Saturday, October 19, 2019

From Rosh Hashana To Simchas Torah

למה כל העבודה של חג עצרת הוא רק מצות שמחה והיית אך שמח ואין בו שום מצות אחרות? יש לבאר תהליך הימים טובים של תשרי עפ"י סדר הספירות ולפ"ז יהיה יובן הסבר הדברים. ידוע שבר"ה יסוד היום הוא לקבל המלכות של הקב"ה. וענין מלכות הבורא נגדש בכל י' ימי תשובה שאנחנו אומרים בתפילה המלך הקדוש והמלך המשפט. ועבודה הזאת מכויין אם כתר כמו שאומרים בתפילה ויתנו לך כתר מלוכה. ובנפש האדם זה מכוון כנגד התענוג והרצון והיינו שהאדם מרגיש הרצון לקבל מלכות הבורא. וזהו רצון למעלה מטעם אלא שהאדם מרגיש קירבה גדולה להבורא בזמן הזאת וממילא הוא רוצה לידבק בהקב"ה.

ואחר זה אנחנו ממשיכין להמוחין בחג הסוכות. כידוע מספרים שסוכות הוא ענין דעת כמו שכתוב בפסוק למען ידעו דורותיכם. וכן בהושענות אומרים למען דעת כל עמי הארץ. ובמשנת האריז"ל סוד הנענועים הוא ענין המשכת הדעת ולכן גיל קטן שמתחייב בחינוך הוא מי שיש בו דעת לנענע. ובעבודת האדם זמן סוכות הוא הזמן שהקבלת מלכות מעביר מעל הדעת לתוך הדעת. ז"א להתבונן ולחשוב על קבלתו בימים נוראים ושיהיה מובן בשכל למה ומה זאת דורשת הימנו.

וסיום התהליך הוא בשמיני עצרת ושמחת תורה שאז ממשיכין הדעת בתוך המדות. לפי האריז"ל עצרת הוא מלשון קליטה שהוא הזמן לקלוט כל הארת והאורות של הימים לפני כן. ובעבודה זה נתקיים בהתחתונים היינו המדות וההגרשים יהיו מתאים אם המוחין שלו.    

והנה מצינו ריקודים הן בסוכות והן בשמחת תורה אבל יש חילוק ביניהם. בסוכות מפורש בגמ' ורמב"ם שרק הראשי ישיבות, החסידים וכו' רקדו בשמחה עצומה ושאר העם עמדו וראו אבל בשמחת תורה כולנו רוקדים אם התורה.  מה החילוק ביניהם ואם בסוכות לא מרשים לכל העם להשתתף בהשמחה מה פתאום שבשמחת תורה הכל מזומנים? אבל הן הן הדברים שבסוכות רק מי שיש בו דעה כדי להבין כל ענין השמחה שבא אחרי העבודה של הימים נוראים יכול להשתתף בהשמחה. ולא הכל זוכה שיש בהם דעת להבין יסוד הדברים.  אבל שמיני עצרת הוא שמחה שבא מההרגשה של המדות ואפי' מי שלא מבין כל הענין אבל מ"מ יכול להרגיש השמחה.  ולכן לא ניתנו מצות יתירות בשמיני מלבד שמחה משום שזהו כל עבודת היום להרגיש השמחה שיש בעבודת הבורא. ולכן נהגו כל ישראל לערוך הקפות בשמחת תורה שהעבודה הוא בהרגל שאפי' הכי תחתנוים של האדם יהיו מושפעים מעבודת היום.

More Than Just Seeing

Rashi V’zos Haberacha (34:4) says לאמר לזרעך אתננה הראיתיך בעיניך – הראיתיך כדי שתלך ותאמר לאברהם ליצחק וליעקב: שבועה שנשבע הקב״ה לכם קיימה. וזהו לאמר, לכך הראיתיה לך. אבל גזירה היא מלפני שמה לא תעבור, שאילולי כן הייתי מקיימיך עד שתראה אותם נטועים וקבועים, ותלך ותגיד.  What does Rashi mean, how is Moshe’s seeing of the land a fulfillment of the oath to give Eretz Yisroel to Klal Yisroel? Furthermore, the land is already considered acquired by the walking of Avrohom (Babba Bathra 100a,) so why is the oath not considered already fulfilled then?  Seemingly, because the oath means to actually conquer it and live in it.  If that’s the case, how does Moshe’s seeing accomplish this?  Rashi in Vaeschanan (3:26) says וראה בעיניך – בקשתה ממני: ואראה את הארץ הטובה (דברים ג׳:כ״ה), אני מראה לך את כולה, שנאמר: ויראהו י״י את כל הארץ (דברים ל״ד:א׳).  Why would Moshe have a separate request just to be able to see the land, what is the point of that?

