrash, that it makes good sense to go from Yom-Kipur to the Mitzvah of Lulav, and from there, to the Mitzvah of Sucah.


Maybe we can add, that whereas the four species symbolize this world, as the commentaries explain, based on the material items that they comprise, Sucah, which is reminiscent of the Sucah of the Livyasan (as we say in the 'Yehi Rotzon' that we recite before taking leave of the Sucah) symblizes Olam ha'Ba. In that case, the sequence is correct - first Olam ha'Zeh, and then Olam ha'Ba.


Eating in the Rain

The Magen Avraham rules that on the first night of Succos, when eating in the Sucah is mandatory, one is obliged to eat in the Sucah even if it is raining.

The Torah Temimah queries this from a logistical point of view, based on the D'rashah "Teishvu", 'ke'ein taduru' (to live in the Sucah as we live in the house). It is obvious that nobody in his right mind would sit in the house under a leaking roof, if he had an alternative. So what difference does it make whether eating a particular meal is obligatory or not? By the same token, he adds, would we obligate someone who was only able to eat a k'Zayis of Matzah on the first night of Pesach in a way that one does not usually benefit from it, to eat it because he is obligated to do so?

Neither can we ascribe this ruling to a Chumra, since Chazal have already said that someone who is Patur from a Mitzvah, and yet insists on performing it, is called a Hedyot (an idiot).

And the Torah Temimah even proves his point from the Gemara in Sucah (27a), which queries Rava, who exempts someone who is 'Mitzta'er' from eating in the Sucah, from the Mishnah which exempts a sick person and those who are serving him from eating in the Sucah, implying that a 'Mitzta'er' is not Patur.

Now, according to the Magen Avraham (which is based on the Rosh and the Ran), why did the Gemara not reply that the Mishnah is speaking about the first night (when a Mitzta'er is Chayav), whereas Rava is speaking about the other days of Sucos?


The Shape of the Hosha'anos

The commentaries explain that the four species represent the four major limbs with which we serve Hashem, the heart (Esrog), the spinal cord (i.e. the body - the Lulav), the eyes (the Hadasim) and the mouth (the Aravos).

This explains why we take specifically the Hosha'anos on Hosha'ana Rabah (and put down the other species). After all, the order of the day is Tefilah (which we enact with our mouths and) which is evident in the length of the Davening and the many extra Tefilos that we add in the form of Hosha'anos, So it makes good sense to hold the Hosha'anos as we reach the climax of our Tefilos, to remind us to adhere to their message, (they are even called Hosha'anos for good measure) and muster all the Kavanah we can, so that our fervent prayers pierce the Heavens.


Only Simchah

The G'ro queries the Gemara in Sucah (48a) which darshens from "ve'hoyiso ach somei'ach", 'lerabos leilei Yom-tov acharon le'simchah' (to include the last night (of Shemini Atzeres) for Simchah. Since when, he asks, does "ach" come to include? This clashes with the principle that "ach" and "rak" always come to exclude (and not to include).

And he reconciles this concept by pointing out that including Simchah on Shemini Atzeres merely serves to stress the fact that all the other Miztvos of Sucah no longer apply. In other words, including Simchah automatically precludes the Mitzvos of Sucah and Lulav. And in that sense, the word "ach" does indeed come to exclude.

Rashi however, based on the above Gemara, has a completely different explanation. The Gemara actually quotes the word "Ach", not to include the night of Shemini Atzeres, but to preclude the first night of Yom-tov from Simchah. And as for the Mitzvah of Simchah on the night of Shemini Atzeres, that we know from "ve'hoyiso ... somei'ach", which in view of "ve'somachto be'chagecho" in the previous Pasuk, would otherwise be redundant.

Rashi's explanation seems to conform more closely with the text of the Gemara, which goes on to ask how we know that "ve'hoyiso ... somei'ach" includes the night of Shemini Atzeres, and "ach" to preclude the first night, and not vice-versa? Perhaps, at this juncture, we ought to explain that, were it not for the redundant phrases, we would preclude both nights from Simchah, seeing as the Torah begins this Pasuk with the words "seven days you shall celebrate" (the word "seven" would preclude the eighth night, and the word "days", the first).

