15-22 Tishrei 5761 - October 13-21, '00
Due to the late hour, we apologize for not posting Torah Tidbits in its usual format. Chag Sameach.
Correct for TT440. Ranges are for a two-week period, THU to THU, 13 to 27 Tishrei (OCT 12-26)
Sunrise & sunset: First times take into account elevation. Times in parentheses do not.
Latest times for Sh'ma and Shacharit: First times are GR"A. Times in parentheses are MAGEN AVRAHAM.
Candle lighting for Shabbat Yom Tov - 4:34pm (Sukkot), 4:26pm (Simchat Torah)
A weekly feature of Torah Tidbits to help clarify practical and conceptual aspects of the Jewish Calendar, thereby better fulfilling the mitzva of HaChodesh HaZeh Lachem...
KIDDUSH L'VANA - Deadline - not a nice word - make that LAST OPPORTUNITY for KL this month is Thursday night before Sukkot. One would imagine that most people will have already said it by then, either before Yom Kippur (to help tip the balance in our favor with yet another mitzva) or on Motza'ei Yom Kippur (an opportunity to chalk up a mitzva on our new, clean slate). On the other hand, there might be some people who were planning on Motza'ei YK and didn't do it because of the weakening effects of the fast. If any of those folks got a hold of this TT early enough to take the reminder as they were putting the final touches on the S'CHACH... Important: some evenings are already cloudy - more to come. KL is never as easy to maintain during the rainy season as it is in Spring and Summer.
On another note... Whenever Sukkot is Shabbat, there are (at least) two interesting differences between Israel and Chutz LaAretz. Without a Shabbat Chol HaMoed to read Kohelet, we read it on the first day and in Chu"l they read it on Shmini Atzeret. And, at mincha of the second Shabbat of the Chag, we read B'reishit and they are only up to V'zot HaBracha. No other time are we so far apart in Torah reading.
The season of joy. The words and concept sound a bit stranger than usual due to the MATZAV, the situation here in Israel. Three soldiers kidnapped by Hamas. Daveners at the Kotel stoned by Arabs from Har HaBayit. We're supposed to be on Har HaBayit - not have rocks thrown at us from there. Kever Yosef abandoned by government order and desecrated and dismantled by crazed Arabs waving Palestinian Authority and Nazi flags. A dedicated teacher who attempted to save the Sifrei Torah at Joseph's Tomb tortured and murdered. Let's not forget the condemnation of the United Nations Security Council and our friend abstaining from that vulgar resolution rather than vetoing it. Seven Israel Center tiyulim for Chol HaMoed canceled because of the situation.
Condemnation of Israel coming even from some of our own misguided people. (And watch the complaints we'll get for that adjective.) Rocks, bullets, tanks in Gilo, our own kids rampaging, doing stupid and wrong things out of frustration. That's the MATZAV. So what does ZMAN SIMCHATEINU mean to us at this time?
It's not perfect... but what is? Pesach is the time of our freedom. And we celebrate it when we personally enjoy freedom, and even when we don't. Because there is a freedom beyond one's chains. There is a freedom of the spirit and the mind which comes from being part of Bnei Yisrael, part of the Nation that G-d took out of Egypt. And Shavuot, the time of the giving of the Torah. And the time of coming into Eretz Yisrael.
Sometimes we are closer to the ideal combination of The People of Israel in the Land of Israel living by the Torah of Israel. And sometimes we are further. But we are always the people of the Torah and the people of Eretz Yisrael. And maybe that's what we celebrate. The theory. The ideal. The striving towards. The realization. Even with ups and downs, ASHREI HA'AM, fortunate and happy is the nation that this is how it is, the Nation that G-d is its G-d. Sukkot? We developed a unique relationship with G-d. Problems? Yes. Outlook? Great, B"H. Has to be - He promised.
On the first day of Sukkot we read from Parshat Emor, Vayikra 23, the portion of the Festivals. We actually start the reading several p'sukim earlier with the mitzvot of not taking an animal from its mother to use it as a korban before it is 8 days old. And the mitzva of slaughtering an animal and its offspring on the same day. This second mitzva applies to korbanot and to "secular" use of animals for food. The first mitzva is specifically for korbanot.
Then the Torah teaches us the mitzvot of Kiddush HaShem and its opposite.
Then we come to the Festivals portion. The Torah begins with Shabbat, followed by Pesach, the Omer, Shavuot, Rosh HaShana, Yom Kippur, ansd Sukkot.
This 52-pasuk portion is read for 7 people, rather than the Yom Tov five Aliyot, because of Shabbat. In Chutz LaAretz, the same reading is repeated on the second day, with 5 Aliyot.
The Maftir is read from a second Torah, from Parshat Pinchas. It is a 5-pasuk presentation of the Korban Musaf of the first day of Sukkot.
