Sukkot 5774 – Gilayon #817


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"You shall live in booths seven days;

All the citizens of Israel shall live in booths"

(Leviticus 23:42)


The citizens – that is citizens. Of Israel

– including sojourners, [gerim] (Rashi,

ibid). This excludes women from time-bound mitzvot but does include sojourners and freed slaves.

The literal translation, according to the

Kabala, alludes to "One law shall you have for sojourners and

citizens of the land." (Numbers 9:14)

"All the dwellers in Canaan are aghast,"


13:5). So that it

would not be necessary to mention citizens and sojourners each time, he says, "all

the citizens of Israel," to include everyone in Israel, adults and

children, so that all shall dwell in the sukkah, not

just one from each household while the others would remain in the house, but

all would dwell together. Perhaps it said that every citizen resides happily in

his home, to exclude sailors and travelers.

(Ramban, ibid)


And spread your sukkah of peace

over us, the sukkah of compassion and life and peace


The transience of permanence and the permanence

that is in the transient

Ariel Pikar

On the Festival of Sukkot, we are commanded to go out of our homes and live in

a sukkah. The Braita, describes it like this: "Our rabbis taught: Seven

days man makes his sukkah his permanent abode and his

home, temporary. How does he do this? If he has beautiful crockery – he brings

them to the sukkah. If he has beautiful linens – he

brings them to the sukkah. He eats and drinks and

passes his leisure time in the sukkah," (T.Bavli,

Sukkah 28:72). The sukkah becomes the space we live in for seven days, while

our real homes become a temporary place that we enter from time to time.

Our sages differed on

the architectural character of the sukkah. Rabban Gamliel interpreted it

that the sukkah should withstand strong sea breezes,

as opposed to Rabbi Akiva, who thought that a normal

land breeze was sufficient. The Talmud explains their dispute: "Rabban Gamliel is of the opinion

that the sukkah must be a permanent abode and since

it cannot withstand normal sea breezes, it is nothing, while R. Akiva, is of the opinion that the sukkah

must be temporary, and since it can withstand a normal land breeze it is valid"

(Bavli Sukkah 23:A).

In the same way, Rabbi Yehudah thought that a sukkah must have a mezuzah, because he also saw the sukkah as being permanent, as opposed to the rest of the

sages, who considered a sukkah exempt from a

mezuzah because it is a temporary abode (Bavli, Yoma 10:B) This is also how the Talmud interprets

the dispute of the Tannaim, as to the maximum height

of the sukkah (Bavli, Sukkah 2:B). In all these

disputes, the Halakha is always according to the

opinion that the sukkah is a temporary abode and not


During the Festival of

Sukkot man should feel like his home is temporary. The

accepted interpretation of this mitzvah, is that particularly at the time of

harvest, when man’s self confidence is strong – the feeling of accomplishment

and his agricultural success – Man’s feeling of entitlement and strength

particularly then, he should leave his protected living environment – his home

– and dwell in the sukkah, his temporary abode, where

he will again feel reliance on God, who provides the power to succeed.

City dwellers who,

during the year, are not engaged in reaping and harvesting, can also find

existential meaning in the mitzvah of the sukkah.

Mankind lives in the dialectic between two existential polarities. Sometime we

feel permanence: In work, in society, in the family. We live with the assurance

that what was, will be, that the sun that rose yesterday will also rise

tomorrow. We believe that our financial stability will endure and that our

relationships with our family will be sustained. But sometimes we are forcibly

shaken out of our complacency. We sense the transient condition of our

existence; impaired health, eroding relationships, and disintegrating economic


To cope with these

tensions, the mitzvah of Sukkot offers us a chance to

make our permanent home temporary and make the sukkah

permanent. Thus, we can experience the transient as permanent and the permanent

as transient. From turning our permanent home to temporary, we learn that what

seems to be permanent is not so safe: Home, family, work, social networks – the

things, that we try so hard to stabilize and institutionalize – all these do

not buy us complete security, as we never know what awaits us today, as it says

"Man can plan in his heart but God’s intent will prevail."

If man delves too

deeply into his thoughts he is likely to be completely depressed and

helpless, and will be unwilling to build and achieve. To balance these

thoughts, we turn our sukkah, for seven days, from a

temporary dwelling to a permanent residence. The sukkah

exemplifies our ability to design complete lives in a temporary situation. We

are reconciled to our insecurity and we create an existence for ourselves, also

in a temporary residence. Our willingness to perceive our sukkah

as a home provides us with the peace of mind to live with the uncertainties. On

an island of stability, for a moment of serenity, there can also be importance

and meaning and we can achieve the most out of the temporary and transient.

