Pesach is in the spring and Sukkos is in the fall. They seem to be similar Yomim Tovim in a sense that they are both part of the Sholosh Regalim and therefore, their Halachos are basically the same. Yet on Sukkos we have things that we do not have on Pesach. We have for example the Ushpizim. The idea that we are accompanied somehow by the spirit of each of the 7 leaders of Klal Yisrael. Or the Simchas Bais Hashoeva that we have during Sukkos. The Hakafos that take place every day, where we walk with the Lulav and Esrog around the Bimah. We have Hoshana Rabbah which ends Sukkos. So many things are different.
There is a Yesodosdika reason for that. Sukkos has 2 aspects to it. It has a Din Chag the aspect of Holiday just like Pesach has. It also has a second aspect that it is the end of the days of judgment. The days of Rosh Hashanah to Yom Kippur are followed by Sukkos, it is a time of acceptance of the Kapparah of Klal Yisrael.
By the Seder we have Nirtzah, where Hakadosh Baruch Hu so to speaks accepts our Avodah. So too, Sukkos is the Nirtzah of the Yomim Noraim and that is why we have these additional aspects. For example, in Bentching, for every Yom Tov we say Horachaman Hu Yanchilainu Yom Shekulo Tov. We say a Horachaman for the Yom Tov. On Sukkos we add one more and say Horachaman Hu Yakim Lanu Es Sukkas Dovid Hanifoles. This is a prayer for the return of the Bais Hamikdash.
Horachaman Hu Yanchilainu Yom Shekulo Tov is a reference to the Chag and a prayer for the return of Malchus Shamayim which mirrors the prayers of Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur where we say V’chain Tain Kavod Hashem L’amecha. This is where we ask for the return of the Kavod HaShechina. So too in Bentching we say Horachaman Hu Yakim Lanu Es Sukkas Dovid Hanifoles. This is the end of the Yomim Noraim. That is why Sukkos ends with Hoshana Rabbah. The day has many Minhagim of the Yomim Noraim like wearing a Kittel for the Chazzon, Davening parts of the Davening that are not usually said during the weekdays. That is because of these 2 aspects.
There are 2 famous questions regarding Sukkos.
One is why is it in Tishrei? Klal Yisrael left Mitzrayim in Nissan and we are celebrating the Ananei Hakavod that they had in Tishrei?
The second question is: There were 3 special things that Klal Yisrael had when they left Mitzrayim. The Anan, the Man, and the B’air of Mayim. There is no Yom Tov for the Man or the B’air of Mayim, however, for the Anan we make a special Yom Tov?
In the Gra’s Pairush on Shir Hashirim there is a Pshat that fits well with the theme that we are discussing today. The GRA says that on the 10th day of Tishrei Klal Yisrael was forgiven, that was Yom Kippur. (This is talking about the Yidden in the Midbar). On the 11th day Moshe Rabbeinu commanded Klal Yisrael to build a Mishkan. On the 14th day of Tishrei the work of building the Mishkan started. On the 15th day which is the day that we celebrate Sukkos, is the day that the GRA says that the building of Mishkan started taking form. A Gilui Shechina came down and the Anan Hakavod came down to show that the Shechina was once again residing with Klal Yisrael despite the Cheit Ha’eigel. That is Sukkos. We celebrate the Ananei Hakavod on the day of the Ananei Hakavod’s return to Klal Yisrael. The 15th day which is the day on which Hakadosh Baruch Hu showed that the Shechina will once again reside with Klal Yisrael in the Mishkan.
This fits with the theme that Sukkos is a follow-up to Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur in addition to being a Yom Tov. It is a follow-up in a sense that it is a completion, a Nirtzah. It shows that Hakadosh Baruch Hu accepted the Kapparah of Klal Yisrael.
In the Machzor HaGra another point is made which fits well with this theme. He brings on the Shemone Esrei of Sholosh Regalim where we say Ata V’chartanu Mikol Ha’amim Ahavta Osanu V’ratzisa Banu and the Gra’s explanation of these expressions is that each one refers to one of the Holidays of the Sholosh Regalim.
Ata V’chartanu Mikol Ha’amim of course refers to Pesach where Klal Yisrael was chosen. Ahavta Osanu refers to Matan Torah when Hakadosh Baruch Hu came down and held a mountain as a Chuppah over Klal Yisrael. V’ratzisa Banu refers to Sukkos, like Nirtzah, V’nirtza La L’chapeir Alav. A language of acceptance of forgiveness. Therefore, the Gra says that V’ratzisa Banu is a reference to Sukkos and again it fits with our theme that these are the two aspects of Sukkos. In addition to the Chag aspect there is the V’ratzisa Banu the Nirtza the end of the Yomim Noraim a day of Kapparah for Klal Yisrael. This is an important theme and idea for Sukkos. We have the idea that wherever we go on Sukkos we have to stay close to a Sukkah because we always have to go to a Sukkah. Here we have an idea of always being aware and thinking about the Borei Olam.
Now that we have spoken about the Hashkafa aspect of Chag Hasukkos let me take a few moments and talk about some of the Halachos. Of course the Halachos are many and we can’t cover more than a fraction in a few minutes, however, a few people ask me questions and I think we can hit upon a few of the Shailos that are most commonly asked.
Many people ask about tying down the mat in a Sukkah. People are aware that the Maimud is the thing that holds Schach in place in not allowed to be a Davar She’mikabeil Tumah. The question is can one tie down a mat and if you may, what string to use.
