Sukkot 5772 – Gilayon #721


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Sukkot

He will shelter me in his sukkah

on an evil day

grant me the protection of his tent (psalm 27:5)

If thou seest

the oppression of the poor,

and the violent perverting of justice

and of righteousness in the state,

marvel not at the matter;

for one higher than the high watcheth,

and there are higher than they. (Ecclesiastes 5"7)

 

He will hide me in His pavilion [sukkah],

he will grant me the protection of his tent – The Malbim justifies

the seeming redundancy between the two parts of the passage. The sukkah offers only temporary protection; the tent

hides completely. Thus there is no redundancy, but progression.

If you see oppression of the poor and violent perverting of justice – If you see in the province that they oppress

the poor and pervert justice and righteousness, do not wonder – at God's

decision when he brings misfortune upon them.

For one higher than the highest watched – And he sees their behavior, and there are

those higher than them who perform God's assignments, and

they have the power to punish them.

And violent perverting of justice – …If you see that they oppress the poor and subvert justice and yet you

see a righteous person coming to [dwell in] the town – for the Holy One showers

them with goodness and does not punish them – do not wonder about His choice, for

such is His manner, to be patient.

For there is a watchman higher than the highest – who waits until their measure is full. And

there are higher – He has some over them to punish them when their time

comes, as in (Job 14) "You would not keep watch over my sin";

and (Isaiah 26:2) "A nation that keeps faith"; and (Genesis 37) "And his father kept the matter in mind".

(Rashi, Ecclesiastes, ibid. ibid)

 

 

Sukkah of peace

Pinchas Leiser

                                                                        Dedicated to the blessed memory of my father-in-law

                R'

Chayim Simcha Israel Hollander,A"H

                Who

returned his soul to his Creator

                In

ripe old age, 24 Elul, 5771

On Shabbat evenings, we complete the second

blessing following the Shema with the words "Who

spreads a sukkah of peace over us and

over all his people Israel

and over Yerushalayim".

It is interesting to examine the origin of

the term sukkah of peace and its

significance.

The phrase "sukkah

of peace" appears in the Jerusalem Talmud in the discussion of the proper

direction for prayer, that is to say, towards the Holy of Holies. By way

of association, the Talmud also discusses the mention of Yerushalyim

in blessings, in prayer, and in the recitation of the Shema:

Thus all Israel

are praying to a single place (if all face toward Jerusalem), as is written "For My

house shall be called a house of prayer for all the nations". Said

Rabbi Yehoshua ben Levi: This

is the inner hall, the hall which all face. So be it while the building stands,

but from whence do we know that it is so even after

the destruction? Said R' Abon: "Built with talpiyot [turrets]" – the tel [elevation] towards which all piyot [mouths] turn –In blessing [grace

after meals], in Kriyat Shema,

and in prayer. In blessing – Who builds Yerushalayim;

in Kriyat Shema – "Spreads

a tabernacle of peace over us and over Israel,

and over Jerusalem".

One text reads "I will go and return to my place". Another reads "May

my eyes and heart be there forever". How to reconcile the two? His face

faces upwards, his eyes and heart downward. And if not, let him direct his

heart towards the House of the Holy of Holies. Towards which

House of Holy of Holies? Said Rabbi Hiyyah the

Great: Towards the Holy of Holies above us; Rabbi Shimon ben Halafta said: Towards the

House of the Holy of Holies below. Said Rabbi Pinchas:

They are not in disagreement – the House of the Holy of Holies below faces the

House of the Holy of Holies above us – "A firm place [machon]

for Your dwelling" – directed [mechuvan] at your dwelling. Mount Moriah

– R' Hiyya the Great and R' Yanai

were in disagreement [as to the origin of the name]. One interpreted "From

where teaching [horiya] goes forth to the

world". The other said "From where awe ([yir'ah]

goes forth to the world.".

It is interesting to note that the Talmud

brings in support for the final passage on direction of prayer the words of Isaiah,

"For my House shall be called a house of prayer for all peoples". The

context of these words is:

Let not the foreigner say, who has

attached himself to the Lord, "The Lord will keep me apart from His people"

and let not the eunuch say, "I am a withered tree." For thus said the

Lord: "As for the eunuchs who keep My Sabbaths, who have chosen what I

desire and hold fast to My covenant – I will give them

in My House and within My walls, A monument and a name better than sons or

daughters. I will give them an everlasting name which shall not perish.

As for the foreigners who attach

themselves to the Lord, to minister to Him, and to love the name of the Lord, to

be His servants – All who keep the Sabbath and do not profane it, and who hold

fast to my covenant – I will bring them to my sacred mount and let them rejoice

in My house of prayer. Their burnt offerings and sacrifices shall be welcome on

My altar; For my House shall be called a house of

prayer for all peoples. (Isaiah 56:3-8)

Rashi elucidates: – For all the nations – not

for Israel

alone.

