Prepared From Notes in Reshimos Leiv by Reb Leibel
Part One: Completing the Yomim Noro'im
Delivered on Succos 5735, Motzei Shabbos, Ushpiza of Yosef
Introduction: Solemn Prayer and Excessive Rejoicing
See Pachad Yitzchok Rosh Hashonoh, maamar 10:1 and
Pachad Yitzchok Succos, Introduction to Kuntras
Bircas Ovos where the dual character of the Succos
festival is noted.
In certain respects Succos closes the cycle of the three
Regolim, while in others it completes the month of
Tishrei and the Yomim Noro'im. It can be stated almost
as a rule that any aspect of Succos that differs from Pesach
and Shavuos — "der hoipt Zach fun Succos (the
higher element of Succos)" as HaRav Hutner zt'l put it
— relates to the cycle of the Yomim Noro'im.
This is especially apparent in the Hosha-No prayers.
On Pesach the world is judged with regard to the success of
the year's grain crop and on Shavuos with regard to the fruit
crop (mishnah Rosh Hashonoh 1:2). Yet on these
festivals there are no prayers that correspond to the
Hosha-Nos of Succos, when the world is judged with
regard to rainfall.
"A person who didn't see the rejoicing surrounding the
drawing of the water [to be used in the daily water libation
on Succos] never witnessed joy in his life" (mishnah
Succah 5:1). The Rambam writes, "Although it is a mitzvah
to rejoice on all the festivals, Succos was a time of
excessive rejoicing in the Mikdosh (Hilchos Lulav
8:12). Of the three Regolim only Succos is referred to
in our prayers as "the time of our rejoicing." This rejoicing
was focused upon the water libation, which the Torah only
commands us to do on Succos, thus linking it to the
festival's Yomim Noro'im aspect.
We have dwelt on the significance of Hoshanoh Rabboh on a
number of occasions. We explained what its final verdict adds
to that of Yom Kippur, "the time for pardon and forgiveness
for all our sins" (Ne'ilah prayer), [the forgiveness
being complete] in exactly the same way as "on that day the
sin of Yisroel will be sought and will not be found"
(Yirmiyohu 3:20). (See also Reshimos Leiv, Ushpiza
DeYaakov Ovinu 5733.)
An Irretrievable Loss
We will begin by quoting our remarks at Seudah
"`. . . Happy is he whose trangression is borne, whose sin is
concealed [because it has been pardoned]. Happy is the man to
whom Hashem attributes no sin . . . ` (Tehillim 32:1-
2) — Happy is the man who is above his sins, rather
than his sins being above him" (Yalkut Ibid. #718).
[What is the significance of being "above" one's sins?]
In this world we see that people are endowed with different
gifts. One person is more clever than another, or more good-
hearted than another, or is able to improve himself and
attain greatness more easily than another. This is because
each person has a particular spiritual root in Heaven. These
different roots, or sources, result in different people
having differing spheres of influence, or spiritual statures,
meaning that they impact on their environment to very
See Pachad Yitzchok Yom Hakippurim, maamar 11 [also
Reshimos Leiv Shevi'i shel Pesach 5730], where this
idea is discussed. Even after a person has repented and all
his sins have been pardoned, he may still be unable to regain
his original sphere of influence.
This can be better understood through a parable. A king's
actions affect every individual in his kingdom and can even
have ramifications for future generations. A mayor's actions
only affect the people who live in his city. A father's
actions only affect his own family. Someone who has a
thousand men serving under him has a wider — in our
context it is more accurate to speak of a higher —
sphere of influence than someone who is in charge of a
Thus, a person's actions before he sins might have an
influence in Heaven that affects a large section of Klal
Yisroel. After he sins his actions may only affect a
small group. Even though he has repented, he has lost his
sphere of influence.
In appointing "officers of thousands [and] officers of
hundreds" (Shemos 18:25) Moshe Rabbenu utilized his
knowledge of the different spheres of influence resulting
from the sources of the souls of the people involved. "Hidden
things are [known only] to Hashem . . ." (Devorim
"He said, `I have sinned' " (Shmuel I 15:24, 30).