This idea has a

spiritual and emotional dimension, as well as a deep social meaning. In a state

of selfconfidence, man lives for himself, in his own protected and

air-conditioned house. We live in a fortress. Confidence isolates, transience

unites. Moreover, houses represent class disparities – the simple sukkah – equality. We can go out to the sukkah,

we meet our neighbors, hear and join in with their singing and conversation,

and we enjoy the aromas of their cooking. Passerbys

peek in and are welcomed in. "Ushpizim"

(guests) visit, whether they are ancient guests, like Abraham and Isaac, or

they are new guests – they all enter our sukkah "that

all of Israel

are worthy to sit together"( Bavli Sukkah 27:B), with no class or ethnic or ideological

distinctions. Not only that, but all the nations of the world

are invited to celebrate with us the Festival of Sukkot



"You shall live

in booths seven days… All the citizens of Israel shall live in booths…in

order that future generations may know that I made the Israelite people live in

booths when I brought them out of the Land of Egypt. I am the Lord your God."


23:44). The people of Israel solidified as a nation while

they sat in sukkot in the desert. The mitzvah of sukkah reminds us of the wandering in the desert, the years

we lived together in simplicity, solidarity and equality. When we leave our

home to go out, we are attempting to recreate the wilderness experience, the

simplicity and the social cohesiveness and the belief that we are capable of

coping with transience and insecurity, in the wilderness, in the uncultivated

land and in the land of milk and honey.

Ariel Pikar – Educational

Director of Tochnit Beeri

at the Hartman Institute.


…And you shall rejoice before the lord your god seven days.

On rejoicing – when, how much and how!

…All seven days of

the festival, we recite the [full] Hallel,

but on Pesach we recite the [full] Hallel only

on the first day and its preceding evening. Why? Because "If your enemy

falls, do not exult; If he trips, let your heart not rejoice." With

regard to Shavuot, simcha – joy

– is mentioned only once, as is written, "And you shall observe the

Festival of Weeks for the Lord, your God, and you shall rejoice you and your

household." Why is joy mentioned? [Because] the

wheat has been harvested. Why is it not

mentioned twice? Because the fate of the fruits of the tree

is still being decided. But on Rosh Hashanah, joy is not mentioned even

once, because souls are being judged, and man pleads for his soul more than for

his wealth. But on the festival [Sukkot],

because all souls were pardoned on Yom Kippur, as is written, "For on

this day, atonement shall be made for you", and the grains and

the fruits of the tree have been gathered, joy is mentioned three times, "You

shall rejoice in your festival", "You shall rejoice before the Lord

your God", "You shall have nothing but joy".

What is "nothing

but joy"? Even though man may rejoice in this world, his joy is

incomplete. How is that? Children are born to him – he worries lest they not

survive. But in the future, The Holy One, Blessed Be He, will abolish death

forever. That joy will be complete, as is written "Our mouth was filled

with laughter and our tongue with ringing song."

(Yalkut Shimoni, Torah, Parshat Emor, 247 654)



and Sukkoth

It appears to me that a connection

between the custom of reading Kohelet and the holiday

of Sukkoth is to be found in the words of R' Yonathan

in Yalkut Kohelet: "R'

Yonathan said, first 'Shir Hashirim' (Song of Songs) was composed, followed by 'Mishlei' (Proverbs) and then 'Kohelet'. R'

Yonathan derived this from the way of the world: in one's

youth he sings songs, when he matures he recites parables, and

in old age, he speaks of vanities…"

(Yalkut Shimoni,

Kohelet, 1:965)


The three pilgrimage festivals signify

this cycle in the seasons of the year: In spring-which parallels youth-on Pesach

we read "Shir Hashirim"

("the time of singing has come"); in the season of harvest and

the ripening of first fruits, we read the Scroll of Ruth, which makes mention

of the wheat harvest; and in the [produce] gathering, we read Kohelet, which makes reference to man's last days, ending

with "The sum of the matter".