The Gemorah in Babba Bathra (56a) says the only lands obligated in terumos and maaserot are the lands that were see by Moshe Rabbenu.  Why is this the means of determining the obligation in tithes, it should be determined by what lands are conquered (see Tosfos)? The Mikdash David Terumot siman 7 explains that there are two stages in making land part of Eretz Yisroel vis-à-vis the obligations of the land.  The first stage is to bring the kedusha of the land and then the second stage is the conquest.  The sight of the holy eyes of Moshe is what brought kedusha to the land and hence once conquered it would be obligated in tithes.  Other lands, it would not suffice to merely conquer them, they would also have to be made kadosh. 

Based upon this, we can understand our parsha. Yes, Eretz Yisroel in a monetary aspect is already considered מוחזק from Avrohom, but there was no kedusha to Eretz Yisoel yet.  It is only through the seeing of Moshe that the land becomes kodesh and that is already considered a fulfillment of the oath to give us Eretz Yisroel.   

The Sifri Pinchas (136:1) says ויאמר ה' אליו זאת הארץ. ר' עקיבא אומר: מגיד הכתוב, שהראהו המקום למשה את כל חדרי ארץ ישראל, כשלחן ערוך, שנא' ויראהו ה' את הארץ.  The Nitziv explains that Moshe saw that as opposed to Avrohom, Moshe saw the entire land.  Why did Moshe need to see the whole thing?  Because he needed to bring kedusha to the land (Kuntres Meorah Or in the back of Rav Dovid Solevetchik’s sefer on Moadim, Meoray Hamoadim.)  

The Duality Of V'zos Haberacha

The Gemorah at the end of Megillah (31a) lists what the krias hatorah of every holiday is.  Regarding Shemini Atzeret and Simchas Torah it says יו"ט האחרון קורין כל הבכור מצות וחוקים ובכור ומפטירין (מלכים א ט, א) ויהי ככלות שלמה למחר קורין וזאת הברכה ומפטירין (מלכים א ח, כב) ויעמד שלמה.)  Tosfos asks that we follow the Gemorah, for instead of reading  ויעמד שלמה, we read as the haftorah of the beginning of Yehoshua on Simchas .  Why don't we follow the Gemorah?

In order to understand this we have to understand why is it that we read V'zos Haberacha on Simchas Torah? One may think because its the last parsha and we want to end the Yom Tov by ceebrating Simchas Torah, but that can't be be the case for even where they would finish the Torah in only a three year cycle, the reading is still V'zos Haberacha.  The Ran explains that indeed V'zos Haberacha is considered to be a reflection of the idea of the holiday just like all the readings on the other days.  He says since this is the end of the holiday season, we want to end with the beracha of Moshe Rabbenu before we depart. Hence, the haftorah (of ויעמד שלמה) is also about the blessings Shlomo Hamelech gave as the people were departing.  Rav Zolti (Mishnas Yaavetz siman 72) suggests that when we read V'zos Haberacha, there are two elements to it.  One is element is because its the reading of the day, as the Ran said.  However, there is also the element of reading the last parsha, of finishing the torah cycle of the year since we finish the torah every year.  Based upon this idea, he answers the question of Tosfos.  The Gemorah gives the haftorah that patterns those that just reading the parsha as the obligation of the day.  however, our reading of the haftorah is to reflect the idea of the Torah portion itself just like every parsha of the year, for we are reading it to finish the parshiot. Hence, we read the haftorah of the beginning of Yehoshua, right after Moshe's death (see also the Meshech Chachma at the end of the sefer says the same idea.)