To answer the current question, the Gemara explains that we include the last night because Simchah precedes it, and preclude the first, because there is no Simchah before it.

Presumably, what the Gemara means is that whereas on Shemini Atzeres there is a Chazakah of Simchah, on the first night, there is not, giving precedence to the last night over the firs in this regardt.


One practical ramification of the above Gemara is that whereas there is a Mitzvah to drink wine on the night of Shemini Atzeres, there is no such Mitzvah on the first night. And presumably, based on the comparison between the first night of Pesach and the first night of Succos, the same will apply to the first and last night of Pesach.(The four cups are based on a Rabbinical institution, which has nothing to do with the Mitzvah of Simchah).


(Adapted from the Kitzur Shulchan Aruch Si'man 134, with notes from the Mishnah B'rurah [M.B.]).

6. Dofen Akumah (A bent wall)

Sometimes, one builds one's Sucah in such a way that the slats supporting the S'chach are resting on beams that jut out from the wall. These beams do not invalidate the Sucah, since they are less than four Amos wide i.e. adjacent to the wall of the Sucah, and it is a 'Halachah le'Moshe mi'Sinai' that by less than four Amos, we apply the principle 'Dofen Akumah'. This means that we consider the wall as if it was bent at ninety degrees (and there is no reason why a wall should invalidate a Sucah, whatever the angle). If however, the beam is more than four Tefachim wide, one must take care not to sit or sleep under it, since it does not have the Din of S'chach.

In fact, one should do so even if the beam is only four Tefachim wide (and, if possible, even if it is only three [M.B.]). The rest of the Sucah however, is Kasher without any qualms.

Should the beams exceed four Amos in width, then they are considered S'cach Pasul, and they invalidate the entire Sucah, though if the beam only covers one side of the Sucah (in the way that one sometimes does in order to create storage space for the Sucah's accessories), then the Sucah remains Kasher, since it still has three walls that are covered with Kasher S'chach. Though even the latter Sucah will be Pasul, if those three walls do not cover a space of at least seven Tefachim long by seven Tefachim wide. Needless to say, even if it does, one may not sit under the area of the beam.


7. A Sucah under a Tree

A Sucah underneath a tree is Pasul, even if the tree alone creates more sun than shade, and it is the S'chach that one places on the Sucah that creates the shade. (If however, the S'chach that is not directly underneath the branches casts more shade than sun, the Sucah is Kasher, and one should treat the areas underneath the branches like the wide beam in the previous Halachah M.B. Refer also to Bi'ur Halachah).

In a case where the Sucah is Pasul, it will not help to cut off the branches once the Sucah is made, because the Torah writes "Chag ha'Sukos ta'aseh lecho", from which Chazal extrapolate "ta'aseh", 've'lo min he'osuy' (meaning that the Sucah must be made Kasher, and cannot become Kasher by merely removing that what made it Pasul).

Consequently, having severed the offending branches, for the Sucah to become Kasher, one would have to pick up each branch and replace it on the roof of the Sucah. (But that is only if he intends to use the branches as part of the S'chach. Should his intention be to simply remove them, then this will not be necessary M.B. The Mishnah B'rurah also maintains that branches of a tree that do not cast more shade than sun, will not invalidate the Sucah, as long as they are lying on the S'chach, even if they are still attatched to the tree).

And by the same token, one is not allowed to place the S'chach before having made the walls, since it is placing the S'chach on the walls that transforms the building into a Kasher Sucah.


8. A Closing Roof

In the same way, someone whose Sucah has a closing roof, must make sure that it is open at the time that he places the S'chach. If he does, then subsequently closing it and opening it in the course of the Chag, will not invalidate the Sucah any more than covering the Sucah with a sheet and removing it.

It is advisable however, at least to ensure that the roof is open with the advent of Yom-tov (Mateh Efrayim).