KOHELET will be read in many shuls before the reading of the Torah on the first day of Sukkot. (In Chutz LaAretz, they read Kohelet on Shmini Atzeret.) When Kohelet is read from a parchment megila, brachot are recited on the reading. No brachot if it is read from a printed book. The megila by Shlomo HaMelech in his later years takes a serious look at the Life we all live, and his conclusions boil down to there being nothing of real value in this World. Except to be G-d fearing.
Famous difference of opinion as to what a Sukka commemorates. Some say "actual sukkot"; others say "the Heavenly Clouds of Glory". Let's not look at this as a dispute with one side being right and the other wrong. Let's see these opinions as enhancing one another.
"Actual sukkot" means that the people of Israel constructed some kind of temporary dwelling during the years in the wilderness, to protect them from the elements. The command for us to dwell in Sukkot is a reminder of the Wilderness experience, the Exodus, and Revelation at Sinai. This opinion gives a practical, down to earth dimension to Sukkot. So do the Arba'a Minim. Practical. Tangible. Agricultural. Physical.
The Ananei HaKavod add a supernatural, spiritual dimension to the mitzvot and to the Chag.
There were three main miracles associated with the Midbar - food, in the form of the Manna, water - bitter to sweet, from the rock, "Miriam's Well", from the rock, and protection and climate- control from the Heavenly Clouds. It is interesting to note that only the Clouds are "honored", so to speak, with a commemoration. One source points out that the Manna and Water were both associated with dissent, terrible kvetching (to say the least). Only the Clouds were untainted.
The Vilna Gaon states that following the Sin of the Golden Calf, the Clouds were withdrawn. They were returned only after Moshe's 40 days and nights on Har Sinai, his return to the people with the second set of Luchot, the command to build the Mishkan, and the collection of materials for that purpose. The GR"A says that the Clouds were restored on the 15th of Tishrei. He is the only one that seems to match an event to the date of Sukkot. Everyone else just suggest reasons for Sukkot being this time of the year.
Bottom line: When you are sitting in the Sukka, it is easy to not think about the mitzva. After all, you're eating, or talking, or reading or sleeping. Matza, Arba'a Minim, Omer counting, Shofar, Megila, Chanuka candles - kavana is relatively easy. You are focused. Sukka is harder because we are relaxed. Work at it.
Pesach is on the 15th of Nissan because on that day we left Egypt. Shavuot is 50 days later because on that day we received the Torah. Rosh HaShana corresponds to the sixth day of Creation, the day human beings were created. On Yom Kippur, Moshe brought G-d's message of forgiveness for the Sin of the Golden Calf. On the 25th of Kislev, we rested from our fight against the Greek enemy. Hence, we celebrate Chanuka from that date. Purim is the 14th of Adar because something happened on that day. The same can be said for Tish'a b'Av and the other fast days related to the destruction of the Temples. Our modern dates of Yom HaAtzmaut and Yom Yerushalayim are on the dates that something momentous happened.
What happened on the 15th of Tishrei to give us Sukkot? And if there is nothing specific, then what is Sukkot doing specifically at this time of the year?
A question with diverse answers.
The Vilna Gaon seems to be the only one to pinpoint a significance to the date. Details upcoming. Most others have explanations for the time of the year, but not for the specific date.
Tur says that had the mitzva of Sukka been commanded at Pesach-time (when it would fit with the theme of the Exodus from Egypt into the Wilderness), it would not be noticeable that we are performing a mitzva; it would seem that we are merely seeking the comfortable environment of the Sukka in the warming springtime. On the other hand, when we leave our homes as others are returning to theirs in anticipation of cooler and wetter weather, the mitzva aspect of Sukka is manifest.
Rambam, on the other hand, seems to take an opposite view, namely that the timing of Sukkot is a kind gesture by G-d - we dwell in the Sukka when it is neither too hot nor to cold to do so in an enjoyable manner. (A lot depends upon where you live - Eretz Yisrael is highly recommended as THE venue for the mitzva of Sukka - and all other mitzvot.)
Ramban says that Sukkot is set at the other side of the year from Pesach to emphasize that we must be appreciative of G-d's having taken us out of Egypt and protecting us in the Wilderness - ALL YEAR ROUND. Note that each of Pesach and Sukkot is a 7 day commemoration of the Exodus, each begins on the 15th day of the first month of the year (both Nissan and Tishrei are first months).
Based on the famous dispute, as to whether the Sukka represents the heavenly clouds of glory that protected the People of Israel or if it represents actual Sukkot in which the people dwelt...
If you say ACTUAL SUKKOT, then this is the season that the people would have begun to need them. Hence, Sukkot in the fall.
If you say CLOUDS OF GLORY, then, according to the Vilna Gaon, this is what happened: After the Sin of the Golden Calf, the Clouds left the people. Only after Moshe returned from the Mountain the second time, with the second Tablets, the Divine message of forgiveness, AND the command to build the Mishkan, and after the materials were collected and the construction was about to begin, did the Clouds return. The GR"A says that this corresponded to the 15th of Tishrei, hence that date for Sukkot.
