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Shiur presented in 5763
Part 1: The Practical Guide and Deeper Insights to Chag HaSukkos (5763)
The Duality of Sukkos
Sukkos is called zman simchaseinu. The simchah of Sukkos is a dual simchah because Sukkos has a dual role. Number one, Sukkos is the end of the Yamim Hanora’im, the end of the Days of Awe that began with Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. Sukkos is the conclusion of those days, culminating with Hoshanah Rabbah which is called the גמר חתימת הדין. Number two, Sukkos is also the culmination of the shalosh regalim, beginning with Pesach, Shavuos. The fact that Sukkos is the zman of shleimus, of completion, of culmination, is what grants it its unique simchah status.
The Rambam (Hilchos Shofar, Sukka, Lulav; 8:12) says: even though on every mo’ed מצוה לשמוח בהם, but בחג הסוכות היתה במקדש יום שמחה יתרה.[i] The underlying reason for the simcha is that a person who has a shaychus to the Yamim Nora’im, on Sukkos is granted ritzuy (“winning favor”). This is what you get on Sukkos. Even the kapparah on Yom Kippur does not necessarily grant this. After forgiving somebody who wronged you – that doesn’t mean he becomes your favorite person. You don’t get favored status. “I forgive you, I’m mochel you, we are back to square one but I still remember what you did.” The pshat of Sukkos is that it’s the zman of ritzuy. That’s what Sukkos is about and that is the greatest desire of all tzaddikim. That’s what they yearn for. Rabbeinu Yonah (Sha’arei Teshuva) asks: what is the ultimate desire of a tzaddik? What is the greatest hatzlachah that he could aspire to and yearn for? He says, the greatest hatzlachah is to be favored by Hashem.
Aspiring to Being Favored
Some like to think that Hashem favors resha’im like He does tzaddikim, but that is a misnomer; it’s incorrect and a falsehood. Hashem has people that He favors. It is possible for a person to become a baal teshuvah, to do teshuvah and never be favored by Hashem. Being favored by Hashem is something that you aspire for, it’s a much higher level of the relationship. That’s called חיים ברצונו, as Rabbeinu Yonah calls it. It’s called הארת פנים, it means an “enlightened face” from Hashem. It’s when Hashem looks at you in an enlightened way and thereby showers you with chochmah. He brings you closer, you get amazing siyata dishmaya. That is what Sukkos represents. Sukkos represents the ability for a person to get ritzuy, a favored status. Hashem says, “After I’ve given you kapparah, you can come live with Me in My room together.” It’s called spending time in Hashem’s house, leaving your own house, and spending time in Hashem’s house.
Simchas Yom Tov Cures Depression
There is a famous Abarbanel, Reb Yitzchok Don Abarbanel, who in his commentary on the Torah, writes as follows. The passuk says והיית אך שמח (Devarim 16:15). Literally that means, והיית, you should be, אך שמח, only happy. Now, the mitzvah to be happy, or simchas Yom Tov, applies to all Yamim Tovim. But there is a special mitzvah, which the Torah writes about in the above passuk, that specifically applies on Sukkos. He says, you know why? להבטיחו to guarantee you שאם ישמח, that if a person will rejoice on chag haSukkos, he will be שמח וטוב לב כל השנה. Now, you have to know that this idea is based on a famous principle. The Yamim Tovim are called zmanei simchah. The Kuzari explains that if you go to these ‘wells’ you get an infusion of simchah. All the simchah you have during the year comes from Yom Tov. That’s why people aren’t too happy on Yom Tov, because the yetzer hara makes sure that you get into fights with your wife, you get bored, you get angry with the kids, you are homebound. Whatever it is. This diminishes your infusion of simchah. And then you get just a tiny little drop, a milliliter, of simcha. So you smile two or three times a year and that’s the extent of your simchah. But it’s not only simchah that you get on Yom Tov. It’s tov lev, you feel good, says the Abarbanel. Tov lev is an inner feeling of “I feel good.” It’s an inner feeling of good. He says that if a person is depressed at the beginning of the year, בעצבון תאכלנה – you will be filled with depression that year – כי כן טבע המציאות. He says an amazing shtikel, that a principle in simchah is that someone who is שמח בחלקו, that itself creates a foundation to get more שמחה וששון. Somebody who is sad without a good cause, יענוק דום כל ימים he will give himself unhappiness all his days. It is a consequence, he says. This is how HaKadosh Baruch Hu made the briah.
Rabbi Dr. Yakov Greenwald used to say, “Depression is a sin.” Why is it a sin? Because it leads to more depression. I didn’t know where he got this from, but now I know: he got it from this Abarbanel! This is also brought down in the sefer Pele Yo’etz (R’ Eliezer Papo, 1785-1828). Under his erech called Sukkah, he writes that there is a specific mitzvah to be in a state of joy, בשמחה של מצוה – that’s the key here, it has to be שמחה של מצוה – and he says it is a סימן טוב לכל השנה. He quotes it in the name of the talmidim of the Arizal. One who is שמח וטוב לב and is not mitza’er on Yom Tov, מובטח לו that he will have a shanah tovah. And he says another amazing thing there: if you are able to go through the whole Sukkos without being sad – you could get so much simchah that יהיה לעולם שמח.
Focusing on Simcha
So therefore, a person has to really go out of his way to try to maintain his simchah level. Then, in the dead of winter when you come home one day from work, you will be feeling up and you won’t know why. Your wife will say, “What’s going on with you?” And you’ll say, “I’m just feeling good.” “What did you eat today?” And you’ll tell her, “No, I had a good Sukkos.” You should know that it all comes from Sukkos. This is an amazing thing. You’re going to come home one day from work and you won’t feel like such a schlep, you won’t act like such a nudge. You will come home happy, you will be happy, you’ll see. But you should know, it doesn’t come easy. You don’t get 365 days of happiness for seven days of happiness, just by sleeping it off for seven days. It means you have to take a proactive stance to create simchah. Now, it doesn’t mean you are not going to get challenges, but every challenge that you get, take that challenge besimchah. You will be challenged. Your wife will somehow become hormonal, maybe your kids will get on your nerves, your sons-in-law will get on your nerves, your daughters-in-law will get on your nerves. Whatever you have, your guests, everybody will get on your nerves, but you should take that in stride and be besimchah.
The “Secret Sauce”
What should we be focusing on to bring ourselves to simchah? What should we be thinking about? Let me just give you a little bit of what the focus of the simchah should be. Rabbeinu Bachaya writes in the sefer called Kad Hakemach that a person, especially on Sukkos, should think: “What is the appreciation, and feeling of simchah that I should have for the opportunity to do avodas Hashem?” When you walk into the sukkah tonight, you should be jumping up and down. You know why you’re not jumping up and down? Because you are a shtikel kofrim, you don’t really believe in Hashem. As much as you say you do, you don’t. Because if you believed in Hashem and you believed in the mitzvos, when you walked into a sukkah, you would be shikkur. A few years ago, you had a bag over your head, you didn’t know what a sukkah was, a sukkah meant nothing to you, mitzvos didn’t mean anything to you, even if you were somewhat frum, it meant just a cute little house you make in the backyard. And now, here you are – you’re able to put your whole body with one dip in a sukkah and you are in the shadow of HaKadosh Baruch Hu! Your entire body is involved in such an easy mitzvah! You are getting kedushah every second you are sitting in a kosher sukkah! You are getting such a mitzvah. That’s an amazing opportunity! You went from a comatic state, a vegetable state to a state of a human being, that’s a nes niglah. That’s a bigger nes than going from a baby in the stomach to coming out. Because the baby in the stomach is at least sitting in the yeshivah shel maaleh, and when he comes out it’s a downgrade, but a couple of years ago we were all downgraded and now we’re upgraded. We don’t appreciate that. You have to think about all the things that we are able to do. That’s number one.