Radak explains: In keeping with that which Solomon

said in his prayer "and so for the foreigner" – all the more

so for those who return to the faith of Israel.

The Chatam Sofer, in his commentary on the Torah, brings an

interesting homiletical interpretation [derasha] for the words "Tabernacle of peace":

You shall not gash yourselves nor shall you make a bald

place on the front of your head for the dead (Re'eh).

This means for things related to death and the vanities of this world

which do not revive man with eternal life. You shall not quarrel [in

Hebrew, 'gash' and 'quarrel' are linguistically related]. Therefore is it

called Tabernacle of peace, for after we rejoiced on the festival and

are certain that God has answered our prayers – including "And they shall

form a single band to do Your will", I anticipate that this prayer has

been received and every heart has been granted awe of God, I will have no

further quarrel with anyone, and of itself it becomes a Tabernacle of Peace. (Chatam Sofer

on Torah, Devarim 11:1)

In contrast to Rosh Hashana

and Yom Hakippurim , the Sukkoth festival relates to the national-historical

memory. The Torah draws a clear connection between the main mitzvah of

the festival, which gives the entire festival its name, and events which

occurred in the wilderness at the time of the exodus from Egypt: "In

your huts shall you dwell seven days. All natives in Israel shall dwell in huts,

so that your generations will know that I made the Israelites dwell in huts

when I brought them out of the land of Egypt, I am the Lord your God."

(Vayikrah

23:42-43).

Beginning with our Sages (Rabbi Eliezer and Rabbi AkivaBavli, Sukkah 11)

Torah commentators discussed the essence of these sukkot;

are they "real' manmade sukkot (Ibn Ezra and others) or are they "clouds of glory" (Rashi, Ramban,

and others). This controversy

has practical ramifications; what is the nature of "memory" we wish

to establish and fashion on this festival. Clouds of glory emphasize the

heavenly aspect of the wilderness experience, a kind of total dependence on God

by man. On the one hand, the huts built by man represent a more mature and

responsible stage of development; but fashioning of this kind of memory is

liable to lead man to a feeling of "my strength and the power of my hand".

The Rambam (Guide for the Perplexed III, 43) explains the timing of the festival of "when

you gather your produce from the field" – the time when [the farmers] are

inactive, resting from necessary labors… Dwelling in the sukkah

during that period is tolerable, with neither extreme heat nor troublesome rain."

Rambam relates also to the festival's educational

and psychological aspects, those which shape the religious conciousness,

and compares it with Pesach:

The two

festivals, Passover and the Feast of Tabernacles, imply also the teaching of

certain truths and certain moral lessons. Passover teaches us to remember the

miracles which God wrought in Egypt,

and to perpetuate their memory; the Feast of Tabernacles reminds us of the

miracles wrought in the wilderness. The moral lesson derived from these feasts

is this: man ought to remember his evil days in his days of prosperity. He will

thereby be encouraged to thank God repeatedly, to lead a modest and humble life.

We eat, therefore, unleavened bread and bitter herbs on Passover in memory of

what happened to us, and leave (on Succoth] our houses in order to dwell in

tabernacles, as inhabitants of deserts do that are in want of comfort. We shall

thereby remember that this has once been our condition; [comp.]" I made

the children of Israel to dwell in booths" (Lev. xxiii. 43): although we

dwell now in elegant houses, in the best and most fertile land, by the kindness

of God, and because of His promises to our forefathers, Abraham, Isaac, and

Jacob, who were perfect in their opinions and in their conduct. This idea is

likewise an important element in our religion; that whatever good we have

received and ever will receive of God, is owing to the merits of the Patriarchs,

who" kept the way of the Lord to do justice and judgment" (Gen. xviii. 19). (Guide, Friedlander

translation)

Rambam considers the mitzvot

of Pesach and Sukkoth to be education instruments, to develop man's

religious consciousness through the historical memory, sensitivity, and

humility.

The short selections quoted above from the Guide

for the Perplexed relate to a number of aspects:

A.     Suitable

timing takes into account man's current condition: in an agricultural society, he

is free of all essential chores, and the weather, at least in Eretz Yisrael, is moderate in

this season. In other words, it is possible to make demands of one emotionally

unoccupied, knowing that he will be able to fulfill them.

B.     Man

is requested to rise above the present relaxed reality, and to recall that none

of his material accomplishments can be taken for granted; no one can claim "it's

coming to me", nothing is certain. The memories of troubled days should

encourage empathy towards "the unfortunate who dwell in the desert and in

desolation", and to make him more sensitive to the suffering of others.

C.     The

awareness of zechut avot

[lit. "in the father's credit" – in judging

us, God takes into account our fathers' good deeds] ties us directly to images

of the patriarchs as models of "justice and righteousness". (The Netziv, in his wonderful introduction to his commentary on

Genesis, terms the Book of Genesis "Sefer Hayashar" – The Book of the Honest" – in the

light of passages in Joshua and Samuel II, because of the Patriarchs who were "honest",

because in contrast to later generations in which there were pious and observant,

the Patriarchs were honest with all men.)