Menorat HaMaor suggests that the timing of Sukkot carries an important message for the (agrarian) Jew, who has just brought in the harvest and is about to tuck himself comfortably into his home for the winter. The natural turn of mind is for him to burst with pride at what he has accomplished. The mitzva of Sukka is custom-tailored to bring the Jew our of his complacency and remind him - in the frail Sukka - of G-d's dominion over nature and all.
The Chidushei HaRim explains the timing of Sukkot is "necessitated" by
Our sources say that a person does not sin unless he is overcome by foolishness. Thus, we are capable of fulfilling the mitzva of Sukka best during the days following Yom Kippur.
One way or the other, we have the wonderful merit of celebrating Sukkot and fulfilling the mitzvot of Sukka the 4 species, and rejoicing on Yom Tov. May we celebrate the holiday with joy, may we fulfill the mitzvot of the Chag with proper kavana and motivations, and may we be privileged to rejoice in the rebuilding of Sukkat David HaNofelet, the Beit HaMikdash.
The Vilna Gaon points out that there are two mitzvot that a person fulfills with his whole self - Sukka and Eretz Yisrael. Both of these mitzvot are performed by "living", not just doing a specific act. One enters his Sukka and fulfills the mitzva. He makes Kiddush and HaMotzi and enjoys a sumptuous Yom Tov meal, and he continues to "get the mitzva". After Birkat HaMazon, he opens a sefer and learns in the Sukka and adds to the performance of the mitzva of Sukka After learning for a while, he plays a game of chess with his child in the Sukka and is still performing the mitzva. Then he sits back in a comfortable chair and reads (a permitted) magazine article - and continues to fulfill the mitzva. And when he doses off and falls asleep, the person is still "getting" the mitzva. There is no other mitzva like this one. Except the mitzva of living in Eretz Yisrael. The Vilna Gaon cites the pasuk in T'hilim (76:3) as a "hint" to these two special, all-encompassing mitzvot. VAYEHI B'SHALEM" - What mitzvot are performed with "completeness"?, SUKO - the mitzva of Sukka, U'M'ONATO B'TZION - and when a person's place of residence is Eretz Yisrael.
ASHREINU - happy and fortunate are we who are privileged to perform the mitzvot of Sukka and Yishuv Eretz Yisrael.
Another "connection" between Sukka and Eretz Yisrael is based on the fact that Eretz Yisrael was and is the intended locale for the mitzva. Anyone who has nearly frozen in his Sukka "back home" or has been flooded out, or remembers "let's finish eating quickly, the weather might not hold", can well appreciate that statement. Ask a New Yorker is he sleeps in the Sukka. Most will think that you are a bit strange to even ask. Now ask someone who lives here, and you'll probably receive an affirmative answer to the question. Commentaries point to the same verse quoted above, and give it a slightly different twist - VAYEHI B'SHALEM SUKO - And your Sukka (experience) is complete, where? - U'M'ONATO B'TZION - when your address is Israel.
Why should we not be required to perform the mitzva of Sukka with extra sacrifice, even in the rain? There are many examples of mitzvot that we are expected to go out of our way to perform. Even if it is inconvenient and difficult. Why are we not required to don rain gear and eat in the Sukka in the rain?
The answer is based in the definition of the Mitzva of Sukka. IF the mitzva were to EAT in the Sukka, we would have to, even in the rain or other adverse conditions. IF the mitzva were to SIT in the Sukka (as the literal meaning of the pasuk - and bracha - seem to say), then we would have to, even in the rain. But the mitzva is neither to EAT nor to SIT; it is the DWELL, to LIVE in the Sukka. Just as a person would not tolerate a leaking ceiling above his head in his own home, so too, we are not expected to live in the Sukka under adverse conditions.
This might seem obvious to people with long Sukkot experience. But put yourself into the mind set of a newcomer to Jewish observance and you will see how unusual - and special - the mitzva of Sukka really is.
We say T'FILAT GESHEM on Sh'mini Atzeret, in Israel a.k.a. SIMCHAT TORAH. Most communities around the world say GESHEM as part of the beginning of the repetition of the Musaf Amida. Minhag Yerushalayim (followed by some shuls, not all, in Jerusalem and elsewhere) say GESHEM when the Torah's are being returned to the ARON KODESH just before the doors and Parochet are closed.
T'FILAT GESHEM inaugurates the "mention" of G-d as "the One Who causes the wind to blow and the rain to fall" in our thrice (sometimes four-times) Daily Amida. We start saying MASHIV HARU'ACH U'MORID HAGASHEM (or HAGESHEM, either is correct) at Musaf of Sh'mini Atzeret (Simchat Torah). If T'FILAT GESHEM was said when the Torahs were being put away, then we need no special announcement by the Gabbai before the silent Musaf. (He will announce MHUH - preceded by a bang on the table or something else suitable - just as a reminder.) But, if we say GESHEM at the beginning of the repetition, then the Gabbai's announcement is crucial. If he forgets to announce MHUH, then we must continue saying MORID HATAL (or nothing) for Musaf. In that case, T'FILAT GESHEM is the announcement and we will first say MHUH at Mincha.