Count Your Blessings
Second of all, you are supposed to think about all the blessings that HaKadosh Baruch Hu gave you, because Sukkos is Chag Ha’asif. A person has to look back at the last year and say to Hashem, “You know, I’m so sorry for complaining. I had so much. Why should I have deserved more than I needed, Hashem? What’s so special about me, that I deserved three big meals each day?! I had such a comfortable bed, I had heating in the winter. I never had a night without heat. I had light.” In Eretz Yisrael many people don’t have heating. Many people live in poverty. So we have to thank HaKadosh Baruch Hu for all these things, but we don’t thank HaKadosh Baruch Hu enough. You don’t appreciate that you could come into the house, take off your shoes, pitter patter around the house, and you don’t have to worry about stepping on bugs, and getting bitten by the mice. That’s an amazing brachah you should know, and a person has to realize that. That’s what the simchah of chag haSukkos has to be. You have to thank Hashem that He gave you a Rosh Hashanah and a Yom Kippur, and maybe you got some kapparah. This is the ikar in the chag haSukkos. You should know that.
I will tell you about an interesting gemara in Sukkah.[ii] A lot of people over Yom Tov like to indulge in food. The emes is, the gemara in Sukkah talks about this. There is a gemara in Sukkah דף מ”ה עמוד ב that says כל העושה איסור לחג anyone who makes for himself an איסור לחג באכילה ושתיה מעלה עליו הכתוב, HaKadosh Baruch Hu considers him כאילו בנה מזבח as if he built the mizbei’ach והקריב עליו קרבן. What is the meaning of the word issur? So Rashi says, איסור לחג – אגודה לחג באכילה ושתיה – שקורא לחג עונג במאכל ומשתה. But the Maharsha explains that over here it means literal pashut pshat. That means, you don’t eat achilah gassah and you don’t drink unlimited amounts. You do it leshem Shamayim. So you should know, he says, that extra amount that you did not eat and drink, that’s considered you’re building a mizbei’ach and you’re makriv on it leshem Shamayim! That’s the הקרבת קרבן. You know why? You want to hear the logic? It’s amazing logic. What is a korban? You know what a korban is? A korban means you are makriv your נפש הבהמי to Hashem. So here, if a person controls himself and he doesn’t eat more, even though he wants to eat more, that person is makriv a korban. That’s the general simchah of the chag.
What to Think About on the First Night
Now, we will take a look at the mitzvah of yeshivah besukkah. You should know, people don’t realize, you are mechuyav al pi halachah everyday to eat bassar and to drink yayin in the sukkah. Now, most of us can’t do that, because we overeat the first couple of days, and we cannot look at meat after that. It’s funny. During the year you have no problem eating bassar every night. If your wife would serve you milchigs you would get very agitated: “Milchigs? That’s for lunch. I want to have some dinner here. What is this?!” All of a sudden, when it comes to a mitzvah on yom tov – meat every day? “Ah, I can’t think of that. That’s too much!” You see the yetzer hara has you mamish wrapped up so tight!
You have to know that you have a chiyuv to eat bassar every single day of Sukkos. Chicken is not bassar, by the way. So come home to your wife and tell her, “Dear, it has to be a little piece, that’s all. Just give me a kzayis, I don’t need more than a kzayis, save it from the day before.” But everyday it has to be a kzayis.[iii] You should know it’s brought down in Shulchan Aruch in תקכ”ט; even bezman hazeh you have to do it.[iv] The Shaagas Aryeh talks about this. You have to drink wine every day and that’s what you do. A little wine, you don’t need to drink a lot of wine. You need to drink a little cup of wine. Some shitos hold a revi’is, 1.1 oz is according to some shitos a revi’is. But all of a sudden, a guy is like, “I can’t drink wine.” The mitzvah to eat bassar, you have to know, is a clear Rambam in Sefer Hamitzvos[v] [and also in Hilchos Yom Tov (6:18)[vi]]. Just so you know the facts: Rambam Sefer Hamitzvos and Shulchan Aruch סימן תקכ”ט, and if you have a Shaagas Aryeh, סימן ס”ה to ס”ט, he discusses this subject there. Take a look at Vayikra, פרק כ”ג פסוק מב-מג, that’s where the passuk says the mitzvah of sitting in the sukkah for seven days. It says everybody in Klal Yisrael should sit in sukkos. Analyze this passuk. The passuk (ibid) says, do you know why we sit in the sukkah? למען ידעו דורותיכם – so that all your generations should know, כי בסוכות הושבתי את בני ישראל – that, I, Hashem made you dwell in sukkos when I took you out of Eretz Mitzrayim. There is a machlokes in the gemara in Sukkah, דף י”א עמוד ב:. What sukkos did HaKadosh Baruch Hu put us in when we went out of Mitzrayim? What sukkos does Hashem want us to know about? One opinion (Rabbi Eliezer) holds that it was the ananei hakavod. Another opinion (Rabbi Akiva) says it was mamish the literal sukkos where Hashem saved them from the sun. When they were in the midbar, Hashem protected them from the elements. Rashi says: מפני החמה בשעת חנייתן היו עושים סכות – they made sukkos because of the sun during their stops; so you have to know these two aspects are what you should be thinking about tonight.
Favor Us Again, Hashem!
Now, the first thing you are supposed to be thinking about is the ananei hakavod. So I’m going to tell you the viewpoint of the Vilna Gaon. The Vilna Gaon explains that we are not talking about the general ananei hakavod. We are talking about the ananei hakavod that they lost when they sinned with the golden calf and that they got back after they were forgiven on Yom Kippur. The day following Yom Kippur, they started collections to build the mishkan and on the first day of Sukkos, the clouds of glory returned. The uniqueness of the clouds of glory that we celebrate on Sukkos is related to the simchas haritzuy, it was the sign that HaKadosh Baruch Hu favored us. Hashem was meratzeh us. It came back on the first day of Sukkos. So when we sit tonight and we are in our sukkah, we should think: “HaKadosh Baruch Hu, I want to thank You for Rosh Hashanah, I want to thank You for Yom Kippur. You went out of Your way to come up with an idea to give the ‘little me’ and all of Klal Yisrael a kapparah. I appreciate that, HaKadosh Baruch Hu. There are so many goyim who never have that kapparah and there are so many of our brothers who don’t appreciate it. I appreciate it Hashem, even if I don’t show my appreciation, I do appreciate it.” When you sit tonight in the sukkah, say to Hashem, “HaKadosh Baruch Hu, You once forgave our forefathers for doing a terrible sin, for the chet ha’egel. HaKadosh Baruch Hu, have rachmanus on us once again. I am sitting in this sukkah, I am remembering the ananei hakavod that You gave to show Your favor to us, please HaKadosh Baruch Hu once again, favor us!” That’s what you should think.
Thought Number Two
Thought number two. HaKadosh Baruch Hu You sat us in sukkos. Now, all the mefarshim ask, what difference does it make if we sat in sukkos, or in teepees or tents? Why does Hashem want us to remember that forever? And the answer is that the sukkos that we are thanking HaKadosh Baruch Hu for are not the physical structures. What were the sukkos made up of in the midbar? The ananei hakavod.[vii] Hashem was mashgiach on Klal Yisrael that they should not be subjected to the elements. They were not subjected to heat, to cold, to mountains – everything was straight. There were no bugs or scorpions. All the dangers that are found in the desert were not present. That’s what the sukkah in the midbar represented. So when we go into a sukkah, we are supposed to also think, “HaKadosh Baruch Hu, I acknowledge it’s not my home that protects me, it’s not the physical walls that protect me. HaKadosh Baruch Hu, what I want is to feel the divine hashgachah hovering over me. I want to feel Your protection over me. I acknowledge that You have protected me in the past. You protected our forefathers for 40 years in the midbar, physically.
