Our Succot vort is being sponsored by Haim and Danit Kalb and family of Ramat Beit Shemesh Lilui Nishmas for Haim’s Dad, Mordechai Yosef ben R’ Efraim and for the Yahrtzeit of Haim’s Grandfather R’ Efraim ben R’ Mordechai. To the Kalb family, many thanks for your sponsorship and for your continued kindnesses.
You can celebrate a Simcha — a birth, a Bar/Bat Mitzvah, a Chassuna or other Simcha event in your life, or commemorate a Yahrtzeit of a loved one, or for whatever other reason by sponsoring a Parshat HaShevua.
Please forward to your relatives and friends and encourage them to sponsor a Parshat HaShevua. And please be in contact with me with any questions, or for further details.
Having emerged from Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur, hopefully all have been inscribed and sealed for a happy, healthy, successful and meaningful year and years ahead, we now find ourselves, after assembling our Succahs and acquiring our Arba Minim (Lulav, Hadassim, Aravot and Etrog), celebrating Succot.
As Succot falls out on Shabbos this year, we all know who the first Ushpizin is…
During Succot, the B’nai Yisrael, as an Am Segula (a nation apart and unique from the other nations) — as Hashem’s special, chosen people, visit and bond with our brethren while celebrating our special and unique relationship with HaKodosh Borchu. To this author, this visiting and bonding with brethren conjures up memories, during youth, of visits to family in Montreal (this author’s Mother’s side of the family was from Montreal) where, one night during the visit, this author’s Grandfather would host the entire assembled family for dinner in a prominent restaurant in the city.
We recite Tehillim psalm #27: “L’David Hashem O’ri…” twice daily from Rosh Chodesh Elul through Simchat Torah night (through Shemini Atzeres in Chutz L’Aretz).
The Artscroll Ashkenaz Siddur provides an explanation of “In His shelter” (pages 170-171):
In His shelter. The spelling of this word [shelter] is B’succah, in a shelter, but it is pronounced B’succo — in His shelter. Dovid declares: “Often, when I am in danger, a shelter seems to appear as if by chance. I am not mislead. I know that Hashem Himself has provided this salvation and that it is His shelter. (Artscroll Siddur citing Rabbi A. Ch. Feuer)
The Artscroll Succot Machsor (Nusach Ashkenaz, pages 68-69) further explains:
The custom to recite this psalm of repentence is based on the Midrash [Vayikra Rabbah, Perek 21, siman 4] which expounds: “Hashem is my light” on Rosh Hashanah; “and my salvation” on Yom Kippur; “He will hide me in His shelter”… an allusion to Succot. The implication is that Rosh Hashana, Hashem helps us to see the light and repent; on Yom Kippur, He provides us salvation by forgiving our sins. Once we are forgiven, He shelters us from all foes and dangers, just as He sheltered our ancestors in the wilderness.
Various commentators cite the Zohar Vayikra daf 31b which indicates that the final sealing in the Book of Life occurs on Hoshana Rabbah. Thus, one could draw a definitive spiritual connection between this final sealing of one’s future in the coming year on Hoshana Rabbah, and the recitation of Tehillim psalm #27: “L’David Hashem O’ri…” from Rosh Chodesh Elul through Simchat Torah night.
[Again, many thanks to R’ Yedidya Kramer of Ramat Beit Shemesh for his help in nailing down the exact sources: (Vayikra Rabbah, Perek 21, siman 4 and Zohar Vayikra daf 31b as noted above)]
From the above citing: “He will hide me in His shelter…” an allusion to Succot; Jews recognize that Hashem has dominion over the world and that man can’t look to or have trust in the physical, such as stone, iron or steel structures, etc. to provide protection. The nations, conversely, look to tall, fortified edifices for security and protection.
Sefer Shem Mishmuel (translated to English by Rabbi Zvi Belovski) provides further meaning and dimension to “In His shelter” (pages 446-447):
In Parshat Re’eh, the Torah describes the festival of Succot:
“You shall make the festival of Succot for yourselves for seven days, when you bring in the produce from your threshing floor and wine press.” (Sefer Shem Mishmuel citing Sefer Devarim, Perek 16, posuk 13)
The Gemara [Succah 12a] derives an important halacha from the last part of this verse: only produce “from your threshing floor and wine press,” that is, detached vegetation, may be used to roof the Succah but not anything which is still connected in some way to its source.
