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TorahAnytimes Newsletter Sukkot

Parshat Sukkot

Compiled and Edited by Elan Perchik


"The TorahAnyTimes" Newsletter

Sukkot Edition                                                                      Print Version           
15th of Tishrei, 5782 | September 20, 2021

Compiled and Edited by Elan Perchik

Rabbi Noach Isaac Oelbaum
I am Your Servant

A number of chassidim of the Imrei Emes once approached him with a complaint. “We’ve been told that your father, the Sfas Emes, once promised that when we recite the verse in Hallel ‘Ana Hashem,’ all of their prayers will be answered. But Rebbe, we’ve focused on these words in Hallel and yet we find that our prayers have not been answered. How can this be if your father promised this?”

The Imrei Emes, after thinking, replied, “My father was not referring to reciting that verse. He rather was referring to a different Pasuk which contains the words, ‘Ana Hashem ki ani avdecha’ – Answer me, Hashem, because I am Your servant.”
It is very easy to simply ask Hashem for things and request that He help us. But to ask Hashem to answer us because we are His servants, and we want to receive blessing in life because we want to serve him to our utmost, such a blessing is sure to be answered.

Rabbi Yaakov Moskowitz
Passing Through

Does it ever happen to you that you’ve been inspired in the oddest of places? Last year I was in Home Depot trying to purchase some last minute items for Sukkos. I had some wood planks hanging out of the bottom of my shopping cart, and coming towards me was a man with exactly the same. As we reached the aisle and neither of us had the space to make it through, the man said to me, “Excuse me, I’m just passing through here…”

Isn’t this the theme of Sukkos? Our focus is to serve Hashem with a complete heart. Our life in this world is transient; it is a corridor before the World to Come. The Sukkah reminds us that this world is only temporary, and that we are just passing through here. It was a wake-up call right before Sukkos about Sukkos. And truthfully, about life itself.

Rabbi Yaakov Asher Sinclair
The Shadow of Faith

A shadow on the ground doesn't really exist; it's just the absence of light. And yet for that shadow to be there, something does have to exist or there would be no shadow. Sometimes you can't see something, but you know, it's there because of its shadow. The essence of the Sukkah is its shade, its shadow. The Torah says that a Sukkah that is contains more sunlight shining through its roof than shade is invalid.

The spiritual masters teach that when we sit in the sukkah, we are sitting in the shadow of faith. They derive this phrase from a verse in Shir HaShirim, Song of Songs, which says, “In G-d's shadow, I delighted. There I sat, and the fruit of his Torah was sweet to my palate.” Faith is like a shadow. Faith is the knowledge of something’s existence that you cannot see. We can know there's a G-d, but we cannot see Him. We can experience closeness to G-d through tasting the fruits of His Torah, but we can never see Him.

When Moshe asked G-d to see him, G-d replied, “You cannot see my face.” A man cannot see Hashem and live. In this world, we cannot see G-d. The reason why a Sukkah is invalid if it has more sun than shadow is because then you're not sitting in the shadow of faith, but in the eye of the sun. The sun's unblinking eye denies the existence of the shadow. It seems to say there is no shadow. If you cannot see it, it doesn't exist.

However strong a house we build, it will never be able to protect us from everything. But the shadow of faith that hovers over someone who sits in the Sukkah is stronger than a concrete roof three meters thick. The nation that dwells in the shadow of faith proclaims that existence extends beyond the here and now, beyond what can be perceived by the five senses of man in the brightness of the sun. And the nation that dwells in the shadow of faith draws that faith from the shade of the Sukkah.

And just as we draw upon this faith and strength every year at the start of the holiday of Sukkot, we do the same at its closing.

One man happened to find himself one Sukkos in a drab development town in Israel. Making his way down to the local municipal synagogue, he noticed the shul members dancing around with Torah scrolls, singing and making a lot of noise. And then suddenly the singing and the dancing stopped. A hush fell over the shul and an elderly gentleman disappeared behind the Aron Kodesh, who moments later brought out a wooden plank about three feet long. He carried the plank to the middle of the school, as everyone drew back. He then placed the plank on the floor right in the middle of the shul. Slowly, he started to walk around the plank, round and round. And then, as if summoned to some atavistic ritual, he motioned to two elderly gentleman to join in, and they did, walking round and round in silence. Everyone stood there in total silence and watched.