Two Ways to Acquire Bitachon
And these two aspects really represent the duality of Sukkos. Insofar as Sukkos is the end of the Yamim Nora’im, it represents the spiritual ananei hakavod – i.e. the return of the ananei hakavod, or ritzuy of the teshuvah. But insofar as Sukkos represents the time of harvest, the end of the culmination of the planting season, putting away everything for the winter, it represents the physical hashgacha pratis. We say to HaKadosh Baruch Hu, “HaKadosh Baruch Hu don’t leave us. So any thoughts that you can have or say about this matter is praiseworthy. But I’ll tell you what the problem is. Most of us would like to have some bitachon but we don’t have bitachon. Yes, we have bitachon, we have lots of bitachon, as long as our bank account is full. Then we have lots of bitachon in Hashem! When my wallet has $1000, I have bitachon that when I go to the store, I’m not going to get caught short. But if I have $50? I have no bitachon.
My grandfather (HaRav Avigdor Miller, zt”l) said a very interesting thing. There is famous passuk in Tehillim 91 that says ‘אומר לה, Dovid Hamelech said, “I said to Hashem, מחסי ומצודתי, you are my מחסה – my refuge, my protection, ומצודתי, and You watch over me, אלקי אבטח בו, You are my Hashem, I will have bitachon in Him.” So my grandfather asked a question. He said: “Why does it say, ‘אומר לה – what kind of statement is that? He is talking to Hashem, right? ‘אומר לה, I am going to say Hashem, what does it mean “I’m going to say”? It should say, ה’ מחסי ומצודתי. So he said that Dovid Hamelech is teaching us one of the big principles of avodas Hashem. Dovid is teaching us how to acquire bitachon. You see, there are two ways to get bitachon and you need both ways.
The hard way is that you sit and you study Shaar Habitachon in Chovos Halevovos, you study all the pesukim and incidences in the Torah about bitachon and you analyze it and you think about it, and you educate yourself to acquire bitachon. That’s the slow, arduous, and strenuous path. And then there is a way called the ‘easy way’ and it’s called using your mouth. The first way is derech hapnimiyus, an internal method. Then there’s the derech hachitzoniyus, an external method. And that is you just say the words of bitachon. If you say it excitedly, if you say, “Hashem You are my protector, HaKadosh Baruch Hu watch over me, HaKadosh Baruch Hu, who will look out for me, if not You?” and you can say those things over and over, you acquire some middah of bitachon. That’s what you have to know. It’s a very important principle. So Dovid Hamelech said to Hashem, ‘אומר לה – I am saying to You Hashem מחסי ומצודתי.
So tonight when you are sitting in your sukkah and you’re thinking to yourself: “What can I accomplish? It’s not so comfortable in my sukkah. What should I think?” You have to say to yourself ‘אומר לה, “Hashem, I want to say to You” and think all these thoughts that we mentioned. All the thoughts you could think of.
Building Bitachon by Working Less?
There is a sefer called Mitzvas Habitachon by Rav Shmuel Houminer (1914-1977). It’s a small sefer about $3, a wonderful sefer, but in the beginning of that sefer he has all the pesukim of bitachon from the Torah and Navi written out. He writes in the beginning of that sefer, quoting the Maharal, that one of the most amazing ways to acquire bitachon is by saying these pesukim. Now, we are fools because if we wanted to get bitachon, a person has to be a tipish and a shoteh to work eight hours a day.[viii] I can’t imagine a human being who wants to work eight hours a day. If you can work seven hours a day, why not work seven hours a day. So you have to teach yourself, train yourself how to work less. How do you do it? The answer is: by acquiring bitachon. First you work seven hours and 45 minutes, seven and a half hours, seven hours 15 minutes. You go slowly, you work your way down, you don’t go drastic steps. You read those pesukim of bitachon. And by reading those pesukim of bitachon daily, it will give you, infuse you with bitachon like you never saw! You know how that works? That’s the derech hachitzoniyus. That’s what we are talking about. The author doesn’t bring it down but that’s the derech hachitzoniyus. Because you are saying the words of bitachon to get bitachon, HaKadosh Baruch Hu says, “I will give you that confidence in Me.” But if you believe what all the fools have to say and you believe every shoteh that says you’ve got to work, you’ve got to do this, you’ve got to do that, Hashem doesn’t provide for you. “Yeah, Rabbi, it’s easy talk, it’s baloney, ‘Hashem helps those who help themselves.’ You should know, this lingo – this anti-bitachon kefirah lingo – becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy, because whatever you want, that’s what it turns into.
Now, you should know that this kavanah is very important, because we pasken in all mitzvos מצות צריכות כוונה, that’s what the Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chaim) paskens in ‘סימן ס.[ix] All mitzvos need kavanah. The kavanah has to be, “I am being mechaven to be mekayem the mitzvah of Hashem.” That’s all. But there is no obligation to be mechaven the reasons for the mitzvah. However, in this particular mitzvah of sukkah – when the Torah itself writes the reason, למען ידעו דורותיכם כי בסוכות הושבתי את בני ישראל – the Bach (Orach Chaim 625:1) writes there’s actually an obligation upon a person to have this in mind and to remember that Hashem took you out of Mitzrayim. It’s a very important thing to know, and you should be aware of this.[x]
Now, regarding halachah lemaaseh – it’s a shaaleh who we pasken like. Do we pasken like the man de’amar who says we have to remember the ananei hakavod or like the man de’amar who says סוכות ממש? So if you’re thinking about both of them, it’s wonderful, but lemaaseh the Tur paskens, you only have to think about ananei hakavod, that’s the way the Tur paskens. That’s what the Pri Megadim says as well. So you should definitely have these thoughts. Now, this applies to tzitzis also, by the way. By tzitzis also it says you are supposed to remember all the mitzvos of Hashem.It says ‘וזכרתם את כל מצות ה. By tefillin also, it says, למען תהיה תורת ה’ בפיך. You have to have that thought in mind.
How Can You Know if Hashem Favors You?
How do you acquire a feeling of ritzuy on Sukkos? The ananei hakavod represents the ritzuy, the teshuvah, and the ananei hakavod also represents the hashgacha pratis, the physical hashgacha pratis.[xi] The fact that HaKadosh Baruch Hu gave you a mitzvah of sukkah, that’s Hashem telling you that even you have the opportunity to be favored. Every Jew who is aware of the mitzvah of sukkah and is aware of the ritzuy, is able to attain this ritzuy. You want to know something? I used to say to friends and family: “Excuse me, do you have any awareness of what sukkah has to do with ritzuy?” They’ll look at you, like what, “What’s ritzuy? Is that something you chew? What is it?” He doesn’t know what that is even. So that’s how Hashem makes a person not aware of the ritzuy. For him, he’s not aware of it.There are so many things that you and I are not aware about and as we grow we become aware of them. There are many things I became aware about as I grew up and I share it with others. I see that some things, at times, don’t stick with me either. I may see it 10 times and every time I say, “Wow, what a chiddush?!” Then I say, “Wait, I just saw this chiddush a few months ago.” So it was last year’s chiddush. So it takes time until it sticks. You can’t acquire something just because you want to acquire it. You don’t buy madreigos, you earn madreigos. I will give you an example. Within our tefillah, I guarantee you that one person had a zechus that one time he thought about the meaning of ‘ברוך אתה ה maybe twice, another person thought maybe four or five times, another person 10 times and some never thought about it. What happened? They didn’t want it? No, they wanted, but they didn’t have the zechus. Hashem just shut their brain down. Hashem “closed” their brain.
So it’s the same thing here. We are learning these yesodos of Sukkos today. Some of us will chap it, and some of us won’t. If you are aware of the ritzuy when you are sitting in the sukkah and you are aware that Sukkos is connected with ritzuy, that’s Hashem letting you know that you are connected to ritzuy. Connected to ritzuy means it’s something you should aspire for. Aspire for ritzuy. Ritzuy comes in little droppers. You get one dropper ritzuy, you get a milliliter of ritzuy, or you get a milli-milli-milliliter of ritzuy. Even if a person has a difficult year, how a person handles it, he determines that on his own. Let’s say two people have backaches. One person lives with the backache, but for the other person, it destroys him. That’s two different parshiyos. If a person would be able to be besimchah on Sukkos, he would be able to handle all the difficulties besimchah. If he is not going to have simchah on Sukkos, then any difficulty that hits him during the year, is going to depress him.
