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

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Vol. 15   No. 55

This issue is sponsored by the
Glassman, Schwartz and
Chernick Families
Jerusalem - Efrat - Netanya - Johannesberg - Toronto - Harare - Perth
in loving memory of their grandmother
Zahavah bas Chayim Yosef Luria z"l


G-d Our Father
(Adapted from the B'nei Yisaschar)

The Medrash Tanchuma explains that on Yom Kipur, Yisrael and the nations of the world enter the courtroom to be judged. At first, one wonders at the outcome of the Divine Judgement, but when Yisrael brandish their Lulavim and Esrogim, the world knows that it is Yisrael who emerged victorious.


To explain this Medrash, the B'nei Yisaschar cites the Mekubalim, who taught that the four species are unique in that unlike all other species, which grow under the jurisdiction of a Sar (angel), they remain directly under the supervision of G-d Himself. In fact, when we take the four species on Succos, this is a reminder that we too, do not fall under the jurisdiction of any Sar, but under that of G-d alone, as the Torah writes in va'Eschanan (4:4) "But you who cleaved to Hashem your G-d, are all alive today".

With this, the author explains, we can understand what Chazal mean when they say that Teshuvah does not help with regard to the nations of the world, only with regard to Yisrael. Why is that?

It is based, he says, on Chazal, who have taught that 'If a king foregoes his Kavod, His Kavod is not foregone'.

Consequently, there is no point in doing Teshuvah, seeing as the Kavod of Hashem has been breached, and there is nothing that can be done to repair a breach in the King's Kavod. Now that is true of the nations of the world, in connection with whom the Pasuk in Tehilim (47:9) writes "G-d ruled over all the nations" and "Who will not fear You, King of the nations" (Yirmiyah 10:7).

Not so Yisrael, about whom the Torah writes in Re'ei (14:1) "You are sons of Hashem your G-d", and 'If a father foregoes his honour, his honour is foregone'. Consequently, when Yisrael do Teshuvah, it is their Merciful Father in Heaven who foregoes His Honour and forgives them, with the result that their sins are forgiven.


There is a problem however, with that, from the Pasuk in Tehilim (24:9), which writes "For Kingdom belongs to Hashem", and which the commentaries ascribe specifically to Yisrael (seeing as the continuation of the Pasuk "and He rules over nations" pertains to the gentiles)?

Perhaps that refers to before Teshuvah. Before Teshuvah, our relationship with G-d is a King-subject relationship, whereas after we have done Teshuvah, it turns into one of Father-son.

In this way, we can also explain the dual reference to Father and King, and Father and servant, that appears many times in our Tefilos, particularly over the Yamim Nora'im. He is our King before we do Teshuvah, but our Father, after we do Teshuvah.


Based of the above explanation, the Medrash with which we began, takes on a new light. It is to demonstrate to the world that we are G-d's children that He commanded us to take the four species on Succos and to shake them. As we explained earlier, these four species are under G-d's direct jurisdiction. As such, they may be compared to a king's scepter, which no subject is permitted to use. But on Succos, after we have done Teshuvah, we are no longer G-d's subjects; we are His children! And it is to stress this, that the Torah permits us (even commands us) to take these four species and shake them.

* * *

All About Succos
(adapted from the Ta'amei ha'Minhagim & the Yalkut Yitzchak)

Simchas Yom-Tov

The reason for the Mitzvah of rejoicing on Succos, says the Yalkut Yitzchak, is because, when the Neshamah, which is part of Hashem Himself (Cheilek Elokah mi'Ma'al), perceives the 'holy lights' that result from the numerous Mitzvos that we perform from Rosh Hashanah and onwards, it develops a strong urge to rejoice. It is however, unable to do so, because the body, which does not see what the Neshamah sees, remains unaffected by it.

Therefore the Torah commands us to rejoice (and 'there is no rejoicing without wine'). In this way, the body and the Neshamah are mesamei'ach together.


One Lulav, One Esrog

three Hadasim and two Aravos. The Gemara in Succah (34) learns this directly from the Torah's wording in Emor. One Lulav, says the Gemara, because, although the Torah writes "Kapos Temarim" (fronds of date-palms) in the plural, the word "Kapos" is missing a 'Vav', denoting the singular.

One Esrog, it learns from the Pasuk there "P'ri Eitz Hadar", implying one Esrog.

