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TorahAnytimes Newsletter Sukkot

Parshat Sukkot

Compiled and Edited by Elan Perchik

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"The TorahAnyTimes" Newsletter    Print Version

Special Sukkot Edition
15th of Tishrei, 5778 | October 5, 2017

Compiled and Edited by Elan Perchik

Rabbi Yoel Gold
The Name Around the World

This past November, the Rosen family from Miami, Florida was celebrating the birth of a new baby boy. Excitement and exuberance filled their home, as the many preparations for the bris were soon underway. There was just one minor detail that still had to be taken care of, though. Mr. and Mrs. Rosen had yet to choose a name for the baby. Not having anything particular in mind, as the days passed, they remained unsure of what name to give.

Mrs. Rosen eventually decided to give her father a call and ask for a suggestion. He informed her that naming a child is a very special parental experience, and mentioned that parents have special Divine assistance in knowing what name would best fit their child. He thus advised that she and her husband use their intuition. “But,” he added, “if you cannot come up with any idea, I will say that you had a very special grandfather named Dovid Chai. It would be an honor and merit to his memory if the baby would be named after him.” After Mrs. Rosen’s father offered this advice, he ended off by emphasizing once again, that they as the parents should see if they have any special feeling about what to name the child on the morning of the bris.

A few days later, the day for the bris arrived. And as recommended, they looked at the baby, and indeed, came up with a name: Netanel Yaakov.

After the bris, Mrs. Rosen received a phone called from her mother-in-law who was on her way back to Savanna, Georgia. She was taken aback that the baby was given the name after the two victims of the terrorist attack which had taken place just two days before in Israel, on the previous Friday. Father and son, Yaakov, forty-four years old, and Netanel, eighteen years old, were sadly victims of the attack.

Mr. and Mrs. Rosen had not heard about the attack which occurred just two days before their son’s bris. Learning that they had named their baby Netanel Yaakov was something which came as a surprise and moved both the Rosen family as well as the surviving family of Netanel and Yaakov.

But the following week after Mr. Rosen returned home from shul on Friday night, he was even more shocked by what he learned. “As I walked through the front door, I noticed that my wife was beaming with this emotional reaction I had never seen before. ‘What happened?’ I asked her.”

Over the past week, Mr. and Mrs. Rosen had been reading and researching about the lives of Netanel and Yaakov. They felt a close connection to them, after incidentally giving their son those same names. “I was reading an article in Ami Magazine,” relayed Mrs. Rosen, “when all of a sudden, I came across a fact which I could not believe. Yaakov’s full name was Yaakov Dovid and Netanel’s full name was Netanel Chai.” The second names of Yaakov and Netanel were Dovid and Chai, the same name Mr. and Mrs. Rosen actually planned on naming the baby after Mrs. Rosen’s grandfather, Dovid Chai, until this other name of Netanel Yaakov popped into their mind.

As the story behind the story slowly unraveled, both the Rosen family and relatives of Netanel and Yaakov came to a profound realization. The unity and connection which we as the Jewish people share extends far beyond time and place. We are part of a long and rich heritage which extends back to our ancestors for thousands of generations, and likewise, we all share a close relationship to every other Jew, even if they live on the other side of the world. It makes no different what background we are from, because ultimately, we are one united people. We must, in every which way possible, bridge any gaps which exist and extend ourselves with love and care. Whether we recognize it or not, we are one, united family which will live on for all eternity.

One of the main themes of Sukkos is that of unity. As we tie together the Four Species, representative of all different types of Jews, we highlight that we are one, unified nation. We may live on opposite sides of the world, speak different languages and have slightly different customs, but ultimately, we are inextricably bound together. Such is the beauty of Sukkos, the beauty of our Torah and the beauty of our lives as Jews.

Ms. Chevi Garfinkel
Process or Product?

In describing the festivities which took place during the days of Sukkos when the Beis Hamikdash stood, the Gemara (Sukkah 48a) describes the process of drawing water from the Shiloach spring to be poured as a libation on the altar. It was upon this special event of the water libation, which lasted for all seven days of Sukkos, that all-night outbreaks of dancing, singing and rejoicing would occur.

This joyous event, says the Gemara, was known as the “Simchas Beis Ha’Shoeva,” and was in fact so spectacular a sight that anyone who had never witnessed the joy present at such festivities had “never witnessed true joy in his life” (ibid. 51a).

As the Gemara details, the actual festivities which occurred surrounding this event took place in the Beis Hamikdash, after the water was drawn and poured onto the Mizbeach. It was then that throngs of people, even the greatest sages, broke out in unbridled joy and revelry. Music was played, torches were tossed into the air and acrobatic movements were performed, marking a delightful and exciting night.