If someone other than the Gabbai announces M.H.U.H. - that's good too, and we start saying it at Musaf.
Now follow this "trivial" point. Let's say that no one announced MHUH. We are not supposed to say it yet at Musaf. But the person next to you doesn't know this obscure rule and he or she hasn't read Torah Tidbits. He/she says MHUH, and says it aloud (which is also wrong to do). And you hear it. And you haven't reached the place to say it yet, then you can consider what you heard as an announcement and you can say MHUH. Interesting, no?
Hopefully, someone will remember to make the formal announcement (remember the KLOP!).
Anyone davening at home (for health or other reasons) should try not to delay Shacharit beyond the time that his/her shul will have said GESHEM. Similarly, one should not daven Musaf before his/her shul will have said GESHEM. Technically, if one does daven a later Shacharit, he should already say MHUH because his shul said T'FILAT GESHEM. And an early Musaf should not yet include MHUH for the opposite reason. It is best to daven Shacharit on the earlier side and Musaf on the later, to avoid this "awkward" situation.
What does all this mean? Why the "weird" details? The answer (or at least part of it) is COMMUNITY. Rain is a community thing. really, it's a world thing. It doesn't rain on one person, except in cartoons. Rain, too much of it, too little of it — affects us all. Therefore, in matters of praying for rain, we are no alone. We're in this together. These little details remind us of this idea.
Although saying MHUH when we don't say it invalidates the Amida and requires repeating it, if one said MHUH at Maariv or Shacharit of Sh'mini Atzeret, the Amida is not to be repeated.
Important warning: People who live in Israel and are using a Machzor that was made for Chutz LaAretz can be confused on Leil Simchat Torah and at Shacharit. For example, if you open to MAARIV FOR LEIL SIMCHAT TORAH on what we call Simchat Torah night, you will find MHUH in the Amida (because in Chutz LaAretz it's for the second night. in other words, be careful and pay attention.
Another IMPORTANT WARNING: Do not confuse MENTIONING rain with ASKING for rain. We begin to say MHUH on Sh'mini Atzeret, but we don't start ASKING for rain with V'TEIN TAL U'MATAR until the eve of the 7th of Cheshvan. (That's in Israel. Abroad, they don't say TAL U'MATAR until the beginning of December.
So remember to continue saying V'TEIN BRACHA from after Simchat Torah until the proper date for asking for rain. It's a messy situation if you say TAL U'MATAR after Simchat Torah but before 7 Cheshvan, so remember not to. Best thing is to pay careful attention and say the proper things.
KOHEN - 3 p'sukim (33:1-3)
The Baal HaTurim points out that there are two things that are called MORASHA - Torah and Eretz Yisrael. The connotation of the word MORASHA (usually translated as Heritage) is that it is given to you but you must work at earning it and keeping it. We were given both, but we cannot be lazy about either Torah or Eretz Yisrael, lest we lose either or both, G-d forbid.
G'matriya - maybe the most famous one - This verse is cited in the famous Talmudic source for the existence of 613 mitzvot in the Torah. The verse says that Moshe taught us TORAH = 400+6+200+5 = 611 mitzvot, and the other 2 were heard directly from G-d (this based on the description of the events at Sinai - namely, that G-d began presenting the Aseret HaDibrot directly to us and after ANOCHI and LO Y'H'YEH L'CHA the people panicked and were afraid to hear G-d's Voice directly.
Next is Moshe's blessings to REUVEN and YEHUDA. Reuven is blessed with life in this world and the next, and with always being counted.
Yehuda is likewise blessed, with the additional blessing of great strength and G-d's help in fighting on behalf of his brethren.
(Some see the word SHMA in Yehuda's blessing as an allusion to SHIMON - same root - since he is otherwise not mentioned among the blessings. The other possibility is that Moshe omitted Shimon because of the Zimri fiasco.)
Then comes the bracha to BINYAMIN, who is called by the beautiful name - YEDID HASHEM, the beloved of G-d.
'Rashi explains that Levi and Binyamin are next to each other in the Blessings because Levi did the service in the Beit HaMikdash and it was on Binyamin's territory that the Beit HaMikdash was built. Yosef follows, because of the Mishkan in Shilo that was in his allotment. Binyamin is before Yosef, because Yerushalayim is more precious to HaShem than Shilo. Levi is first. Fits with the B'ha'alot'cha-Nesi'im connection.
GAD's blessing contains reference to his having taken the first part of the Land and of having treaures (possibly the burial place of Moshe Rabeinu) in its territory.
NAPHTALI is blessed with great prosperity and/or great contentment in what it receives.
And finally, ASHER is blessed with great numbers and prosperity.
Some shuls have the custom of calling to the Torah the senior member of the congregation or another elderly gentle man deemed worthy of the honor to the final Aliya (not counting the Chatanim or Maftir) of the final round of readings. He is called "together with all young boys (those not receiving their own Aliya) - KOL HA'N'ARIM. A CHUPA is made over the Shulchan with a large Talit and the young lads are to join with the Oleh in reciting the brachot. The one so honored usually (but by no means always) sponsors the bags of goodies for the youngsters in shul.