It learns three Hadasim from the three words "Anaf Eitz Avos" (particularly as the word "Eitz is superfluous)

and two Aravos from "Arvei Nachal", which translates as 'willows of the brook' (and as is well-known, when the plural is unspecified, it generally means two)


A Pickled Hadas or Aravah

The Z'chor le'Avraham cites the Ramban, who disqualifies any of the four species that has been pickled (incorp. remaining in water for twenty-four hours consecutively). As a matter of fact, the Chasam Sofer would get a gentile to remove the four species on Shabbos at the end of the day, to prevent them from falling under the category of 'pickled'.

The She'ilas Shalom explains that the reason that the Shulchan Aruch makes no mention of the Din regarding a pickled Hadas and Aravah is because it is obvious. The fact is, he explains, that if one leaves species in water for an entire day then the leaves tend to fall off, in which case, even those leaves that remain are not considered attached.

The Hagahos Shulchan Aruch writes that one should take care on the first day not to leave the Aravos in water for a full twenty-four hours, though on the other days, he permits it.

If the twenty-four hours in water were not consecutive, or if one changed the water during those twenty-four hours, then the four species are permitted.


Binding the Lulav with its Own Kind

We bind the three species only with their own kind, says the Gemara in Succah (36b), based on the opinion of R. Yehudah, who considers binding the Lulav a Mitzvah. Consequently, were one to bind them with another species, one would be taking, not four species, but five, thereby contravening the La'av of 'bal Tosif' (adding to the Mitzvos).

The Sha'arei Teshuvah writes that in the event that one forgot to bring Lulav branches to Shul with which to bind one's Arba Minim, one is permitted to remove them from one's Lulav with one's teeth, since this constitutes a Shinuy (an unusual way of removing the branches), and conforming with an oft-used rule that the Chachamim did not extend their decrees to cases that are unusual, and certainly when it is for a D'var Mitzvah, such as here. He does add however, that it is better to remove them discreetly (in a location where he remains unseen when he does it).


K'ri'as Sh'ma Comes First

In many places, the Minhag is for both the community and the Shali'ach-Tzibur to recite the B'rachah over the Lulav before Hallel. The reason for this, says the Seider ha'Yom, is because whereas the time to recite the Sh'ma falls due before sunrise (as we learned in the Mishnah in B'rachos), the time to take the Lulav falls due at sunrise.

(It seems to me that one may add the fact that K'ri'as Sh'ma is more common that Lulav, in which case we will apply the principle 'Todir ve'she'eino todir, todir kodem').

However, he adds, if the community is taking a long time saying 'Z'miros', and the sun has already risen, one is permitted to recite a B'rachah over the Lulav first, to be among the early-birds in fulfilling the Mitzvah.


Grafted Esrogim

The Sh'loh forbids the use of Esrogim that are grafted with the branch of an orange or of a lemon-tree, and he gives two signs whereby grafted Esrogim are recognizable: 1. their skins are smooth (as opposed to regular Esrogim, which are full of projections); 2. the stalk projects from the Esrog, whereas the stalk on a regular Esrog is sunken.


We Shake the Lulav by

'Ono Hashem Hoshi'o No'

but not by 'Ono Hashem hatzlicho no' says the Avudraham (among other reasons), is because both statements occur in the same Pasuk, and one does not shake twice in the same Pasuk.


The Eishel Avraham attributes it to the fact that whereas 'Ono Hashem hoshi'o no' is a plea for Divine Assistance in serving G-d in a positive manner, 'Ono Hashem hatzlicho no' is a request for His assistance in a negative way (without our participation, much in the same way as Chizkiyahu Hamelech prayed to Hashem to save Yisrael even as he slept). So we demonstrate this by acting negatively and not shaking Lulav when we cry out 'Ono Hashem hatzlicho no'.


The Four Species & the Mizbei'ach

Chazal say that whoever takes the four species on Succos and shakes them, it is as if he would have built a Mizbei'ach and brought on it a Korban.

The Mizbei'ach measured thirty-two x thirty-two Amos. Now two x thirty-two thirty- = one thousand and twenty-four. The combined Gematriyos, of Lulav, Esrog, Hadas and Aravah, believe it or not, equal one thousand and twenty-four (Nachal Kidumim).