After a couple of minutes, they stopped. The first man picked up the plank and returned it to its place behind the Aron Kodesh, as the shul returned to a typical Simchat Torah scene, dancing, singing as though nothing had happened. The visiting fellow went up to this man and stood perplexed. “What happened? What's going on here?” “

“During the war, me and those other two fellows, we were all together in the same camp. Before Rosh Hashanah, by a miracle, someone managed to smuggle a Sefer Torah into the camp. We were terrified. We knew if the Germans caught us, that was the end. So we pulled up a wooden floorboard and we hid the Sefer Torah under it in the floor. When Simchat Torah came along, the Germans were everywhere. There was no way we could risk taking out the Sefer Torah. And so we just walked round and round in silence around the plank, under which the Sefer Torah was hidden. So now, every year, the height of our joy on Simchat Torah is when we walk around that plank to remember that similar story in the camps.”

A circle has no beginning and no end. Just as we finish reading the Torah, we immediately start again from the beginning. In our joy at having completed the Torah, we dance with it in a circle. Specifically in a circle. A circle is endless. The Torah is endless. When we reach its end, we are already back at the beginning. The final words of the Torah are, “In the eyes of all Israel,” and its first words are, “In the beginning.” The circle dance of Simchat Torah joins the end to the beginning so that indeed the eyes of all Israel should be fixed on its beginning.

Rabbi Dovid Kaplan
No Matter What

We’ve heard of Jewish keeping mitzvos amidst all circumstances, during all times. How can it play out today in modern times?

There was one Jew in Chicago who was living in a predominantly Jewish housing complex. But as always, there are people who object to Jewish observance. So he decided he was going to build a Sukkah in the parking lot. But not before long, a lady came out and said to him, “Sir, you are not putting up that hut in view of my house in this parking lot!” This man was not the first person to be confronted with this sort of virulent objection.

What did he do? He went and rented a flatbed truck, and he parked the flatbed truck in the parking lot for seven days, which no one had the right to object to. And on it, he built his sukkah and he had a Sukkah for the holiday. The ingenuity of Jews have always led us to figure out how to fulfill mitzvos.

When we want to accomplish something, we can. Sometimes, we just need to be creative.

Rabbi Eliezer Abish
Carry Them in Your Heart

The Ushpizin are the seven guests we invite into our Sukkah throughout the days of Sukkos. One of these is Aharon HaKohen.

In Parshas Tetzaveh, the Torah speaks about the clothes of the Kohen Gadol. When the Torah gets into discussing the Choshen, the Breastplate, it says, “You will place inside the Urim V’Tumim, and that will be over the heart of Aharon. This is before Hashem always” (Shemos 28:30). What is this “Urim V’Tumin” he is carrying inside? Rashi tells us that it was the name of Hashem, which would be placed within the folds of the Choshen, and would “illuminate its words and bring perfection to its words.” What does this mean?

If a question of importance relating to the Jewish people was asked of the Kohen Gadol, the letters of the Choshen would light up. That is where the name Urim V’Tumin comes from. Urim is from Orah, light. When you would ask a question, different letters would light up. Tumim comes from the word perfection. If you read the letters correctly, you would arrive at the perfect answer. But you have to read the letters correctly. As Rashi (Yoma 73b) says, the letters wouldn’t just appear spelled out, but the letters would appear and you would have to figure out what it means.

Eli HaKohen was once walking in the Mishkan and he saw Chanah, the wife of Elkanah, and the Pasuk tells us that she was “speaking on her heart, and her lips were moving, but nothing was heard.” What was going on with her? Eli asked the Choshen Mishpat which he was wearing, and the letters Chaf, Shin, Reish, Hei appeared and he realized that it spelled Shikorah, that she was drunk. But he was mistaken. Chanah’s response to Eli approaching her as a woman who was drunk was that she was a woman of bitter-spirit, because she didn’t have children, and that she was davening to Hashem. Her murmuring to herself was not the result of intoxication, but of praying to Hashem silently. That is what we learn from here, in fact, says the Gemara. A person should daven, but only loud enough that he can hear himself and nobody else.

