From the Chassidic Masters
The four Hebrew letters of the word sukkah are an acronym for "someich
ve'ozer kol hanoflim - [He] supports and assists all who fall." When
a Jew fulfills the mitzva of sukkah, G-d helps him in all he does and
holds him by the hand.
From the Rebbes of
Among the many young men drawn to Rabbi Shneur Zalman when he began
to disseminate the teachings of Chabad chasidism were two sons of one
of the leading Torah scholars of the time. One day, they approached the
Rebbe about whether they should try to win over their distinguished father
to the Chasidic approach of imbuing everything with joy, or was he perhaps
too set in his ways to change at this point in his life. The Rebbe asked
if their father performs mitzvot joyously.
In response, one of the sons related, "Each year, when we finish
building our sukkah, our father climbs up and kisses the branches covering
"In that case," said Rabbi Shneur Zalman, "he is fine
the way he is."
(Sefer HaMaamarim Kuntreisim)
From the Kabbalists
By taking the 4 species, (which according to the Zohar represent
the four letters in the holy name of G-d) we express our joy in His joy,
His celebration. According to tradition, the 15th of Tishrei is the first
day on which our sins are recorded again after the Day of Atonement. So
we arm ourselves with symbols of His holy name, to appeal to His mercy
and kindness, to help us resist our evil urge.
(Rabbi Moshe Alshech)
Some Laws and Customs
Chol HaMoed - The Weekdays of the Festival
We required to honor Chol Hamoed, and to sanctify it through cessation
of labor, good food and drink, and proper clothes.
Any labor in a matter where loss would be sustained, if the act were
not done at the time - is permitted. However, even where loss would be
sustained by delay, if the particular labor could have been done before
Yom Tov, but was deliberately not done, with the thought that it could
still be done on Yom Tov, it is prohibited. If one had a certain prohibited-on-Chol-HaMoed
labor to be done, and a poor man asked to do it in order to be able to
provide for the needs of Yom Tov with the wages he would earn, it is permitted,
provided it be done in privacy.
It is forbidden to cut one's hair during Chol Hamoed, but if one could
not cut his hair before Yom Tov (a mourner, or a prisoner), he may do
so during Chol Hamoed. The washing of clothes is prohibited, other than
if they are greatly needed for the forthcoming Yom Tov, and it was completely
impossible for them to be washed Erev Yom Tov. The washing of baby diapers
Business matters may not be written down, except if one fears that he
might otherwise forget such details as would cause him a loss. Friendly
letters, which contain no reference to business matters may be written,
but not in one's customary manner.
One may not move from one residence to another (unless the new apartment
is in the same courtyard as the old). If one has been living in a rented
apartment and wishes to move to a residence of his own, he is permitted
to do so, for it is a joy to a person to live in a residence that is his
The buying and selling of merchandise is prohibited on Chol Hamoed unless
one of the following conditions applies:
1. One needs to earn a sum in order to provide for the festival;
2. He has an opportunity to earn a much larger profit than usual, and
if he could obtain it, he would spend more than he originally intended,
in honor of Yom Tov;
3. If he should fail to sell now, he would lose even the principal. However,
the loss of profit is not considered a loss.
(Based on The Book of Our Heritage)
Good Yom Tov!
- The ASCENT staff - Chag Sameyach!
Last year's Sukkot page