Now you also have to remember that the sukkah should be your dirah. Attempt to have in mind that Hashem wants you to make this sukkah your makom dirah for seven days. The halacha says, if you have nice things, you should bring them into the sukkah. Some people just like paper plates. In their house they use regular, but in their sukkah they use paper plates. That’s contrary to the halachah. The halacha says a person should make his sukkah like his house, and you should know the more you appreciate it the more you are fulfilling the mitzvah. Let’s say your wife says, “I don’t want to do that.” You know what you say to yourself? “Hashem this is my opportunity.” You could fight with your wife. The yetzer hara says, “See, your wife doesn’t want to help you; you want to shteig, and your wife is trying to knock you down all the time.” So you know what? You can tell your wife off, and destroy your Sukkos. Or instead, you can say to yourself, “No, my wife didn’t hear the shmooze, my wife didn’t hear all this Torah. For her Sukkos is a pain, so pity is on her, she’s still in a coma, she doesn’t know what Sukkos is. So, either I’m going to enlighten her, or since I am aware of the opportunity, I am going to do it myself.” So you say the following to your wife, “Dear, it’s on me, I’m going to bring out the dishes. I’ll take care of it. Is that okay?” She’ll say, “What’s going on with you?!” So you say, “I know it sounds strange, but I have come to an awareness of Sukkos. I really want to have a nice year. Sukkos is going to determine the level of my joy for the whole year. So if I extend myself a little bit for Sukkos, this will be a simchadige year. So you bring the paper plates in for yourself, I’ll bring the dishes in for myself.” You should know that those little things could go a long way in extending the brachah. – how much you get and what you get. Don’t sit there feeling like a grouch and thinking Hashem is going to pour simchah on you. He’s going to pour something else on you, not simchah. He’s going to turn the hose on you.
Also, it’s best to eat all things in the sukkah. If you have the chance to sleep in the sukkah, the opportunity presents itself, ashrecha, get yourself a decent bed. Find yourself an arrangement and do it right.
Don’t Leave Out Any Ushpizin This Year!
Now, I want to tell you about another aspect of Sukkos, and that is the Ushpizin. It’s not a halachic aspect, it’s a kabbalistic aspect, but it does help a person enhance his sense of kedushah. Every night we invite Ushpizin to the sukkah, which literally means orchim, guests. There are seven shepherds of Klal Yisrael and we invite them into our sukkah to spend the Yom Tov with us. This minhag comes from the Zohar. What he says is as follows. A sukkah is a shadow of emunah. It’s emunah for teshuvah, it’s emunah that HaKadosh Baruch Hu takes care of me. And when a person is dwelling in the shadow of emunah, what happens is the Shechinah spreads its wings over a person. Meaning When you go into emunah mode in your mind, the Shechinah all of a sudden connects with you. The Zohar says, in what fashion does the Shechinah spread its wings over you? The shivas haro’im (seven shepherds), Avraham and the five tzaddikim and Dovid Hamelech now stand by your side – they are with you! That means, you now have access to the koach of their zechusim, to the “energy” that they create in the world! That’s what the Zohar says. You have access to that koach by your awareness of the tzel of the emunah. For many years I’ve been asking people, “Why do we say Ushpizin?” They say, “It’s a minhag.” Then I ask, “But what do you do with it? What does this stuff mean?” They say, “Who needs to know what it means, you’ve got to say it, that’s all.” But really the secret of getting the koach of it, is by thinking of the tzel of the emunah, that’s the main thing to think about. That’s how you connect to that koach – through the tzel of the emunah. The passuk says בסוכות תשבו שבעת ימים – You should sit in the sukkah for seven days. Now it doesn’t say בסוכות תשבו בשבעת ימים or לשבעת ימים, – it says שבעת ימים. So the Zohar says the kavanah is that there are seven sefiros, which means that there are seven ways, or seven lights that Hashem refracts into this world. This means that I could connect to Hashem in seven main ways. Each one of those ways was developed and represented by one of the shivas haro’im. So you are not connecting to Avraham, but rather you are connecting to the sefirah called chessed. But ultimately and by default you are connecting to Hashem, that’s what you are connecting to. So here we all had a picture in our mind of Avraham coming into our sukkah. No. The picture that should be in your mind is of Hashem’s light shining into your sukkah! There’s chessed, there’s din, there’s tiferes. There are all kinds of sefiros and in the Ushpizin you are supposed to mention them, and that is what gives a person the simchah of these orchim.
Guests and Sefiros
So we invite these guests. If not for Avraham we would not have the middah of chessed. Avraham was kovei’a the middah of chessed in the world. He brought the light of Hashem, of chessed to this world. Yitzchok brought gevurah to the world, the presence of Hashem in that fashion. And Yakov brought the middah of tiferes. Now, the way to accomplish this is that you have to be mazmin (invite them) verbally. In the Zohar it says that when a person stands by the door of his sukkah, he should say, “HaKadosh Baruch Hu, I want to invite all of the guests – i.e. all of Your sefiros, all of Your lights that You put into this world – and I want to connect to them through my emunah. (That’s what I’m having emunah in) I am having emunah that HaKadosh Baruch Hu, You placed Yourself in this world, not directly, but indirectly through seven sefiros and I would like that to be present in my sukkah.” So every night some people think about this. The first night, they’ll talk about chessed. Tonight is Shabbos, what a wonderful opportunity to talk about chessed! And you’ll think about what chessed represents in the world. Chessed is not just one of the sefiros, chessed is the crossbeam of all the sefiros. Everything, the whole world is founded on chessed, עולם חסד יבנה. A person brings guests into his house on this night and you should have the kavanah, “HaKadosh Baruch Hu, I want to thank You for the opportunity to bring guests into my house.” That’s what a person should have in mind. And if you do that, it means you are connecting to and exercising the middah of chessed.
And if you don’t have guests, then you go out of your way to help your wife. I mean it seriously. Your wife becomes your middah of chessed. Now if you’re doing it because you’re scared of her, and she’s going to nudge you and you want to get something out of her, that’s a waste of time. But if you do it because you say, “HaKadosh Baruch Hu, I want to work on the middah of chessed,” then you can practice this middah wherever you are – you could be at your in-laws, you could be a guest in somebody’s house. You want to practice this middah because that’s what connects you to that light of HaKadosh Baruch Hu. This is a very important yesod.
There is a difference between the Ashkenazim and the Sefardim when it comes to the order of the Ushpizin. The minhag Ashkenaz is to list them in the order of their birth: Avraham, Yitzchok, Yaakov. That’s why Yosef is before Moshe. But according to minhag Sefard, they are mentioned in the order of the sefiros, so Moshe comes before Yosef. There is a hierarchy in the sefiros: There’s netzach, there’s hod and there’s yesod. Moshe represents netzach, Aharon represents hod and Yosef represents yesod. So the order is Moshe, Aharon and then Yosef. We’ve spoken about what each middah means, and that drasha is not for now, but if you could find out something about it, it would help a little bit; but even if you don’t know what it means, you say, “HaKadosh Baruch Hu, make them work!”