Yet it seems odd. Why would this event be referred to as the “Simchas Beis Ha’Shoeva,” “The Joy of the Water Drawing,” if the true rejoicing did not in fact take place when the water was drawn from the spring, but only later after arriving in the Beis Hamikdash and actually pouring the water? No music was played and no dancing or singing accompanied the drawing of the water. Water was simply drawn and hauled back to the Beis Hamikdash. Wouldn’t it be more accurate then to call the event, “Simchas Nisuach Ha’Mayim,” “The Joy of the Pouring of the Water,” after the point in time when the actual rejoicing occurred?

If you look around in today’s day and age, there is one thing which remarkably stands out: we are an incredibly result-oriented society. Success and accomplishment is measured by what one produces, and the effort expended in the process is often almost irrelevant. The finished product is what catches attention and calls for compliment, not necessarily the process involved to get there.

This matter of fact is not too hard to come by. Try it yourself. For one day, jot down all the different compliments you hear given to you or anyone else. Then divide them into two categories: process and result. How many compliments were focused on the result and how many on the process? Even before conducting any research of your own, a cursory glance at the way our world runs would lead to a fair conclusion: the results.

Now, one may argue in defense and say that it is only fair to judge the product, for only what can be seen can be judged. The process is not always noticeable and is difficult to discern. I can see the cake or test score in front of me, but how am I supposed to know how much time and effort went into making the cake or studying for the test?

But even with this consideration, Judaism espouses an entirely different perspective. Anything produced in life requires process. If you wish to create something quantifiably meaningful and truly lasting, it necessitates effort. It is true that a fully baked cake displays product, but it also, albeit subtly, bespeaks process.

And that is where the true accomplishment lies. We tend to feel that until we can produce the final product, we have failed.
When that is our perspective, though, it is no wonder why it is so difficult to attain happiness in life. If everything is gauged by what we produce fully ready and perfect, what about all that hard work which goes into processes that does not produce what we want? And what if the final product will only be completed after years and years of effort? Will we sit around in anticipation of when we can finally begin to enjoy our fruits of labor? So many areas in life take years until we can reap real benefit. The process of raising happy, healthy children can take decades of work. Will we only take pride in our children and enjoy nachas when they leave home and start a life of their own?

In Judaism, it is quite to the contrary. Happiness is the result of engaging in process, not solely attaining the results. In that respect, the definition of joy is completely different than that which we find in today’s world. For a Jew, the true joy of the Water Libation service rested not in its pouring on the altar, but in its drawing from the spring. It was there that effort and work was invested and the means to preparing for a monumental event was created. And that, indeed, is the source of true happiness. Therein lies the leverage which allows for our feet to be lifted off the ground and the whole other array of revelries to occur.

If there is any one message we can take away from the Simchas Beis Ha’Shoeva, it is this very point. Embrace and enjoy the process of life, the process of hard work and the process of challenge. It is from where we draw the strength to find true fulfillment and meaning in life. Because, indeed, even if the cake does not turn out as we wished and our test score bears a result other than we imagined, we have succeeded and have all the reason to be proud of ourselves. For we have achieved something far more important than what ostensibly appears before us. We have lived a life of doing our best, giving it our all and using our potential. And, without question, there is no greater joy than that.

Rabbi Aron Lankry
Unified and Beautified

The Four Species… a mitzvah we all immensely enjoy. Yet, as you can probably imagine, to any outsider, it seems quite strange to be carrying around and waving what seemingly looks like a bundle of branches and a lemon. The Lulav is not, as may be thought of, an instrument to play with or used as a spear, nor is the Esrog a hand grenade. The custom of waving the Arba Minim, as well, is not simply the Hokey Pokey dance either. But what then is it all about? What depth lies behind this beautiful mitzvah which we all so dearly love?

Our Sages (Vayikrah Rabbah 30:12) teach that the Four Species represent four types of Jews. Like the Esrog, which both tastes and smells pleasant, there are those who possess both Torah knowledge and good deeds. On the other hand, like the Lulav, the branch of a date palm, which has taste but no smell, there are those who have Torah knowledge but lack good deeds. There are also those, like the Hadassim, who have fragrance but no taste. They perform good deeds but are ignorant of Torah. And lastly, the Aravos have neither taste nor fragrance. They represent those who have neither Torah knowledge nor good deeds.

