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From the World of Rabbi Avraham Yitchak Kook
“The secrets of the Torah, because they come from a Supreme source, the secret place of the soul’s innermost being, part of G-d on high, can therefore penetrate all hearts, even those that have not achieved broad, profound Torah knowledge.” (Orot HaTorah 10:5)

Rabbi Dov Begon – Rosh Yeshiva of Machon Meir
Message for Today: “Those who sanctify Your name will rejoice through You”

The three pilgrimage festivals, Pesach, Shavuot and Succot, are mentioned in the Shemoneh Esreh as “the time of our freedom”; “the time of the giving of our Torah”; and “the time of our rejoicing”. These three times are a single array, led off by Pesach, the time of our freedom. Pesach is when the Jewish People were born, when we emerged from darkness to light and from slavery to freedom, like an infant emerging from its mother’s womb. Next comes Shavuot, the time of G-d’s giving us the Torah. It is not enough to emerge from slavery to political freedom, just as it is not enough to be born. Rather, we must develop and uncover the benevolent soul stored away in the newborn infant, by way of providing children with a fine education and teaching them Torah, lovingly.

We must emerge from physical, material slavery to spiritual freedom. As our sages said, regarding the giving of the Torah, “Read not that the writing was engraved [charut] on the Tablets (Exodus 32:16), but that there was ‘cherut’-freedom through the Tablets.” By way of the political and spiritual freedom, we will merit to complete the process when we sit in the succah during Succot, the time of our rejoicing. There we will remember and be aware and focus on the fact that “G-d caused Israel to dwell in succot when He took them out of Egypt” (Leviticus 23:43). Rashi interprets those “succot” as referring to the clouds of glory. Thus, on Succot we merit to see G-d’s goodness and to bask in the splendor of His divine presence, as we say in “Kel Adon” regarding G-d’s glory: “Benevolent G-d created glory for His name.”

Today, in our very own generation we are meriting, and shall continue to merit, to see the themes of the pilgrimage holidays reinvested with their old ancient relevance. The Jewish State’s establishment represents an emergence from two thousand years of exile to political freedom, and it parallels Israel’s exodus from Egypt — the time of our freedom. The return to Torah and to Jewish tradition which is taking place nowadays amongst tens of thousands of our people, both quietly and openly, parallels the receiving of the Torah. These days are thus like “the time of G-d’s giving us our Torah”. And through the political and spiritual freedom, may we soon merit the completion of the redemption process with the coming of our righteous Messiah and the rebuilding of the Temple, speedily in our day. And through us will be fulfilled our requests and G-d’s promises: “Make us rejoice in accordance with Your days of afflicting us, the years in which we saw evil” (Psalm 90:15); “O L-rd, grant us Your holy festivals for gladness and joy. May Israel, who sanctifies Your name rejoice in You” (Festival Shemoneh Esreh). With blessings for a joyous Succot, and looking forward to complete salvation,

Shabbat Shalom!

Rabbi Shlomo Aviner – Chief rabbi of Beit El
“Don’t try to do everything”

Don’t think you have to do everything, because you’ll end up doing nothing. You won’t be able to do everything, to support all of the poor people, to perform kind deeds for all the downtrodden, to fulfill all the tasks and to dance at all the weddings. Do what you can, but whatever you do, do well. The poor of your own town come first, your own family takes precedence, and your wife and children come before all else. In their regard you are obligated not as part of the Jewish People but personally.

Rabbi Avraham Yitzchak HaKohen Kook wrote: “The Rabbinic dictum, ‘It is not for you to complete the work’ (Avot 2:19), is a lamp unto my feet, and it was a guiding light for many people who accomplished much for the world’s sake. If not for this wonderful saying, they would not have found the tranquility to concentrate on what was important to them” (Orot HaRe’iyah, Shalom BeAm). To examine too carefully scope of the work that rests upon us is a guaranteed prescription for chronic frustration. One should be humble and tranquilly observe the unending symphony. Another profound saying is this: Don’t resign yourself to what there is, but neither make light of it.

One should realize that there are other people on this earth, and history has more generations remaining, and what you do not do, they will complete. Yet whatever you do, do well! After all, “One is not free to neglect the work” (Avot, ibid.).

Don’t be flighty. Stay focused. Whenever you do any good deed, G-d is with you, as Rav Kook explains in his article, “Bechol Derachecha Da’ehu”, from “Mussar Avicha”. When you pray, G-d is there. When you are learning Torah, don’t think about your sister who is ill. Your whole world at that moment must be the Talmud. It’s not a time to recite psalms or to call the sick. Yet when you are visiting your sick sister, you are then a soldier in the kingdom of kindness, and only that kindness exists. There is no Torah and no prayer. That is the secret of concentration, the secret of limiting yourself.

The story is told of a man who met a friend after many years, and the friend invited him for a meal.
“How is your uncle doing?” asked the host.
“He’s dead!” replied the guest.
“So your aunt is alone?”
“She’s dead too.”
“Their poor orphaned children! With no parents to protect them!”
At the end of the meal the host asked him where he was working, and he answered that he was working for his uncle.
“But you said he was dead!” burst forth the host.
The guest responded, “When I am eating, everyone is dead!”
It is true that eating is not classed as a mitzvah, but health is essential, so eat in peace. (Obviously, this should not be taken too far either).

This is the rule: Whatever you do, do well. Go all out! One time someone asked an educator a foolish question, “Which of your children do you love the most?” The educator answered, “Whichever one I am with at the time”. Indeed, when he is together with that child, he is his whole world. Any problem that you cannot solve you should relate to as though it does not exist. Any problem that our generation cannot solve does not exist. It’s for another generation. “Generation by generation they will praise your works” (Psalm 145:4). Each generation has its leaders and its wise men, and each generation faces its own challenges, and as for us, each of us must stand by his own post, with his own tasks.