Hosha'na Rabah

To explain why the last day of Succos is called 'Hosha'na Rabah, the Medrash relates how Hakadosh Baruch Hu told Avraham that just as He was Unique, so too was Avraham unique, and that on account of that uniqueness, He would designate a unique day in the year for his descendants to receive atonement for their sins and that day would be Hosha'na Rabah.

The Magid Meisharim explains that the Gematriyah of G-d's Name 'Ehekeh' is twenty-one, Avraham lived in the twenty-first generation from the Creation (ten generations from Adam until No'ach, and ten generations from No'ach till Avraham), and Hosha'na Rabah falls on the twenty-first day of Tishri.

If Avraham's children would not merit atonement on Rosh Hashanah, he explains, then they will merit it on Yom Kipur; and if even that does not work out, then they will attain it on Hosha'na Rabah.

Take the main letters of Hashem's Name 'Havayah', and you will find that they correspond to the above days of atonement, as Yom Kipur falls ten days after Rosh Hashanah ('Yud'), Succos five days later ('Hey'), and Hosha'na Rabah six days after that ('Vav'). And that, says the Magid Meisharim, explains why the 'Secret of the Seal' (which one would have expected to take place on Yom Kipur, takes place on Hosha'na Rabah.

Finally, he points out, if you multiply twenty-one by itself, you will arrive at four hundred and forty-one, which is the Gematriyah of 'Emes', which, according to Chazal, is the seal of Hakadosh Baruch Hu. Hence the final seal that decides every person's fate is stamped on the night of Hosha'na Rabah.

* * *


(Adapted from the Rambam, Hilchos Chagigah, chap. 3)

1. It is a Mitzvas Asei for all of Yisrael to congregate; men, women and children, on each Motza'ei Sh'mitah, when they go on Yom-Tov (of Succos) to visit the Beis-Hamikdash, and to read in their ears Parshiyos from the Torah that will encourage them to perform the Mitzvos and will reinforce their adherence to 'the religion of truth'. For so the Torah writes "At the end of the seven years, at the time of the Sh'mitah on the festival of Succos, when all of Yisrael come to see ; Gather the people ".

2. Whoever is exempt from the Mitzvah of 'Re'iyah' (appearing in the Beis-Hamikdash on Yom-Tov) is also exempt from the Mitzvah of Hakheil, except for women, children and those who are uncircumcised. Someone who is Tamei however, is exempt (as the Torah writes " when all Yisrael come", and he is unfit to come). It is clear that a Tumtum (whose sexual organs are covered) and an Androgenus (who is bisexual) are obligated, seeing as women are obligated too.

3. When does one read?

On the night following the first day of Succos (the beginning of Chol ha'Mo'ed of the eighth year). The reading is performed in the Ezras Nashim by the King. He is permitted to read sitting (provided he is from Malchus Beis David), though it is praiseworthy for him to read standing.

From whereabouts does he read? From the beginning of Seifer Devarim until the end of the Parshah of Sh'ma (in Va'eschanan). He resumes with 've'Hoyoh in shamo'a' (in Eikev) and skips the rest until "Aser te'aser" (in Re'ei), from where he continues until the end of the blessings and the curses (in ki Sovo [up to "mi'levad ha'b'ris asher koras itom be'Chorev"]).

4. What is the procedure?

One blows on the trumpets throughout Yerushalayim, in order to assemble the people. One then brings a large platform made of wood, and places it in the middle of the Ezras Nashim, upon which the king ascends and sits, to enable all those who are assembled to hear him reading. Meanwhile, all those who came to Yerushalayim for Yom-Tov gather round him. The Chazan ha'K'nesses (the Gabai) then takes the Seifer-Torah and hands it to the head of the K'nesses, who in turn, hands it to the S'gan (the deputy Kohen Gadol), who hands it to the Kohen Gadol, who hands it over to the King (to honor the Torah by involving more people). The King receives the Seifer-Torah standing, after which he may sit, should he so wish. He opens the Seifer, looks inside and recites the B'rachah (like one does in Shul before reading). He reads the Parshiyos that we cited, and recites the B'rachah (like one does in Shul after reading), only he adds the following seven B'rachos '1-3 'Retzei', 'Modim' & 'Atoh Vechartonu' (until 'Mekadesh Yisrael ve'ha'Zemanim'); 4. on the continuity of the Beis ha'Mikdash', which he concludes 'Baruch ha'Shochen be'Tzi'on'; 5. on the continuity of the Kinhgdom of Yisrael, which he concludes 'ha'Bocher be'Yisrael'; 6. that Hashem should accept the Avodah of the Kohanim, which he concludes 'Mekadesh ha'Kohanim'; 7. Whatever he sees fit to Daven for, concluding 'Hosha Hashem es amcho Yisrael, whe'amcho tz'richin lehivosha; Boruch Attoh Hashem, Shomei'a Tefilah'.