Shaul Hamelech thoroughly repented [his not heeding Shmuel's
instructions], using each and every one of the "twenty
principles of teshuvoh" that are enumerated in
Shaarei Teshuvoh. From Chazal's comment on
posuk 28:19 it is evident that his repentance was
accepted and he was forgiven. "And Shmuel said to Shaul, `. .
.And tomorrow you and your sons will be with me [i.e. in
Heaven]' " — with me, within my partition [i.e. on the
same level as I am] (Brochos 12). Nevertheless, Shaul
lost his sphere of influence, that is of being king of
Chazal tell us, "Hakodosh Boruch Hu placed His hand on
Odom Horishon and diminished him" (Sanhedrin 38). Even
though he repented (Eruvin 18) he lost his initial
spiritual stature and the extent of his influence on the
world was diminished. Thus, "and Hakodosh Boruch Hu
came and slaughtered the Mal'ach Hamoves" (piyut
Chad Gadya). After sinning, Odom Horishon lost his
original sphere of influence wherein he himself would have
slaughtered the Mal'ach Hamoves.
This also explains the difference between the first
Luchos and the second. When the first Luchos
were given, Yisroel had a high sphere of influence —
which they lost when they sinned and never regained, even
when they were given the second Luchos.
It can also happen that a person's sphere of influence
remains undiminished even after he sins.
"And I will visit their sins on them with a staff and their
wrongdoing with afflictions" (Tehillim 89:33). This
posuk speaks about the dynasty of Dovid Hamelech, who
did not lose royal office despite their sins and
"`. . .Happy is he whose trangression is borne, whose sin
is concealed. Happy is the man to whom Hashem attributes no
sin . . . `— Happy is the man who is above his sins,
rather than his sins being above him." This refers to
Dovid Hamelech who remained "above his sins," for they did
not affect his being king. [See Pachad Yitzchok Yom
Hakippurim, maamar 11.]
Actually, every individual has a sphere of influence of his
own that relates to himself. Otherwise he would not be a
human being. A person may have a greater sphere of influence
with regard to a particular aveiroh, or even with
regard to a particular mitzvah, than someone else has with
regard to the same mitzvah or aveiroh, or than that
which he himself has with regard to another mitzvah or
This is independent of the severity of the aveiroh or
the importance of the mitzvah. It something that is evaluated
only by Hashem, with Whom this knowledge remains.
Although once lost, even repentance and Yom Kippur cannot
restore the original sphere of influence. However Yom Kippur
of the Yovel year can do so. "In this Yovel
year, each of you should return to his property"
(Vayikra 25:13). "He should leave in the Yovel
and return to his property" (Posuk 25). This also
applies to returning to one's spiritual source. "And he
should return to his family and he shall return to his
ancestors' status" (Posuk 41). This refers to the
restoration of the sphere of influence.
It doesn't depend on repentance or on any other spiritual
service. It is solely dependent on Yom Kippur of the
Yovel year, when Yovel is in force i.e. when
Yisroel live in their own Land, "each man under his vine and
under his fig tree" (Melochim I 5:5, Michah
4:4), ruled by their king, with the Sanhedrin operative, with
the Kohanim serving in the Beis Hamikdosh, with
the Urim Vetumim and with the nation's glory
Our nation's present state is alluded to in the posuk,
"I sleep but my heart is awake," (Shir Hashirim 5:2).
The medrash comments, "Knesses Yisroel said to
Hakodosh Boruch Hu, `I am asleep with regard to the
Beis Hamikdosh, but my heart is awake in the botei
knessios and botei medrashos. I am asleep with
regard to the sacrifices but my heart is awake to mitzvos and
to charitable pursuits' " (Yalkut Ibid.).
The gematria of the word eir (spelled ayin-
reish) meaning awake, is two-hundred-and-seventy. This is
the number of mitzvos that apply nowadays (Letter from the
Author in Sefer Hachinuch; see also Pachad Yitzchok
Rosh Hashonoh, maamar 4:3). Even when a person sleeps,
his heart continues beating; although Knesses Yisroel
sleeps her heart beats.