Rabbi Azriel Ariel – Rabbi of Ateret
The “Fallen Succah of David” (Amos 9:11)

Our succah is weak, temporary, ramshackle. It cannot protect against rain, and even its ability to protect against the other scourges of nature, such as heat and cold, is limited. All the more so that it cannot offer any real protection against enemies and attackers. The succah is inherently temporary, and not just in the sense of how long it stands. The law is that a succah over twenty cubits (ten meters) is invalid, not because of its height, but because for it to be so high it has to be strong and stable, while what we need is a “temporary dwelling”.

A house, by contrast, is strong, stable and permanent. It seems to lack nothing for it to provide its inhabitants with long-term endurance and protection. Strangely, however, when we speak of the Kingdom of Israel, it is compared precisely to a succah. “On that day I will raise up the fallen succah of David, and close up its breaches. I will raise up its ruins, and I will build it as in the day of old” (Amos 9:11). Why is David’s kingdom compared precisely to a succah?

We must say that the succah’s virtue lies precisely in what it is lacking. A house’s stability and strength are an illusion. Only fourteen months ago we saw how an entire block of beautiful settlements were transformed within days to ruins. It took ten minutes per house. And just two months ago we saw tens of thousands of people leaving their homes because those homes couldn’t protect them from the missiles of death that were launched over the border.

So that a house can provide protection, so that a house can endure, it needs something more. “If the L-rd did not build the house, they that build it labor in vain. If the L-rd does not protect the city, the watchman toils in vain” (Psalm 127:1). The succah, precisely by way of its shakiness, precisely by way of its temporariness, provides a concrete demonstration of its virtue, through its sitting in the “shade of faith”. King David said, “He shall hide me in His succah on my day of trouble” (Psalm 27:5), as if to say, “I know that only a weak succah is protecting me, but being that it is G-d’s succah, I feel that “He will raise me up high upon a rock” (ibid.). A house’s strength is human, whereas a succah’s strength is divine. The house’s walls are the product of industrial manufacture, whereas the succah’s cover, sechach, made of natural branches, is invested with the seal of heavenliness, like those same clouds of glory which covered our ancestors’ heads as they were exiting Egypt. Following are the words of the Maharal from Prague (Netzach Yisrael, Chapter 35): “Scripture called David’s kingdom a ‘succah’ because his kingdom is divine, unlike all other kingdoms, which are of man. For that reason his line was not called the “House of David”, the word house implying permanence, like other natural objects which are permanent to the world. Divine entities, by contrast, are not permanent in this world, but temporary, like the succah which is temporary. We thus have a rule that ‘we need the succah to be a temporary dwelling’. It befits a succah, being a divine mitzvah, that its dwelling should be temporary and not permanent. Amos said (9:11), ‘On that day I shall raise up the fallen succah of David’.”

Moreover, a house’s stability is its undoing. If a house collapses, there is no one who can raise it up anew. One is left with no choice but to demolish it to its very foundations, and to throw away its wood and stone in a building debris site. Then one has to purchase new materials and to start the whole construction process anew. By contrast, if a succah falls down, it is easy to rebuild it, and from precisely those same materials. Then, you don’t have a new succah, but the original. Such is the Kingdom of Israel, which is compared to a succah.

It is not like the great empires which were compared to a house. Egypt and Persia, Babylonia and Assyria, Greek and Rome ruled the whole world until they forever fell. “When the wicked spring as the grass, and when all the workers of iniquity flourish, they shall be destroyed forever” (Psalm 92:7).

Of the Kingdom of Israel, by contrast, it says, “A righteous man falls seven times and rises up again” (Proverbs 24:16). The Kingdom of Israel has known many falls, but each time it rises up anew. Even when it is fallen it is called “the Succah of David”. It retains its name, because it is destined to be rebuilt as in days of old and as in former years. The divine life force stored away in it does not fade away, nor will it ever. “The Eternal One of Israel does not lie nor renege, for he is not a man that He should renege” (I Samuel 15:29). The nations may joyfully say, “The virgin of Israel is fallen. She shall no more rise” (Amos 5:2), but King David preempts them with, “The L-rd supports all who fall” (Psalm 145:14). Rav Kook said: “David’s fallen succah shall appear to everyone to rise up again, but actually it shall not rise up, for it never fell in the first place. When this truth is revealed, it will serve as a certain guarantee that David’s succah will stand forever.”

Our hope, however, is to raise up David’s succah before it falls to the earth, as the author of “Arvei Nachal” said (on Behar): Ex post facto, redemption will not arrive until King David’s succah reaches its lowest point. The sages of Eretz Yisrael, in response to the verse above from Amos, would say, “If she has fallen, she shall fall no more. Rise, O virgin of Israel.” Yet ideally redemption can come before that, stopping the fall in its tracks.

Of course what we want is the ideal redemption, which will not come when the succah falls to its lowest point and stops, but while it is still falling. We can derive this from the Hebrew expression “succat David hanofelet” — literally, the FALLING succah of David — i.e., while it is still falling.

In the words of the Prophet Amos, verse 9:11, there are three stages in the raising up of David’s succah: (1) “I will close up the breaches” — stopping the fall; “I will raise up his ruins” — renewing our days as of old; and (3) “I will build it up as in days of old” — forever, for all eternity. (see Malbim.) This is our prayer when we ask at the end of the Grace after Meals: “May the Merciful One raise up the fallen succah of David.”

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