5. Both the reading and the B'rochos must be said in Lashon ha'Kodesh (as the Torah writes "Read this Torah" - in its own language) ,even though there may well be foreigners present.

6. Converts who do not understand Lashon ha'Kodesh, must nevertheless concentrate and listen well, 'in dread and in fear in joy and quaking', like on the day that the Torah was given at Sinai. Even great Chachamim who are conversant in the entire Torah, are obliged to listen with their full concentration. Someone who does not hear well (see Lechem Mishnah), should nevertheless concentrate as best as he can, since the Torah only fixed this Mitzvah in order to reinforce one's adherence to 'the religion of truth', and he should see himself as if he was now being commanded the Torah, and was hearing it from the Mouth of G-d Himself, seeing as the King is merely a Shali'ach to make heard the words of G-d..

7. If the second day of Succos falls on Shabbos, it is postponed until after Shabbos, on account of the Shofar blasts and the supplications, which do not override Shabbos.

The Ra'avad queries the Rambam from the Yerushalmi, which gives the reason for postponing Hakheil because of the platform that could not be constructed on Shabbos (see Ra'avad and commentaries on the Rambam. Note, also, that the Rambam stated earlier, not that they constructed a platform, but that they brought one into the Azarah).

* * *

Vol. 15   No. 55

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

Parshas Ve'Zos-ha'Brachah & Shemini Atzeres

(Adapted from the B'nei Yisaschar

The Little Se'udah

The Gemara in Succah (47a) explains that throughout Succos, K'lal Yisrael brings seventy bulls (for the Korban Musaf), corresponding to the seventy nations; whereas on Shemini Atzeres, they bring only one bull, corresponding to the one nation Yisrael. And it presents the famous Mashal of the king, who arranged a big Se'udah for his subjects lasting many days, and who, after the Se'udah, asked his good friend to arrange a small Se'udah, 'in order that I may benefit from you'.

Surely, asks the B'nei Yisaschar, one would have expected the king to request that his friend arrange a big Se'udah (if anything, one that was even larger and more festive than the previous one)? Moreover, what did he mean when he added the words 'in order that I may benefit from you'?


Quoting the Zohar, he answers that what the king really wanted was the intimate meeting with his good friend, and that the Se'udah was merely an introduction to the meeting, to create the right atmosphere.

The servants, who had no intimate connections with the king, needed a big Se'udah. Without the Se'udah, there was nothing that would have given the king pleasure in meeting with his subjects. On the other hand, he considered merely meeting with his good friend quality time. It was being with his friend that excited him, and the Se'udah was perhaps the catalyst that enabled the meeting to take place, much like a 'le'Chayim, which creates a joyous setting for the happy event that follows. Shemini Atzeres is K'lal Yisrael's intimate session with G-d (as the Zohar describes it). To quote the words of the Zohar 'Prepare Me a small Se'udah', G-d is saying, 'Don't make it too long; Get it over quickly, because I want to enjoy your intimacy, with which nothing is allowed to interfere'.

In light of this interpretation, it is hardly surprising that elsewhere, the Zohar writes that when, on Shemini Atzeres, Yisrael are enjoying their private audience with the King, whatever they request will be granted.


Geshem and Tal

The Gemara in Ta'anis (4a) relates that when K'nesses Yisrael said to G-d "And He came like rain to us " (Hoshei'a 6:3), G-d responded with the Pasuk there (14:6) "I will be like dew to Yisrael".

The difference between rain and dew, the B'nei Yisaschar explains, is that rain basically comes from the earth, as the Gemara in Ta'anis (25b) states 'For every drop that falls from above, two drops rise from the ground to meet it', whereas dew comes entirely from above.