Now, how is it possible that Eli read the Choshen Mishpat incorrectly? In fact, the Gemara says from here that if someone accuses someone, you must give them a beracha, which Eli did when giving her a beracha that her prayers should be answered and she should have a child.

There is a very interesting story with the Rizhiner Rebbe. There were two partners who were friends for many years as part of a textile company. One fellow ran the store and the other went out to buy merchandise. One time, one of them was away for almost two months, and he was very successful. He was traveling back to the city, and was finally going to see his wife and his children. He missed them so much. But then, he started to think about his partner, who was home the whole time. He hadn’t left at all. He began wondering why he needed to share the money with him, if after all, he was enjoying the benefit of being with his family the whole time. And so, he took a shovel and dug a hole and hid the money inside.

He then made up an excuse to tell the fellow. He took off his jacket and hat and ripped them, giving off the impression that he had been attacked. He then walked in to see his partner, who was surprised by the way he looked. “What happened?! I’m happy you’re alive. The money we can always get again.” “Thank you,” replied the man whose clothes were ripped. “I thought we would lose our friendship over this.” “No, I am just happy to see you.” And of course the person was very happy that his plan worked.

One day, the partner looked at him, and began wondering why he looked so happy for someone who was just attacked. And so, he went over to him and asked directly. “Do you mind that now that everything is calmed down if you tell me again what happened?” “Oh, it was terrible!” and again he starts crying and tells him the whole story again. The partner believes him.

Two weeks passed and the partner couldn’t take it anymore. He knew something was off. His partner just seemed too happy. After some back and off, they agreed to make a trip to the Rizhiner Rebbe. After relating the story to the Rebbe, the Rebbe paused, and then asked him to repeat the story yet another time.
Not sure why, but following along, the fellow repeated the story. When he finished, the Rebbe stood up and said, “You thief! Give the money back!” “What do you mean?” shouted the man. But after the pressure kept mounting, the man broke down and told the true story. He admitted that he had kept the money to himself.

Both partners left very surprised. The chassidim, though, who remained behind wondered how the Rebbe could have known that he was a thief. Does the Rebbe have ruach hakodesh?

The Rebbe said, “It’s simple. For many years, I had a question. In the beginning of Shmue, when Eli sees Chanah, the wife of Elkanah, he thinks she was drunk because she was moving her lips. And he was wrong. But how did that happen? He asked the Urim V’Tumim and the letters Chaf, Shin, Reish, Hei appeared and he read it as ‘drunk.’ How though did he make a mistake?

The Vilna Gaon says that the letters came up and he read it as K’Sheirah (Kosher) or K’Sarah (like the matriarch, Sarah Imeinu). Chanah was a righteous, pious woman. But then, Eli thought to himself, if this woman (Chanah) who is standing here is really, genuinely crying over something, it should bother me. As the person carrying Klal Yisroel, as represented by the names of the Shevatim (tribes) on my chest, I should feel her pain. And here was a lady pouring out her heart and it doesn’t bother me? It must be that the words which appeared are not meant to be read as K’Sheirah, but Shikorah (drunk). And that is what Eli told Chanah.

But Chanah corrected Eli. I am of bitter-spirit, she told him. I don’t have children. But then El’s original question returned. “How could it be that I wasn’t bothered if she really was crying?” Eli then concluded that it must be that Hashem already decided that Chanah would have a child, and her tears were unwarranted, because they had already been answered. She thinks she has a problem, but the truth is that she already has a child. That is how Eli was sure she would bear a child, and he blessed her accordingly.

“When this man was speaking,” explained the Rhiziner Rebbe, “it didn’t bother me. I wondered how it could be that he was crying and it didn’t disturb me. But then I realized that it doesn’t really bother him, because he is lying. He is a thief and he doesn’t feel true pain, and that’s why I don’t either.”

When we think about Aharon HaKohen and his role in carrying the feelings of the Jewish people, let us remember this. We must carry another Jew in our heart. What they feel, we feel. What they are going through, we are going through. We are one family whose feelings for one another well are not one of strangers, but of kin.

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