Moshe's praise of G-d continues. Then Moshe tells the People that their collective blessing from G-d will be security and prosperity.
This portion concludes with the beautiful ASHRECHA YISRAEL, MI CHAMOCHA - happy are you, Israel, for who is like you? Who else has G-d's promise of protection and help in your battles.
(It is obvious that we were to have earned the fulfillment of these blessings by our faithfulness to G-d and the Torah. Sometimes we have merited these blessings, and sometimes...)
Rabbi Nachman bar Yitzchak (in Gemara Brachot) asks: What is written in G-d's T'fillin? Rabbi Chiya bar Avin answered that this verse: ASHRECHA YISRAEL is written there. What the Gemara is saying is that there is a mutual love between G-d and the People of Israel. Our T'fillin proclaims that G-d is our G-d, and that He is One. His T'fillin proclaims G-d's "opinion" that there is no other nation in the world that is like us. We belong to a mutual admiration society.
The Torah next relates to us the poignant story of Moshe's "death". Moshe ascends Mt. Nevo and G-d shows him the complete Land of Israel. Then G-d tells him, one last time, that this is the Land promised to the People of Israel; you (Moshe) have seen it now, but you will not go there. (Rashi says that Moshe saw the Land so that he would be able to report to Avraham, Yitzchak, and Yaakov, that G-d's promises to them was about to be fulfilled.)
The final 8 p'sukim of the Torah speak of Moshe dying. There is a famous controversy as to whether Moshe wrote these verses, or his successor Yehoshua did.
Moshe, the servant of HaShem, dies in the land of Moav, by G-d's command (or by a Divine Kiss). G-d Himself buries Moshe, and no one knows Moshe's burial place, even unto this day.
Moshe was 120 years old at his death, with full powers and undiminished faculties.
The people mourn and cry for Moshe for 30 days.
Yehoshua has received full authority to succeed Moshe as leader.
No one ever did or would match Moshe for his direct communication with G-d, and for all of G-d's miracles that were performed through and/or by Moshe, in the full sight of all of Israel.
When the final word of the Torah is read, the congregation responds with a loud CHAZAK, CHAZAK, V'NITCHAZEIK. The Torah reader repeats that phrase, but the Chatan Torah should NOT say it (according to some halachic opinions), as it would constitute an interruption between the Torah reading and his closing bracha. (Most people are not MAKPID on this, and it is not recommended to make a fuss about it,)
The beginning of the Torah - the account of Creation is read, so that immediately upon completion of the Torah, we close the circle by starting it again. Details of this portion, IY"H, later in this double issue of TT (or maybe not).
Before the second Torah is lifted, the third Torah is placed next to the second on the Shulchan, and CHATZI- KADDISH is said. Then the second Torah is lifted, rolled, and "dressed" and the Maftir is called to the Torah.
After HAGBAHA and GALILA of the third Torah, the HAFTARA is read.
Yehoshua then prepares the people to cross the river, and reminds the people of Reuven, Gad, and half of Menashe of their commitment to fight at the side of their brothers, even though their territory is on the East Bank of the Jordan.
All the people commit themselves to following Yehoshua as they had faithfully followed Moshe.
The significance of following the end of the Torah with the beginning is beautifully illustrated by R. Yaakov Auerbach z"l. He observes that Parshat Vzot HaBracha contains 512 words. And the opening portion of B'reishit - the account of Creation - contains 469 words. Together: 981 words. Take the pasuk: V'Atem Ha'D'Veikim BaSHEM Elokeichem Chaim Kulchem Shalom. Its numeric value is 6+1+400+40 (447) + 5+4+2+ 100+10+40 (161) 2+26 (28) + 1+30+ 5+10+20+40 (106) + 8+10+10+40 (68) + 20+30+20+40 (110) + 5+10+6 +40 (61) = 981.
Hoshanot are commemorative of the Hakafot around the Mizbei'ach in the Beit HaMikdash. It can be suggested that our Hoshanot combine a Korban-like practice with prayer, as expressed in the pasuk in Hallel (T'hilim 116:17): L'CHA EZBACH ZEVACH TODA U'V'SHEIM HASHEM EKRA - to You I will sacrifice a Thanksgiving Offering, and in G-d's name I will call. This pasuk's G'matriya is 1176, as is the G'matriya of HOSHA'NA L'MA'ANCHA ELOKEINU HOSHANA.
Each week we discuss one familiar halakhic practice and try to show its beauty and meaning. The columns are based on the commentary “Meaning in Mitzvot” on Kitzur Shulchan Arukh, which is serialized on Yeshivat Har Etzion’s Virtual Beit Midrash, www.vbm-torah.org.