One must also take care that a roof that opens vertically should stand at not less than ninety degrees to the S'chach. Otherwise, the part that is leaning over the Sucah, will render at least that part of the Sucah, Pasul, in which case one must avoid sitting beneath the protruding roof (and should the remaining area amount to less than seven by seven Tefachim, then the entire Sucah will be Pasul).


9. A Sucah is Patur from Mezuzah

Even though a Sucah on Succos is Patur from Mezuzah (since one resides there for less than thirty days), a permanent Sucah is nonetheless Chayav Mezuzah, even on Succos (though the M.B. seems to hold that it is Patur during Succos. With regard to reaffixing it after Yom-tov, see Sha'arei Teshuvah Si'man 626 and Pischei Teshuvah, Yoreh Dei'ah 286). Consequently, it is not necessary to reaffix it after Succos.


Vol. 10   No. 54

This section is sponsored l'iluy Nishmas
Yitel bas Aba a.h.
with love from her family

Shemini Atzeres
Incorporating Vezos Ha'Brachah

One King, One Torah, One Nation

Rashi in Parshas Pinchas, translates the word "Atzeres" as 'to hold back' (to refrain), which he explains in three different ways. The first of these is that Shemini Atzeres is a day on which one refrains from work. Presumably, it is called by that name to distinguish it from the preceding seven days of Succos, which enjoy various positive aspects, such as Sukah and Lulav. Shemini Atzeres, on the other hand, differs from a regular weekday only by the fact that servile work is forbidden.

This translation also describes the seventh day of Pesach (which the Pasuk in Re'ei [16:8] calls 'Atzeres' too). And the seventh day of Pesach, as opposed to the first, which is marked by the Seider, and the Mitzvah of eating Matzah, shares the same negative distinguishing mark as Shemini Atzeres - that meleches avodah is forbidden.

And by the same token, it will explain why the Chachamim refer to Shavu'os as 'Atzeres', since it too, has no identification marks other than the prohibition to work.

According to this explanation, the Sifsei Chachamim points out, we will have to say that the continuation "all servile work you shall not do" is merely an elaboration on the preceding words.

The Seforno, in Parshas Emor, agrees with this explanation in principle. However, no doubt troubled by the fact that not working on its own, can easily lead to frivolity, and worse, he adds - that it also has connotations of gathering in holy places (such as in Shul) on that day, to serve Hashem either with Torah, Tefilah or some other form of G-d-worship (e,g, bringing Korbanos), and he cites many examples to prove his point.


In his second explanation, Rashi links the concept of holding back to the prohibition of leaving Yerushalayim until the following day. This explanation too, conforms to both the Torah's description of the seventh day of Pesach, and the Chachamim's reference to Shavu'os by the same name.


In his third explanation, Rashi cites the Medrash, which writes that throughout Succos, Yisrael brought Korbanos on behalf of the nations (seventy bulls for the seventy nations). So at the termination of the Chag, when it is time to take leave, Hashem asks Yisrael to stay back and arrange a small meal (one bull), in order that He may benefit from them. This explanation alone, will not explain the Torah's and Rabbanan's use of the same word with regard to the last day of Pesach and Shavu'os, respectively.

We will gain a better understanding of this Medrash, by citing another Medrash. When a guest arrives, says the Medrash, one receives him well, and feeds him fowl, the second day, meat, the third day, fish and the fourth day, vegetables. What Chazal mean is that initially, a guest feels ill at ease in the company of a strange family, other than his own. So to boost his ego and morale, one serves him special food. However, with each passing day, as he feels more and more at home, one decreases the level of food, until finally, he feels like a member of the family, at which point he receives the same modest meals as rest of the family.

'We do not live to eat', as the old saying goes, 'we eat to live'. Being in the company of those that we love, on the other hand, is part of living. That explains why, after seven days of feasting (with Hashem), to accommodate the guests (the nations of the world), who are not at home at the table of Hashem, Hashem wants to be alone with us (His close family, whom He loves). A small meal will suffice, because it is being in the intimate company of His loved ones, Yisrael, that matters most to Him (as indeed, it should to us, too). The food is of secondary importance.


