Wednesday, October 19, 2005
In honor of Chag HaSukkos, I present the following idea, which I've adapted from a wonderful e-mail sendout by R. Sholom Brodt of Yerushalayim. Thank you, R. Sholom!
In the sefer Emunas Itecha, Rabbi Moshe Wolfson* brings the following teaching from the holy Zohar:
In the Zohar (Vayikra 8a) we learn: Rabbi Yehuda began his teaching with the verse: "Serve Hashem with joy, come before Him with dance" [Tehillim, 100:2]. When we serve Hashem we are to serve Him with joy and love. In this way our service is complete. But how can we bring a sacrifice with joy? Surely we are to experience bitterness over our wrongdoings and cry before Hashem for having acted against His will.
Where then is the joy, where is the dance? It is the Kohanim with their shining faces and the Levites with their song and music, who bring us back to the joy and thus our mitzva service is complete.
Now that we cannot offer the sacrifices, we only have Teshuva. In doing Teshuva we must feel bitterness and remorse over our wrongdoings. But, our Teshuva also requires joy; otherwise it is not complete. Where then is the joy, where is the dance? We find the joy in the songs of praise that we sing to our Master and in the joy of Torah** study. With this joy, our Teshuva is complete.
Sukkos and Shmini Atzeres come right after the Ten Days of Teshuva that begin with Rosh Hashana and conclude on Yom Kippur. Our rejoicing on the festival of Sukkos completes our Teshuva of the Days of Awe. We rejoice in the mitzva of 'the four species' and in our Sukkot. Music fills the air of Yerushalayim and Israel throughout the holiday, as we all get together to sing and dance each morning and evening, B"H. In this way we are completing our Teshuva and that is why Sukkos is "the season of our joy".
*NOTE 1: Rav Moshe Wolfson is part of a very interesting "musical trio." In the biography of Reb Shlomo Carlebach, "Reb Shlomele", the following is found: Referring to Rebbe Shaul Yedidya Elazar of Modzitz [grandfather of the present Rebbe Shlita], it says, "[Reb] Shlomo and his friends, Ben-Zion Shenker and Moshe Wolfson, spent long hours with him [in one of the Catskill Mountain resorts] among the trees and lakes, absorbing the Modzitz melodies and philsophy" [pp. 24-25].
**NOTE 2: Indeed, it is the joy that comes with the learning of Torah that Chag HaSukkos is all about. As the Modzitzer Rebbe Shlita, who should have a refua shelaima b'Karov [a full and speedy recovery] pointed out on Hoshana Rabba of 1989, Teshuva via Torah helps to atone for sins that otherwise have no atonement. He cites the Tanna dvei Eliyahu [Ch. 18] which says, "Come and see how great the power of the Torah is, for it purifies the sinners of Israel when they do Teshuva."
"And therefore, after Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur, whose essence is Teshuva from Awe, comes the Chag of Sukkos, whose substance is Teshuva through Torah, to help atone for those sins that even Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur cannot atone for." Is it any wonder that at the conclusion of Chag HaSukkos, we are graced with another gift from Hashem - Simchas Torah, the Rejoicing with the Torah?
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