Sukkos Bereishis 5764
Rabbi Shaul Dov Felman
An often quoted Medrash that pertains to Sukkos is the Pesikta that points out that the reason that Sukkos follows Yom Kippur is just in case that we are still obligated in ‘golus’ exile, by going to the Sukkah, it is considered as if we have indeed been through exile. We allude to this concept in the ‘Tefilah’ that we say upon entering the Sukkah where in the course of the ‘Tefilah’ we ask that our dwelling in the Sukkah should be deemed as if we wandered far distances obviously a take-off of this Medrash.Back to Neveh Homepage
In truth, it is relatively simple to correlate going into exile with the Yom Tov of Sukkos. The Maharal (see Gevuros Hashem 47) explains that the three ‘Regolim’ correspond to the three ‘Ikrim’ principles of faith (unlike the Rambam that calculates thirteen principles of faith as is well known). He claims that this is why they are called ‘Regolim’ for they are the legs upon which our faith stands. Pesach represents the belief in the existence of Hashem and His omnipotence, which was proven in the most grandiose way when the Jews left Egypt. Shavuos comes to strengthen the idea that Torah is ‘Min Hashomayim” from the heavens. Sukkos is to reinforce our belief in ‘Hashgacha;’ that Hakadosh Boruch Hu oversees everything that takes place in the world down to details. This is represented by the ‘Annanei Hakavod’ the heavenly clouds, hovering over us for the duration of our forty years in the wilderness. In discussion of Kayin’s exile after killing Hevel, Rabeinu Bechaye points out that what is entailed in the punishment of ‘golus’ is that the person or nation that undergoes exile finds himself or itself in a state of ‘hester ponim’ and lacking ‘hashgacha.’ It would seem that on Sukkos though we must undergo exile, being that the destination is the Sukkah, we find ourselves under Hakadosh Boruch Hu’s watchful eye once again feeling His Hashgacha.
What remains unclear is as follows. We assume that the atonement of Yom Kippur is complete and there would be no necessity for other types of atonement. Certainly, if there would be, one could think of many other types of atonement that one might be lacking that need to be covered as well.
Let us approach this issue by studying what brought about the ‘Din’ judgement of Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur in the first place. The Ran in the the first Perek of Maseches Rosh Hashana quotes the Medrash that explains that Odom Harishon was created on the first day of Tishrei, which was the very same day that he sinned as is taught in Maseches Sanhedrin 38b. Consequently, Odom was judged and was for the most part forgiven. (Certainly he and Chava were punished as well but the sentence had it been with pure justice would have been much more severe.) Hakadosh Boruch Hu then said that since on this day Man was judged and was forgiven, He will therefore every year on this day judge Mankind and they will be sentenced favorably. This is why every year we go through ‘Din’ on Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur with the belief that we will truly be judged auspiciously. We must however bear something in mind. Even though Odom Harishon was judged favorably, he nevertheless was not spared from being exiled from ‘Gan Eden’ as is clearly stated in Bereishis Chapter 3. The Chizkuni actually points out that since Odom Harishon brought death onto the whole world he was judged as one that kills inadvertently that has to go to an ‘Ir Miklot’ for refuge. Being that our judgement is just a take-off of that of Odom Harishon, we can’t expect to deem any better than he did. If he had to be exiled, so do we. That is why we must go out of our home to complete the process that Odom Harishon had to undergo.
The Pirkei D’Rebbi Eliezer points out that when Odom was chased out of Gan Eiden, was exiled to ‘Har Hamoriah.’ According to some opinions in Chazal (see Maseches Sanhedrin 38b) this took place immediately after the judgement which took place on the sixth day of ‘Maaseh Berishis,’ before the oncoming of Shabbos. In Sefer Tehillim 76,3 the Posuk states ‘Vayhi Beshaleim Sukko Umeonoso Betziyon.’ On that Posuk in the Medrash Shochar Tov we are taught that from the beginning of Creation, Hakadosh Boruch Hu has a Sukkah in Yerushalayim where He prays that His Beis Hamikdosh should not be destroyed. During the time of Churban destruction, His prayer is that the Beis Hamikdosh should be rebuilt. We can thereby understand why it is that on Shabbos night the last Beracha in Maariv before Shmoneh Esrei is concluded with ‘Haporeis Sukkas Shalom Oleinu V’Al Kol Amo Yisroel V’Al Yerushalayim.’ Odom Harishon was exiled on Fri. night (according to the aforementioned opinion) to Har Hamoriah i.e. Jerusalem and there Hakadosh Boruch Hu has His Sukkah! At that time, we being the children of Odom beg that the Sukkah should serve as protection for us. What good fortune we have! Even though we are banished, at least we find ourselves literally in Hakadosh Boruch Hu’s lap in the Sukkah!
Following this line of thought, we can shed new light on what lies behind the Yom Tov of Simchas Torah, which Chazal found necessary to combine together with Shmini Atzeres, the day after Sukkos. In Parshas V’Eschanan 4,41, the Torah relates that Moshe before his passing, set aside the three ‘Orei Miklot’ cities of refuge, on the eastern side of the Jordan. Immediately afterwards 4,44, the Posuk teaches, ‘Vezos Hatorah Asher Som Moshe Lifnei Bnei Yisroel.’ The connection between the two ideas is very unclear. The Baal Haturim points out that it comes to teach that a person must exile one’s self to a place of Torah, as is taught in Pirkei Avos 4,14. The Rabeinu Bechaye points out that the pesukim come to teach me that Torah protects a person even more than an ‘Ir Miklot’ for the ‘Ir Miklot’ saves only for a sin done inadvertently while Torah saves from all sin. Furthermore, the Medrash describes a dialogue between Klal Yisroel and Hakadosh Boruch Hu in which Klal Yisroel want to know how they will atone for their sins when the existence of cities of refuge will cease. Hakadosh Boruch Hu’s answer is that there will always be Torah!
With that line of thought we can appreciate Chazal’s choosing the day that follows Sukkos as ‘Simchas Torah.’ When we leave that Sukkah that serves us as a refuge when we are forced to exile; ‘Ki Yitzpeneini Besukoh,’ we are distraught as to where will our salvation come from. Therefore Chazal made sure that we will choose this day to reach the greatest intimacy with the Torah, thereby appreciating it’s special quality of serving as our salvation and refuge at all times. These are certainly appropriate thought when we begin again the cycle of Torah reading with Bereishis and learn about Odom and Kayin having had to undergo their respective exiles. We must remember that we have Torah that serves as the greatest refuge. May Hakadosh Boruch Hu open our hearts and our eyes to appreciate and see the depth of His Torah.
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