by Binyamin Adilman
is the nature of the Arava (willow) that it is taken together
with the other species during the first 6 days of Sukkos and
only on the last day is it taken by itself meriting a holiday of its
own; Hoshana Rabba?
sages explained that the four species represent four different types
The Esrog (citron) which has both a good taste and fragrance,
represents one who possesses both Torah learning and good deeds
The Lulav (palm branch) which has a good taste (the dates which
grow on the palm), but no fragrance, represents one possesses Torah
learning but has no mitzvohs to his credit.
The Hadassim (myrtle twigs) which has fragrance but not a good
taste, represent one who has mitzvohs but no Torah learning.
The Aravos (willow branches) which have neither taste nor
fragrance, represent the one who lacks both Torah and mitzvohs.
one considers all the things that Hashem placed in the world
for our benefit, there are three categories; things which are sweet
and pleasant, things which are good, and things which
are not only good but also intrinsically beneficial or healthful.
When it comes to the physical realm, sweet and pleasant
is considered the lowest level, good is in the middle and beneficial
or healthful is the most praiseworthy.
example a person who is spiritually sensitive, when choosing the foods
he will eat, makes his decision based on what is healthful for
his body and that which will provide him the maximum advantage in his
Avodas Hashem. This is true even when that beneficial
food is not so tasty and doesn't make such an enjoyable meal.
when it comes to spiritual matters the case is reversed, and the considerations
are exactly the opposite.
a Jew who dedicated to Hashem's service, to engage is his Avodah
because it is healthful or beneficial, is like serving
the master in order to receive recompense, and that is the lowest level
of all. (Pirkei Avos 1:3)
this level is that of good. Sometimes one serves Hashem
knowing that it is good and right, and he doesn't want to risk the consequences
of going against Hashem's will. Still this is not ultimately
the purest way to serve Hashem since there remains some ulterior
motivation in the service.
ultimate level of service is reached when one serves Hashem solely
in order to fulfill ones Torah obligations, whether or not he
understand the mitzvoh, and even if the mitzvoh has no
ta'am v'rayach (taste or fragrance, personal satisfaction)
for him. Then, from above his is showered with divine beneficence and
he is blessed with a great sweetness and pleasantness
in his service which was before this unattainable. This spiritual sweetness
(araivus) is much higher much than good or healthful and
more pure in its essence.
is the idea of the Aravos (willows) which is from the word Araiv
(sweet or pleasant). The lowly Arava which has no ta'am
(taste) or rayach (fragrance) in the physical realm ends up being
the most prominent of all the species when we take it alone on the holiday
created especially for it. And we with the willows in our hands, are
elevated along with them as we refine our service until we like the
willow are capable of serving Hashem in a pure and unadulterated
Arava also represents the midoh of Aharon the High Priest.
He was an expert at making peace between people at odds with one another
When he spotted two people quarreling, he choose an opportune moment
when he would approach one of the quarrelers, speak to him nicely and
befriend him. The person would think to himself, " Aaron HaCohen
is befriending me! Why does he need me for a friend? If he knew what
type of person I really was, he would have nothing to do with me."
At that moment, he would resolve in his heart to do real Teshuva,
to be worthy of calling the Cohen Gadol his friend.
Sukkahs are symbolic of the Clouds of Glory which accompanied and protected
the Children of Israel in the desert. Therefore, on Sukkos, a holiday
which is intrinsically linked to Aaron, we also incorporate the Arava
into our service. At the beginning of the festival, the Arava
is taken each day, bound together with the other species. This way,
the person without Ta'am V'Rayach might be influenced by those
who are already on a higher spiritual level and thereby become elevated
through contact with them. On the other hand, one who has Ta'am V'Rayach,
when he comes into contact with the willow, the one without Ta'am
V'Rayach, will be reminded of the inherent lowliness of man, and
will be seized by waves of humility. He will take a good look at himself,
be humbled, and deepen the Teshuva he began in Elul.
a person perfects his personal humility, Hashem is at the same
time raising him up. This is Hoshana Rabba. As Chazal
stated, "One who brings a burnt offering, earns the reward of a
burnt offering. One who brings a meal offering, earns the reward of
a meal offering. But one who is humble, is considered as if he brought
all of the sacrifices, as it is written, 'A contrite and humbled spirit
is a sacrifice to Hashem. Hashem does not ignore a broken
heart.'" (Psalms 51) (Sanhedrin 43b)
lowly willow by way of its true humility and its willingness to be influenced
for the better by the other species, is elevated higher, higher until
it serve Hashem alone. For this purpose we have Hoshana Rabba.
we, in our exalted spiritual state on Hoshana Rabba, really feel that
we are children of the King, then of course there isn't a request that
is too much. Then we can, without embarrassment ask for anything and
we can ask for the ultimate request, that soon the day will come when
the whole world will be filled with the knowledge of G-d as the earth
is covered with water, and He and His Name will be One as we usher in
the age of peace and prosperity.
Benyamin Adilman is the dean of the Nishmas Chayim Yeshiva in Jerusalem
[www.nishmas.org], and also the author of a very interesting, but sporadically
published, weekly chasidic parsha sheet, B’ohelei Tzadikim, from which this article is taken.