To put it differently, G-d sends rain when we deserve it and to the extent that we deserve it (known as 'It'arusa di'le'Tata'). Not so dew, with which He blesses us, irrespective of our level of righteousness ('It'arusa di'l'Eila). That is why we pray for dew on Pesach, which, as the commentaries explain, G-d gave us without our having deserved it, (only 'in haste'), as is well-known; whereas we pray for rain on Succos, which He gave us on the basis of our merits, after the Teshuvah and good deeds of the Yamim Nora'im that preceded it.

* * *

Parshah Pearls

Eretz Yisrael & Torah

"Moshe commanded us Torah, a heritage of the community of Ya'akov" (33:4).

The Torah uses the same word 'heritage' (moroshoh) in Parshas Vo'eiro (6:8) with regard to Eretz Yisrael.

This teaches us, says the Ba'al ha'Turim, that Eretz Yisrael was given to us on the sole condition that we observe Torah and Mitzvos when we live there. Indeed, the final Pesukim in chapter 105 in Tehilim specifically writes " and He gave them the lands of nations and they inherited the toil of regimes, in order that they observe His statutes and his laws ". Furthermore, he adds, just as Eretz Yisrael is not a personal inheritance, but, as the word "Morashah" suggests, something that one hands down to one's children, so too is one obligated to pass the Torah down to one's children.


The Teachers of Yisrael

"They will teach your Mishpatim to Ya'akov" (33:10).

The tribe of Levi was obligated to scatter throughout Yisrael to teach them Torah, the Ba'al ha'Turim comments. And this in turn, conforms with Ya'akov's words with regard to the tribe of Levi "I will scatter them among Yisrael (49:7).


Binyamin to Live in Tranquility

"To Binyamin he said 'the beloved of G-d, may he dwell securely by Him " (33:12).

After they had 'torn their prey like a wolf' (as Ya'akov had promised him), says the Ba'al ha'Turim.

This too, is similar to the B'rachah that he received from Ya'akov Avinu "and in the evening he will divide the spoil, in tranquility".


"u'Vein keseifav shachein (and He will rest between his shoulder blades)" Ibid.

The Gematriyah of these words is equivalent to that of 'u'vi'Yerushalem', says the Ba'al ha'Turim, adding that the juxtaposition of these word next to "u'le'Yosef" hints that before resting in the portion of Binyamin, the Shechinah first rested in Shiloh, the portion of Yosef.



"u'mi'Meged geresh yerachim" (And from the bounty of what the moon drives out [produces]) 33:14.

The Pasuk is referring to the fruits which the land will produce month by month.

As a matter of fact, says the Rosh, the word '"geresh" contains the same letters and has the same meaning as the word "Sheger" in the Pasuk (in Parshas Bo, 13:12) "ve'Chol petter sheger beheimah" (with reference to the first-born babies which the animal produces).


Terrified of the Sea

"Nations will gather to the Mountain " (33:19).

When the nations go down to the sea, the Rosh explains, they will undertake to bring Nedarim and Nedavos (two kinds of sacrifices), out of fear of the sea, which they will bring after having emerged safely from it.


The Entire Alef-Beis

"And to Gad he said " (33:20).

The Ba'al ha'Turim points out that the B'rachah of Gad contains all the letters of the Alef-Beis. And he ascribes the reason for this to the fact that Moshe, who fulfilled all the Taryag Mitzvos, is buried in Gad's portion.

And it is for the same reason that all the letters are contained in the B'rachah of Yosef, whose coffin traveled in the Desert next to the Aron ha'Kodesh, because, as Chazal cite a Heavenly as saying 'This one (Yosef) kept all that is written in that one.


The Best Insurance

" because the (burial) portion of the one who gave the Torah is hidden there" (33:21).

Gad chose this piece of land as his portion, says the Rosh, unperturbed by the fact that Amon and Mo'av claimed that it belonged to them. This is because they knew that G-d was going to bury Moshe there, and it was most unlikely to be returned to them, leaving Moshe buried in Chutz la'Aretz (belonging to gentiles, and our arch-enemies to boot).


Iron and Copper

"Iron and copper are your bolts" (33:25).

This, the Rosh explains, refers allegorically to the sinews and the bones, which locks the body in the same way as a bolt locks the door. This is because they will be able to use the abundance of oil with which they are blessed, to constantly anoint their bodies, and to strengthen the sinews and the bones as if they were made of iron and copper.

