SEPTEMBER 29- OCTOBER 3, 2004 15-23 TISHREI 5765
"You shall rejoice on your festival (Succot)" (Debarim 16:14)
Simha, rejoicing, is a feature of all the holidays, yet only Succot is referred to as Zeman Simhatenu, the time of rejoicing. The Rambam writes that Succot was a remarkably joyful time in the Bet Hamikdash. What is special about Succot that generates this extra feeling of happiness? Rabbi S. Rosovsky explains that the happiness is generated by the unity the Jews feel on Succot. Our Sages teach us that the four species of the misvah of lulab represent different groups within our nation, who complement and supplement each other in a unified expression of a life of Torah and misvot. How is this unity achieved? The secret is the misvah of the succah. When we leave our comfortable homes and enter the flimsy succah, we demonstrate that material luxury and security are not the mainstays of our lives. This removes the primary barrier to unity in the Jewish nation. Rabenu Yonah, in his book, Shaare Teshubah, writes (1:31) that the pursuit of material pleasures sows discord among people, since it encourages envy and greed, and this drives them apart. By renouncing our need to fulfill our every whim and desire we are able to unite with all other Jews. This unity is what makes Succot "the Time of our Rejoicing."
Our community is well known for its charity and hesed projects. The financial gap in our community necessitates this. Baruch Hashem, people that are able, are helping both with money and acts of kindness. However, that same gap that encourages these wonderful people to help the people in need, prevents the unification of the people. This is plain to see by the fact that friendships and social interactions are usually within a similar income bracket. If we could de-emphasize the importance of luxury we would suddenly find a new wellspring of friendliness for each other, and a wider circle of friends, friends of haves and have-nots. If we could eliminate the unity gap, that merit will eliminate the financial gap. Tizku Leshanim Rabot. Rabbi Reuven Semah
As we finish Yom Kippur and experience a beautiful closeness with Hashem, we now sit in the succah, which is like sitting in Hashem's clouds of glory. The message of the succah can be both sobering and encouraging. To the powerful and wealthy, the succah says, "Do not rely on your fortune; it is transitory. Even your castle is no more secure than a succah. If you are safe, it is because G-d shelters you as He did your ancestors when all they had was a booth over their heads. Let the starry sky you see through your s'chach teach you to build your castle on a foundation of faith under the benevolent gaze of Hashem."
To the poor and downtrodden, the succah says, "Are you more helpless than millions of your ancestors in the wilderness, without food, water or shelter? What sustained them? Who provided for them? Look around at your succah's frail walls and at the stars through its roof. Let it remind you that Israel became a nation living in such 'mansions' and that's where they became a great and G-dly nation."
Let us enjoy the holiday of Succot with the message that we are in Hashem's Hands at all times. By putting our complete faith in Him we will feel secure and tranquil and appreciate everything we have. Especially during these turbulent and trying times, we need to strengthen our faith that Hashem is the One Who can and will protect us, and the succah is the symbol of being in Hashem's Hands. May we merit to dwell in the succah which will be built for the righteous very soon in our days, Amen. Tizku Leshanim Rabot! Rabbi Shmuel Choueka
On the first and second nights of Succot, we recite the berachah of shehehiyanu in the kiddush. However, when it comes to taking the lulab and etrog, shehehiyanu is not recited on the second day unless the first day was Shabbat. Why is shehehiyanu recited both nights in kiddush and only the first day of taking the lulab and etrog?
Yom Tob is a joyous occasion which comes from time to time, and thus a shehehiyanu must be recited. Since there is a doubt which day is actually Yom Tob (the 15th of Tishrei), shehehiyanu is recited both nights together with kiddush.
Halachically, however, the shehehiyanu over the lulab may be made even before Yom Tob, when one prepares (binds together the lulab with the species), but it has become traditional to make the berachah when the lulab is taken to fulfill the misvah (see Succah 46a, Shulhan Aruch 644, Magen Abraham). Thus, there is no need to make this berachah twice, since either way (even if the first day is a weekday and not Yom Tob) one fulfilled the obligation of recited the shehehiyanu for the lulab. (Vedibarta Bam)
"You shall take for yourselves on the first day the fruit of an etrog tree [lit. a beautiful tree]" (Vayikra 23:40)
What is the beauty of the etrog tree?
Man is compared to a tree of the field (Debarim 20:19). Many lessons are learned from trees to guide man in his development.
The uniqueness of the etrog is that on the bottom it has an ukatz - the stem by which it is connected to the tree - and on the top a pitom - stem - topped with a shoshanta - rosette blossom. Should one of these fall off, the etrog is no longer considered to be beautiful.
The lesson of the etrog tree is that a beautiful person is one who is connected with the past and who also has accomplishments of his own. A descendant of a fine family, who continues the family tradition, and who does not rest contented with the family's past glories but goes forth to blossom on his own, is indeed hadar - a very beautiful person.
Alternatively, according to the Gemara (Sukkah 35a) a unique quality of the etrog tree is that "Ta'am eitzo upirio shaveh - the wood of the tree and the fruit have the same flavor." The beauty of a Jew is that the taste of the tree (parent) and the fruit (child) is the same. It is the greatest source of pride and feeling of achievement for parents when the children resemble them not only physically, but are inspired to carry on in the image of the parents spiritually as well.
The Gemara also states that the etrog is "dar be'ilano meshanah leshanah - it dwells on its tree from one year to the next year" (it can be left on the tree for more than one season and remain fresh). The etrog represents the Jews of ta'am - taste -and re'ah - aroma - an allusion to Torah and misvot. The Jew of this category is beautiful when his observance of Torah and misvot is throughout the entire year and weathers all seasons. His attachment to Hashem remains in good times and in bad times, in joy and in sorrow, in poverty and in plenty. (Vedibarta Bam)
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