Although we no longer have Yom Kippur of Yovel,
circling the bimah in hakofos on Succos is its
representation in miniature. Our yearly cycle includes moving
in a circle, amid the joy of doing a mitzvah, around the
mizbeiach in the Beis Hamikdosh (mishnah
Succah 4:5). "All Jewish communities have the custom of
placing the desk [where the Torah is read from] in the middle
of the beis haknesses and circling it each day of
Succos to commemorate the Mikdosh, just as they moved
round the mizbeiach in a circle" (Rambam, Hilchos
Hakofoh (a circuit), with its circular motion, denotes
returning to the spot that one previously occupied. In the
yearly cycle it represents a return to the original sphere of
influence, like the return to the former spiritual standing
that took place on Yom Kippur of Yovel.
Although Yom Kippur brings complete and utter forgiveness for
our sins, in the same way as "on that day the sin of Yisroel
will be sought and will not be found," it does not restore
the original sphere of influence. This is the meaning [and
function] of the hakofos on Succos and this is what
the verdict of Hoshanoh Rabboh confers, over and above the
verdict of Yom Kippur.
Waters of Creation
On Succos, the world is judged for the new year's rainfall.
Water differs fundamentally from grain and fruit crops. Man
plays a role in the development of crops of grain and fruit,
whereas he has no natural role in obtaining water.
The Torah tells us, "And G-d's Presence was hovering over the
surface of the water" (Bereishis 1:2) even before the
first utterance of, "There shall be light." If the first word
in the Torah, bereishis, is divided in the middle it
yields boro shis meaning, "`He created pits' that are
hollow, descending to the [world's] depths" (Succah
49). The waters of these depths are untouched by man's
endeavors. [Ed. Note. See the commentary of the Maharsha on
the Aggodos, Taanis 2; see also Meshech
Chochmoh, parshas Re'ei, on the words "asher yivchar
Hashem . . . leshakein" (Devorim 16:11).]
The rejoicing of the Simchas Beis Hasho'eivoh, the
celebration surrounding the drawing of the water, was over
the restoration of Knesses Yisroel's sphere of
influence, to a level unaffected by human endeavor. We make
hakofos during the seven days of Succos, and on the
eighth day we put the mitzvah objects [of the arba
minim] aside and make hakofos with the Torah, in
order to return to our sphere of influence with the Torah.
All this relates to Succos' aspect as the closure of the
cycle of the Yomim Noro'im. The joy of the festival
and delight of the moment, motivates us to explain the
"Ani Voh-o, please save" (mishnah Succah 4:5)
Rashi and Tosafos explain that the words "Ani Voh-o"
have the same gematria as "ono Hashem (Please,
Hashem)." The second vov of Voh-o is pointed
with a cholom, although its meaning is as though the
word was pointed with a shuruk. The point above the
vov indicates that our salvation comes from Above. The
salvation of this festival, the restoration of the sphere of
influence, is independent of human endeavor.
"Ani Voh-o has the same gematria as ono Hashem."
[Ed. Note. See Shach al Hatorah, parshas Vayeishev, on
the words, "Vayachalom Yosef chalom."]
Restored by Heaven
"The Rabbonnon learned, `Some [of the great men who danced at
the Simchas Beis Hasho'eivoh] said, "Happy is our
youth that does not shame our old age" — these were the
pious and the men of deeds — and some said, "Happy is
our old age that has atoned for our youth" — these were
the baalei teshuvoh. They all said, "Happy is he who
has never sinned, while whoever has sinned should repent and
he will be pardoned." ' " (Succah 53).
Where salvation comes from Above, without human endeavor,
people who have been pious all their lives and people who
have repented past misdeeds can come together [on an equal
The water libation itself represented an hakofoh, a
circuitous act. Water was drawn from the depths and was
poured onto the mizbeiach, from where it returned to
the depths, calling forth a different order of joy.
"Although it is a mitzvah to rejoice on all the festivals,
Succos was a time of excessive rejoicing in the
HaRav Hutner ztvk'l concluded by saying that even a
mal'ach would not have the strength to take part in
this celebration — how much greater is our deficiency
in this respect! — yet the requisite strength also
comes with salvation from Above. The divrei Torah to
which this joy gives rise, at the level we can grasp, are in
the seventh Roki'a.
May it be Hashem's will that Dovid Hamelech's prayer be
fulfilled in us in our hour of joy. "Hashem, G-d of Avrohom,
Yitzchok and Yisroel our fathers, preserve this [merit]
forever, for the thoughts of Your People's heart and draw
their heart to You" (Divrei Hayomim I, 29:18).