…Investigat[ing] the underlying meaning of this halacha:
Elsewhere in the Torah, Succot is described as “the harvest festival [at the end of the year], when you bring in your produce from the field.” (Sefer Shem Mishmuel citing Sefer Shemos, Perek 23, posuk 16)
There is a well-known idea in Judaism that everything in the physical world is merely a representation of its spiritual counterpart… It therefore follows that if Succot is a time of physical ingathering, it must also be a similar time for spiritual activities. The fruits of one’s spiritual labors are mitzvot, Torah study and acts of chesed. These, as it were, are reaped on… Succot.
But the comparison can be taken still further. When processing the grain from the farm, the coarse grain is first winnowed to remove the bran before bringing the refined produce to the granary. This also applies to spiritual life. Before any Mitzvah can be “brought” to the Holy Place where it is “stored,” any trace of impure thought or improper motive must be expunged. On Rosh Hashana, “the righteous are immediately inscribed and sealed for life, whereas the wicked are immediately inscribed and sealed for death.” (Sefer Shem Mishmuel citing Rosh Hashana 16b)
Here Shem Mishmuel cites his “holy father” (ibid, page 447):
…This applies not only to the entire spectrum of a person’s actions, but also to each individual Mitzvah or act of chesed. This means that as part of the purification process of Rosh Hashana, and then Yom Kippur, a person’s deeds have been scrutinized and cleansed of any taint of impurity, leaving behind only the pristine, undefiled Mitzvot. Succot which immediately follows the Yom Nora’im, is therefore a most fitting time for this spiritual reaping. The sum total of this ingathering is the real person, which represents what he made of himself after the dross have been removed, and as what sort of person he will be facing the year ahead.
The roof of the Succah is made from pieces of vegetation which have been severed from their source, leaving behind just the main plant. This serves to remind us that by the time Succot arrives, we have merited to free ourselves from all impurity and can begin a new year with our true selves in control, striving for greater achievement in the service of Hashem.
And so we ponder the War of Gog and Magog:
“When Gog, all his army and all of the nations attack Israel, even in a redemption ‘in haste,’ Israel will tremble with fear. Afterward, G’d will rise up and destroy the nations in the final redemption, as in the first one.” (”The Jewish Idea”, by Rabbi Meir Kahane, Z’l, Vol. 2, page 984)
“Our sages said (Tanchuma, Re’eh, 9); “…In the future, Gog and Magog will attack Israel, and they too will be burnt up with one fire, as it says, ‘I will punish him with pestilence, blood and torrential rain […fire and brimstone]. At that moment, I will magnify and sanctify Myself, and make Myself known to many nations.’” (Yecheskel, 38.22-23 in part, as quoted from ”The Jewish Idea”, by Rabbi Meir Kahane, Z’l, Vol. 2, page 984)
May we, the B’nei Yisrael be zocha that our brethren — the refugee families from Gush Katif be permanently settled and be made totally whole — be totally restituted for all that was stolen from them and that the thrice expelled families of Amona be restored to their rebuilt homes, at government expense; both due to alt-leftist-agendized, supreme court legalized Yassamnik gunpoint. May our dear brother Jonathan Pollard be liberated and truly free, as Naama Issachar is now free and home — which can only occur when Jonathan is home in Israel and carrying for his ill wife Esther Yocheved bat Rayzl Bracha, and that the MIAs be liberated alive and returned to us in ways befitting Al Kiddush Hashem — as with the return in April, 2019, via Russia, of the remains of Zachariah Baumel, as should the remains of the two chayalim from the Gaza War of five and a half years ago. May we have the courage and strength to stand up and physically prevent the possibility of Chas V’Challila any future eviction of Jews from their homes and prevent Chas V’Challila the handing of Jewish land over to anyone, let alone to enemies sworn to Israel’s and Judaism’s destruction and eradication. May we fulfill Hashem’s blueprint of B’nai Yisrael as a Unique people — an Am Segula, not to be reckoned with as with “the nations” and may we be zocha to see the Moshiach, the Ge’ula Shlaima, as Dov Shurin sings; “Ki Karov Yom Hashem Al’Kol HaGoyim”, the Ultimate Redemption, bimhayrah b’yamainu — speedily, in our time”, — Achshav, Chik Chuk, Miyad, Etmol!!!
L’Shana Tova, Chag Same’ach and Good Shabbos! — may all who read this enjoy a healthy, happy, sweet and prosperous 5781 and every year thereafter to at least 120!
Moshe Burt, an Oleh, is a commentator on news and events in Israel and Founder and Director of The Sefer Torah Recycling Network. He lives in Ramat Beit Shemesh.