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11 Tishrei 5767 - October 3, 2006 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly










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Opinion & Comment
The Supreme Joy of Restoration: Divrei Torah Delivered on Succos

by HaRav Yitzchok Hutner, zt'l

Prepared From Notes in Reshimos Leiv by Reb Leibel Rutta

Part One: Completing the Yomim Noro'im

Delivered on Succos 5735, Motzei Shabbos, Ushpiza of Yosef Hatzaddik

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 Shelishis 5734.

"`. . . 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 different degrees.

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 hundred men.

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 29:28).

"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 Yisroel.

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 wrongdoing.

"`. . .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 aveiroh.

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 ascendent.

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 Lulav 7:23).

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 matter.

"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 footing].

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 Mikdosh."

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 Yom Kippur.

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 simultaneous.

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- 2).

"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 source.

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 atonement."

[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 Bereishis #41).

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 attain atonement.

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 30:12].

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 days."

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 atonement.

"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 Hashem."

"A person who didn't see the Simchas Beis Hasho'eivoh never witnessed joy in his life!"

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