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These have been tense days, Rosh Hashonah and Yom Kippur carry a call for reflection and truthfulness to one’s inner reality. With all this earnestness comes a sense of responsibility towards a better future, one cleansed from misdeeds and fertile for a better life. We then come upon Succos, and between the twigs of the schach that covers our holy abode comes wondrous secrets that beckon us towards that hoped for illumination.

I remember clearly as a young talmid in Bobov the excitement the days before succos ushered in. The laying down of the schach (this was before bamboo rolls) was an immediate first step. Bales of hay were brought from who knows where (after all we were living in Brooklyn) and the Rav Zt”l himself would oversee the spreading of it over the beams of the succah. The Rav would stand below and we would scatter the thick long dried out grass over the beams. If there were any large spaces in the covering, the Rav would push a long stick up through the schach to show where we needed to lay down more. It was so exciting to be part of the Rebbe’s ‘work group’, every mitzvah came with his special brand of hislavos that bespoke whatever the Rav undertook. We all got caught up with the elation of the forthcoming yom tov and by the time the actual day arrived we all felt totally imbued with an ethereal simcha. This simchas Yom Tov was so real, you felt it in the air you breathed. Ah, such were the days of our youth, before the challenges of mature life took hold.

The Tiferes Shmuel of Alexander Ztl shares a hint with which we can all tap into the underpinning simcha of this wondrous time. He explains that when one does teshuvah and is drawn closer to the Eibishter he must remember the boost of energy he experienced when he was caught up in the throes of his sinfulness. He must now use that very same exuberance in doing mitzvos and positive deeds. That rush of fervor that one finds overtaking him when lost in the quagmire of sin shows that they are blessed with great passion, and it is this that now must be felt whilst doing good.

Dovid Hamelech speaks to this in Tehillim, ‘For I know my transgressions; and my sin is ever before me.’( Kapital 51)

A Yied must remember that energy that overtook him whence falling into the grasp of sin, so that he utilise it for mitzvos and chesed. The Rebbe explains further, the Torah tells us: Everything that comes into fire, you shall pass through fire and it will be purified…. (Bamidbar 31:23) a sin which was done with enthusiasm is only absolved by doing mitzvos with the same bren.

The Rebbe reminds us that Chazal call the first day of Sukkos, ‘the first day of the year in the ‘reckoning of sin’, because now that we have been given the glorious mitzvos of Lulav, Esrog, eating in the sukkah et al we should quickly make a ‘reckoning’ of how much we enthusiasm we expended in our previous moments of folly and how much more exuberance we should naturally feel at this time.

The Piltzer Rebbe Zt”l notes that Succos has a great ability to bring deliverance from sin for every yied.  The gemorah in Sukkos tells us that the Yetzai Horah has seven names, and by sitting in the sukkah for these seven holy days, fulfilling all the unique mitzvahs that these seven days entail, we grow closer to the Eibishter and wipe away all seven shades of the Yetzai Horah.

So, yes, this is definitely a zman simchosanu, not only for the seven days of holy Joy, but more vitally for the whole of our lives.


In thanks to the Kos & Debson families and your very welcoming Shul Kehilla

The Sint Family – London