Thinking About Arba’ah Minim
Now, there is another mitzvah called the mitzvah of arba’ah minim. When you take the arba’ah minim you should have in mind that this is a mitzvah. This year we are not going to take it on the first day, we will take it the second day.[xii] You should have in mind you are fulfilling the mitzvah of Hashem because Hashem gave the Chachamim the koach to institute mitzvos d’rabannan as a zecher lemikdash. You should have in mind the following: “HaKadosh Baruch Hu, this is a zecher of the mikdash and it’s a mitzvah d’rabannan.” You should also think and hope that the Beis Hamikdash will be rebuilt. You have to know that the four minim represent the duality. They represent the nitzachon, the conquest of Klal Yisrael having been zocheh badin. That’s what Chazal tell us. It is not related necessarily to the Chag Ha’asif but it’s related to the Yamim Hanora’im. In Vayikra (23:40), if you take a look at that passuk which we discussed already, there is a Daas Zekeinim Mibaalei Tosafos who writes that the lulav that we take beyom rishon is a siman that we were זוכה בדין ביום הכיפורים.[xiii] Hashem says take your lulavim in your hand והכל יודעים and everybody will then know, שזכיתם בדין that you were zocheh badin. A person should have that thought. And if you don’t feel like you were zocheh badin, take the lulav and tell Hashem, “Please help me feel like I am zocheh badin.” That’s what you want to have in mind. Another thing you want to have in mind is that each of the four minim represents a different part of Klal Yisrael. And when you wave it, you are saying to HaKadosh Baruch Hu, “All my parts and all the parts of Klal Yisrael should be for You, Hashem.” When you are moilech to the east, in front of you, to the side of you, to the back of you, all directions, you are saying, “Hashem, we testify with this lulav, with this branch that we are loyal and we want to be dedicated and committed to your avodah.” That’s the pashute thought that you should have.
Asking Hashem to Help Us Think
You may be familiar with the fact that the esrog represents the lev, the lulav is the shedra, the hadas is the eyes and the aravos the mouth. These are all the keilim that a person has to serve Hashem with. This represents your nefesh, ruach and neshamah. You have to know this, it’s a very important thing. Your spine represents your nefesh, the lev represents the neshamah, and then you have the eyes, represented by hadassim. You have a mitzvah that you should not stray after your eyes, so try to say the following when you are looking at the hadasim: “I’m going to keep my eyes focused where they are supposed to be focused.” Any positive thoughts you are going to have, you will probably find in Chazal. For example, when you hold the esrog, you should think about your heart and say: “HaKadosh Baruch Hu, may this be a kaparah for all the thoughts of my heart. May this be mechazek my heart.” You look at the hadassim and you say, “May the hadassim be mechazek my eyes. Give my eyes the strength not to stray.” You look at the aravah and say, “May the aravah give my mouth the ability to speak more divrei Torah and less loshon hora. You look at the lulav and you say, “Hashem, let my body, my guf, have the strength to stand and may it serve as an atonement so that I can do whatever I have to do to get someplace and accomplish something in this world. That is what you should be thinking. You have to give these thoughts some practice and hopefully Hashem will open your mind to enable you to think them. It’s a big brachah when Hashem opens your mind and helps you think about something. Most of us try to think and only come up with blanks. When we think, we come up with stock quotes, insurance quotes and other such naarishkeik. So you also have to ask Hashem to help you think. This is the most wonderful Yom Tov and hopefully on this Yom Tov you will have tremendous hatzlachah, a change of year, and you should have brachah and gevaldige hatzlachah. Wishing everyone a great Yom Tov!
Part 2: The Deeper Insights Into Hoshana Rabbah (5765)
The Kapparah Still Continues
Tomorrow is the 7th day of Sukkos, Hoshana Rabbah.[xiv] That day stands out from amongst the other days of Sukkos from a halachic aspect. However, practically speaking, there isn’t any major difference between the first six days and the last day. On all of them you are chayav in the mitzvah of sukkah; on all the days you are chayav in simchah and hallel; on all of them you are chayav in arba minim.
The Rishonim established that Hoshana Rabbah is a hemshech (continuation) of the yamim hanora’im. Hoshana Rabbah is a hemshech of the yemei hadin, when everyone in the world has to give a din vecheshbon on their ma’asim. Our kadmonim also gave a remez from the passuk of אריה שאג מי לא ירא, Alef is Elul, Reish is Rosh Hashanah, Yud is Yom Kippur and the Hey is Hoshana Rabbah. This is one of the days that, so to speak, calls out to a person to check his ways and do teshuvah. One of the great hasidic leaders, the Bnei Yissaschar, Rav Tzvi Elimelech of Dinov (1783-1841), says that this idea is also alluded to in the passuk (Tehillim 22:22): הושיעני מפי אריה – save me from the pi of the aryeh (“mouth of the lion”). The aryeh refers to these five days. The passuk expresses a tefillah, “Help me that my mekatregim, my prosecutors, should not judge me on these days of judgment.”
The Midrash Tehillim (17:5) explains the source for the age-old minhag of circling the bimah on Hoshana Rabbah.[xv] Says the Midrash: בראש השנה באין כל באי עולם ועוברין לפניו כבני מרון. On Rosh Hashanah all the ba’ei olam, all the people in the world, come before Hashem like “sheep.” Even Bnei Yisrael come before Hashem. And all the malachim of the umos ha’olam say, אנו נצחנו וזכינו בדין, “We win.” They say, “We won. Klal Yisrael is not going to raise its head again and be menatze’ach (victorious).” So the emes is, we don’t know who is menatzei’ach – Yisrael or the umos ha’olam. But when the yom tov rishon of the chag comes, and all of Yisrael, the gedolim and the ketanim, take their lulavim in their right hands and their esrogim in their left hands, immediately everybody knows at that point: שישראל נוצחין בדין – Yisrael were victorious in the judgment![xvi]
And then, says the Midrash, on Hoshana Rabbah, they take the arvei nachal and circle the bimah seven times. The chazzan of the beis hakenesses stands like a malach Elokim with the sefer Torah in his arms. The congregation goes around him, k’dugmas hamizbei’ach. Immediately, the malachei hashareis are smeichin, they are happy, and they say: נצחו ישראל, נצחו ישראל, וגם נצח ישראל לא ישקר. Even during the time of the Beis Hamikdash, there was something special about this day as it says in the Mishnah in Sukkah (45a): “Everyday they used to go around the mizbei’ach one time, and on this day they went around the mizbei’ach seven times.” The shaileh (Sukkah 43b) was only whether they went with the aravah, or with the lulav. In halachah we maintain that they went around the mizbeach holding the lulav. There is a minhag hanevi’im, that they used to bang the aravos on the floor, and we practice this minhag nowadays.
The Great Gift of Kapparah
The shaileh is: what kind of name is Hoshana Rabbah? Hoshana means “salvation,” and Rabbah means “great”: “A Great Salvation.” What does that mean? In the Sefer Mateh Moseh, one of the famous sefarim on halachah, written by R’ Moshe Met (1550-1606), it says as follows: יום השביעי הוא הושענא רבה. Why do they call it Hoshana Rabbah? אמר הקדוש ברוך הוא לאברהם אני יחיד ואתה יחיד, Hashem said to Avraham Avinu, I am a yachid and you are a yachid, אתן לבניך יום המיוחד לכפר בו עונותם וזהו הושענא רבה, I am going to give Bnei Yisrael, your children, a special day to have kapparah on their avonos and that is Hoshana Rabbah. What’s the pshat in this great gift?[xvii]
The Mateh Moshe explains as follows: one of the names of Hashem is Alef, Hey, Yud, and Hey – Eheke – which has the gematriya of 21. The number 21 is featured in a few other places: Avraham Avinu was the 21st generation from the beginning of brias ha’olam and Hoshana Rabbah is also the 21st day of Chodesh Tishrei. HaKadosh Baruch Hu said to Avraham: “If there won’t be a kapparah for your children on Rosh Hashanah, then I will give a ‘back up’ and that is Yom Kippur. And if they do not merit a kapparah on Yom Kippur, then it will be on Hoshana Rabbah.” Just like Avraham Avinu’s light began to shine in the world in the 21st dor following brias ha’olam (creation of the world) so too, the light of Yisrael will shine on Hoshana Rabbah, which is the 21st day from Rosh Hashanah, the day of brias ha’adam” (creation of a man). Rabbeinu Bachya also says that there is a Shem of Hashem called Yud, Hey, and Vav, which is also gematriya 21, which represents the hanhaga of Hashem. That Shem operates on Hoshana Rabbah, he says, which is called, “yom hachosam hagadol, the day of the “great signing.” This day, Rabbeinu Bachya says, is the tachlis hachag. So what is so special about this day?