Thursday, October 17, 2019

Eretz Yisroel And Mikdash: Sukkot And Shemini Atzeret

The Abarbanel at the end of his commentary on Parshas Reah suggests that the seven days of Sukkot correspond to the seven species that Eretz Yisroel is praised for.  The Rokeach (209) explains the sukkos mammash isn’t referring to the huts in the desert, rather it’s refering to the huts that the soldiers lived in when conquering Eretz Yisroel.  It’s clear from these sources that there is an integral connection between the holiday of Sukkot and Eretz Yisroel.  What’s the connection?  Furthermore, how does Shmini Atzeret fit into the commemoration of Eretz Yisroel as well?  Rashi (Sukkah 45a) explains the words of ani v’ho hoshea nah are comprised of verses said by krias yam suf.  Why is the avodah of hoshanos derived from krias yam suf?

Rav Shlomo Fisher (Bais Yishai, first derush on Sukkot) explains based upon the Sforno (Emor 23:43) who explains the point of Sukkos is to give thanks for Eretz Yisroel.  Therefore, we are commanded to sit in a sukkah to remember that in the midbar we didn’t have a permanent residence and to recognize how great it is to be have a land and permanent dwelling in Eretz Yisroel.  Krias Yam Suf was the beginning of the journey to Eretz Yisroel (see Tehillim psalms 105-6 where krias yam suf is connected to the coming into Eretz Yisroel.  Chazal also say the sea split into 12 parts, one per tribe corresponding to the separate inheritance each tribe would receive.)  [Take note that the first place of travel from Egypt was to Sukkos.]  The possuk in Nechemyah (8:17) says that the people celebrated Sukkos as they had not done since the days of Yehoshua.  What does the possuk mean, didn’t they keep Sukkos throughout the entire first Beis Hamikdash era?  The Gemorah Aruchin (32b) explains that the Anshei Kneses Hagedolah had the zechus of Eretz Yisroel to pray to kill the yetzer harah for idolatry.  Therefore, they prayed, were successful, and it protected the generation like a sukkah.  The possuk contrasts this with Yehoshua in order to admonish him for not praying.  Why is this event connected to Sukkos if they prayed on the 24th of Tishrai (see chapter 9)?  Explains Rav Fisher, the zechus of Eretz Yisroel helps one who appreciate Eretz Yisroel.  Since the people fulfilled Sukkos properly and were thankful for being able to return to Eretz Yisroel, therefore they had the zechus of Eretz Yisroel in order to knock out the yetzer harah for avodah zarah.

Obviously, according to the Sforno the point of the Abarbanel and the Rokeach is quite clear.  The whole point of Sukkos is to give thanks for Eretz Yisroel.     

I would like to suggest a different, (what I find to be) a more relatable approach.  The Sifsei Chayim elaborates on the idea that the holiday of Sukkot is to bring kedusha even to the most mundane actions we do.  Every act a person does becomes a mitzvah when done in the Sukkah.  This is akin to living in Eretz Yisroel where one’s living in the land itself is an act of holiness. Both mitzvot establish the theme that the basic acts of daily life can become a holy pursuit.  Our personal act of leaving Egypt is accomplished on Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur, the time for Teshuva.  Sukkot is the time to take the levels we have obtained through our Teshuva and bring that kedusha to our regular everyday activities.  It’s our Eretz Yisroel, where we live in the mundane world but can infuse it with kedusha.  The holiday of Sukkot comes a time when the farmer would be very happy because of the harvest of his produce.  Specifically, at this time the Torah designates a it to be a time of Yom Tov to teache how the simcha for the harvesting of the crops can be channeled to become a simcha of mitzvah.   

We read on the second day of Sukkot the haftorah describing the dedication of the Beis Hamikdash and the ensuing celebration which culminated with the holiday of Sukkot.  The navi says that Shlomo gave a blessing to the people on the eighth day which was Shmini Atzeret.  I would suggest that just as Sukkot commemorates the conquest of Eretz Yisroel, Shmini Atzeret as the culmination is connected to the Beis Hamikdash.  It is the Beis Hamikdash which serves as the reminder of one’s mission of bringing kedusha throughout Eretz Yisroel.  The Mishna and Gemorah in the final chapter of Tractate Sukkah describe the Simchas Beis Hashoavah that took place in the Beis Hamikdash.  There were many large bowls of fire lit so that the whole city was illuminated.  This represented the light of the Beis Hamikdash spreading outside to the world.