Yet what does Hashem command us to do? Bind the four species together and atone for each other. By unifying all types of Jews, everyone is spiritually uplifted, despite each one’s respective background. Whether they are knowledgeable in Torah or have good deeds, we all join together and rejoice, elevating ourselves to new heights in dedication to Hashem and Torah.

While you may be familiar with the above dictum relating to the Four Species, there is another custom performed on the last day of Sukkos, Hashanah Rabbah, enacted during the days of the Neviim, Prophets (ibid., 44a). After shaking our Lulav for the last time, we bundle together five new Aravos and bang them on the ground. While various reasons are offered in explaining the meaning behind this practice, in light of the above Midrash, a beautiful idea emerges.

The Aravah represents the individual who lacks both Torah knowledge and good deeds. Yet, after an entire Yom Tov of Sukkos in which the Aravah enjoys company alongside the Lulav, Esrog and Hadassim, he becomes an entirely different person. He develops into someone so great and someone so special, due to having spent time with such great company. In order to bring this reality to the fore, we gather together five Aravos, four representing the previous Four Species used over Sukkos and an additional one signifying a new entity we have just created. And then we give a light bang on the floor, after which we take the bundle and place it above on the Aron Kodesh to remain. The lowly Aravah, who over Sukkos was “shaken up” and came to realize what potential he has and what he can achieve, is elevated and placed up high atop the Ark. After a week of associating with such great “friends,” the simplistic Aravah reaches the highest level of perfection.

Sukkos is a time when our unified interaction with all fellow Jews of all differing backgrounds breathes new life into all of us, and elevates us up high. When we come together in perfect harmony and share our wisdom and extend our care to others, we are all positively affected, even the Aravah who was far from any connection to Torah and mitzvos. Sukkos is the time when every one of us becomes positioned to reach the pinnacle of perfection. Such is beauty of this Yom Tov. When we are unified, we are beautified.

Rabbi Zecharia Wallerstein
True Living

When I was recently asked to speak to a group of older girls who were not yet married, I began wondering what I would say to them. What message could I possibly give to those who were undergoing a very lonely and difficult time? I soon realized that there in fact was nothing to tell them. Why Hashem gives a person a certain challenge or places them in a particular situation can never be fully understood. Even Moshe Rabbeinu, the greatest of all men, was not told why the righteous often suffer for no apparent reason. But, I also realized that there was one message I could give them.

Whatever situation a person finds themselves in life, do the best you can precisely because of that situation. Imagine a person is fired from their job. It is undoubtedly a terrible situation to be in. Yet while he is working to get back on his feet and find a new position, let him use that extra time he would otherwise not have because of his demanding job to learn Torah. Or imagine a boy or girl who is having a difficult time finding a shidduch. While no one can know why it may be as difficult as it is, there is something that this single boy or girl can do that someone married cannot. Go visit a sick child in the hospital at night, while everyone else is putting their kids to sleep. And if you are married, you can invite guests to your home for Shabbos and make them feel cared for.

Whatever situation you are in life, look for the greatest good and biggest potential you can make of it. After you are married, you will no longer have that opportunity of being single again and helping in the same way at the same hours. Whatever difficulty you are dealing with, look into the mirror and ask yourself, “How can I make the best of this? I am in a unique position now, and what will I do to maximize my opportunity?” That is true living.

A Short Message From
Rabbi Paysach Krohn

As we all know, the first words a Jew utters upon awakening in the morning are Modeh Ani, wherein we thank Hashem for returning our soul to us. Showing gratitude to Hashem along with everyone else we ought to be appreciative of is one of the hallmark characteristics of a Jew. Yet it is quite interesting. Throughout the entire repetition of the Shemonah Esrei by the Chazan, the congregation answers Amen at the conclusion of each blessing. When it comes to the blessing of Modim, however, wherein we express our gratitude and appreciation to Hashem, we do not simply respond Amen, but rather respond with an entire paragraph of thanks. Why is that so?

The Gemara (Sotah 40a), explaining the source of the paragraph recited by the congregation during the Chazan’s repetition, cites five opinions as to what is recited. After enumerating the various views, Rav Papa concludes, “Therefore, let us recite them all.” It is somewhat strange though. In most cases, when a Talmudic dispute arises, we side with one opinion or compromise in some way. Why here, though, do we combine all five opinions and formulate one long text?

The answer is simple yet so ever-important to the life attitude of a Jew. When it comes to saying thank you, there is no limit. There is an endless amount of that which we ought to be grateful for and show our appreciation for. We therefore merge all five opinions together and say everything that we can. Because, in truth, the very gift of life we enjoy every day and every minute is worth more than all the words in the world.

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