And that explains why the Pasuk continues "and like your youth will be your old age"; in keeping with R. Chanina, who said 'The hot water and oil with which my mother used to anoint me when I was young, stood me in good stead in my old age'.


Who Will Dwell with Ya'akov?

"And Yisrael will dwell secure, alone, like Ya'akov" (33:28).

This Pasuk, which refers to the days of Mashi'ach, comes to teach us that only those with the same ideals as Ya'akov - such as true converts - will dwell with Ya'akov at that time, alone, as no strangers will share in their happiness. Indeed, Bil'am too, blessed Yisrael in a similar manner, when he said in Parshas Balak (23:9) "Behold they are a nation who dwell in solitude, and they will not be reckoned among the gentile nations".

The heretics however, the sneaks and those who separate from the ways of the community will not dwell with them. This is because the Torah writes does not write 'the seed of Ya'akov', but "those who are like Ya'akov".


Moshe's Miracles
(Gematriyos from the Ba'al ha'Turim)

"u'le'Chol ha'Yad ha'Chazakah " (34:12).

"ha'Yad ha'Chazakah" = 'af ve'cheimah' (the two destructive angels that Moshe overpowered).

"u'le'Chol ha'Mora ha'Gadol" = 'Pi ho'oretz' (at the episode of Korach).

The first letters of all fifty-four Parshiyos of the Torah = 791 = "u'D'var Hashem be'ficho emes" (Melachim 1, 17:24).

The 290 Parshiyos P'suchos = "al-Pi Hashem Yachanu" (Bamidbar 9:21).

The 669 Parshiyos P'suchos & S'tumos = 'Gematriyos'.

* * *


'Many nations will come to the Mountain on which the Beis-Hamikdash stands to Daven; they will bring genuine sacrifices there; because they (the Tribe of Zevulun) will dwell by the shores of the Mediterranean Sea, and they will derive their sustenance from the T'ris (fish), and they will catch the Chilazon, with whose blood they will obtain the dye for the T'cheiles threads of Tzitzis, and from the sand they will manufacture mirrors and glass vessels, for the hidden things of the deep will be revealed to them' (33"19).


'And the Tribe of Naftali, Moshe, the Navi of G-d blessed; Naftali will rejoice with the fish of the sea which will fall in his portion, and he will be filled with the blessing of the fruits of the Valley of Ginusar, and there will be given to him from before G-d the Sea of Sufnei (?) and he will inherit the Sea of Teverya" ' (33:23).


'And the Tribe of Asher, Moshe blessed and said "He is more blessed than the (other) sons of Ya'akov; Asher will look after his brothers, and provide them with food during the Sh'mitah " ' (33:24).


'The Tribe of Asher will be as strong as iron and tough as copper. They will walk on top of the cliffs, and they will retain the strength of their youth in their old age' (33:25).


'And the king of the south who will join forces with the king of the north to destroy the inhabitants of the land; and Amon and Mo'av who live in the plains and who oppress Yisrael; and the exile of the disciples of Eliyahu who were driven out from the Valley of Yericho; and the exile of the disciples of Elisha, who were driven out from the city of Diklaya at the hand of their brethren. Beis Yisrael, two hundred thousand men, the troubles of each and every generation, the punishment of the wicked Armalgus and the battles of Gog; And in those times of terrible suffering Micha'el will arise with a strong hand to redeem them' (34:3).


'On the seventh day of the month of Adar Moshe, the Rebbe of Yisrael was born, and on the seventh day of the month of Adar he was taken away from this world. A Heavenly Voice descended from the Heaven and declared 'Come all you inhabitants of the world and witness the pain of Moshe the Rebbe of Yisrael, who went to much trouble from which he did not reap the benefits. He was crowned with four good crowns - His was the Crown of Torah, which he captured from the Heavens above, and on which G-d's Divine Presence was revealed together with twenty-two thousand Angels and forty-two thousand fiery chariots; His was the Crown of Kehunah, which he wore during the Seven days of Inauguration; The Crown of Sovereignty they handed him from the Heaven, even though he neither drew a sword, nor did he ride a horse or gather an army; And he acquired the Crown of a good name by virtue of his good deeds and his humility. Therefore, Moshe the servant of G-d was taken away in the Land of Mo'av by means of a kiss from Hashem' (34:5).

