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Simcha Groffman

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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 as 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.

With All Of Your Heart

"If I am here, everything is here. If I am not here, then who is here?" Who would say something like this? It sounds like someone who is very caught up in himself. This statement was actually made by the Hillel, in the gemora (Sukkah 53a). Hillel? Can it be? He was one of the most humble of our sages. He could not be angered by anyone, even an insolent person who disturbed his erev Shabbos bath three times. This statement seems very out of character for Hillel. It must have a deeper meaning.

Rav Shmuel Rozofsky zt"l (as quoted in Rav Beifus' sefer) explained that the "I" that Hillel is referring to is the heart of a person. A person is guided by his heart. If his heart motivates him to do something, then he will put all of his efforts into it. Therefore if "I" (my heart) is here, then everything (all of my energies) are here, focused on what I am doing. Hillel said this while he was rejoicing at the Simchas Beis HaShoeva, the nightly celebrations at the Beis HaMikdash during the holiday of Sukkos. He put his whole heart into making himself and those around him happy. That was the mitzvah of the day.

Kinderlach . . .

We learn two important lessons from Hillel. One is the importance of being happy and making others happy on Succos. Secondly, we learn to put our whole heart into what we are doing. When we do that, we know that we have done our best. We have given everything. We can do no better than that. We have many mitzvos on Succos - living in the Sukkah, lulav, and rejoicing. On Shemini Atzeres/Simchas Torah we sing and dance with the Torah for hours on end. Let us put our whole heart into these mitzvos, and all of our mitzvos. May we all merit to have a Chag Sameach, and to dance in the courtyard of the Beis HaMikdash this year.

Shake Away the Bad

"…Vetzivanu al netilas lulav."

The father rotated his esrog so the pittam pointed up, held it next to his lulav, and proceeded to shake it slowly and deliberately. Forward and back, three times, he shook it. He pointed toward each of the four points of the compass, then up and down.

"Abba, may I ask you something?"

"Sure, Chaim."

"You fulfilled the mitzvah as soon as you held the lulav with the esrog pointing up."


"Why did you shake it in six directions afterward?"

"Excellent question, Chaim. The Gemara (Succah 37b) explains that shaking it in four directions stops damaging winds. And shaking it up and down stops harmful dew."

"How can the lulav do that, Abba?"

"Another excellent question, Chaim. Rav Eliyahu Kitov relates that during the festival of Succos, the world is judged for water."


"Yes. All the rain and dew that will fall all over the world during the upcoming year is decreed on Succos."

"That water is crucial to all life on earth."

"Exactly, Chaim. A lot is at stake here. That is why we take our arba minim - lulav, esrog, hadassim, and aravos - all of which need large amounts of water to grow. We wave them and say to Hashem, "Just as it is impossible for these arba minim to live without water, so too is it impossible for the world to live without water. Just as You provided these arba minim with water, so too provide the whole world with water. But do not let bad winds or dew cause damage. Rather, let the water bring only blessing to the world."

"I see, Abba. Water can bring blessing or destruction, depending upon how it comes. We gently shake our lulav, in order that Hashem should gently shake the water down to earth."

"Now you've got the hang of it, Chaim."

"May we have just gishmei bracha (rain which brings blessing), Abba."


Kinderlach . . .

Water can take many forms. A gentle rain that waters the crops and fills up the cisterns is a blessing. Hurricanes, tornadoes, floods, blizzards, and hailstorms are all damaging. When they strike, they can shake crops, trees, and even homes. Also people are sometimes shaken with fear. Therefore we gently shake the lulav, to prevent big shakeups in the weather. Kinderlach, shake your lulavim deliberately and with good kavannah (intention). You can make the world a nicer, safer, wealthier place to live in.

Kinder Torah Copyright 2008 All rights reserved to the author Simcha Groffman

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