The custom is to have Simchas Torah coincide with Shmini Atzeret. What is the connection between the two events?  The Mishna at the end of Taanis says “the wedding day” is Matan Torah and “the day He was happy” is the day of the building of the Beis Hamikdash.  There seems from the Mishna to be a connection between the Mikdash and Torah.  True understanding of Torah can only exist when one can feel the kedushas hatorah.  What brings out this kedusha is the Beis Hamikdash (see Tosfos in Babba Bathra 22a.)  Therefore, the eighth day which represents the Beis Hamikdash, goes together with Simchas Torah.

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Two Approaches To Koheles

Rav Eizak Sher, Rosh Yeshiva of Chevron (Leket Sichos Mussar) brings two distinct approaches from two of the great mussar giants, Rav Itzeleh Peterberger and the Alter of Slabadka as to why on Sukkos, a holiday of great joy, the sad and depressing book of Koheles is read.  Rav Itzeleh said that we are strengthening our commitments from Yom Kippur that indeed this world is empty and meaningless and it’s ruchnious that counts.  The Alter said there is an element of great joy in the Megillah for we learn that from hevel havalim one can make holiness.  (Each one’s answer followed their approach to mussar as Rav Itzeleh was from the old school of the mussar movement which put more of a focus on the negative of man but the Alter was from the new school that focused on the greatness of man.)

Rav Dovid Solevetchik says along the lines of the first approach but he also throws in a picture of the simchas beis hashoevah in Volozhin. 

The Simcha Of Basar

!אין שמחה אלא בבשר, הקב"ה רוצה ויש לו שמחה מהעבודה של בשר ודם

The Nature Of Lulav

The Gemorah at the beginning of לולב הגזול is clear that the דין of לכם required by lulav is only on the first day, not on the second day and beyond.  What is the difference between the first and the other days?  Tosfos understands the difference is that on the first day there is a biblical obligation to take the lulav, learnt from ולקחתם לכם ביום הראשון and on there is where the drash of לכם, משלכם applies.  However, the ensuing days are only a rabbinic obligation זכר למקדש where the lulav was taken all seven days and the Rabbis only imposed the mitzvah of taking the lulav. But not all the dinim that go along with it.  According to this understanding, in the Mikdash, where the obligation is biblical, then the din of לכם would apply even beyond the first day. 

The Rambam (Lulav 8:9) is clear that even in the Mikdash the din of לכם is only limited to the first day.  Why does the Rambam disagree with Tosfos? Rav Solevetchik explains that the Rambam holds that the mitzvah of the lulav in Mikdash is distinct from that outside the Mikdash.  The din outside is to take a lulav for one day and its learnt from ולקחתם לכם ביום הראשון and has the limitation of לכם.  However, the mitzvah of lulav in Mikdash isn’t to do the act of picking up a lulav, the lulav is just a means of expressing simcha.  The mitzvah isn’t ולקחתם, its ושמחתם לפני ה', to be in a state of joy, the lulav is a means to the end and hence it’s not limited by laws of ולקחתם for as one as one is holding a lulav that is good enough to facilitate simcha.  Tosfos on the other hand, hold that the mitzvah in Mikdash is merely to extend the obligation of ולקחתם for seven days, hence it is limited by the din of לכם as well.

The problem I have with this is that it doesn’t seem to jive with the Rambam is Sefer Hamitzvot for he only counts lulav as one mitzvah (#169,) according to Rav Solevetchik it should be two mitzvot?  Even if that doesn’t bother you, for since at the end of the day both involve an act of taking the lulav, so it counted as one mitzvah, if we look at the words of the Rambam, he seems to categorize both of the obligations as that of simcha.  He says היא שצונו ליטול לולב ולשמוח בו לפני ה' שבעת ימים. והוא אמרו יתברך ולקחתם לכם ביום הראשון וגו'.  He defines the obligation of the first day also as simcha.  Also in the count of the mitzvot in the beginning of the Laws of Lulav, the Rambam only brings the obligation of taking the lulav seven days in the Mikdash, not the obligation of the first day.  This would seem again because the obligation of one day outside Mikdash is the same yesod of simcha as in the Mikdash, just limited to day one. (See Rav Eliyahu Baruch pg. 200-201 that brings additional supports to this idea.)  So if indeed both inside and outside the Mikdash, the yesod of the mitzvah is simcha, there doesn't seem to be any reason to split between Mikdash and outside, so what is the explanation of the Rambam that splits the dinim?  (Rav Zolti in Mishnas Yaavetz siman 68:2 struggles with some of this point, but doesn't really give a good answer.)