Succah 48 - 54
- Hallel and sacrifice consumption on Shmini Atzeret
- What to do if the succah is needed on the eighth day
- The water libation throughout Succot and the simcha accompanying it
- How much water and how many days
- The shittin ducts into which the libations were poured
- The kohen who was stoned for failing to properly pour
- What happened to the wine poured into those ducts
- Water prepared before Shabbat and water that became disqualified
- Simchat Beit Hashaeiva – the musical accompaniment to the water drawing
- Whether this music was played on Shabbat or Yom Tov
- What was the main element of Levite song – instruments or voices
- Who played those instruments
- The bright lights, the singing and dancing of the Simchat Beit Hashaeiva
- The beauty of Yerushalayim and Beit Hamikdash; the glory of the synagogue in Alexandria
- Accommodating the women at the Simchat Beit Hashaeiva
- The weeping at the eulogy of the hereafter
- Insights regarding the evil inclination
- Four artisans, seven shepherds and eight princes
- The nature of songs and dances of the Simchat Beit Hashaeiva celebrations
- The fifteen steps in the Beit Hamikdash and what they represent
- The number of shofar blasts in Beit Hamikdash
Simchat Beit Hashaeiva
- Succah 50a
During all the days of Succot there was a special dimension of simcha in the Beit Hamikdash beyond the joy of the other Festivals. This was the Simchat Beit Hashaeiva, the singing and dancing which accompanied the special water libation that took place on Succot in addition to the regular wine libation throughout the year.
Neither the water libation nor the celebration accompanying it is explicitly mentioned in the Torah. The water libation was commanded to Moshe at Sinai and only hinted at in three extra letters that appear in the Torah’s directives for the wine libations on Succot (Bamidbar 29:17-33).
As regards the singing and dancing, a simcha which our Talmudic Sages describe as being greater than any simcha ever seen, Rambam finds a source for this in the words of the Torah (Vayikra 23:40) that on Succot “You shall celebrate before the L-rd your G-d for seven days.” Although the literal meaning of this passage is the mitzvah of taking the four species every day of Succot in the Beit Hamikdash, it may be interpreted as signaling this simcha as well.
There is an interesting connection between the explicit mitzvah of the four species and the subtle reference to Simchat Beit Hashaeiva. In the time of the Beit Hamikdash the four species were taken there for all seven days while outside only on the first day. After the destruction of the Beit Hamikdash Rabbi Yochanan ben Zakkai instituted the taking of these species all seven days everywhere as a zecher lamikdash, a way of remembering the Beit Hamikdash (Succah 41a). Although no such decree was made in regard to Simchat Beit Hashaeiva, it has become customary, especially in Eretz Yisrael, to remember the Beit Hamikdash with the singing and dancing which characterized that event.
What the Sages Say
“Gemilut chassadim (acts of kindness) are greater than tzedakah (charity) in three ways. Tzedakah can only be extended with money, only to the poor and only to the living. Gemilut chassadim can be extended with money and with the body, to the rich as well as to the poor, and to the dead as well as the living.”
- Beraita - Succah 49b