Part Two: Restoration to Gan Eden
[Delivered on Ushpiza deYosef Hatzaddik 5736, 5737]
In 5736 and 5737 HaRav Hutner ztvk'l explained more
deeply what the verdict of Hoshanoh Rabboh adds to that of
He first mentioned something that he had heard in the name of
a great man. In Shaarei Teshuvoh (Shaar I, #42)
Rabbenu Yonah writes that a baal teshuvoh should pray
that Hashem should desire him and that he should be pleasing
to Him. This was Dovid Hamelech's prayer, "Give me back the
joy of Your inspiration," (Tehillim 51:14). The
service of Succos and the verdict of Hoshanoh Rabboh —
said this great man — are to restore Knesses
Yisroel to favor after the forgiveness of Yom Kippur.
HaRav Hutner however said that the prayer, "Give me back the
joy of Your inspiration," is only [necessary] for an
individual who has repented his sin. Knesses Yisroel
[as a unit] are certainly closer to Hashem [than any
individual is] and therefore only undergo one stage, not two -
- their forgiveness and restoration to favor are
Atonement at the Place of Creation
"The place of the mizbeiach was determined with great
precision . . .It is a universal tradition that the spot upon
which Dovid and Shlomo built the mizbeiach . . . and
Odom Horishon offered a sacrifice there when he was created
and he was created from [the earth at] that place. The Sages
said, `Man was created from the place where he attains
atonement . . ." (Rambam, Hilchos Beis Habechiroh 1:1-
"When Dovid dug pits . . . he said the fifteen Ascents (the
mizmorim of Shir Hama'alos — Rashi) . .
." (Succah 53). This happened when Dovid Hamelech
started building at the site of the mizbeiach.
See also Tosafos in Zevochim (51, at the end of the
piece beg. Tein loh), who write that Dovid sanctified
the floor (including, according to one approach in Tosafos,
the ground all the way down to the depths). The pits at the
base of the mizbeiach were not included in Hashem's
instruction to Dovid, "yet you shall not build the House"
(Melochim I, 8:19). The Succos water libation onto the
mizbeiach and into the pits is done at the place where
Odom was created.
We shall explain this according to the teachings of the
talmidim of the Vilna Gaon. While most of these
divrei Torah are written explicitly, a few are
inferred from other places — but they all have a
Reenacting Man's Creation
All the parts of the service in the Mikdosh that
confer atonement, such as the burning of the fats of the
sacrifices, are done on the mizbeiach. The water
libation [too, which is poured into a special opening on the
mizbeiach and runs down into the pits] is an act of
service that restores the sphere of influence, at the depths,
where the pits are. This is why, "The place of the
mizbeiach was determined with great precision . . ."
because "Man was created from the place where he attains
[We learn about the role of water in Odom's creation from the
account in the pesukim.]
"For Hashem . . . had not yet made rain fall on the earth and
there was no man to work the land" (Bereishis 2:5).
Rashi explains that the second clause is the reason for the
first. "Why had He not made rain fall? Because there was no
man to work the land and no one realized the benefits of
rain. When Odom came along and realized that the world needs
rain, he prayed for it . . . "
But although rain only fell after Odom had been created,
water was needed for his creation. "And a fountain
(eid) rose from the earth and watered all the ground's
surface" (Bereishis 2:6). Rashi explains, "This refers
to Odom's creation — He brought up the depths and
moistened clouds to soak the earth and Odom was created in a
way akin to the action of a kneader, who pours on water and
then kneads the dough . . ." The water libation is thus
similar to what took place at Odom's creation — as the
Rambam writes, "and he was created from that place."
The word eid (alef-dalet) from which Odom was
created is two thirds of the word Odom (alef-dalet-
mem). Chazal say about the water libation, "I consider
you to have made yourselves" [See Vayikra Rabba, end
of parsha 29, 2:12] meaning, as though you have
actually, physically made yourselves.
"And the one who learns [that the celebration of the water
drawing is termed by the mishnah] `important' is not
mistaken because it is an important mitzvah, ever since the
six days of Creation" (Succah 50). The service of
water libation restores man's original spiritual standing and
sphere of influence.
