SEPTEMBER 22nd, 2010
14 TISHREI, 5771

Fun in the Sun

By Rabbi Raphael Leban

The Succos holiday — one of my favorite times of year. There is just nothing like banging nails into two by fours for G-d. This is a great religion.

Every year we try to make some improvements in our family Succah. It gets a little bigger, a little fancier, a little more ergonometricaly designed. This year, for example, we added a few feet in length, a door with hinges and two electric heaters. The wood paneling we already had from last year.

Succahs are commonly made out of several different types of materials. Some people build a frame with PVC pipe then hang from it soft plastic or canvas tarp walls. Other go for metal pre-fab structures which can be ordered on the web and snap together in minutes. Our Succah is made of wood paneling that seems to just hang in mid-air, as if we just scraped off the inside shell of our living room and brought it outside. The 4×8’ panels, framed by 2×2” beams, link together with bolts and wing-nuts and some 2×4”s on top for strength.

We have a shelf in our succah to hold the Yom Tov and Shabbos candles, a big comfy, grey lazy-boy recliner for afternoon naps and of course, a few folding tables decked out with all the holiday treats. Who would ever want to leave? As for the succah’s indoor plumbing, we’ll wait until next year.

However, as nice as our succah is and eventually will be, when the dark clouds roll in and the thunder rumbles across the city, we run back into the house. After-all, the house has double-paned windows, central heating and wall-to-wall carpeting. A storm doesn’t much faze us inside. Neither do your average hoodlums.  The house is a ‘secure site’ where we feel quite confident, both physically and fiscally. (As long as the house isn’t in New Orleans.) The succah is a flimsy structure, with some tree branches or bamboo mats for a roof, walls which aren’t designed for more than two week’s use and perhaps a remnant of indoor-outdoor Astroturf for a floor. Not much of a protection against the elements, the neighbors or poverty.

But with it we commemorate the Clouds of Glory that G-d covered us with in the desert as we left Egypt. Just like Passover, this holiday is about the Exodus, not about the miraculous plagues with which G-d decimated our enemies, but about the Divine protection and sustenance he provided us with for forty years in the desert, and surreptitiously continues to do so until this very day.

When we leave the house for a week and live in the succah, we get a little refresher course on where our bread is buttered. Our sturdy homes and bank balances are not what we trust in, but only in the Almighty, the ultimate source of all our protection and sustenance. When the rain clouds loom large on the horizon and we whisper a silent prayer for holiday sunshine, it’s a paradigm for the whole year. And even when we return to our year-round dwellings, hopefully we remember to appreciate the real source of our physical and financial security—the Great Provider of Sinai Sunblock.

Living Within the Beis Hamikdash

By Rabbi Dovid Nussbaum

On Yom Kippur, we recite the confessional prayer ten times. This includes both the private recital during the silent Amidah prayer and the public one during the communal repetition. What is the significance of the number ten that we must confess ten times on Yom Kippur?

The Chofetz Chaim explains that our ten confessions on Yom Kippur correspond to the ten times that the Kohen Gadol, the High Priest, uttered Hashem’s immutable name. Actual pronunciation of Hashem’s name was only allowed in the Beis Hamikdash and only by the Kohen Gadol. When those present heard the Kohen Gadol say the name of Hashem, they responded ‘Hashem’s name should be blessed forever’. We ‘reenact’ this during the Musaf prayer on Yom Kippur. Is there a connection between this hallowed name of Hashem and the confessional?

In the course of our everyday lives we are not allowed to utter this name of Hashem. Its transcendent essence is beyond us. However, Yom Kippur is a special day with its own time frame and the Kohen Gadol is a unique individual in his own intense world of extraordinary service to Hashem. Although he breathed the same air that everyone else did, when he said Hashem’s special name his soul was transported to a realm of holiness and sanctity beyond our ken. When those people present responded, verbalizing their tremendous respect for Hashem, they sought to latch on to the Kohen Gadol’s lofty spiritual elevation. Unlike him, however, they remained grounded in this world while he was whisked away to another.

All year long we are enveloped in our self-made mire of misdeeds and mistakes. Yom Kippur is our only chance to escape from a year of wrongdoing and enter the Beis Hamikdash of purity and fidelity. When we confess all our transgressions to Hashem, we have the opportunity to reach a level of closeness to Him bordering on the level that the Kohen Gadol attained in the Beis Hamikdash. Such is the inherent potential of Yom Kippur and such is the power of confession done with the proper frame of mind and spirit.

However, Yom Kippur has come to an end and we must reenter the world that surrounds us on a daily basis. Or must we? Hashem, in His great wisdom and kindness, gave us the opportunity to extend and even augment the clarity and purity that we achieved on Yom Kippur, through the Yom Tov of Succos. Although the primary aspect of a succah is the roof of schach, it must also have walls. In order to assure that we see the schach clearly, we must sequester ourselves from the outside world’s distractions and invasive nature. Walls serve a double purpose. They block out intrusive elements and shield the inner tranquility that we can take from Yom Kippur into Succos. Even though we may not quite have ascended to the level of the Kohen Gadol on Yom Kippur, whatever level of transcendence we have attained can be maintained and amplified during the coming Yom Tov of Succos.

Byte for Succos

The Holiday of Sukkos brings together Heaven and earth, the physical and the spiritual. Dwelling in the sukkah gives us a taste of life in G-d’s presence. Shaking the lulav and esrog celebrates the fruit of the earth. Integrating the two together, blending this world and the next, is the hallmark of Judaism.


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