MISC section - contents:
Q I usually put my schach on top of a pergola (a canopy upon which vegetation climbs). Recently grapevines have taken over almost the entire area where the sukka is situated, and they give a lot of shade. Is it sufficient to put the schach on top of the grapevines or do I need to trim the grapevines so that most of the shade comes from the schach?
A Questions of competing shade between schach and different types of trees (including vines) are complicated. It is best to set up a sukka in an area where these questions, which can change from year to year, are not expected to arise (see Piskei Teshuvot 626:1). Assuming that there are no easy alternatives in your situation, we will give you instructions that will allow for a kosher sukka according to the accepted halachic opinions. (You can check whether pruning at this time of year isn’t a good idea for the vine’s welfare.) We will start with the background.
The mishna (Sukka 9b) says that a sukka situated under a tree is invalid. (The gemara derives that a sukka should be under the sky and not under any covering). But the gemara points out that if the tree allows more sunlight through than it gives shade (chamata merubah mitzilata) it is valid. The gemara then continues that since material that is attached to the ground is not valid as schach (see Rashi, ad loc.), a sukka which includes a minority of shade from a tree is valid only if “chavatan”. Many Rishonim explain that chavatan means that the branches are lowered until they are intermingled among the schach. In that way, they are batel (lose their separate identity) and no longer cause a problem. Based on this gemara, one can, at first glance, say that in the case that your grapevines are intermingled with kosher schach, they will not cause a problem.
However, there are several limitations to this leniency that one has to take attend to. Firstly, mixing in of the branches or vines works only assuming the gemara’s first condition is met. That is, the vines must be chamata merubah mitzilata (Mishna Berura 626:2). Also, in order to use bitul (nullification), there has to be more of the kosher than of the pasul (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim 626:1). It is also not clear exactly how inconspicuous the attached branches have to be among the majority of kosher schach (see commentaries on Shulchan Aruch, ibid.). The language of the Shulchan Aruch is that they “are not recognizable,” which the Biur Halacha explains as saying that one cannot tell which is the attached and which is the detached. Furthermore...
What if we do not manage to reach a point that the vines are batel to the schach. The first opinion of the Shulchan Aruch is that all that is required is that the kosher schach be thick enough that it reaches a majority of shade without the help of the schach that is pasul (and that the tree is chamata merubah mitzilata-Mishna Berura). However, he also brings and apparently prefers (see Biur Halacha, ad loc.) the stringent opinion of the Avi HaEzri, that whatever kosher schach that is covered by the tree is not considered kosher shade, as the shade is considered provided by the covering above it. Thus, one has to make sure that after subtracting all of the area that is covered by the tree or vine, there still is a majority of shade from the schach that remains. This can be difficult to determine and raises serious doubts about any sukka that has a serious percentage of tree covering above it. If there are significant areas that have thick tree cover and other areas where it is sparse, then it is similar to a sukka that is partially covered by a balcony and partially exposed. The halacha in that case requires independent study, beyond the scope of this response.
One matter that alleviates the problem significantly is that the Avi HaEzri’s stringency may not apply when the schach lies on the branches (Rama 626:1; see Biur Halacha, ad loc.). Thus, if the density of the vines is chamata merubah mitzilata, the schach lies on them, and the schach is thick enough without the help of the vines to give more shade than sun, then one’s bases are covered according to the major opinions that are accepted by halacha.
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Hence it would seem logical that today, when for the first time in twenty centuries we are fully free to choose to return to Zion, we should feel somewhat uncomfortable reciting the Yom Kippur liturgy, should we willingly choose not to participate in the process of the return to our Land.
I recently shared this observation with an
acquaintance, who responded some- what kiddingly and uncomfortably:
”Well aren’t there many things that we say in the “Al Chait” that we
don’t really mean?” Yes, but we are not talking about our individual
shortcomings, but rather the essence of our longing and prayers on
this Holy Day as formulated by Chazal. Do we really not mean these
The closest approach to the name "Rosh HaShana" is in D'varim 11:12: "A Land which the Lo-d thy G-d cares for; always are the eyes of the Lo-d upon it, from the beginning of the year (mi-reishit hashana) until the end of the year." The context in which these words appear is significant: G-d’s love and concern for EretzYisrael. This love is never-ending: it does not fade. G-d's "eyes" are always upon His Land, like a loving father whose eyes are always focused upon his small child.