THE THATCH OF THE SUKKAH
Some of our Sages say that the “booths” actually refer to the Clouds of Glory which sheltered us from adversity in the desert. Others say that they refer to actual booths (Sukkah 11b, see SA OC 625:1), but they would agree that these makeshift structures demonstrate that we were protected by the Clouds of Glory.
A DELICATE BALANCE
The Torah commands “Make for yourself the holiday of Sukkot for seven days, as you gather in from your threshing-floor and your winery” (Devarim 16:19). From these last words our Sages inferred that the thatch is to be made from the waste of threshing and winemaking - in other words, raw natural growth, which has not been specially prepared for any use. (Sukkah 13a.)
The thatch is unfit if the growth is completely natural, that is still attached to the ground. But it is also unfit if the material is prepared to the extent that it is considered a utensil fit for human use (SA OC 629:1). The thatch needs to be natural, but to reflect human intervention.
From the beginning of the verse, our Sages inferred, “make for yourself, and not from what is already made” (“Ta’aseh, velo min ha’asui” - Sukkah 11b). That is, the thatch of the sukkah must be arranged by deliberate human activity. It must also provide a minimal amount of shelter - more shade than sun (SA OC 626). But here also we must not go to extremes. We should not thatch the sukkah so heavily that it effectively protects us from the elements (MB 631:6).
We see that our dependence on G-d does not mean we are supposed to be helpless. On the contrary, we are required to actively create a proper abode for God’s presence. “If HaShem does not build a house, its builders have labored in vain” (Tehillim 127:1). But if the builders do not labor at all, HaShem will not build the house for them.
But there is more than one way of transcending nature. If we could fulfill the mitzvah in a completely man-made structure, surpassing nature by seeking a higher level of material protection, then it would convey the message of showing that we are on a higher material level than that of nature - we are thinking, sophisticated beings.
However, during sukkot we eschew this direction. Instead, we seek a balance between nature and artifice in order to demonstrate that we transcend nature by seeking a higher level of spiritual shelter. Our sukkah booths provide only a minimal level of material protection, showing that ultimately we place our reliance in G-d - not in ourselves. This reminds us of our forty years in the desert when we relied directly on HaShem for our basic needs such as food (the manna), water (the well of Miriam), and shelter (the clouds of glory).
The requirement for human involvement in making the sukkah affirms our superiority over the natural world. But the limits on this involvement transform the sukkah into a testimony of HaShem’s glory, and show that our superiority is not in our cleverness but in our Divine image.
Rabbi Meir is in the process of writing a monumental companion to Kitzur Shulchan Aruch which beautifully presents the meanings in our mitzvot and halacha. He is also directing the Jewish Business Response Forum at the Center for Business Ethics and Social Responsibility, Jerusalem College of Technology - Machon Lev. The forum aims to help business people run their firms according to Torah, by obtaining prompt, relevant responses to their questions.
When the Days of Awe, the great days of repentance and spiritual reawakening, are over, our souls are liable to leave our bodies out of their zealous desire to serve G-d. But the Holy One is filled with compassion for us, and commands us to take refuge in the Sukka. - Rabbi Uri of Strelisk.
The duty of sitting in the Sukka is a considerable one. After all, one must enter it in one's entirety: one's whole body, all of one's limbs, one's clothes — even one's shoes. - Rabbi Simcha Bunam of Pshis'cha
With the events of the past weeks gradually overwhelming us, we can and should take refuge in this blessing. It is both a statement of belief and a request. Maybe, it is also a demand. For today, we are not only fearful of the night; we are also uneasy about the unknown. We ask, "How much more should we endure?"
There is notable difference in this b'rachah on Shabbat and Yomtov. We proclaim: "Who spreads the protection of peace (Sukkat Shalom) over us and all His people Israel, and over Yerushalayim." Since these holy days offer us their own protection, the rabbis tell us that the alternate blessing Sukkat Shalom gives expression to the serene calm in the Jewish home on Shabbat and Chag.
This year, however, we are entering Sukkot in the shadow of stones and guns. So, this variant blessing also takes on another acute meaning. We suddenly become aware of the quintessential concepts of "Amo Yisra'el" and "Yerushalayim" embedded in the b'rachah. And we are thus led to realize with David Hamelech that, "Although a host encamp against me, my heart will not fear... for in the day of trouble, He [Hashem] will hide me in His Sukkah."
The Pix for the Torah reading of the first day of Sukkot is very simple. You have the SHOR, KESEV, and EIZ of the beginning of the reading, and the cycle of the Festivals depicted by various symbols and mitzvot of the Chagim.
It too is simple. Does not relate to V'ZOT HABRACHA at all. There's T'filat Geshem and Yizkor from the Shmini Atzeret side of Simchat Torah, and the dancing with the Torah, 7 circuits (hakafot) from the Simchat Torah aspect of the day. The arrow into Eretz Yisrael represents the symbolic, even kabalistic aspect of Shmini Atzeret signifying entrance into the Land after the wandering in the wilderness. Coming under G-d's
protective wing, so to speak, and entering Eretz Yisrael makes a very
According to MINHAG YERUSHALAYIM, which is largely based on the customs of the Vilna Gaon, the regular Psalms of the Day are not said during Sukkot (and other Holidays), but rather there are special Psalms for each day of the CHAG. Although the Psalm for the Chag replaces the regular Psalm of the day, the Psalm for Shabbat supersedes that of Yom Tov (or Chol HaMoed).
