Sukkot Vol.10 No.6

Date of issue: 15 Tishrei 5761 -- October 14, 2000

This issue has been sponsored
by the Shinnar family in honor of
the teachers and staff at TABC.

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This week's featured writers:

Dr. Joel Berman
Daniel Wenger
Dani Gross
Rabbi Howard Jachter
*Chatzitzot When Taking the Lulav*
The Best of Kol Torah
-*Akiva Marcus*
Halacha of the Week
Food For Thought
-by *Dani Gross and David Gertler*

A Piece From the Rock
by Dr. Joel Berman

...Lema'an Ne'eman Bayit...Sela Hach, "...In the merit of Moshe...who struck the rock..." (Piyut - Ta'aneh Emunim)

Rav Shimon Schwab, zt"l, asks, "How can it be that when we are trying to arouse the merit of Moshe and Aharon, we mention Chait Mei Meriva (the sin of Moshe's hitting the rock)?"

Rav Schwab explains that the answer may be found in Parshat Chukat (20:8). Moshe and Aharon are specifically instructed to speak to the rock to provide water to the people and their animals (Haeda Ve'et Beiram). Moshe Rabbeinu may have judged the word Ve'et to mean that Hashem was differentiating between the type of water Bnai Yisrael were to drink and the type of water to be provided for their animals. He may have thought that Hashem wanted to differentiate between Tzaddikim and Reshaim, between Ovedei Hashem and complainers, in order to eliminate the complainers and the Reshaim. How? While the animals would drink regular water, Bnai Yisrael were to drink Mei Sota, the water a suspected adulteress drinks to prove her innocence or guilt.
Tens of thousands of Bnai Yisrael had already died in the desert as a result of rebellions and plagues. These Mei Sota would surely have added to the number. A leader has to be Moser Nefesh (literally, give over his soul) for his people. Moshe Rabbeinu, therefore, purposefully transgressed Hashem's command by hitting instead of speaking to the rock, forfeiting his opportunity to enter Eretz Yisrael, in order to save Bnai Yisrael from the Mei Sota. Support for this may be found when Bnai Yisrael and their animals drank; the Pasuk states that the animals and the people drank together, Vateishet.

Perhaps now we can understand why Moshe told Bnai Yisrael (Devarim 1:37) that Hashem was not allowing him to enter Eretz Yisrael Biglalchem, "because of you." Moshe, as a leader of Klal Yisrael, may have obligated himself to hit the rock in order to save the remnant of Klal Yisrael threatened by Mei Sota. The merit of this kind of leadership manifests itself on Hoshana Raba in the Piyut Ta'aneh Emunim.

Just How Futile Can It Be?
by Daniel Wenger

On Shabbat Chol Hamoed of Sukkot, or on Shemini Atzeret if there is no Shabbat Chol Hamoed, we read Megilat Kohelet after Hallel. The reason this Megila is read on Sukkot is because in a time of such great joy and festivity we may forget that it is Hashem Who provides us with everything we have.

King Shlomo, the author of Kohelet, wastes no time in conveying this message to us. In the second Pasuk of the Megila, he states, "The greatest of futility…the greatest of futility, everything is futile." He describes several natural events that repeat endlessly, such as the rising of the sun and the flowing of rivers. If the natural things in this world continue forever without accomplishing anything, man, whose life in this world is brief, cannot accomplish anything here either.

Shlomo then enumerates the physical pleasures of this world, including wine, gardens, slaves, and treasures. King Shlomo had most of these treasures and the means to acquire the rest of them. This, however, did not make him happy, for it is all futile; his fate is the same as that of a poor person who did not amass a large fortune. What is the point of being rich if one cannot hang on to what he has acquired?

It is at this point that Shlomo puts Hashem in the picture. He tells us that there is an appointed time for everything, be it destroying or building, loving or hating, war or peace. It is Hashem's decision as to when each of these things will happen and to whom. Shlomo comes to the conclusion that man can be happy with his lot in life because he is fulfilling Hashem's will.

Shlomo then tells us to guard our tongues, for Hashem is in heaven and does not care for extraneous conversation; it is only through action that He is pleased. A man can be poor and oppressed or rich and content; these all do not matter for Hashem is watching over everyone to give each person what he deserves. It is not an individual's call to want or need more, and it is not in his control.