Rabeinu Bachye, in his Kabalistic interpretation of "Atzeres", translates it as 'Malchus' (sovereignty - as we find in Shoftim, 18:7). It is a day on which Hashem's Kingdom manifests itself, just like Shavu'os.

It is possible to connect this explanation with that of the No'am ha'Mitzvos, in whose opinion Succos hints at Olam ha'Zeh and Shemini Atzeres, at Olam ha'Ba, which is why we celebrate Succos with mundane objects, whereas Shemini Atzeres is entirely abstract. And the same idea extends to Pesach on the one hand, and Shavu'os, on the other, where the same distinction occurs. Indeed, the seven days of Pesach, followed by the forty-nine (seven times seven) days of the Omer, represent the realm of the mundane, and the fiftieth, that of the supernatural, and the same pertains to the seven days of Succos and the eighth day of Shemini Atzeres. And this also explains why both of the concluding Yamim-tovim consist of only one day, he points out; for just as this world is divided into seven, the surrealistic World to Come comprises only one indivisible entity. And this is further enhanced by the fact that Yisrael, who are one, celebrate the completion of the one Torah, together with Hashem, who is One.

It is plain to see how this explanation merges with that of Rabeinu Bachye, by merely quoting the Pasuk with which we end 'Aleinu' - "And Hashem will become King over all the land; on that day Hashem will be One and His Name, One".


Parshah Pearls

A Man of G-d

"And this is the B'rachah which Moshe, the man of G-d, bestowed upon B'nei Yisrael prior to his death" (33:1).

The previous Pasuk ended with the words "but you will not come there, to the Land that I am giving to the B'nei Yisrael". Now this was on account of Yisrael's sin (when they complained at the rock, as Moshe himself clearly indicated, in Devarim [1:37]).

Yet in spite of that, he bore them no grudge, and did not refrain from blessing them with a full heart.

That is why the Torah confers upon him the title 'Ish ha'Elokim', because he followed in the footsteps of Hashem, who is described as 'O'ver al Pesha' (One who overlooks our sins, and who continues to grant us His blessings, in spite of them).


If Not Now, When?

In fact, says the Chidushei ha'Rim, it was essential to inform future generations what was special about the man who gave us the Torah (a Torah which cannot be negated, either whole or in part), and what placed him a cut above all other prophets (who are bound to toe his line).

Until now, Moshe in his supreme humility, avoided describing himself in this way. But now, on the last day of his life, he realized that 'if not now, when?' And so, to ensure the eternal character of Torah, he referred to himself as 'Ish ha'Elokim'.

Both Targum Unklus and Yonoson translate 'Ish ha'Elokim' as the prophet of Hashem. Perhaps they mean to say that, due to the fact that in his unique humility, Moshe adopted the Midos of Hashem, he became the supreme prophet of Hashem, with whom no other prophet can compete, as we just explained.


Yisrael's Legacy

"Moshe commanded us Torah, a legacy for the congregation of Ya'akov" (33:4).

No individual is able to fulfill all the Mitzvos in the Torah, says the K'sav Sofer. There are some Mitzvos that pertain to Kohanim, others, to Levi'im, and yet others, to a king, and so on.

However, when Yisrael act as one nation, and respect and love one another, they are considered like one body. In this way, when one Jew fulfils a Mitzvah, it is as if every Jew had fulfilled it (much in the same way as a Mitzvah that the mouth, the leg or the hand, performs is not attributed to that limb alone, but to the body to which it belongs, so that the entire person has fulfilled it). This is how it becomes possible for all Jews to fulfil all the Mitzvos.

