Saturday, September 25, 2010

Succos - the chosen people

The medrash rabbah says on parshas emor concerning the arba minim:
אמר רבי אבין: משל לשנים שנכנסו אצל הדיין ולית אנן ידעין מאן הוא נוצח, אלא מאן דנסב באיין בידיה, אנן ידעין דהוא נצוחייא. כך ישראל ואומות העולם באין ומקטרגים לפני הקב"ה בר"ה ולית אנן ידעין מאן נצח, אלא במה שישראל יוצאין מלפני הקדוש ברוך הוא ולולביהן ואתרוגיהן בידן, אנו יודעין דישראל אינון נצוחייא. לפיכך משה מזהיר לישראל ואומר להם: ולקחתם לכם ביום הראשון
“Rebbi Avin said – it is a moshol to two people who went to court and we do not know who won. However we can tell who won by seeing who holds the palm branch in his hand when he exits the court. So too Yisroel and the umos ha’olam come and accuse each other on Rosh haShonoh and we do not know who won. However when the benei yisroel come out from before Hashem and their lulavim and esrogim are in their hands - we then know that Yisroel were victorious. Therefore Moshe warns the benei yisroel and says to them – You should take for yourselves on the first day.’”

The gemara in Avodah Zara (3a) also says that the mitzvos of succos are a sign of triumph of the benei yisroel:
אמר להן הקב"ה ...מצוה קלה יש לי וסוכה שמה לכו ועשו אותה ...מיד כל אחד [ואחד] נוטל והולך ועושה סוכה בראש גגו והקדוש ברוך הוא מקדיר עליהם חמה בתקופת תמוז וכל אחד ואחד מבעט בסוכתו ויוצא ...והאמר רבא מצטער פטור מן הסוכה נהי דפטור בעוטי מי מבעטי
“[When mashiach comes the umos ha’olam will complain that they do not receive reward like the benei yisroel. Hashem will say to them…] I have an easy mitzvah called succah, go and do this mitzvah. Immediately each one will go and make a succah on top of his roof and Hashem will intensify the heat of the sun like the heat of the summer. Each one will kick his succah and go out...
But did not Rava say that one who is uncomfortable is patur from the succah? Although he is patur does he kick it?”

·         Why are the arban minim and the succah a sign of the triumph of the benei yisroel?
·         What is the din between the benei yisroel and the umos ha’olam on rosh hashanah, and how do the arba minim answer this?

The Pachad Yitzchak explains as follows:
The passuk says in bereishis:
ויאמר אלקים תדשא הארץ דשא עשב מזריע זרע עץ פרי
“And Hashem said the earth should become covered with plants, grass with seeds in it and fruit trees.”

Rashi says:
"עֵץ פְּרִי" - שיהא טעם העץ כטעם הפרי והיא לא עשתה כן אלא וַתּוֹצֵא הָאָרֶץ עֵץ עֹשֶׂה פְּרִי ולא הָעֵץ פְּרִי...
“Wood and fruit – so that the taste of the wood should be the same as the fruit, however the earth did not do this rather the earth brought out trees that produce fruit (as in the next passuk) but not trees that were like fruit.”

The esrog was an exception to this. The gemara says in Succah (35a)
תנו רבנן: פרי עץ הדר - עץ שטעם עצו ופריו שוה, הוי אומר זה אתרוג
“Which fruit does the Torah refer to when it says “pri etz hadar” – this is the esrog whose fruit tastes the same as the tree.”

Why do we take the esrog that has taam etzo upiryoh shaveh on succos?

Rav Hutner explains: Normally we say sechar mitzva behai alma lekah – there is no reward for mitzvos in olam hazeh. In other words, the reward for mitzvos is not immediately apparent in olam hazeh. This is represented by trees and the fruit not having the same taste. The tree represents the effort that is required to perform mitzvos and the fruit represents the outcome and completion of the mitzva.  Currently, the effort to do the mitzva is separate to the sechar of the mitzva and trees and fruit do not have the same taste.

When moshiach comes, there will be no delay between the kiyum hamitzva and the sechar of the mitzva. We will be able to experience the taam of the mitzva even while we are doing it. This madregah is represented by the esrog which has ‘taam etzi u’taam piryo shaveh.’

The succah also represents the time of moshiach. The gemara in succah (2a) uses the passuk of וסוכה תהיה לצל יומם (Yeshaya 4:6) to prove that a succah cannot be higher than 20 amos although  this passuk is referring to le’asid lavo.

We enjoy the taam of the asiyaas hamitzvos even in olam hazeh, however the umos haolam will not understand this taam even leasid lavo. If a person kicks a succah when he leaves it, that shows that they keep the mitzva simply as a means to an end – to acquire sechar and not because of the chavivus hamitzva.

On rosh hashhana the umos haolam are mekatreg that we do not deserve to be the am hanivchar because of our shortcomings in our observance of the torah. The answer is that regardless of this, the taam that we have in the mitzvos shows that we do not keep the Torah only to receive reward but rather because we have a inner appreciation of and a chavivus for the mitzvos. If we are forced to leave the succah, we do so regretfully. When we do mitzvos – we feel a taam, just as the wood of the esrog has the same taam as the fruit. This is the refutation of the mekatreg and through this we emerge victorious from the din of rosh hashana.

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