Succot 5784: Succah and The Yom Tov of Special Bond Between Hashem and His Am Yisrael

Shalom Friends;

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, his Mother, Feigye bat R’ Mordechai and for the Yahrtzeits of Haim’s Grandfathers R’ Efraim ben R’ Mordechai and Mordechai ben David as well as for the Yahrtzeit of Danit’s Father Avraham Avigdor ben Aba Yehuda. 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.

Best Regards,

Moshe Burt
skype: mark.burt3

Succot 5784: Succah and The Yom Tov of Special Bond Between Hashem and His Am Yisrael

by Moshe Burt

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.

And we all know who the first Ushpizin is, in this author’s parody of that iconic Rowan and Martin’s “Laugh-In” line: “And now, the man without whom the Jews wouldn’t be the Jews without the Jew — Avraham Aveinu!”

The Manchester Rosh Yeshiva, Rabbi Yehudah Zev Segal, z”l wrote discussing Succot in his Sefer, “Inspiration and Insight,” Volume ll (page 97-99) :

In the Shemonah Esrei of Yom Tov, we say, “And You, Hashem Kelokeinu, have lovingly given us appointed times for gladness, festivals and seasons for joy…” Every Yom Tov is a time for Simcha, gladness. However, only Succot is called “Z’man Simchateinu,” the season of our gladness. The source of this… is the verse (Devarum, Perek 16, posuk 14) where the term Simcha is used specifically in connection with Succot (though it applies to the other Yomim Tovim as well). Why, indeed, is Simcha associated with Succot more than with Pesach and Shavuot?

The joy of Succot can be explained…, the season of soul-searching and introspection which commences with Rosh Chodesh Elul becomes more intense with the advent of Rosh Hashana and reaches its climax with Yom Kippur, when we enumerate our sins… and beg forgiveness. Those who approach this season with the seriousness that it demands might well become dispirited after spending so much time pondering their spiritual failings. R’ Yisrael Salanter writes in a letter that in days past “every man was seized with dread by the voice which proclaimed the month of Elul.” (ibid, citing Ohr Yisrael 14) Forty days and countless tears later, such a man might find it difficult to mend his broken heart.

Yom Tov is a time of special closeness between Hashem and His people: this closeness is the source of the joy that permeates the Yom Tov experience. The Mitzvah of Succot symbolizes this closeness in a most unique way. The Gemara states that the Succah represents the Ananei HaKavod, Clouds of Glory, through which Hashem’s Presence was manifest during the Jews’ sojourn in the Wilderness and which sheltered them from harm. The Vilna Gaon, in Shir HaShirim 1:2, showed how the very date on which Succot commences is related to the Clouds of Glory. Succot is the season of our gladness because its arrival revives our broken spirit and infuses us with joy, both because it is Yom Tov and because its primary Mitzvah (ibid, Primary in the sense that it becomes one’s dwelling throughout the festival) represents the special bond which exists between HaKadosh Borchu and Klal Yisrael.

The Artscroll Succot Machsor provides an overview in which the Mitzvah of Succot is discussed (page XX1) :

The commandment of Succah tells Jews, leave the permanent dwelling and settle in a temporary dwelling (The Artscroll Succot Machsor cites Succah 2a). In the context of the desert experience, even a Succah offered little security. Makeshift walls and a thatched shade could not have provided true comfort in the vast, baked wilderness where there was neither food nor water, where snakes and scorpions were a constant danger (The Artscroll Succot Machsor citing Sefer Devarim, Perek 8, posuk 15). Israel’s comfortable survival for forty years in the wilderness was possible only because of Hashem’s constant mercy. Thus, when a Jew leaves his home in favor of his Succah, he realizes that his own personal survival, like that of his forefathers, ultimately depends on Hashem’s protection. Even in modern times, the threat of human destructiveness and natural disaster make plain that man has no safer refuge than his fragile Succah, and the Heavenly protection it represents.

The Artscroll Succot Machsor’s overview also discusses the Mitzvah to celebrate Succot and expresses the symbolism of B’nei Ysrael’s Spiritual Harvest (ibid, pages XX11-XX111) :

Only once does the Torah command Israel to rejoice on Shavuot (The Artscroll Succot Machsor citing Sefer Devarim Perek 16, posuk 11) — but no less than three times is Israel enjoined to celebrate Succot (The Artscroll Succot Machsor citing Sefer Vayikra Perek 23, posuk 40 and Sefer Devarim Perek 16, posukim 14-15). The implication is plain.

The greatest cause for celebration is the attainment of a goal. Succot symbolizes the successful completion and ingathering of Israel’s spiritual harvest; that is surely ample reason for Torah to stress three times, and for the Sages to incorporate into the days’ tefillot, that Succot is the season of our gladness (The Artscroll Succot Machsor citing S’fas Emes).

One need wonder; what the motivation of the nations could be behind the prophecy of their seeking reward and favor with Hashem? Would the nations perceive Succot as “an easy Mitzvah”, “a free pass” courtesy of HaKadosh Borchu? Gemara Mesechet Avodah Zora, daf gimmel blows such a perception out of the water in relating that while the head of state of the nations would sit in the Succah, an unbearable heatwave would come whereupon he and and his party would bid a hasty retreat from the Succah kicking down the door with disdain as they left.

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, that the thrice expelled families of Amona be restored to their rebuilt homes and the oft-destroyed Yeshiva buildings in Homesh be rebuilt, as well as the buildings of Yishuv Elchanan, all at total government expense; due to alt-leftist-agendized, supreme court legalized Yassamnik gunpoint. Baruch Hashem that our dear brother Jonathan Pollard is in the midst of his third year at home in Eretz Yisrael and has embarked on a new chapter in his life. May Esther Yocheved bat Yechiel Avraham have an aliyah in Shemayim and may her spirit and memory continue to lift Jonathan to at least 120 years. May 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 nine 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 see, in 5784, the REAL Jews from the Ukraine and Russia make Aliyah enmass — via thorough review by Misrad HaPanim. And may we soon and finally see the total end to the Communist Chinese Wuhan Lab corona virus pandemic and all like viruses and variants. May we fulfill Hashem’s blueprint of B’nei 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 5784 and every year thereafter to at least 120! (123 years if you are Kohen.)
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.