And that is what the current Pasuk means - 'Torah (whose numerical value is 611) which Moshe commanded us ('Onochi' and ' Lo yih'yeh lecho', which we received directly from Hashem, are anyway applicable, directly, to each individual Jew without exception), is our legacy, but only as long as we combine to form a community. It is not attainable by any single person. This is also inherent in Chazal, who comment on the Pasuk "ve'ohavto le'rei'acho komocho" - 'zeh k'lal gadol ba'Torah' (this is a major rule in the Torah). Indeed it is, for it is only by observing this golden principle that one can possibly fulfill it in its entirety.


Asher's Brachah

"And to Asher he said 'Asher is blessed from all the sons ...' " (33:24).

Asher's b'rachah, the Ba'al ha'Turim explains, is based on a Medrash.

When the brothers sold Yosef, says the Medrash, they placed a Cherem on anyone who dared reveal the secret of his sale. When they later discovered that Asher's daughter Serach (who was the one to eventually inform Ya'akov that Yosef was still alive), knew about the sale, they assumed that she must have heard this information from her father. Chazal in Sukah, do indeed teach us, that most information that a child picks up, stems from what he or she, overhears at home. Actually, they erred, because she knew of the sale of her uncle and the fact that he was alive, through Ru'ach ha'Kodesh, but the fact is that they accused their brother Asher, whom they immediately placed in Cherem.

And that is why Moshe blessed Asher with the B'rachah that he should -

1. ... have children ... because a Menudeh (as someone who is in Cherem is called) is forbidden to be intimate with his wife.

2. ... be accepted by his brothers ... because, conforming with the Dinim of Cherem, they were keeping their distance from him.

3. ...dip his feet in oil ... because he is forbidden anoint himself.

4. ...have strong shoes (though here it is a play on words, because 'min'olecha' really means 'bolts', a reference to the safe borders of his land) ...since a Menudeh is also forbidden to wear shoes.


The Power of Illumination

"Mi'banim Asher Yehi Re'tzuy ...."

The first letters of these four words, points out the Ba'al ha'Turim, spell 'me'ir', an obvious reference to the oil which the tribe of Asher produced in abundance, which gave them a shining countenance and provided fuel for the Menorah.


The Manna-Producing Heaven

"He rides on the Heaven ... and on 'Shechakim' in His pride" (33:26).

The Medrash relates that there is one Heaven that is called 'Shechakim' (which means 'grinds'). It is called by that name because that is where G-d grinds Manna for the Tzadikim.

In fact, the Ba'al ha'Turim observes, the numerical value of the word "ve'Uzo ba'Shechakim" (Tehilim 68:35) is equivalent to that of 'ha'Man'. And that, he explains, is because its colour was a strong white, like that of the Manna.


The Ten Levels of Kedushah

"I have shown it (Eretz Yisrael) to you (Her'isicha [that you may see it]) with your eyes ... " (34:4).

The word "Her'isicha" contains an extra 'Yud', says the Ba'al ha'Turim, to hint at the ten times that the Torah mentions the promise to bring Yisrael into the Land. In addition, he explains, Hashem showed Moshe the ten levels of Kedushah beginning with the major part of the Land, leading up to the Kodesh Kodshim.



Simchas Torah

The reason that the Yom-tov is called 'Simchas Torah', the Besamim Rosh explains, is because upon the completion of the Torah, one celebrates with a party. This is actually based on a Medrash which, with reference to the party that Sh'lomoh made for all his servants (following the gift of knowledge that G-d had bestowed upon him), comments that from here we learn to make a party when one completes the Torah.

In many communities, it is customary for the Chasan Torah and Chasan Bereishis to arrange a Kidush on Shabbos Bereishis. According to what we have just learned however, postponing the celebration for another day defeats the very purpose of Simchas Torah, and the reason why specifically this day is called by that name.


Another reason for the title 'Simchas Torah' is based on a second Medrash, which describes how we outwit the Satan by commencing with 'Bereishis' the moment we finish 've'Zos ha'B'rachah'. As a result, when the Satan accuses Yisrael of ending the Torah but of not beginning it, G-d is able to point out the Satan's error, and we stand vindicated. In any event, the wind has been taken out of the Satan's sails, and his ability to prosecute has been withdrawn (if only for a short while). And that itself, is a sound reason to rejoice.


