A Big Hug
"Shalom everyone, I'm home!"
The little children are so excited to see their father that they practically jump out of their skins.
"Give me a big hug, Abba."
"Sure thing, Eli."
The father picks up his little son Eli, and gives him a big, long hug.
"I love you so much, Abba."
"I love you, Eli."
Rav Shimshon Pincus zt"l calls the mitzvah of Sukkah a big "hug" from Hashem. Why? The minimal sukkah is two complete walls and a third wall of one tefach (handbreadth - about four inches) in length, covered with schach (thatched roof). The two complete walls are like the upper arm and the forearm, and the tefach wall is like the hand. When we enter the sukkah, Hashem's arm (so to speak) wraps around us and gives us a hug. This hug is a beautiful expression of Hashem's love for us. It also demonstrates His protectiveness. The sukkah symbolizes the Clouds of Glory that enveloped and protected us during the 40 years in the desert. When the child is in the father's arms, he is safe and protected from danger. How much more so when we are in the sukkah. Wrapped in Hashem's arms - safe and sound.
We have heard many times that Hashem loves us. Do we really feel it? Sometimes it is difficult because we cannot see Him. If He would give us a big hug, we would surely feel His love. That is what the sukkah is. We have also heard that Hashem protects us. Nestled in His arms, within the walls of the sukkah, we really feel His protection. Kinderlach, this Sukkos, grab all of the hugs that you can.
"Deliver us, for Your sake, our G-d, deliver us." We recite these words as we begin our hakafah (circuit) around the bimah (table for the Sefer Torah) on Sukkos. With lulav in hand, we circle the bimah once each day and seven times on Hoshana Rabba, the last day of Sukkos.
The Maharsha explains that these hakafos are a remembrance of the conquest of Yericho (Jericho). Our ancestors made one circuit each day and seven on the final day until the wall of the city fell. So too, our enemies shall fall. There is another reason for the circuit - to symbolize that our enemies circle around us, as the verse states, "The wicked walk on every side." (Tehillim 12:9). On Hoshana Rabba, we take the aravah (willow branch) in our hand and beat it on the ground, thereby destroying it. So too our enemies shall be destroyed.
"I and He (please) deliver us" (from the prayers of the day). The Tiferes Yisrael relates that "I and He" are Hashem and the Jewish People who will work together. How? When we do His will here in this world, He strengthens us from above.
Kinderlach . . .
We see another expression of Hashem's protection... the hakafos. Our enemies will fall, just as the walls of Yericho fell. Our enemies will be destroyed, just as the aravah is destroyed. There is a condition. We must fulfill His will. One example is to behave patiently, with derech eretz during the hakafos. There is no reason to push or jump in front of people. Everyone will make the circle. Take your time and enjoy the tefillos (prayers). Hashem is smiling down on you.
The man slowly walked up the steps to the apartment building. This was the right address. On the mailbox he saw the name "Iben Farloren." His heart skipped a beat. Ever since his son was taken from him 40 years ago, he had hoped and prayed that he was alive and well in that huge prison known as the Soviet Union. Now, he had finally fulfilled his life's dream and come to the Land of Israel. He searched for his son, and found someone with a matching name. He knocked on the door.
"Yes, may I help you?"
The face looked familiar. His heart pounded in his chest. His voice shook as he spoke.
"Are you Iben Farloren, who was born in Russia 55 years ago, and taken away to the army at age 15?"
"How did you know that?"
"I am your father."
He stared in disbelief, and then realized that it was true. The two men hugged each other and cried uncontrollably.
"Please, Abba, come and sit in my sukkah."
"You have a sukkah! Boruch Hashem you still keep the mitzvos. After all of those years without a home, you still remained faithful to Hashem and His Torah."
"Abba, you taught me well."
On Sukkos, we welcome the Ushpizin (holy guests - Avraham, Yitzchak, Yaakov, Yosef, Moshe, Aharon and Dovid) into our sukkah. Rav Eliyahu Kitov relates that as happy as we are to host them, they are equally happy to visit us. Why? They see us following in their footsteps. They followed the will of Hashem, and left their homes of wealth and physical comforts, to go into exile into strange lands. They knew that the true pleasure in life is not a life of wealth and luxury, rather a life rich in the love of Hashem and a burning desire to fulfill His will.
The Ushpizin see us leaving our comfortable homes to go into exile and live in the sukkah. Even after these thousands of years of golus (exile), our emunah (faith) is not shaken. We follow their example. This gives them great nachas.
Sukkos is the zman simchaseinu (time of our happiness). Our forefathers showed us the way to true happiness. We don't need treats every day to be happy. A new toy or a fancy vacation won't warm your heart. Dazzling clothes don't bring inner peace. True happiness is found in the sukkah and the simple life, free from over-indulgences. Follow Hashem into your sukkah, kinderlach. There you will find what you are looking for.
Kinder Torah Copyright 2002 All rights reserved to the author Simcha Groffman
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