The GR"A's minhagim were brought to Israel by students and followers who became a significant Ashkenazi presence in a predominantly S'fardi community. Many, but by no means all, Ashkenazi shuls in Jerusalem follow Minhag Yerushalayim, and some elsewhere. There are also many shuls that follow some, but not all, of the minhagim of the GR"A.
SIMCHAT TORAH - SHABBAT As mentioned earlier, the Psalm of Shabbat (92) "pushes aside" the special Psalm for Simchat Torah (12). A nicer way of putting that would be, the psalm for Shabbat - Simchat Torah IS 92. The Psalm for weekday - Simchat Torah. This way, no one pushes nobody. See first day.
Lesson # 58 - Prosbul continued
I have been asked why I set out the laws of prosbul now rather than wait until the end of the summer when it becomes a practical matter. The lessons follow the order of the Shulhan Aruch and we are now doing laws of loans and prosbul relates to loans.
In the last lesson we discussed the background for the enactment of a prosbul. This lesson discusses the prosbul itself and some results of the writing or failure to write a prosbul.
Hillel the Elder observed that people were not lending money one to the other and were thereby transgressing the Torah injunction, “Beware that there should not be a lawless thought in your heart, saying ‘The seventh year approaches, the remission year’ and you will look evilly upon your poor brother and refuse to give him; And he shall cry to the Lord against you and it shall be a sin upon you.” (Deuteronomy 15:9)
Hillel instituted the prosbul so that debts would not be cancelled and therefore people wold not be reluctant to loan money to one another. Debt delivered to Beth Din are eemed collected by the Beth Din and thus they are not cancelable by shemitah.
The prosbul may be written at any time prior to the termination of the shemitah year, up until the last moment. If they are written at an earlier time they will not cover loans made after the prosbul was written. Some authorities hold that a prosbul should be written twice; once at the end of the sixth year, just before the shemitah year, and once at the end of the shemitah year. However, the latter opinion is generally not followed.
A predated prosbul is valid, since the lender has harmed only his own position. If a prosbul is written on February 1 and is predated to January 1, and if the loan was made on January 15, the prosbul does not cover the loan. But if it was properly dated, then the prosbul would cover the loan. A post dated prosbul, on the other hand is not valid since it perpetrates a fraud on the debtors of the lender. If a prosbul is written on February 1 and is postdated to March 1, and if the loan was made on February 15, the prosbul would cover the loan; if it were properly dated, however, it would not cover the loan.
There are opinions that a prosbul can be written only by a very distinguished Beth Din, which would preclude its universal use. The preferred opinion is that it may be written by any Beth Din.
Minor orphans who are creditors do not require a prosbul, since Beth Din is deemed to be their protector and thus Beth Din already holds the debts. The law is the same whether the loans were made for the orphans as lenders or by their father as lender and the orphans are now creditors, having inherited the loans. Beth Din pleads on behalf of inheritors who are not minors that perhaps the decedent had a prosbul written on the loan. Or, Beth Din may plead that perhaps there was a stipulation between their decedent (the lender) and the borrower that the borrower would not raise the defense of shemitah.
The form of the prosbul is as follows: The lender writes to the judges of the Beth Din: “I hereby transmit to you judge A, judge B, and judge C, in place D, all debts that are due to me may be collected by me at any time as please.” One opinion holds that if the lender is a very learned person, he may make the declaration before other scholars and there is no necessity for a writing. The prevailing opinion states that any person, even if he is not learned, may make the declaration orally before a Beth Din. The declaration may be written outside of the presence of the Beth Din and then delivered to them, and they will sign the written declaration. The three judges write that they have sat together and that Mr. E, the lender, appeared before them and transmitted to them all debts that may be due to him. The judges then sign at the bottom as judges or in the role of witnesses. The lender need not deliver the notes to the Beth Din if the loans are secured by notes. Rather a declaration of the transmission of he note is sufficient.
A prosbul may be written only if the debtor owns real estate. If the debtor owes real estate and the loan is evidenced by a note (shtar) it created a lien on the real estate and thus is closer to having been collected, and the prosbul enforces this almost collected loan. Alternatively, it has been suggested the prosbul was meant to deal with the ordinary situation, and in most instances loans were not made unless the borrower owned land on which the lien could be placed to secure the debt. The amount of real estate is not important, even a very small piece of real estate is sufficient. Even a flowerpot that has a hole in the bottom and that stands on sticks on land that does not belong to the debtor is sufficient to satisfy the requirement. If the lender loaned or rented to the debtor a piece of land sufficient to hold a stove or an oven, or if he sold to him a piece of land sufficient to hold a cabbage stalk, in all of these cases it is sufficient.
