Sunday, October 7, 2012

Succos - love of the mitzvos

The gemara in Avodah Zarah (2a) says:
לעתיד לבא מביא הקדוש ברוך הוא ס"ת [ומניחו] בחיקו ואומר למי שעסק בה יבא ויטול שכרו
In the future Hashem will bring a Sefer Torah and He will say, “Whoever toiled in the Torah should come and take their reward.”
 ...[מיד] נכנסה לפניו מלכות רומי תחלה ... אמר להם הקב"ה במאי עסקתם אומרים לפניו רבש"ע הרבה שווקים תקנינו הרבה מרחצאות עשינו הרבה כסף וזהב הרבינו וכולם לא עשינו אלא בשביל ישראל כדי שיתעסקו בתורה אמר להם הקב"ה שוטים שבעולם כל מה שעשיתם לצורך עצמכם עשיתם ... מיד יצאו בפחי נפש ... וכן לכל אומה...
Immediately the Roman Empire will enter before Hashem. Hashem will say to them, “What did you toil in?” They will say before Him, “Master of the Universe! We made many markets and many bath-houses. We acquired abundant silver and gold and all of this we only did so that the benei yisrael should be able to learn Torah.” Hashem will say to them, “Fools! Everything you did you did for yourselves.” Immediately they will exit discouraged, and so for every nation and nation.
אמרו לפניו רבש"ע תנה לנו מראש ונעשנה. אמר להן הקב"ה, שוטים שבעולם מי שטרח בערב שבת יאכל בשבת מי שלא טרח בערב שבת מהיכן יאכל בשבת? אלא אף על פי כן מצוה קלה יש לי וסוכה שמה לכו ועשו ... מיד כל אחד [ואחד] נוטל והולך ועושה סוכה בראש גגו והקדוש ברוך הוא מקדיר עליהם חמה בתקופת תמוז וכל אחד ואחד מבעט בסוכתו ...
They will say before Him, “Master of the Universe! Give the Torah to us as a new start and we will observe it.” Hashem will say to them, “Fools! He who worked on erev shabbos will have food to eat on shabbos, he who did not toil on erev shabbos, from where will he have food to eat on shabbos? Nevertheless, I have an easy mitzvah and its name is succah; go and make it.”
Immediately each one will go and make his succah on his roof. Hashem will heat the summer sun overhead and each one will [go out from his succah and] kick it.
מקדיר והא אמרת אין הקדוש ברוך הוא בא בטרוניא עם בריותיו? משום דישראל נמי זימני דמשכא להו תקופת תמוז עד חגא והוי להו צערא. והאמר רבא מצטער פטור מן הסוכה? נהי דפטור בעוטי מי מבעטי?
[The gemara asks:] How can you say that Hashem will heat the sun to cause them discomfort? But you said that Hashem does not come with unfair demands against his creatures?
[The gemara answers:] Because for klal yisrael also sometimes the summer season continues till succos and it is uncomfortable for them.
[The gemara asks:] But did not Rava say that someone who is uncomfortable is patur from the succah?
[The gemara answers:] Although he may be patur, does he kick the succah [when he goes out from it]?
מיד הקב"ה יושב ומשחק עליהן שנאמר (תהלים ב, ד) יושב בשמים ישחק וגו' א"ר יצחק אין שחוק לפני הקב"ה אלא אותו היום בלבד
Immediately Hashem will sit and laugh at them as the passuk says he who dwells in the shamayim will laugh. Said Rav Yitzchak there is only laughter before Hashem on that day.
The gemara would seem to be difficult to understand:
·         Why would the umos ha’olam claim reward if they did not originally accept the Torah at Har Sinai?
·         Why does each nation say that everything that they did was only so that the Jewish people could keep the Torah, this seems to be obviously untrue?
·         Why will Hashem choose to give them the mitzvah of succah to test them?
Rb Yitzchak Hutner z”l explains as follows:

When Mashiach will come, the yetzer hara will be nisbatel. At this time the benei yisrael will come to Hashem and they will say asinu shlichuschah – we kept the Torah and we have completed our mission! When there is no yetzer hara it will no longer be possible to serve Hashem by fighting the yetzer hara to keep the Torah. Therefore the time after the nullification of the yetzer hara, which is the Yemos Hamashiach, is the time when the benei yisrael will receive their reward. Hayom la’asosam u’lemachar le’kabel secharam.