Too Holy to Fully Comprehend
In the sifrei Kabbalah, Rav Chaim Vital (1543-1620) explains the uniqueness of Hoshana Rabbah. On Sukkos, we are makriv parei hachag, we bring a total of 70 parim (bulls). These parim of the chag are getting less and less and less (i.e. 13 parim on day 1 of Sukkos, 12 parim on day 2 of Sukkos, 11 parim on day 3, etc). It is a kapparah for the umos ha’olam. That means to say, that through these korbanos, we want to diminish the koach of ra that the umos ha’olam have. On Hoshana Rabbah, when they finish bringing the korbanos of the 70 umos, it is a remez to the end of the ra of the 70 umos. Gog umagog is the gematria of 70. The 70 umos are the ones who are going to do milchamah with Klal Yisrael, and when Klal Yisrael has a yeshuah from the umos, that is called Hoshana Rabbah, a great salvation. For this reason, this day represents the potential for giving us a great Hoshana Rabbah, a final salvation. Rav Chaim Vital writes over there, that you cannot fathom the greatness of this day כי אם על ידי קבלה מפה לפה, you can’t put it into written words. Actually Rabbeinu Bachya (1255-1340) says this as well in his famous sefer called, Kad HaKemach.[xviii] He was writing at a time when the Sefer HaZohar wasn’t accessible.[xix]
He says וצריך אדם שיתבונן בגודל כח היום הזה שהוא יום כ”א ויום כ”ו, a person has to understand the greatness of this day, which is the 21st and 26th day. We all know that brias ha’olam was five days before brias ha’adam, which was on Rosh Hashanah. The brias ha’olam was on כ”ה אלול. So it turns out that Hashana Rabbah is the 26th since the creation of the world, a day of תשלום ע’ פרים כנגד שרי האומות and it is the chosam hagadol (“great seal”) following the chasimah harishonah (“the first seal”), which is Yom Kippur.
He adds that the hakafah we make on this day is a siman, is a remez (a hint)לעתיד שתפול חומת ארם, to when the “wall of Edom will fall down.” And they will be כלים ואבודים – utterly destroyed. This is not a personal hoshana. On Yom Kippur, we daven for ourselves, for a personal kapparah. Hoshana Rabbah is more about a national kapparah. Now that we had a kapparah on Yom Kippur, we should be zoche to bring out the koach of Klal Yisrael as one. After going through the Yom Tov of Sukkos, we should bring forth this koach of national kapparah through achdus on Hoshana Rabbah.
The Zohar says that a person should do teshuvah on Hoshana Rabbah, since there is an idea that on Hoshana Rabbah, Hashem is moser the petakim (“delivers the final notes”). For this reason, we say “piska tava.” Piska tava means that we should get a good petek, a good note. It means Hashem gives the petakim to the malachim and He tells the malachim to take these pesakim and go carry out the din. It means the chasimah was done on Yom Kippur, but Hashem waits before He carries out the din. The Zohar (quoted by Arizal in Sha’ar Kakavonos) says: וניתנים עתה ביד השלוחים על עונשי הפורעניות בני אדם. The instruction for the din is only sent forth on the night of Hoshana Rabbah, at hatzos.
Grabbing the Last Chance
The Arizal (in Sha’ar Kakavonos) points out that there are two different ma’amarim in the Zohar regarding the idea of giving over the petakim. In one place the Zohar says that the mesirus hapetakim takes place on leil Hoshana Rabbah. In another place it seems that it takes place on Shemini Atzeres. The Arizal explains that the emes is that the ikkar hadin is nigmar bechatzos harishonah shel leil Hoshana Rabbah. The ikkar din of Hoshana Rabbah is done on that night, and be’eis chatzos halaylah nigmar hachosam, the din is completed. That is why many people have a minhag that they stay up the whole night. Even if you don’t stay up the whole night, but you stay up part of the night, it is definitely a good time to say Tehillim. Everyone is different. Some people read Sefer Devarim, which is like reading the whole Torah. What is the din on? They are moser the petakim of those people who were sealed on Yom Kippur, and did not do teshuvah all those days from Yom Kippur until Hoshana Rabbah.
Everybody promised Hashem they were going to be good boys and then they proceeded to forget about it – they were not interested. At this point the messengers hand over the judgment, and they hand over the petakim, to activate the din lemishpat, so the judgment will become a sentence. But even though the petakim are already in their hands, they don’t actually have the reshus to effect the mishpat, the sentence, and the onesh, retribution, that are written in the petakim until Shemini Atzeres, in order to give a little more time for the sinners to do teshuvah on the day of Hoshana Rabbah. Even at that point, if they do teshuvah, Hashem will take back the petakim from the hands of the messengers. If not, אין עוד תקנה בתשובה מאז ואילך – teshuva doesn’t help after that point. The Arizal goes on to explain that even though the Zohar says that once the petakim are given, Hashem doesn’t take it back, that’s talking about the normal circumstances. That means, under normal circumstances, a guy who didn’t do teshuvah from Yom Kippur until Hoshana Rabbah, the chances of him doing teshuvah on Hoshana Rabbah are very slight, so it’s only a theoretical possibility that he would do teshuvah then. Practically, most people who haven’t done teshuvah by then, are probably not going to do teshuvah at that point. Not that it’s not shayach. For sure if a guy will do teshuvah, they will be korei’a gezar dino, they will tear up his sentence. He even brings a ra’aya for this from the Rikanti, one of the Rishonim.
So although it may otherwise be very unlikely for someone to be moved to do teshuva on Hashana Rabbah (if he hasn’t already done so beforehand), this is precisely why Chazal gave us yet another chance. Its name is Hoshana Rabbah to make us aware that this day carries an incredible potential for teshuva! Therefore he says, כל יום הושענא רבה יש בו קצת דינים, לפי שעדיין הדין תלוי עד יום שמיני עצרת, there are still some judgements that “hover” somewhat throughout Hoshana Rabbah, since the final judgment is pending until the day of Shemini Atzeres, to see if the sinners are doing teshuvah. And because of this fact, one should conduct himself accordingly throughout this awesome day.
A person should be aware and מכוון דעתו במאד מאד בתפילת יום הושענא רבה ובכל מעשיו ביום ההוא. He should focus and concentrate very much during the tefillos of Hoshana Rabbah and all of his actions on that day, because there is still takanah (rectification) at that point, but afterwards there is no takanah anymore. This is the din of the chosam hagadol and this is the day when a person should seize his last opportunity!
The word hoshana is “hosha Nun Alef.” Hoshana Rabbah is 51 days from Rosh Chodesh Elul. Also נא is lashon bakashah. Everything is dependent on the tikkun therefore a person should be mechazek himself throughout the 51 days until this last day! Wishing everyone a good Yom Tov and a piska tava!