Question: Why does not the Torah simply state that "G-d's eyes are always on the Land"? That would have been sufficient. Why does the Torah add that extra, apparently superfluous phrase, “From the beginning of the year to the end of the year"?
Perhaps the Torah is informing us that Gd's concern for the Land is not automatic. It is renewable at every "beginning of the year." But in order for it to be renewed, the Torah implies that some action on our part is required. We must earn the renewal at each “reshit hashana.” (Baal Haturim in fact finds the name of the month, Tishrei, hidden in the Torah's unusual spelling of "reshit.")
Why at Rosh HaShana and not at any other festival? Because at Rosh HaShana we renew our own relationship to G-d: we crown Him as our King, and we accept His dominion over us. Thus, when we renew our attachment to Him and return to Him, and when we do so not only individually but communally on RH, the beginning of the Ten Days of Return, we effect a reaction in heaven. G-d - in a reciprocal expression of His connection to us - reaches down and renews His love for us. In effect, we reach up and He reaches down. And this Divine reaching down finds expression primarily in the fact that his "eyes are on His Land from the beginning of the year until the end of the year."
Only in His Land can a Jew find this love and concern to be manifest and tangible. And what is true of the inanimate Land is certainly true of the living Jews who reside within the Land.
From time to time we may feel utterly abandoned. Anti-Semitism shows its ugly face; terror strikes indiscriminately; hatred of G-d's Land and G-d's people is widespread. When the intensity of Israel's isolation presses in upon us, individually and collectively, and when G-d's beneficence seems to be in hiding, it is comforting to remember that His caring "eyes" are always watching and protecting us. The ongoing miracle of Israel’s existence is evidence of the truth of the Biblical promise.
May we be worthy of renewing our attachment to Him
this "Reishit HaShana," and may He grant us once again His divine
care and deliverance. G'MAR CHATIMA TOVA
First of all, the sentence is the only part of Sh'ma that is not from the Torah. For that reason, it is generally said quietly, to distinguish it from the rest of the Biblical passages.
There are two origins attributed to Baruch Sheim. One says that it was Yaakov Avinu's whispered response of thanks to G-d when his sons proclaimed their complete faith and loyaly to G-d with the words: Hear Yisrael, G-d, our G-d, G-d is One.
The other source says that Moshe Rabbeinu "borrowed" it from the angels and taught us to say it. Because the sentence is not originally ours, we modestly whisper it throughout the year. On Yom Kippur, however, when the nature of the day and its prohibitions elevate us spiritually, we resemble angels and only then do we "dare" (so to speak) say Baruch Sheim aloud.
This second origin for Baruch Sheim... seems to fit
well with the Yom Kippur practice.
The first is the beautiful and detailed description of the Yom Kippur service in the Beit HaMikdash by the Kohein Gadol. Elaborating upon that which was read in the Torah a bit earlier, the Chazan movingly describes the "order of the day", including the multitudes who packed into the courtyard of the Beit HaMikdash to witness the events of the day. The blessing of the Kohen Gadol for a good year for all, the description of his countenance upon emerging from the Holy of Holies, the celebration that followed - all portray the most glorious period of Jewish History.
Immediately thereafter, the text plunges us into a drastically different scene. We read of the Ten Martyrs who died sanctifying G-d's Name. The details are heart-breaking, especially when seen on the backdrop of the previous portion.
Why are these two opposite pictures of Jewish History presented side by side?
On Yom Kippur, says the Rambam, one should picture himself as precariously balanced, so that one mitzva will tip the scale to the good - for himself, for his community, for all the world. And one sin can, G-d forbid, tip the scale the other way.
The repetition of the Musaf Amida gives us two
glimpses into history, but also shows us the possible scenarios of
the future. Do we remain faithful to G-d, do we do more mitzvot, do
we do the mitzvot better, do we improve the inter- personal
relations among Jews. Do we do T'shuva. If so, we will soon reap the
benefits of a complete spiritual and physical Jewish Life in Eretz
Yisrael. If we take the other path, tragedy and horror await us. The
Choice is ours.
The Shofar joyfully trumpets our triumph over the Satan, just as those who return from successful battle will sound the Shofar.
The Shofar calls to mind the Akeida (Binding of Isaac) at this moment of the sealing of G-d's decrees.