Yet a third reason for the Simchah is the fact that it is the final day of forgiveness, following seven days of extreme rejoicing and fulfillment of Mitzvos. And what greater joy can there be than that.


And finally, the Besamim Rosh explains that Shemini Atzeres concludes the Korbanos of Sukos, the cycle of 'Bal Te'acher' (not delaying the bringing of one's Korbanos, for which the final time is Sukos). And it is also the final time for the 'Z'man ha'Biy'ur' (the time to clear out all the Ma'asros that one has not yet given). And we want to conclude these Mitzvos and to bring down the Shechinah into our midst, with Simchah.


Confusing the Satan

The reason that we conclude the Torah and resume it on Simchas Torah, says the Levush, and not on Rosh Hashanah, as one might have expected, is in order to confuse the Satan, to throw him off-track so to speak, so that he should not know when Rosh Hashanah is coming. And having postponed it one week, it is best to wait until the termination of the Chagim, so as not to break the sequence of the Parshiyos, so soon after beginning the cycle, to accommodate the Yom-Tov Parshiyos.


Sason ve'Simchah

The question is asked as to why, in the Piyut that is said in many Shuls 'Siysu ve'simchu be'Simchas Torah',' siysu' precedes 'simchu', and not in the reverse order, as is more common?

In answer to this question, they quote the G'ro, who, based on the wording of 'Keil Adon' that we recite each Shabbos morning, "s'meichim be 'tzeisom ve'sasim be'vo'om', explains that 'Simchah' refers to the joy that one derives from performing an act, whereas 'Sason' refers to the thrill of accomplishment upon completing it .

Consequently, in this case, Sason precedes Simchah, since it pertains to the conclusion of the Torah, whereas Simchah pertains the resumption of the cycle, when we start the Torah all over again.

Maybe we can use the same concept to explain why the wording in the Sheva B'rachos ('Ashar boro Sason ve'Simchah ... ') follows the same sequence. Perhaps there too, Sason and Simchah refer to the Chasan (and Kalah)'s two phases in life - the termination of bachelorhood on the one hand, and the commencement of married life on the other. Sason therefore refers to the joyful expereince of bringing the first stage to a successful conclusion, and Simchah, to the commencement of a new life with one's new partner.


Ma'aminim B'nei Ma'aminim

During the Leining of the opening chapter of Bereishis that we read on Simchas Torah, it is customary for the community to precede the Ba'al-Korei with the last Pasuk of each day of the creation "Vayehi erev, vayehi voker yom echod", and so on the second day and on the third ... . And what's more, when it comes to the sixth day, we continue with "Vayechulu ha'shamayim ve'ha'aretz ..." until "asher boro Elokim la'asos".

Besides interrupting the Leining, we are breaking up Pesukim which Moshe Rabeinu did not break up, points out the Bikores ha'Talmud.

And if it is important to do this, he asks, why do we not do it when we Lein the Parshah on Shabbos Bereishis? The objective of Leining Bereishis at this point, he explains, is not to be Yotze the reading of the Parshah, since we will do that the following week. In fact, he explains, it is not even in order to read the Torah publicly (which is generally the reason that we Lein in Shul), that we Lein it, but to increase the Simchah, like one reads the Sh'ma (or to preempt the Satan, as we explained above).

That explains why, in our joy, we read these Pesukim in unison, to reaffirm our faith in the creation, and declare that G-d created the world out of nothing. And we follow this with the whole of 'Vayechulu', since Shabbos was the culmination of the Creation, and the greatest testimony that it did indeed take place.

Furthermore, he says, this paragraph hints at the Korban Tamid, that was brought each evening and morning. That is why the Chachamim instituted 'Ma'amodos' to acompany the Tamid, when they would Lein Ma'aseh Bereishis, because the entire world existed on the Ma'amados, as the Gemara writes in Ta'anis.

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