The Bottom Line
Remembering Hashem’s chassadim throughout our lives is a positive
mitzvah which, according to Rabbeinu Yonah, imparts on us “ma’alos elyonos”; however, it is not an easy mitzvah, as it requires us to be truly
makir – to invest effort in focusing on and truly recognizing Hashem’s tovos beyond our imagination. And though, if asked, most of us can certainly point out multiple chassadim of Hashem on a given day, the difficulty in truly feeling these tovos arises from the fact that we feel that our daily challenges overshadow the tovos. This unfortunate mis-focus leaves us feeling, instead, that we are missing something. Recognizing these tovos, “banking” them away, and reliving them (by talking about them), not only builds our bitachon, but fuels our inner emotional support during the challenging and difficult times. In addition, feeling these tovos is part and parcel of the mitzvah of hakaras hatov. During the coming week, and especially during the Friday night seudah, I will, bli neder, take few moments to draw some lessons from R’ Miller’s stories, to thank Hashem, with utmost excitement and out loud, for a healthy and well-functioning body and for other multiple chassadim and tovos that I saw throughout my week – and even in my childhood. And in the zechus of trying to attain the Torah mindset of thinking, feeling and talking about Hashem’s chassadim, I will endear myself even more to the special mitzvah of hakaras hatov and will begin to relate to Hashem as a Loving Father who constantly provides for me and my family!
[i] אף על פי שכל המועדות מצוה לשמח בהן. בחג הסכות היתה במקדש יום שמחה יתרה שנאמר (ויקרא כג מ) “ושמחתם לפני ה’ אלקיכם שבעת ימים”.
[ii] כל העושה איסור לחג באכילה ושתיה, מעלה עליו הכתוב כאילו בנה מזבח והקריב עליו קרבן, שנאמר: ״אסרו חג בעבותים עד קרנות המזבח״ [חידושי אגדות: כל העושה איסור לחג באכילה כו’ לפרש”י לשון איסור לא ידעתי לפרש ולולי פירושו נראה דאיסור כמשמעו שעושה לו איסור וגדר במצות אכילה ושתיה בחג דהיינו שלא לאכול אכילה גסה ושלא ישתכר יותר מדאי שאינו לש”ש והרי אותו מותר שלא אכל ושתה נחשב לו כאילו בנה מזבח והקריב עליו קרבן ועד”ז אמרו בפ’ הרואה פתח במזבח וסיים בשלחן מה מזבח מכפר אף שלחן מכפר כו’ כמפורש בחידושנו ס”פ ח”ה]
[iii] כתוב בס’ רבבות אפרים (ח”א סי’ שנ) וז”ל: “אבל מו”ר הרה”ג ר”מ פיינשטיין שליט”א אמר לי בפירוש שביו”ט צריך לאכול לפחות כזית בשר לצאת המצוה ורק בפורים אפשר לצאת בבשר עוף ולא ביום טוב.”
[iv] חייב אדם להיות שמח וטוב לב במועד הוא ואשתו ובניו וכל הנלוים אליו כיצד משמחן הקטנים נותן להם קליות ואגוזים והנשים קונה להם בגדים ותכשיטין כפי ממונו וחייב להאכיל לגר ליתום ולאלמנה עם שאר עניים. אדם אוכל ושותה ושמח ברגל ולא ימשוך בבשר וביין ובשחוק וקלות ראש לפי שאין השחוק וקלות ראש שמחה אלא הוללות וסכלות ולא נצטוינו על ההוללות והסכלות אלא על שמחה שיש בה עבודת היוצר (שולחן ערוך, אורח חיים תקכ״ט)
[v] היא שצונו לשמוח ברגלים, והוא אמרו יתעלה ושמחת בחגך, וכו’, וכבר התבארו משפטי מצות זו גם כן בחגיגה, ובכלל אמרו ושמחת בחגך מה שאמרו גם כן לשמוח בם במיני שמחה ומזה לאכול בשר ולשתות יין וללבוש בגדים חדשים ולחלק מיני פירות ומיני מתיקה לקטנים ולנשים. ולשחוק בכל ניגון ולרקד במקדש לבד והיא שמחת בית השואבה, זה כולו נכנס באמרו ושמחת בחגך. ומה שיתחייב מהם יותר שתיית היין לבד, כי הוא יותר מיוחד בשמחה. ולשון גמרא (פסחים ק”ט) שחייב אדם לשמח בניו ובנותיו ברגל במה משמחן ביין, ושם אמרו תניא רבי יהודה אומר בזמן שבית המקדש קיים אין שמחה אלא בבשר שנאמר וזבחת שלמים עכשיו אין שמחה אלא ביין שנאמר ויין ישמח לבב אנוש, וכו’ (ספר המצוות, מצוות עשה נ״ד)
[vi] שִׁבְעַת יְמֵי הַפֶּסַח וּשְׁמוֹנַת יְמֵי הֶחָג עִם שְׁאָר יָמִים טוֹבִים כֻּלָּם אֲסוּרִים בְּהֶסְפֵּד וְתַעֲנִית. וְחַיָּב אָדָם לִהְיוֹת בָּהֶן שָׂמֵחַ וְטוֹב לֵב הוּא וּבָנָיו וְאִשְׁתּוֹ וּבְנֵי בֵּיתוֹ וְכָל הַנִּלְוִים עָלָיו שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (דברים טז יד) “וְשָׂמַחְתָּ בְּחַגֶּךָ” וְגוֹ’. אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁהַשִּׂמְחָה הָאֲמוּרָה כָּאן הִיא קָרְבַּן שְׁלָמִים כְּמוֹ שֶׁאָנוּ מְבָאֲרִין בְּהִלְכוֹת חֲגִיגָה יֵשׁ בִּכְלַל אוֹתָהּ שִׂמְחָה לִשְׂמֹחַ הוּא וּבָנָיו וּבְנֵי בֵּיתוֹ כָּל אֶחָד כָּרָאוּי לוֹ. כֵּיצַד? הַקְּטַנִּים נוֹתֵן לָהֶם קְלָיוֹת וֶאֱגוֹזִים וּמִגְדָּנוֹת. וְהַנָּשִׁים קוֹנֶה לָהֶן בְּגָדִים וְתַכְשִׁיטִין נָאִים כְּפִי מָמוֹנוֹ. וְהָאֲנָשִׁים אוֹכְלִין בָּשָׂר וְשׁוֹתִין יַיִן שֶׁאֵין שִׂמְחָה אֶלָּא בְּבָשָׂר וְאֵין שִׂמְחָה אֶלָּא בְּיַיִן, וכו’. (משנה תורה, הלכות שביתת יום טוב ו׳, יז-יח)
[vii] Ed. note: a number of commentators (Meromei Sadeh and others) point out that, of course, R’ Akiva agrees with R’ Eliezer, that ananei hakavod surrounded Klal Yisroel during their travels in the desert. Rather R’ Akiva’s opposing opinion that Klal Yisroel built actual sukkos during their encampments teaches us a much deeper lesson – i.e. that it wasn’t these wooden huts that protected Klal Yisroel from the heat, but ananei hakavod, that surrounded them from all sides. Thus, according to R’ Akiva, the commandment to build a sukkah as an eternal reminder throughout generations is to teach us that any natural hishtadlus done by a person – even something that’s made for our protection – is nothing more than a mere hishtadlus. What actually protects us and brings us hatzlacha are “ananei hakavod,” i.e.Hashem’s constant hashgacha (See Derash Dovid on Sukkos)
[viii] Ed. note: needless to say, this would only be applicable to someone who is a business owner (and can take a few hours off), and/or an employee with an explicit permission from his employer to work less hours or have alternative work arrangements, etc.