It would seem that the benei yisrael will justifiably claim their reward. However the umos ha’olam will claim that they too should be rewarded. This is because regardless of all the difficulties that the benei yisrael faced, their ultimate victory and success was always guaranteed. Hashem always ensured that the benei yisrael would survive and that they would always keep the Torah. The umos ha’olam will claim that it is therefore not justifiable to say that the benei yisrael fulfilled Hashem’s plan for the world solely through their own choosing, because Hashem always made circumstances such that the benei yisrael would hold on to the Torah and keep the mitzvos.

If so, they will say, we see that Hashem rewards not for the bechirah to observe the Torah. Rather Hashem rewards the outcome, regardless of whether the person who created the outcome chose to do so or not.

The claim of the umos ha’olam
The Rambam explains (introduction to perush ha’mishnayos) that a magnificent mansion may be built only so that a hundred years later, one of the tree’s planted in its grounds will provide a tzaddik with shade from the sun.

Similarly, all of the accomplishments of the umos ha’olam are only to assist the benei yisrael in keeping the Torah.
Therefore the umos ha’olam will claim, “Seeing as Hashem led history in such a way that everything that we did was so that the benei yisrael should be able to keep the Torah, we should be rewarded for all the work that we did. It is not valid to differentiate and say that the benei yisrael chose to keep the Torah and we did not intend for there to be a good outcome from our work, because neither did the benei yisrael truly choose of their own volition to preserve the Torah. Their successful outcome was always assured. If so we see that you are rewarded for the outcome and not for the intention and we also deserve reward.”

Succos is the culmination of the Shalosh Regalim.
On Pesach the benei yisrael were appointed as avdei Hashem – the servants of Hashem. As the passuk says – halleluhu avdei hashem – avdei Hashem ve’lo avdei Pharoh. On Shevuos, the benei yisrael were given the Torah and we were told how to serve Hashem. Succos is the time when the benei yisrael return to Hashem and say – asinu shlichuschah – we have fulfilled what You told us to do this year. Succos is called chag ha’asif – the harvest festival. Just as a farmer harvests the fruits from the field, so too on Succos we ‘harvest’ the Torah and the mitzvos of the year and present them before Hashem.
Additionally, each Succos is a portend of the time when Mashiach will come and we will say to Hashem, asinu shlichuschah! – “We have fulfilled our mission.” Every year we say, we have fulfilled our mission this year. When mashiach comes we will say; We fulfilled our mission from the brias ha’olam untill the yemos ha’mashiach.

Since the claim of the umos ha’olam is that they should be rewarded as having fulfilled Hashem’s intention for the world (despite their not having chosen to do so), they will be asked as a test to keep the mitzvah that showed that the benei yisrael had fulfilled Hashem’s plan (the Torah) every year.

Chavivus ha’mitzvos
The claim of the umos ha’olam is that the benei yisrael were to some extent forced to keep the Torah and therefore cannot be considered to have kept the Torah from their own free will.

The answer to this claim is that the opposite was also true. Sometimes it was made impossible for the benei yisrael to keep the Torah. Whether this was through a royal decree prohibiting the benei yisrael from keeping the Torah or whether this was because of mitztaer patur min ha’sukkah, it always pained the benei yisrael that they were not able to keep the Torah.
Therefore we see that retzoneinu la’asos retzonechah u’mi me’akev, seor shebaisah! It was always our will not to have a yetzer hara at all and not to have physical impediments that would make it impossible for us to keep the Torah. If we did have to leave the Succah, we left it wistfully, not with a kick.
Hashem’s answer to the claim of the umos ha’olam is that the benei yisrael are rewarded for their chavivus hamitzvos - their love for the mitzvos - and because of their longing to observe the Torah even where this was impossible. Since the true will of the benei yisrael was always that they should not even have a yetzer hara that would prevent them from keeping the Torah, it was appropriate middah keneged middah that Hashem made it impossible for them to fail and assured them that they would be able to continue observing the Torah until the coming of mashiach.
The love shown by the benei yisrael for the mitzvah of succah shows that it was appropriate that the benei yisrael should be helped over the finishing line by Hashem because since they wanted to keep the Torah even when this was impossible, Hashem helped them keep the Torah even when this was beyond their abilities. After it is shown that it was appropriate that they should be helped, the benei yisrael are rewarded for everything that they ever did and are credited with having only done the mitzvos because of their own bechirah.

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