Another futility King Shlomo speaks of is riches. A man can acquire so much in this world and still not be satisfied with his lot. A poor person is better than a rich person because at least he has nothing to begin with, whereas the rich man thinks he has a lot, even though he does not.

The riches of this world cannot be kept by any mere mortal, so what good comes from having them? It is best just to involve oneself in endeavors that are sure to last in this world. Having a good name is better than having worldly pleasures, for physical property can be gone in an instant, while the memory of good deeds lasts forever. It is better to comfort a mourner than to feast at a wedding, for the former is the true display of kindness.

Shlomo continues giving advice by telling us to obey nothing but Hashem's command, for He is the one who decides our true fate. His ways can never be questioned because He sees the big picture and knows what is best for man. When an evil person seems happy and a righteous person is persecuted, do not think that the world has flipped over. Be happy that the evil man is getting his lot in this world of futility, whereas the righteous one will get his reward from Hashem when he rises to the eternal level in the World to Come.

Shlomo ends the Megila by telling us, "The end of the matter, when everything has been heard: fear Hashem, and guard His commandments for this is the purpose of man." The only way that we can be truly happy is if we do exactly what Hashem tells us to do. Then our actions will not be in futility, for we will be good in Hashem's eyes. This is what we should keep in mind throughout this holiday and throughout our lives. Worldly pleasures mean nothing in the long run, and although we may involve ourselves with these matters, we must keep in mind that everything in orchestrated by Hashem, and we will all get our deserving lot when we enter the realm of Hashem in the World to Come.

Patience and Timing
by Dani Gross

The Gemara in Masechet Sukkah (31a) tells a story about a lady who came before Rav Nachman and said that the Reish Galuta (exilarch) and all the Rabbanim in his house were using a Sukkah that was stolen from her. She cried and yelled, but Rav Nachman ignored her. She asked Rav Nachman how he could ignore a woman whose father had 318 servants, but Rav Nachman still ignored her. She continued to plead with him until he finally said to his students that she is only entitled to the value of the wood of her Sukkah.

Rabbi Yosef Grossman cites the Aruch Laner, who asks the following three questions: First, why did Rav Nachman ignore the lady? Second, why did the lady cite her lineage to Avraham Avinu (her "father," who had 318 servants)? Finally, why did he answer his students and not answer the lady directly?

The answer given is that the lady came to Rav Nachman on Yom Tov instead of waiting until after Yom Tov. There is a Halacha that one cannot judge monetary disputes on Yom Tov; this is why Rav Nachman did not answer her. The lady then thought that Rav Nachman was afraid to incriminate the Reish Galuta. She therefore reminded him that Avraham Avinu commanded all his servants not to take anything from the land even though it was all to belong to his descendants. Even though the land was, in theory, his, he was still very careful not to take what he did not fully own. Similarly, the Reish Galuta was given power over the land by the Roman government, but that should not have given him the power to steal from the citizens he was governing. This argument still did not sway Rav Nachman, as the Halacha about judging monetary disputes on Yom Tov was still in effect. However, when Rav Nachman saw that her yelling might embarrass the Reish Galuta, he answered her in the form of a Shiur to his Talmidim. The prohibition only extends to ruling in monetary cases, not in teaching the theory behind these rulings; this is why he told his students what she was entitled to instead of telling her directly.

The third Perek of Kohelet states, Lacol Zeman Va'eit Lacol Chefetz Tachat Hashamayim...Eit Lachashoch Ve'eit Ledaber, "Everything has its season, and there is a time for everything under the sun…a time to be silent and a time to speak." This story illustrates these Pesukim. We should learn the importance of timing and patience from this story. When people ask their questions at improper times, they are not treated nicely, but when they wait until the appropriate times, they are treated politely.

Halacha of the Week

According to Sephardic practice, a left-handed individual should take the Etrog in his left hand and the other three species in his right hand. According to Ashkenazic practice, a left-handed person should take the Etrog in his right hand and the other three species in his left hand (Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 551:3). One should consult his Rav to determine if one is considered left-handed by Halachic standards.

The Best of Kol Torah
Vol.5 No.2

The Korban of the Lulav
by Akiva Marcus

What is the purpose of leaving our homes and entering the Sukkah on Yom Tov? What is the purpose of the Lulav on Sukkot, and what does the Lulav truly represent? Rava, in Masechet Sukkah (32a), states that a Lulav whose leaves emerge from only one side is considered a Bal Mum, blemished. The term Bal Mum is usually associated with Korbanot; is Lulav a type of Korban?