D.     Through

this prism, the mitzvoth of sukkah can be seen as a

rare opportunity for developing, through the collective consciousness, a

perspective of social sensitivity, solidarity, and empathy. Those moments when

we feel "a bit" less at ease, a little less protected, can lead us – if

we be wise enough to study the Rambam – to empathy

towards the suffering surrounding us, which today is not only the lot of "those

who dwell in the desert and in desolation", because misfortune and

suffering exist everywhere, in varying degrees.

The Patriarchs, those

who practiced "justice and righteousness", who were "honest",

those invited as ushpizin [guests] into

our sukka and in whose virtue we survive, set before

us elevated moral and religious demands. Would that we be able to meet those demands

and guarantee our dwelling in "a permanent" dwelling, one which will become

a "sukkat shalom", which also will be a

house of prayer for all the nations, when the "Holy of Holies below be

facing the Holy of Holies above."

Pinchas Leiser,

editor of Shabbat Shalom, is a psychologist.

 

The

sukkah as refuge and shelter – natural or miraculous – past and future

"And the Children of Israel journeyed from Ramses

to Sukkot" – literal Sukkot, as is written "And Yaakov journeyed from

Sukkot and camped in Eitam" just as Eitam is a place, so is Sukkot.

Rabbi Akiva said: Sukkot are the clouds of glory, as is

written, "The Lord will create over the whole shrine and meeting place of

Mount Zion cloud by day and smoke with a glow of flaming fire by night. Indeed,

over all the glory shall hang a canopy" (Isaiah

4:5)

Thus we have [evidence] for the past, what of the future? Scripture

teaches: "Which will serve as a pavilion for shade from heat, etc." and

"And the ransomed of the Lord shall return." (Ibid.

10)

I discovered in the Talmud Yerushalmi that when Aharon died,

the clouds of glory dispersed and the Canaanites attacked Israel, and they

decided to return to Egypt, and retraced their steps eight camping places, from

Hor Hahar to Moserah, as is written, "And the Children of Israel journeyed

from the wells of the sons of Yaakan to Mosera, there died Aharon."

(Rashi,

Bemidbar 26:13)

 

Transience

and Lack of Acquisition

as Expressions of Faith

The mitzvah of Sukkah

requires a temporary dwelling (Sukkah 2a). The

author of the Baal Haakeida wrote

that the simple reason [behind the command] is to suggest to man that he make do

in this world with only that which is necessary, like a temporary dwelling

capable of housing only his head, most of his body, and his table. For this world is a temporary

dwelling; all the acquisitions of this world – houses, fields, vineyards – do

not provide him with a dependable foundation, and

all are eventually lost to him. This

is the meaning of "And they journeyed from Rameses."

(Igra deChalla 296/1)

 

"An Easy Mitzvah Have I, and Sukkah Is

Its Name": 'Socheh' is one

who finds shelter in the name of God, and needs nothing, and makes do with a

temporary dwelling for the hour, for he who worries about tomorrow is deficient

in faith. A temporary dwelling for the moment is sufficient, and this is the opposite of envy.

(Kometz Hamincha, R' Tzadok

HaCohen of Lublin,

Part Two, 18)

 

And you shall take for yourselves on the first day – but is it the first day? Is it not

the fifteenth day [of the month]? And you say on the first day?

Rather, it is the first [day] for the reckoning of sins…Israel collects

sins through all the days of the year. What does the Holy One blessed be he do? He says to them: Do teshuvah

(repentance) from Rosh Ha'Shanah. They gather

together on Yom Kippur to fast and do teshuvah, and

the Holy One blessed be He pardons them. What

do they do? On the eve of Rosh Ha'Shanah, the

great men of the generation fast and the Holy One blessed be He

forgives a third of their sins. From Rosh Ha'Shanah until

Yom Kippur some individuals fast, and the Holy One blessed be He forgives [another]

third of their sins. On Yom Kippur, all of Israel, men, women, and children, fast

and ask for mercy, and the Holy One blessed be He

forgives them everything, as it is written, for on that day atonement

shall be made for you (Vayikra 16). What does Israel do?

They take their lulavs on the first day of the

holiday and praise and extol the Holy One blessed be He, and the Holy One

blessed be He becomes well-disposed towards them and pardons them, and says to

them "See, I have excused all of your earlier sins, but now a new

accounting begins." That is why it is written, and you shall take for

yourselves on the first day – the first [day] for accounting of sins. The

Holy One blessed be He said to Israel: In this world, I told you to make a sukkah to return the favor I did you, for it says, you

shall dwell in Sukkot for seven days in

order that your generations know that I caused you to dwell in Sukkot, etc. and I consider it as if you had returned

the favor. However, in the future I shall appear in My Kingship and I will

protect you like a sukkah, for it is said, it

shall be a sukkah in the day to give shade

from the heat (Isaiah 4).

(Tanhuma Emor 22)

 

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