The Royal House of Dovid
The restoration of the sphere of influence has a particular
connection to Yehuda. Yehuda's admission (Bereishis
38:26), is explained by Rashi as meaning " `She is
righteous.' `It is from Me.' " Only the first clause was
Yehuda's words, while the second was uttered by a Heavenly
voice that said, "It is from Me that this chain of
circumstances emanated . . . I decreed that kings of Yisroel
should arise from the tribe of Yehuda." This refers to the
restoration of the sphere of influence.
See the Vilna Gaon's commentary to the posuk, "From
prey, my son, you rose up" (Bereishis 49:9). The Vilna
Gaon compares this to a lion with his prey, as the
posuk in Yeshayohu says, "Like a lion roars and
[like] a whelp roar over his prey" (34:4). After attacking
his prey he arises and returns to his place. "He kneeled and
crouched like a lion" (Bereishis Ibid.), meaning that
his strength is discernible even while he crouches [and is
retrained]. Although Hashem [held him back and] told Dovid,
"yet you shall not build the house," he still dug pits which
are linked [through the water libation, to the restoration of
man's original stature] and to the sphere of influence of the
royal house of Yisroel.
This is the deeper meaning of Chazal's comments on the
posuk, "This is the book of the descendants of Odom"
(Bereishis 5:1). Hashem showed Odom Horishon that
Dovid had been allotted a lifespan of three hours . . . Odom
gave Dovid seventy of his own years as a gift. (Yalkut
This is the particular area of spiritual service that fell to
Dovid Hamelech, relating to the sphere of influence of his
royal dynasty, to which end he dug the pits which play a role
in the restoration of man's original spiritual stature.
"The place of the mizbeiach was determined with great
precision." and "Man was created from the place where
he attains atonement."
The water libation on Succos is not mentioned explicitly
anywhere in Chumash. It involves the restoration of
man's original spiritual stature and influence [which take
place according to a concealed Divine plan]. "She is
righteous. It is from Me" — "These secrets emanate
from me" (Makkos 23) — these hidden
things have come from me" (Rashi).
The Supreme Expression of Joy
The joy of the Simchas Beis Hasho'eivoh was
experienced on a level of such refinement that the Rambam
writes, "Common persons were not involved in it, nor even
anyone [of the rank and file] who wanted, only the great
scholars of Yisroel . . . they were the ones that danced"
(end of Hilchos Lulav).
"Sounds, sights and aromas are not subject to the laws of
me'iloh [the prohibition of making mundane use of
sanctified property] (Pesochim 26). Sound is the most
highly refined of these three stimuli. No brochoh is
made over enjoyable sounds because the enjoyment is only
apprehended through vibrations emanating from the sound's
source, not from the actual substance of the source.
The most physical parts of the body are the legs [as HaRav
Hutner expressed it, "guf shebeguf (the substance of
the body)"], which support a person. The enjoyment of dancing
comes from moving the most physical part of the body in sync
with the least tangible of stimuli ["in a eidelkeit
(in a refined way)"], moving one's feet to the sound of
music, especially when the rejoicing is spiritual.
"The place where the Aron [Hakodesh] stood took
up none of the dimensions [of the Kodesh Hakodoshim]
(Yoma 21). This example of something holy shows how
something with physical presence adapts itself to something
that lacks tangibility. It's clear from the Rambam's
description of the Simchas Beis Hasho'eivoh that the
rejoicing was linked to the restoration of the Aron
Hakodesh to its place. The Rambam writes, "And similarly,
Dovid, king of Yisroel said, `And I would make light of
myself to an even greater degree' as it says, `And Dovid was
leaping and bounding before Hashem.' " This is the source of
all dances that are inspired by holiness.
The meaning of this can be found in the Remo's explanation of
the words, "umafli la'asos (who does wondrous things)"
[Orach Chaim 6:1, see Pachad Yitzchok Pesach,
maamar 15:4], as referring to the union of the physical
and the spiritual, specifically the creation of man and the
adaptation of the intangible soul to the physical body.
HaRav Hutner said that the desired effect of these divrei
Torah, "iz az die eidele zachen fun Yom Tov zollen nisht
bleiben in die luften (is that the refined parts of the
festival should not remain abstract)."
Man's Reinstatement After Atonement
Rosh Hashonoh is the day of the world's inception and of
man's original creation, before sinning; Yom Kippur sees man
in his subsequent form, after he sinned. When man was created
he needed a place to be.
