From the Chassidic Masters
The lengths to which Rebbe Chaim of Sanz went in
distributing charity amazed all those around him, especially since his
own household was conducted with frugal austerity. His generosity reached
its peak on the day preceding the Sukkot festival, in accordance with
the teaching found in the writings of Rabbi Yitzchak Luria, the holy Ari
of Safed. He started by distributing every single coin that was at hand.
He then proceeded to exert himself to secure loans from all sides, sometimes
by pawning various objects. One year, he also told his sons that he needed
several thousand rubles. As soon as they brought him the amount that they
had quickly borrowed from various wealthy householders, he distributed
it all to the needy. When he entered his sukkah that evening he said:
"People are accustomed to decorate their sukkah with all kinds of pretty
ornaments. Not I, though: tzedakah - charity is my sukkah decoration;
that is what makes my sukkah beautiful!"
the Rebbes of Chabad
Unique and Contradictory
mitzvah of sukkah is unique, for it completely surrounds a person, from the soles
of his feet to his head, encompassing all his garments, including his shoes. Moreover,
every action performed in a sukkah (eating, sleeping, etc.) is a mitzvah. This
teaches that a person can serve his Creator not just through study and prayer,
but even in his mundane physical activities, affirming the principle "In
all your ways know Him." If a person truly desires, he will realize that
such service is not only possible, but even easy, as our Sages say, that sukkah
is an "easy mitzvah."
There are two contradictory
elements in a sukkah. On one hand, a sukkah is by definition a temporary dwelling,
as our Sages say, "For seven days go out of your permanent dwelling and dwell
in a temporary one." On the other hand, "For seven days a person makes
his sukkah his permanent dwelling and his house his temporary one."
This world is a sukkah, a temporary dwelling, only a "vestibule" to
the next world. A person must recognize that earthly matters in and of themselves
are only temporary. However, when worldly matters are not granted importance and
a person uses them only for the sake of Heaven, he makes his sukkah an abode for
Divinity. The world and everything in it is converted to a "permanent dwelling"
Likutei Sichot (quoted in Days of Awe, Days of Joy)
From the Kabbalists
Rabbi Moshe Alshich
"On the fifteenth of
this [seventh] month shall be the festival of Sukkot to G-d." [Lev. 23:34]
must first understand the basic difference between Sukkot and Passover and Shavuot.
The latter denote historic events which had already taken place and had been experienced
by the people whom Moses addressed. When it came to Sukkot, the events being celebrated
had not taken place yet. There had not been an important historical event to cause
the Jew to move out of his house into a flimsy hut for seven days every year.
If we were to consider the fact that G-d provided ananey hakovod, clouds representing
the presence of G-d's glory, to protect us from the sun, as implied in verse 43,
surely the forty years of manna and the wandering well, would rate equally with
the clouds, and we have no festivals commemorating those miracles!
of laymor, to say, in verse 34, and the emphasis on "this seventh month,"
is to tell Israel that this festival does not occur in Nissan, when the Clouds
of Glory first manifested themselves, but in this 7th month, when your honour
was restored before G-d, and the justification of the existence of mankind altogether
Both Passover and Shavuot represent a reward to Israel
who had displayed dedication at the Exodus, and who had accepted the yoke of the
Torah. These festivals are lashem, they represent justification for G-d (i.e.
they are G-d's) who had argued that man was worth creating because Israel would
display such a lofty moral level. It is a celebration for G-d, then also. G-d's
greatest victory, however, was the fact that Israel had recovered from the stain
on its soul due to the golden calf episode, which first appeared to give the angels
a chance to confront G-d and remind Him that they had voted against the creation
of man. The rehabilitation process had been completed right after Yom Kippur,
when G d had first seen fit to forgive Israel. (at the end of Moses' third forty
day stay on the mountain).
The Sukkot festival then is first and foremost
chag lashem, a "festival of G-d," Israel not having contributed any
input to merit this festival. We rejoice that G-d is happy and has seen His judgment
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. In Vayikra Rabba 30, we find a similar
interpretation of the meaning of the 4 species.
The meaning of this is,
that since, according to tradition the 15th of Tishrey is the first day on which
our sins are recorded again after the Day of Atonement, we arm ourselves with
symbols of the holy name of G-d, to appeal to His mercy and kindness, to help
us resist our evil urge.
(adapted from Torat Moshe - 16th commentary
of Rabbi Moshe Alshech of Zefat on the Torah, as translated and condensed in the
English version of Eliyahu Munk)
> Some Laws
"Rain in the Sukkah"
Rabbi Fishel of Strikov would sit in his Sukkah even when it was raining.
Once he was asked: It says explicitly in the Codes of Law: "When
it is raining one enters the house", and the Ramah adds to this "and
anyone who is released from sitting in the Sukkah and does not leave,
will not get a reward and he is considered a simpleton." Rabbi Fishel's
reaction was: " I prefer to be a simpleton, as long as I can be in
Menechem Mendel of Kotsk also sat in the Sukkah when it was raining. He would
say: One is released from sitting in the Sukkah when it is raining because of
the 'suffering' that causes, and he who suffers is released from the Sukkah; but
it seems to me that if a Jew can sit in the Sukkah, feel the rain and 'suffer'
because of it - he really does not deserve to sit in the Sukkah.
from Sichat HaShavuah #148)
Last year's Sukkot page