* * *

About Shemini Atzeres
(Adapted from the Ta'amei ha'Minhagim & the Yalkut Yitzchak)

Why it is Called 'Simchas Torah'

To explain the name 'Simchas Torah', the Mateh Moshe cites the following Medrash: The Satan comes before Hakadosh Baruch Hu and claims that although Yisrael read the Torah, they make no effort to complete the Torah. When, on Simchas Torah (in Eretz Yisrael, in former times, it was customary to finish the reading the Torah only once every three years), they do complete it, and Hakadosh Baruch Hu points this out to him, unperturbed, he is quick to pounce 'Maybe they have, but they do not begin reading it again!'

But Yisrael are smart. The words are hardly out of the Satan's mouth, and they are already Leining "Bereishis Boro Elokim ".

Once again, Hakadosh Baruch Hu points out his mistake. This time however, he has no more to say. He remains silent.

And that, says the Mateh Moshe, explains why we call it 'Simchas Torah'.

That, and because of the Se'udah that the Chasan Torah customarily arranges for the community (see 'Se'udas Simchas Torah', later).


Sefarim Out, Candle In!

The Yalkut Yitzchak cites the Minhag to empty out all the Sefarim from the Aron ha'Kodesh on Hosha'ana Rabah and on Simchas Torah, adding that one then places a candle in the Aron ha'Kodesh (I suspect that we do not do this nowadays because of the fire-hazard involved).

And he attributes this Minhag to the Pasuk in Mishlei "Ki Ner Mitzvah ve'Torah Or". To teach us that the Mitzvos illuminate us in all our ways, and that from the Torah there emerges light for all of Yisrael.


Seven Times Round the Bimah

Going round the Bimah seven times with the Sifrei Torah hints to us that whatever was created during the seven days of creation was only created for the sake of the Torah, and that they are all subservient to those who observe the Mitzvos contained in it.


Another reason for this Minhag is to break the iron walls that divide between us and our Father in Heaven, just like going round Yericho seven times in the days of Yehoshua caused the walls of the city to fall.


Selling the Mitzvos

The reason that one sells the Mitzvos on Simchas Torah (many communities do so throughout the year), despite the prohibition of buying and selling on Shabbos and Yom-Tov, cannot be due to the fact that it is a Mitzvah, since one is not permitted to purchase Tefilin or even a Seifer-Torah on Shabbos and Yom-tov, even though it is a Mitzvah.

The Maharil therefore attributes the Minhag to the fact that firstly (unlike Tefilin and a Seifer-Torah) they are Mitzvos that are currently due, and cannot be purchased later, and secondly that they are for communal requirements.


The Magid Ta'alumos quoting the Zohar, writes that Mitzvos that a person performs free of charge, render one subject to falling under the jurisdiction of a certain demon called 'Chacham'. And he refers to Tzadikim who, when they receive Kibudim to do with the Seifer-Torah or with the Shul, would donate money for Tzedakah, in order not to perform without paying for it.


Everybody Receives an Aliyah

Says the Yalkut Yitzchak, is because on this day we conclude the Torah, which ends with the word "Yisrael". Now the letters Yisrael, which form the first letters of the words 'Yesh shishim ribu osiyos la'Torah'. This in turn, hints that every Jewish person owns his own letter and portion in the Torah. And so everyone makes a point of being called to his Torah on the day that the Torah is completed.


Se'udas Simchas Torah

'And one invites the Kahal and serves them nice food, says the Ta'amei ha'Minhagim (I believe citing the Maharshal). Indeed, he says, I found a source for this Minhag in Medash Chazis, who, commenting on the Pasuk "And he (Sh'lomoh

Hamelech) came to Yerushalayim and stood before the Aron of the Covenant and he prepared a feast for all his servants". From here we learn, said R. Yitzchak, that one arranges a party when completing the Torah. This is also the source for the Se'udah that one arranges upon completing a Masechta.


Simchas Torah

True, Shemini Atzres is a day on which we rejoice with the Torah for reasons that we discussed above.

Yet the correct translation of the words 'Simchas Torah' is 'the rejoicing of the Torah'. Perhaps we can say that after having done Teshuvah mi'Yir'ah during the Aseres Yemei Teshuvah, and Teshuvah me'Ahavah during Succos, it is safe to assume that just as we are rejoicing with the Torah, the Torah is rejoicing with us.

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