Shalom and Bracha!
May all of the blessings Hashem granted you and
your beloved on Rosh Hashanah materialize speedily and openly
for a great and blessed year.
Sunday night, September 30th, ushers in the
festival of Sukkot. Among all of our holidays, Sukkot is
referred to as the time of our rejoicing. Unity and joy are the
central themes of the holiday that are expressed in its two
special Mitzvot, the Sukkah and the Lulav. We are commanded to
dwell in the Sukkah in order to remind ourselves of the Clouds
of Glory that surrounded us during the Exodus from Egypt. The
Mitzvah is unique in that it unites all parts of our body in the
fulfillment of the Mitzvah. When we put on Tefillin, our hand
and head are active, and our body is passive. When we study
Torah, our minds and mouths are active, but our body is passive.
When we enter a Sukkah, we are entirely encompassed in the
Mitzvah. Similarly, the Sukkah unites all its participants. When
we share a Seder, we each eat a separate piece of Matzah. One
Sukkah encompasses all its participants.
The Talmud learns from the verse “All the
citizens of Israel shall sit in Sukkot” that the entire Jewish
are fit to sit in one Sukkah. Thus the Sukkah has the power to
unite the entire Jewish nation.
The Midrash explains that the four species
represent different groups among the Jewish people. The Etrog
(citron) represents the scholarly and pious. The Lulav (palm
branch) represents the knowledgeable that are less pious. The
Hadasim (myrtle branches) represent the pious who are less
scholarly, and the Arava (willow) represent the less pious and
less knowledgeable. In order to fulfill the Mitzvah, all four
must be held together. If any of the four are lacking, there is
no Mitzvah. Similarly, we must act as a united nation to
received Hashem’s blessing.
The Midrash continues that each of the species
refers to Hashem, and the Kabbalah teaches that each represents
one of the four letters of Hashem’s name. The Midrash continues
that the Lulav is like the heart, the Etrog is like the heart,
and the myrtle and willows are like the eyes and mouth. Through
this Mitzvah we internalize Hashem presence in the limbs of our
The Mitzvah of Lulav is also connected with
victory over our enemies. The Midrash explains the Mitzvah with
a parable of two people exiting from a court of justice and we
don’t know who won. If one exits with a flag, he won in
judgment. On Rosh Hashanah, Hashem judges between the people of
Israel and our enemies. When we raise the Lulav, it is a sign of
victory. This year, when then enemies of the Jewish people are
particularly vocal and vile, it is very important to encourage
every Jew to fulfill the Mitzvah of the Lulav and Etrog.
During the times of the Temple, every night a
celebration was held when the water was drawn for the Temple
service. The Talmud says that no celebration paralleled the joy
of the drawing of the water. Seemingly, what’s so exciting about
drawing water? When we conclude the days of awe, we rejoice in
our bond with Hashem that is beyond extraneous expression. Water
is simple and basic, but if we are drawing it for Hashem, the
very service of Hashem is pure joy.
The prophet teaches that in the times of Moshiach
all of the nations will join in the celebration of Sukkot in
Yerushalayim. May Hashem grant that the unity of peoples towards
elimination of evil will speedily lead to the unity of the
entire world with the coming of Moshiach.
Sunday and Monday night the blessings for candles
are 1) Baruch Atta Adonai Elohainu Melech Haolam Asher Kid’shanu
B’mitzvotav V’tzivanu L’hadlik Ner Shel Yom Tov. 2) Baruch Atta
Adonai Elohainu Melech Haolam Shehechiyanu V’kimanu V’higyanu
Lizman Hazeh. Although on the holiday it is permissible to light
a flame from an existing flame, it is forbidden to create a new
flame, as per example striking a match. Therefore, Monday night
the candles should be lit from an existing flame.
Sunday night begins the Mitzvah of eating in the
Sukkah. Every meal until next Tuesday night should be eaten in
the Sukkah. The first night is of particular importance. Every
time we eat in the Sukkah we make the blessing “Baruch Atta
Adonai Elohainu Melech Haolam Asher Kid’shanu B’mitzvotav
V’tzivanu Leysheyv Basukkah.” The first time we eat in the
Sukkah each year we make the additional blessing “Baruch Atta
Adonai Elohainu Melech Haolam Shehechiyanu V’kiymanu V’higyanu
Lizman Hazeh.” If the first time is Sunday night, the blessing
Shehechiyanu is included in the Kiddush.
Monday morning we begin the Mitzvah of Lulav and
continue through the following Sunday, every day except Shabbat.
The blessing over the Lulav must be said during the day. The
blessing is “Baruch Atta Adonai Elohainu Melech Haolam Asher
Kid’shanu B’mitzvotav V’tzivanu Al Netilat Lulav.” The first
time we also make the blessing Baruch Atta Adonai Elohainu
Melech Haolam Shehechiyanu V’kiymanu V’higyanu Lizman Hazeh. The
Lulav should be held in the right hand while making the
blessing. Thereafter, the Etrog should be held in the left hand
and touch the Lulav. Together they should be waved right, left,
forward, up down, and backward. This symbolizes bringing the
blessings in all directions. It is desirable to make the
blessing on the Lulav in the Sukkah.
Tuesday night Havdalah is said without candles
and spices. It is customary to make Havdalah in the Sukkah.
May Hashem grant you a wonderful holiday and
fantastic year. Through rejoicing throughout the week of Sukkot
and Simchat Torah we can affect as much as through intensive
prayer on Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur. In a difficult year such
as this one we must rejoice with extra intensity and include as
many people as possible in the Mitzvot of the festival and the
Dedicated in merit of Sholom Mordechai Ben Rivkah
Halevy for Cheirut Amiti
A Project of Chabad of Great Neck
400 East Shore Rd. Great Neck NY 11024
516 4874554 fax 516 4874807