In his original form, "Hashem . . . planted a garden in Eden,
to the East" (Bereishis 2:8). In his subsequent state
he also needs a place. The spiritual service of Succos is to
find a place for man after Yom Kippur [i.e. after having
sinned and attained atonement].
"Hashem . . . took the man and put him in Gan Eden"
(Posuk 15). Rashi explains, "He `took' him with
pleasant words and persuaded him to enter." We do not find
that there was any opposition to this, even though there was
opposition to man's creation and to the kindness that was
done for him by giving him the chance to repent for sin and
Great scholars have explained the posuk in Shir
Hashirim (2:5) as follows: " `His left hand is under my
head' refers to the time up till Yom Kippur, `and His right
hand embraces me' refers to Succos."
[Ed. note. See Sefas Emes, Succos 5650 and Bnei
Yissochor, maamar 10 on Chodesh Tishrei, #10.]
See Tosafos Succah (37, beg. Behodu) who
explain Beis Hillel's opinion that the arba minim
should be shaken at the first posuk that begins
Hodu and at the words `Ono Hashem hoshi'o no.'
The explanation is based on the sequence of pesukim in
Divrei Hayomim I (15:33-35) which begin, "Then the
trees of the ya'ar shall sing," alluding to shaking of
the arba minim, and continuing with references to the
pesukim where they should be shaken. [See Reshimos
Leiv, Ushpiza DeYaakov 5740.]
Ya'ar does not mean forest. It's meaning can be found
in Rashi's commentary to Shir Hashirim 5:1, "I came to
my garden . . . I ate my ya'ar together with my honey
. . ." Rashi explains, "There is a type of honey [i.e. a
sweet syrup] that grows inside canes, as the posuk (Shmuel
I, 5:6) says, `in the canes of honey' . . . and one sucks
out the honey and discards the cane . . ."
"Then the trees of the ya'ar shall sing," thus refers
to a type of tree that grows in the Garden. "I came to my
garden, my sister, bride"; after Yom Kippur, when man is
in his subsequent form having attained atonement, we merit
fulfilling the mitzvah of taking the arba minim in a
bundle. "Hakodosh Boruch Hu says, `They should all be
tied [i.e. Yisroel] in one bundle' " [Vayikra Rabba
This bundle in one's hand represents the form of man. With
the shaking of the arba minim we bring Knesses
Yisroel to their place in the Garden. HaRav Hutner
ztvk'l, said that were it not for these comments of
Tosafos, we could not discuss these matters.
[Ed. note. See Tosafos, Shabbos 88, beg. Piryo
and Sefas Emes Succos 5663, beg. Mitzvas.]
The Supreme Rejoicing in the Mikdosh
"Originally, the lulav was taken for seven days [only]
in the Mikdosh" (mishnah Succah, 3:9). Rashi explains
that this is derived by Toras Cohanim from the
posuk (Vayikra 23:40) "And you shall rejoice before
Hashem [i.e. in the Beis Hamikdosh ] . . . for seven
The Torah uses the word "ulekachtem (and you shall
take)" (Ibid.) for the general mitzvah of lulav
on the first day of Succos. We see from the Toras
Cohanim that when referring to the very same mitzvah in
the Mikdosh, the word "usemachtem (and you
shall rejoice) is used, because the Mikdosh is the
place where man was created and the place where he attains
"Then the trees of the ya'ar shall sing" — this
refers to the trees of the Garden, the Tree of Life and the
Tree of Knowledge.
The arba minim, including the esrog, need a
plentiful water supply in order to grow. [See
Kiddushin 3, also Taanis 2, where the
gemora says that the arba minim have to have
water.] This is related to Rashi's comments on the creation
of Odom, "like a kneader who pours water."
It seems that this is the source for the Rambam's writing,
"Although it is a mitzvah to rejoice on all the festivals,
Succos was a time of excessive rejoicing in the Mikdosh"
(Hilchos Lulav 8:12). The Simchas Beis Hasho'eivoh
was connected with the mitzvah of lulav in the
Mikdosh — "And you shall rejoice before
"A person who didn't see the Simchas Beis Hasho'eivoh
never witnessed joy in his life!"