 (Mordecai Zer-Kavod, from

his preface to his commentary on Kohelet in "Daat Mikra")




basic tenet of the Torah of Moses, our teacher, and all who follow the Torah,

is that man's ability is total, this is to say, that he has the nature, the

choice, and the desire to do anything which man is capable of doing, without

necessitating the creation of anything new… Another basic principle in the

Torah of Moses, our teacher, is that the Blessed one is in no way false.


Guide of the Perplexed, III 17)


 And god seeks the pursued.

(Kohelet 3:15)


In connection with that which is

written, and God seeks the pursued –

Rabbi Huna said

in the name of Rabbi Yosef: In the future, God will

exact the blood of the pursued from their pursuers:

A righteous man pursues a righteous man

– and God seeks the pursued,

A wicked man pursues a wicked man, or a

wicked man pursues a righteous man – and God seeks the pursued.

You are found implying: Even if a

righteous man pursues a wicked man, in any case: and God seeks the


Know that it is such, for Abel was

pursued by Cain, and therefore the Lord paid heed to Abel and his

offering, but to Cain and his offering He paid no heed (Bereishit

4:4-5). Noah was pursued by [the people of] his

generation and it is written that Noah found favor with the Lord (4:8).

Abraham was pursued by Nimrod, and it is written, You

are the Lord God who chose Abram, who brought him out of Ur of the Chaldeans (Nehemiah 9:7).

Isaac was pursued by the Philistines, and it is written, and they said,

"We have plainly seen that the Lord has been with you, and we thought: Let

there be a sworn treaty between our two parties, between you and us (Bereishit

26:28). Jacob was pursued by Esau, and it is

written, for the Lord has chosen Jacob for Himself, Israel, as His treasured possession (Tehillim

135:4). Joseph was

pursued by his brother, and it is written, the Lord was with Joseph,

and he was a successful man; and he stayed in the house of his Egyptian master (Bereishit

39:2). Moses was pursued by Pharaoh, and it is written, had

not Moses His chosen one confronted Him in the breach to avert His destructive

wrath (Tehillim 106:23).


is pursued by idolaters, and it is written, the Lord chose you to be

His treasured people (Devarim 14:2).

Rabbi Yehudah Ben Simon says in the name of Rabbi Nehorai: The ox is chased by the lion, the lamb by the

wolf, the goat by the leopard – God said: Bring only

the pursued before Me as offerings – the ox, or the lamb, or the goat.

(Tanhuma Emor,




is Good for Man?


antithesis between the constantly repeated question – what

is good for man? – and nothing is discovered which is good for man

– and the final verse, which does not say what is good for man but

rather what is the totality of man. That is to say, what is

the significance of human existence in a world in which nothing is good for

man? This antithesis proves that the final verse is not an addendum tacked on

by a God-fearing Jew who had been shocked by the skepticism and heresy found in

the author's words. It is rather quite the opposite: that verse expresses the

author's own main intention. Kohelet does

not say fear God and observe His commandments, for that is good

for man. Rather, he says in a demonstrative and blatant fashion: for

that is the totality of man. Here faith and the service of God

are seen as independent values, not as means for the gain of benefit.


Prof. Yeshayahu Leibowitz z"l's He'arot le'Parashiyot Ha'Shavu'a pg.



The Temporariness of



who dwells in the Land of Israel must always remember the name Land of Canaan, which connotes

servitude and submission to God… you will merit being strangers in your land,

as David said: I am an alien

in the land (Tehillim 119:9),

and then: Hallelujah, O

servants of the Lord (Ibid. 113:1). The rule which derives from this is

that the inhabitants of the land must live in humility, and, like sojourners,

should not consider secure settlement to be the main principle. In the words of

the Sages: "And Yaakov dwelt

in the Land of Canaan"  He

wished to dwell in tranquility; The Holy One, blessed be He said: "Is it

not enough for the righteous that which is prepared for them in the world to

come? He will only be in the

land of his father's sojourning, and an alien am I, and it will be the Land of Canaan and his

father's sojourning will be

the secret of Yitzhak's fear, the measure of the law, terror all around [Translator's note: The SheLaH relates the Hebrew magor – terror – to the word ger  alien]

…and this is the meaning of you

are but strangers resident with me, and

your indication is It is a

land which devours its settlers – it

destroys those who wish to dwell there in quiet and tranquility and power, to

eat its fruits and to enjoy it exclusively.

(Shenei Luhot HaBrit of

Rabbi Yeshayahu Horowitz,

III, 11:31)



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