A prosbul may be written for a husband if his wife has real estate, or for orphans if their guardian has real estate. It is sufficient if the debtor’s debtor has real estate since the creditor may look to the debtor’s debtor to collect his debt. Even if none of these have real estate, if the lender’s other debtor owns real estate, then the lender may give some of this land to the debtor to satisfy the requirement of ownership of real estate. This transfer of land may be made without the debtor’s consent, unless the debtor objects and declares that he does not want to take title to the land from the other debtor.
If the creditor makes certain pleas regarding the loan , then the Beth Din will believe these pleas. (If there are witnesses to refute the lender, then the testimony of the witnesses is believed.) The lender in his claim against the debtor may plead that he had a prosbul but it was lost. The lender may plead that there was a stipulation between himself and the debtor that the debtor would not raise the defense of shemitah to cancel the debt. If the debtor pleads that the prosbul was written before the loan and thus does not affect cancellation of the loan, and the lender pleads that it was written after the loan and thus the loan is not cancelled, the lender’s plea is believed.
If the loan has been cancelled by shemitah because there was no prosbul, the borrower, if he insists, is entitled to have the note of indebtedness returned to him. The Rabbis have declared that they are pleased with debtors who do not avail themselves of the defense of shemitah but instead seek to repay their loans despite the fact that they are cancelled by shemitah. The creditor should tell the debtor that the debt has been cancelled and the he has no further liability thereunder.
The debtor should then state that it is his wish that the creditor accept the money as a gift. If the debtor returns the money without stating that it is a gift, then the creditor should attempt to make the debtor understand that he must tell the creditor that money is a gift. If the debtor does not do so, the creditor cannot keep the money.
IYH, some time next summer, there shall be more information available to the readers of Torah Tidbits how to fill out the forms and what to do with them.
To all of the readers of Torah Tidbits, best wishes for a Chag Kasher V’Sameach.
The subject matter of this lesson is more fully discussed in Volume 2, Chapter 67 of A Restatement of Rabbinic Civil Law by E. Quint and on sale at local Judaica bookstores.
Ideally, candles should be lit in the Sukka - if it is safe to leave them there. It is not proper to light in the Sukka and then move the candles into the house. If the candles cannot be left in the Sukka, they should be lit in the house. Candle lighting for Shabbat Yom Tov follows the standard procedure for Shabbat candles.
Unfortunately, the number of soldiers we pray for has recently increased
If you had only the Havdala wine, say the following after-bracha without the words in parentheses. If you followed Havdala with a mezonot-snack, add the words in parentheses after the snack. If you have a HaMotzi meal after Havdala, then don't say this after-bracha - say Birkat HaMazon (use your TT Sukka-Bencher) after the meal; it will cover the Havdala wine (since the meal was in mind when Havdala was said.
The mitzva of the L&E is to take them in hand together. Therefore, one gets ready to do the mitzva by taking the Lulav and the other two species that are bound to it in the right hand and the Etrog in the left hand, but does not hold them together, and preferably has specifically in mind NOT to fulfill the mitzva YET; then say the bracha (AND the SHE'HE'CHE'YANU the first time as well), and THEN hold the L&E TOGETHER and UPRIGHT (for this reason, some people hold the Etrog with Pitim pointing down until after the brachot), with the intention of fulfilling the mitzva.
After the bracha/brachot and taking together of the L&E, the mitzva is done, but the custom is to wave the L&E in six directions. Keep the L&E upright; hold them close to the chest and then extend your hands forward. With the L&E in front of you, gently shake them. Bring your hands back to your chest. Repeat in the same direction two more times. Now do the same thing three times to the right. Then three times behind you. Try not to turn too much in the direction of the NA'ANU'IM (waving); face front as best as possible and move the L&E in the different directions. Then to the left three times. Then up. Then down. Extend, shake, retract. Three times in each of the six directions. There are different customs as to the order of these NA'ANU'IM. Another custom is SOUTH, NORTH, EAST, UP, DOWN, WEST.
 The sea was filled with male salmon and sea trout during and shortly after the spawning season, so they called it
Back to TT438, the Rosh HaShana issue. Aliya after the 7+1. This one had several good solutions, the most popular being the ALIYA of G-d with the sound of the Shofar, as in the pasuk. What I had in mind was the Haftara of the second day in which Rachel Imeinu was promised that her children would return to their boundaries, by making ALIYA. They are good, but we shouldn't eat them. Several tries, but no one said NUTS, whose g'matriya is 17, TOV, good. If it's broken, don't fix it referred to the SH'VARIM. Several solvers got that one.
OU/NCSY ISRAEL CENTER
Now located at the Seymour J. Abrams Orthodox Union World Center
New phone number: 55-66-77-87
Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America
Note: As of Rosh HaShana 5761, the Israel Center will be located in the new Seymour J. Abrams Orthodox Union World Center, 22 Keren Ha'yesod Street, and our new phone number will be 566-7787. that's 5 66 77 87.