The Halacha is that the mat or any Schach has to be Omed B’ruach Mitzuya (has to be able to stay up in a normal wind). If your mat is one that can stand up through a regular wind of a non storm then tying it down is not an issue at all. Tying it down to prevent it from flying away in a Ruach She’aino Mitzuya that is not a Maimud because Schach does not have to be able to withstand a Ruach She’aino Mitzuya and therefore there really is no Shaila about tying down the mat unless you are in a place where it is common to have wind that would make the mat fly off. So that Shaila that is asked is not really a Shaila L’halacha because typically the mat can stand a Ruach Mitzuya so there really is no issue.
The second question that is asked is regarding the canvas or cloth walled Sukkas. The question of if they are allowed to flap in the wind. There the Halacha is that they may not. The walls have to be solid walls in a sense that under normal non storm conditions the walls should be able to stay in their position. If they move a few inches in either direction as long as it is not 3 Tefachim it will not be a problem.
One point is that it is only an issue in the bottom 36 inches of the wall of the canvas Sukka. If you have a canvas Sukka that is on a porch so that the Sukka is right along the wall of the house, that wall of the house is a Koshera wall of the Sukka assuming it is within 3 Tefachim of the Sukka. Therefore, those 2 walls are not a problem. The only place there is a problem is the bottom 36 inches which has to be tight so that it stays in place. So these are two wind Shailos, the tying down the mat Shaila and tying down the walls of the Sukka Shaila which are commonly asked.
Let me add two points which are not commonly asked but you should be aware of. One of the major problems in the Sukkah is something that can Pasul a Sukkah but people are not aware of is that there is a Din of Taaseh V’lo Min Ha’asei which requires that the walls be made before the Schach gets put up. The walls have to be put up so that when the Schach is placed on them it is a Koshera Sukkah. There are people who put up a frame put the Schach upon that frame and then they put the canvas around the Sukkah to finish the walls of the Sukkah. That Sukka is Posul even B’dieved, because the Schach was not put on a Koshera Sukka.
It happened that I was passing a pizza store in Boro Park which had a frame and the Schach and no walls. I went in and tried to tell the owner about it and he apparently didn’t hold of this Halacha and dismissed me. I wouldn’t even trust the Kashrus there after having spoken to him. So you have to be careful when you go to these places that the Schach is put up after the walls and you should certainly be careful that way in your home.
A second P’sul that people are unaware of which is in Siman Taf Reish Lamed Bais S’if Bais, is that if there is a line of Avir across the whole Sukkah even if it is a narrow line which does not Pasul the whole Sukkah a person should not sit under it. In other words, when you are building the Sukkah there should not be any air space between the bamboo sticks or the mats that go for the entire Sukkah.
The Chazon Ish is even more Machmir that there should not be even 7 Tefachim of straight air. But that requires if you have bamboo that you put one or two pieces of bamboo in the opposite direction across so that it blocks the air and you don’t have a straight air space across the entire Sukkah. Again that is a Halacha that people are not so aware of.
Rebbi posed a riddle: How is it possible for someone to be obligated to make a Beracha Al Netilas Esrog, we know that we make a Beracha Al Netilas Lullav. There is a situation where someone could be obligated to make a Beracha Al Netillas Esrog. The hint is that it is in Taf Reish Nun Aleph, Mishna Brura. It is far in so it would be unfair for me not to mention that because then you may start from the beginning of the Siman, however, that wouldn’t be such a bad idea anyway.
The question of the week is: There is a Psak that is known in the name of Rav Yisrael Salanter that is printed in the Binyan Shlomo Teshuva 48. Rav Yisrael Salanter talks about Netillas Lulav the Mitzvah to take the Lulav. Since the Torah says Ul’kachtem Lachem, to take the 4 Minim therefore, if someone takes the 4 Minim in his hand before day break and he is holding them and now morning comes, sunrise comes, or dawn comes and he is still holding them, Rav Yisrael Salanter says that you are not Yotzei even if you hold it all day and you shake it all day because you need Ul’kachtem Lachem, to take the 4 Minim.
Actually the Nikurai Yaakov (Ed note this might be the wrong commentary, I couldn’t make out the recording) in Siman Taf Reish Nun Bais has a Safeik about this exact Shaila, however, it appears that there is a big Tzad to say that a person has to take the Arba Minim. So that if he was holding them before the Zman he wouldn’t be Yotze.
I have a Kasha. We know that Tosafos and all the Poskim talk about how to make a Beracha Over Lasiyason, how do you make the Beracha before you hold the 4 Minim. The custom that most of us have is to hold all 4 Minim in our hand, holding the Esrog upside down and then turning the Esrog straight side up after the Beracha which is fine. However, (Ed note. Recording missed who this commentary was) in Sukkah 39 and the Shulchan Aruch bring another Eitza. They say to take the 4 Minim in your hand and have in mind not to be Yotzei because if someone has in mind B’feirush not to be Yotzei he is not Mekayeim the Mitzvah so that the person holding it having in mind not to be Yotzei is not Mekayeim the Mitzvah. Then make the Beracha and then have in mind to be Yotzei the Mitzvah. That case where a person takes it into his hand in a way that he has in mind not be Yotzei the Mitzvah so there is no L’kicha initially and later he decides now I want to have in mind to be Yotzei. In a situation where there was no L’kicha, no taking of the 4 Minim it was not L’sheim Mitzvah. Yet Tosafos and all of the Poskim bring it and say that one can be Yotzei in this manner. This would seem to be a Kasha on Rav Yisrael Salanter’s Chiddush that you need Ul’kachtem Lachem. That you need a L’kicha with a Kavana for the Mitzvah. Tzorech Iyun!