[ix] י”א שאין מצות צריכות כוונה וי”א שצריכות כוונה לצאת בעשיית אותה מצוה וכן הלכה
[x] בסוכות תשבו גו’ תלה הכתוב כו’ איכא למידק בדברי רבינו שאין זה מדרכו בחבורו זה לבאר כוונה לשום מקרא שבתורה כי לא בא רק לפסוק הוראה או להורות מנהג ופה האריך לבאר ולדרוש המקרא דבסוכות תשבו ויראה לי לומר בזה שסובר דכיון דכתיב למען ידעו כו’ לא קיים המצוה כתיקונה אם לא ידע כוונת מצות הסוכה כפי פשטה ולכן ביאר לפי הפשט דעיקר הכוונה בישיבת הסוכה שיזכור יציאת מצרים זה הטעם בעצמו לרבינו ז”ל במ”ש בה’ ציצית בסימן ח’ ויכוין בהתעטפו שצונו המקום וכו’ וכן בה’ תפילין בסי’ כ”ה כתב ויכוין בהנחתם שצונו המקום להניח כדי כו’ מה שלא עשה כן בשאר הלכות כי לא כתב שיכוין שום כוונה בעשיית המצוה כי המקיים המצוה כדינה יוצא בה אעפ”י שלא היה לו שום כוונה אבל בציצית שכתב בהן למען תזכרו וגו’ וכן בתפילין כתוב למען תהיה תורת ה’ בפיך שפשוטו הוא שהתפילין הם אות וזכרון כדי שיהא תורת ה’ שגור בפיו כי ביד חזקה הוציאך יראה שלא קיים המצוה כתקונה אם לא יכוין אותה הכוונה ולכן כתב בהלכות אלו ויכוין כו’ וכן גבי סוכה שכתוב למען ידעו וגו’ משמע ליה ג”כ שצריך שיכוין בשעת ישיבת הסוכה הטעם המכוין במצוה (ב”ח, אורח חיים תרכ״ה:א׳)
[xi] Ed. note: the following paragraph is in response to an audience member’s question, that if someone, chas v’shalom, did not have a favorable din on Yom Kippur, whether for life, health, parnassah, etc, how can one then acquire ritzuy on Sukkos? In other words, how do we really know if Hashem can or will “favor” anybody?
[xii] This shiur was given in 5763, when the first day of Sukkos fell on Shabbos.
[xiii] ביום הראשון. הלולב שאנו נוטלין ביום ראשון הוא סי’ שזכינו בדין ביום הכיפורים וזש”ה אז ירננו עצי היער מלפני ה’ כי בא לשפוט את הארץ במי הכתוב מדבר בישראל ובאומות העולם שהקב”ה דן אותם ביום הכפורי’ אלו ואלו נכנסין לדין ואין אנו יודעין מי הנוצחין אמר הקב”ה טלו לולביכם בידיכם והכל יודעי’ שזכיתם בדין משל לשני בני אדם שנכנסו לדון לפני המלך ולא היו יודעין הבריות מי נצח אלא מי שהוא יוצא במקל לבן או תפוח בידו אז יודעין שהוא יצא זכאי מלפני המלך
[xiv] The shiur was given on 20 Tishrei, 5765.
[xv] וז”ל בדברי המדרש: בראש השנה באין כל באי עולם ועוברין לפניו כבני מרון, ואף ישראל עוברין לפניו עם כל באי עולם, ושרי אומות העולם אומרים אנו נצחנו וזכינו בדין, ואין אדם יודע מי נצח, אם ישראל נוצחים או אומות העולם. עבר ראש השנה, וכל ישראל באים ביום הכיפורים ומתענים בו, ולובשים בגדים לבנים ונאים. עבר יום הכפורים, ואין אדם יודע מי נוצח אם ישראל אם אומות העולם. כיון שהגיע יום טוב הראשון של חג, וכל ישראל גדולים וקטנים נוטלין לולביהם בימינם ואתרוגיהם בשמאלם, מיד הכל יודעין שישראל נוצחין בדין, וכיון שהגיע יום ‘הושענא רבה’, נוטלין ערבי נחל ומקיפין שבע הקפות, וחזן הכנסת עומד כמלאך אלקים, וספר תורה בזרועו, והעם מקיפין אותו דוגמת המזבח, שכך שנו רבותינו בכל יום היו מקיפין את המזבח ואומרים: ‘אנא ה’ הושיעה נא, אנא ה’ הצליחה’, וביום השביעי היו מקיפין שבע פעמים, וכן מפורש על ידי דוד מלך ישראל שנאמר: ‘ארחץ בנקיון כפי ואסבבה את מזבחך ה’ ‘, ומיד מלאכי השרת שמחים ואומרים:’נצחו ישראל נצחו ישראל’, ‘וגם נצח ישראל לא ישקר ולא ינחם’.
[xvi] וכן כתוב לעיל בדעת זקנים על ויקרא (כ״ג:מ׳), ד”ה ביום הראשון
[xvii] כתוב במטה משה ס”ק תתקנ”ז: אמר הקב”ה אברהם אני יחיד ואתה יחיד אתן לבניך יום המיוחד לכפר בו עונותם וזהו הושענא רבה, פירש שמי אהי’ גי’ כ”א ואתה בכ”א, עשרה דורות מאדם ועד נח וי’ דורות מנח ועד אברהם והושענא רבה כ”א ימים לחודש תשרי. אמר לו הקב”ה לאברהם אם אין כפרה לבניך בר”ה יהי’ בי”כ ואם לאו יהי’ בהושענא רבה. וזהו איחדתי על שמי. וסוד החתימה שהיא בליל הושענא רבה ולא בי”כ הי’ לה להיות בצום, אבל הכוונה בזה דע כי י”כ הוא בי’ לחודש, ויו”ט של סוכות אחר ה’ ימים הרי ט”ו יום, והושענא רבה אחר ו’ הרי כ”א. תרבע כ”א פעמים כ”א, יעלה תמ”א למפרע הוא אמת, וחותמו של הקב”ה אמת ולזה החתימה הוא בליל הו”ר. ועוד כי י”כ הוא בי’ לחדש כנגד י’ של שם. ואחר ה’ ימים הוא סוכות כנגד ה’. והושענא רבה אחר ו’ ימים הרי תשלום שם ד’ דה’ אחרונה כפולה.
[xviii] וצריך אדם שיתבונן בגודל כח היום הזה שהוא יום כ”א ויום כ”ו ויום תשלום ע’ פרים כנגד שרי האומות, כי כל כחות עתידין שישובו לסבתם הראשונה והוא ג”כ יום החותם הגדול העליון מלבד החתימה הראשונה של יום הכפורים כי כל הדברים האלה יש ויש עקרים גדולים ושרשים עצומים לא יכילם לב חושב ולא יעלו בידו מצד עיונו אלא אם כן קבלם מפה אל פה והיה בידו מסורת החכמה, נמצאת למד שההקפה שהיו ישראל מקיפים את יריחו בכל יום פעם אחת ובשביעי ז’ פעמים הכל היה רמז לשכינה שהיא כלולה משש קצוות ולכך חלה מדת הדין על יריחו ונפלה החומה תחתיה, וכן היו ישראל במקדש מתכפרים על ידי המזבח ומדת הדין היתה חלה על האויבים ולא היה להם רשות לבא כנגד ישראל, וכן לעתיד תחזור השכינה לבית קדשי הקדשים ותחול מדת הדין בשונאיהן של ישראל אשר הציקום ושעבדו בהם. וההקפה שאנו עושין בזמן הזה הוא סימן ורמז לעתיד שתפול חומת ארם ויהיו כלים ואבודים מן העולם שכן התנבא דניאל על החיה הרביעית (דניאל ז׳:י״א) עד די קטילת חיותא והובד גשמה ויהיבת ליקידת אשא. ואז ישמח הר ציון וירושלים שנקראו מדבר וציה שנאמר (ישעיהו ס״ד:ט׳) ציון מדבר היתה וירושלים שממה, וכן התנבא ישעיה שישמחו ציון וירושלים על פורענות ארם הוא שאמר (שם לה:א) יששום מדבר וציה ותגל ערבה ותפרח כחבצלת (כד הקמח, ערבה א׳)
[xix] Ed. note: given that Rabbeinu Bachya writes (footnote #5) that these lofty concepts about Hoshana Rabbah can only be understood if one received them as part of an oral [kabbalistic] tradition, it is plausible that he was one of the select, few talmidim of that messora (Zohar was first printed in 1550’s); however, as Rav Brog clarified, the opposite may also be true, namely, that Rav Chaim Vital saw this idea brought down in Rabbeinu Bachya, but Rabbeinu Bachya himself didn’t have access to the Zohar.