Before we answer these questions, we should first explore why we begin reciting Mashiv Haruach on Shemini Atzeret. One of the purposes of the Lulav is to plead with Hashem for water. This is mentioned by the Gemara in Taanit (2b): "Just as none of the four Minim can live without water, so too we cannot live without water." In this way, the Lulav itself has a purpose similar to Korbanot, as Korbanot are often used to beseech Hashem for various needs.

There is an indication in the Torah, too, that the Lulav is a Korban. We see in Vayikra 23 that there is a special Korban for Pesach and a special Korban for Shavuot, but there is no mention of a Korban for Sukkot. The only special things that are mentioned for Sukkot are the Mitzvot of the four Minim and the Sukkah. One may conclude that the Torah is implying that on some level, the Minim (including Lulav) are a type of Korban.

Furthermore, the Gemara in Sukkah (37b) compares the Lulav to the Korban Shtei Halechem, which is brought on Shavuot. The person who brings that Korban does Na'anuim, wavings, in six different directions (up, down, right, left, forward, and backward). Rabbi Yochanan says that one does this to display his recognition that Hashem has the power to sustain the world. Similarly, one does Na'anuim with the Lulav to "turn away bad winds," to show and recognize that Hashem is the only One capable of influencing "bad winds." Waving the Korban Shtei Halechem parallels waving the Lulav; both symbolize that Hashem alone has the power to sustain the world.

The Rambam (Hilchot Lulav 8:12-15) says that there is a unique Simcha in the Bait Hamikdash on Sukkot that we do not have on other holidays. Why is Sukkot singled out? Sukkot is different because it is the most dangerous time of the year. Sukkot comes during the harvesting season, and it is easy for a farmer to think that he, not Hashem, made all the produce because he was the one who worked so hard turning the soil and planting the seeds. Since this time period is fraught with spiritual danger, it is imperative that we recognize that Hashem is the One Who sustains the world and makes our plants grow. One way of recognizing this is by saying Mashiv Haruach, in which we recognize that Hashem is the One Who controls the amount of water we receive during the year.

There is another way of showing that Hashem controls everything. Chazal (Sukkah 11b) say that the Sukkah commemorates the Ananei Hacavod, the Divine clouds that protected Bnai Yisrael in the desert. When Bnai Yisrael were in the desert and saw Hashem's cloud every day, it was impossible to deny that everything came from Hashem. However, once Bnai Yisrael entered Eretz Yisrael and no longer had these clouds above them, it was easier to say that their success was due to their efforts and not Hashem's. We move out of our homes on Sukkot to remind us of the Ananei Hacavod and to reinforce the belief that everything we have is because of Hashem.

This is why there is a special Simcha in the Bait Hamikdash on Sukkot: the Bait Hamikdash is a place where it is as easy to recognize Hashem as we did in the desert. Each of our Sukkot can also be viewed as mini-Bait Hamikdash where we can clearly recognize Hashem. The only remaining question is what the Lulav represents. The Lulav is a Korban that is performed on Sukkot in your mini-Bait Hamikdash (either your Shul or your Sukkah, depending on your Minhag). The purpose of the Lulav is to show that Hashem is the One Who sustains the world and decides its fate. It also appeases Hashem, telling Him, "Hashem, you are the only One Who can sustain the world, and it is because of You that my produce grew."

(I would like to thank my Rebbe from NCSY Kollel, Mark Smilowitz, for teaching me the material in this article.)

Food for Thought
by Dani Gross and David Gertler

1) In Vezot Haberacha, Moshe gives Berachot to all of the Shevatim except for Shevet Shimon. Why did Shimon not receive a Beracha from Moshe?

2) What does Kohelet mean when he says the day of death is better than the day of birth, and how can a day of mourning be better than a day of feasting (Kohelet 7:1-2)?

If you have a response to these questions, please contact us at Responses may be published upon agreement of the provider.

Staff at time of publication:
Editors-in-Chief: Avi-Gil Chaitovsky, Dani Gross
Managing Editors: Moshe Glasser, Zevi Goldberg
Publication Editor: Daniel Wenger
Business Manager: Ilan Tokayer
Staff: Josh Dubin, Zev Feigenbaum, Michael Humphrey, Binyamin Kagedan, Yair Manas, Uriel Schechter, Gil Stein
Consultant: David Gertler
Faculty Advisor: Rabbi Howard Jachter

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