Friday, October 02, 2009

ishbitza on sukkos

The Ishbitza contrasts the mitzvah of sukkah, which can be fulfilled passively by sitting or sleeping, with the mitzvah of lulav, which is done by waving the lulav and esrog. Sukkah represents the innate abilities Hashem gives each person; lulav represents that which we acquire through our efforts and labor. With this distinction we can explain why there is a halacha of “lulav hagazul” but no halacha of “sukkah hagazul” (see the sugya of karka eina nigzeles, sukkah 31). One is born with a precise measure of talent and ability, no more and no less; however, one can intrude on another’s cheilek through one’s actions. We can also better understand why on Shabbos, the day when we celebrate Hashem’s actions and curtail our own, we perform the mitzvah of sukkah but refrain from taking the lulav. I would suggest that taking the different species of lulav, esrog, hadasim, and aravos together is seen as a metaphor for Jewish unity because unity is something we must create through our efforts, not something which we can take for granted as innate.

In another teaching, the Ishbitza explains that we always encounter sukkah after victory. The first mention of sukkah in the Torah appears after Ya’akov’s victory over the angel he battled and his safe escape from Eisav. When the Jewish people left Egypt victorious over their enslavers they fled from Ra’amses to Sukkos. When we emerge victorious from the days of judgment we immediately celebrate by building a sukkah.

I think there is a connection between these teachings. Victory invites the danger of hubris, “kochi v’otzem yadi.” Victory can also be temporal and fleeting, as success is often followed by letdown; life seldom progresses in a linear trajectory upward, but meanders in fits and bursts, ratzo v’shav. Sukkah returns our focus from what we have achieved to who we are, from doing to being.


  1. Anonymous3:57 PM

    Sukkah Victory?
    1)On the wa to Azzazel=NO
    2)Yonah after warning Ninveh=No
    But there does seem to be A sukkos Yom Kippur Connection.

  2. chaim b.8:30 PM

    Sorry, I don't understand what you mean by 1 and 2.

  3. Anonymous12:54 PM

    On the way to bring the Saar Lazzazel the Cohen stopped off in the Sukkos along the way where he was offered food and drink.

  4. Anonymous12:44 AM

    I just reralized you(The Isbitza) said:we always encounter sukkah after victory I was just pointing out in these two cases it seems to be untrue.

  5. I'm not so sure you have a kashe. The avodah of Y"K seen in a more global perspective is about overcoming sin = victory. As is the story of Ninveh.

  6. Anonymous2:15 AM


  7. Anonymous5:27 PM

    this is good stuff, where does he say this?