Just as we started blowing the Shofar on Rosh Chodesh Elul, to mark Moshe Rabeinu's ascent of Mt. Sinai to plead on behalf of the People, so too do we sound the Shofar at the conclusion of that 40 day period of Divine Forgiveness and Atonement.
The Shofar signifies the departure of the Divine
Presence (SILUK HA-SH’CHINA) that was with us throughout Yom Kippur.
This reflects the pasuk "G-d ascends with the Tru'a, HaShem with the
sound of the Shofar."
It publicizes the sanctity of the evening following
Yom Kippur, which we should treat with joy. The Midrash says that
following Yom Kippur, a "Bat Kol" says "Go and eat your bread in
On Friday night that is also Leil Yom Kippur, we
will not be making Kiddush at the table. That is obvious. There-
fore, when one davens Maariv, and gets to the middle bracha in the
Amida, he SHOULD have specific intention to fulfill the Torah's
mitzva of ZACHOR ET YOM HASHABBAT L'KAD- SHO.
The ancient Aramaic words of the Kol Nidre prayer will ring out, as it does every year, stirring the emotions of the faithful gathered in the synagogues. What is it about these words that have transformed them into a symbol of the Days of Awe? What is it about the melody that enables it to tear down all defensive barriers, even that which has grown up around the soul of the assimilated Jew, for whom the experience of prayer is so remote?
The Kol Nidre prayer dates from the days of the persecution of the anusim, or crypto-Jews, in Spain and Portugal. These Jews, who spent the whole year denying their identity and religion, would assemble on the eve of Yom Kippur, at risk to their lives, and declare that all the vows of faith they had taken upon themselves were not truthful vows.
Once a year, for a brief moment, the crypto-Jew would remove his mask and dispense with all the lies, celebrating his inner truth and lamenting the need to repress it in his everyday life.
On the eve of Yom Kippur, we declare ourselves anusim. We recognize the fact that many times the way we live does not reflect our inner truth.
All too often, we wish we could change the trajectory of our lives but find that we are unable to free ourselves from the chains that bind us to that which is familiar, conventional and safe. All too often, we know that by our actions we are doing an injustice to ourselves and others, but we end up repeating those sameactions, time after time.
In the same way that the anusim got up once a year and exposed their masquerade, we admit that we all too often lie to ourselves and others. Once a year, we declare our yearning for greater honesty.
How many times do we put down others in order to
feel stronger ourselves? How many times do we suppress our
uniqueness so that no one can say we are not part of the crowd? How
often do we take a certain position because it is fashionable,
because everyone thinks that way, because we are afraid of what
others will say?
Kabbalistically, the message of Kol Nidre is
addressed primarily as a plea to God. Since the beginning of its
national existence, Israel's sins have provoked God to take oaths
that He would punish, exile, or even do away with the nation. In the
Torah, we find Moses interceding with God on more than one occasion
on behalfof a sinful Israel. The Talmud relates that Rabba bar Bar
Chana heard a heavenly voice saying, "Woe is Me that I have sworn
(to exile My people) but now that I have sworn, who can annul it for
Me?" (Bava Basra 74a). Thus, Kol Nidrei implies to God that just as
we seek to annul vows we should not have taken, so may He annul His
oaths to remove His Presence from His people and His City and send
And now, at the culmination of the Ten Days of Repentance, we stand in awe, trembling in front of the Almighty. It is Yom Kippur. And we cast our eyes heavenward. It is time for Kol Nidre and the solemn tune drifts towards us beckoning us to another realm. Yes! We are under- going a transformation.
Already, in the pre-Yom Kippur afternoon service, we cast off the first round of sins through verbal confession. Paradoxically, it is through this distinguishing but fragile power of speech that we attempt to discard our human propensity to misuse freedom of choice. And as we gradually remove the dross, we are increasingly confident that Hashem is fulfilling his Divine promise to cleanse us from all our sins (cf. Vayikra 16:30).
Yes – we have transformed ourselves! We are now akin
to angels. Even the Satan admits that, “As the ministering angels
cannot sit, so Jews stand on Yom Kippur. As the angels cannot eat
and drink, likewise Jews abstain on Yom Kippur. And as the angels
are united in peace, so are Jews on Yom Kippur” (Pirkei D’Rabbi
Eliezer). May we all merit to reach such heights.