Sunday, October 16, 2016

Sukkos - chag of bitachon

The Mishna tells us that a dry lulav and a stolen lulav are both pasul. The gemara (Sukkah 29b) deduces from the fact that both cases are lumped together that they are similar.  Therefore, just as a dry lulav is pasul for all 7 days of the chag, so too, a stolen lulav must also be pasul for all 7 days.  The sugya then goes on to explain the source for that din.    

Rashi explains why a dry lulav is pasul for all 7 days:
בשלמא יבש. פסול בדרבנן נמי כיון דמצוה הוא משום זכר למקדש בעינן הדור מצוה

Why does Rashi need to mention in this context that the taking of lulav all seven days is a zecher l'mikdash?  Why is that relevant?  Wouldn't it have been enough to just tell is that there is a psul of hadar that applies to the chiyuv derabbanan of taking lulav for seven days?

I haven't found anyone who explains this and I am stumped.  Maybe you have a hesber?

Had you asked me, I would have said that we should say hoshanos on Pesach.  That's when the farmer has just planted his crops, nothing is growing yet, and so that's the time you want to cry out, "Ana Hashem hoshi'a na, Ana Hashem hatzlicha na."  That's when you want to do nisuch hamayim = shifchi ka'mayim libeich.  Sukkos is chag ha'asif, the harvest season, when the storehouse is full of grain, when you reap the fruits of a years worth of labor.  Why say hoshanos now?

There is no kuntz to davening and having bitachon when you are facing need and crisis.  It's the guy who needs parnasa, who needs refu'ah, who needs help for his children and family, who is davening a 10 minute shmoneh esrei in shul.  The guy who mumbles the words in 3 minutes so he can race out the door to drive to a well paying job in a fancy car and come home to a house in order with everyone in good health and happy is davening a different davening (of course, if he took a moment he might realize that even if he has no needs, he could put in a good word for his friend). What Sukkos comes to teach us is that even that second guy should be davening that 10 minute shmoneh esrei.  Even when times are good, you have to thank Hashem for what you have and recognize that its all from him and that you are completely dependent upon him.  That's why davka now, when the storehouse is full, when the harvest is finished, we say hoshanos, we pour our hearts out in tefilah.  Bitachon and dveikus is not just for when we are lacking, but its even for when we have it all.  "V'ha'boteiach ba'Hashem chessed y'sovivenu. (Tehillim 32:69)  Bitachon, says the Sefas Emes (5645), is the midah of sukkos, which surrounds us and envelops us within. 

Chazal argue whether sukkah is a diras keva or a diras arayei, a permanent structure or a temporary dwelling, and we pasken like the latter, majority view.  It takes a lot of bitachon to put aside your home, your life, and go live in a tent like a nomad, with nothing.  That's the level of bitachon sukkos is all about.  For big tzadikim, this is a diras keva, this is the way they live all year.  For me, for most of us probably, this is a diras arayei, a temporary moment.  We all know that after a week we will be back inside, back to work, back to the same grind.  We can't meditate on this idea of bitachon and live with it for awhile, but we will come back to earth, right?  After walking away from his encounter with Eisav unharmed, Ya'akov builds for himself a bayis -- that new level is where he would be at from now on.  But for his possessions and his flocks, he made sukkos, little temporary huts.  The Torah tells us that he named the place he was at not bayis, but Sukkot -- that was what he thought was most important.  The big tzadikim of course are on a high level all year -- that's what we expect.  What Ya'akov thought was more significant, more of an accomplishment, is that everything else, everyone else, can at least step into that mode for a short while, for a temporary visit.  "Yafeh sha'ah achas b'teshuva u'ma'asim tovim b'olam ha'zeh."  Even if it's only for a week, that week can still make a difference.

V'lakachtem lachem -- you have to take yourself.  The gemara darshens on "v'lakachtem lachem" that "md'agbihei nafik bei," that you just need to lift up the lulav and you are yotzei.   We need to take ourselves and lift ourselves up.  Even for one week, even temporarily.  The effect can last a whole year.


  1. See ירח למועדים on סוכות, which just came out,חלק א סימן מ"א, dealing with the potential שהחיינו on lulav כל שבעה where a similar problem arises in the רמב"ם. The diyuk in the לשון הרמב"ם there justifying the ברכה on a זכר למקדש could explain the intent of רש"י here, except that רש"י is explaining why a זכר למקדש deserves הידור מצוה.

  2. I don't have the sefer -- can you pls elaborate a bit?

  3. I was trying to entice you to get it.

    The primary question is, according to the Ran there is no shehechiyanu on sefira because it is zecher l'mikdash [which carries agmas nefesh with it]. So why, if one forgets a shehechiyanu on the lulav, can he make one even on the seventh day - although after the first day it's zecher l'mikdash?

    From there, he segues via some Brisker torah to the Ramban saying that there is no bracha on korach. Which the Rabbeinu Mano'ach says is דהא אינה למצוה כלל אלא זכר בעלמא. He also brings the Rabbeinu Yerucham that one does not make a brocho on the מצות ספירה שבועי because ובדבר שהוא זכר למקדש לבד אין מברכין עליו. [On the daily count, Rabbeinu Yerucham holds it is a d'oraysah and therefore obviously you say a brocho. This brought in the Eliyahu Rabba siman 489]. This is also why there is no bracha on the mitzvah of arava.

    And yet, the Rambam writes: משחרב בית המקדש התקינו שיהיה לולב ניטל כל שבעת ימי החג זכר למקדש וכל יום ויום מברך עליו אקב"ו על נטילת לולב מפני שהיא מצוה מדברי סופרים עכ"ל. The contradiction to korach is obvious. This, says Rav Olshin is what the Rambam means by adding מפני שהיא מצוה מדברי סופרים, to point out that this is not just a זכר למקדש, but a mitzvah in and of itself whose motivation albeit was זכר למקדש.

    Now, we have the justification for a shehechyanu after the first day, if necessary, according to everybody, and a justification for a birchas hamitzva according to the Rambam. In contrast korach, e.g., was not created as an independent mitzvah but purely as a zecher.

    Which I wish to apply to the Rashi. On a pure zecher, hiddur mitzvah would not be necessary - hiddur zecher is not a concept. But since - as Rashi is careful to point out - it not simply a zecher but מצוה הוא משום זכר למקדש [note the משום] hiddur mitzvah is indeed necessary.

    I left out quite a bit of the torah in the siman, but what I quoted is not taken out of context.

    1. Tremendous - you made my chol ha'moed!

      did a post on similar idea back here in 2007

  4. Another massive question - why does Rashi mention Hidur mitzvah (Zeh Keli...) when that is never me'akev anyway.

    1. Your torah may answer it too. Need to think about it.

    2. You might start with Tosafos Succah top of 29b, but then continue with the aformentioned sefer simanim 52, 53, 54. Besides the usual Brisker torah, a Chasam Sofer, and an extremely problematic [to me] R' Akiva Eiger, he also throws in a Gilyonei HaShas for the ba'al ha'blog.

    3. The korban nesanel on the rosh already talks about that Rashi on the Mishna. IIRC in the Reshimos Shiurim from the GRI"D he discusses it as well.