Kinder Torah - Succot
For parents to share with
children at the Shabbos Table
Dedicated in Loving Memory of our Father, and Grandfather
Sholom Ben Shlomo Meir z"l - Mr. Stanley Weiner
By his Children, Grandchildren, and Great-Grandchildren
Remember the Clouds
Isn’t this a great tour, Reuven?
I am enjoying it very much, Eli. The desert is absolutely beautiful. But, it sure is hot. The sun is so strong. Let’s ask the tour guide if it is dangerous to be out here.
Excuse me Mr. Tour Guide, the desert seems like a really dangerous place. Are we safe out here?
You are correct young man; the desert is very dangerous. The sun is very strong and there is no shade. Without proper protection, a person can get sunstroke. There is no water to drink. A person can dehydrate in a matter of a few hours. There is also no food here. Snakes and scorpions, live in the desert. Their sting can kill a person. The desert is no place for people unless they have plenty of supplies and protection.
I am amazed. I am totally amazed.
What’s so amazing, Eli?
The Jewish people lived in this inhospitable desert for forty years.
That is pretty amazing.
Egypt was a very fertile and settled land. The last of Hashem’s ten plagues was "death of the first-born". That resulted in Pharoh freeing the Jewish slaves. Over two million men, women, and children were now free to settle in the land of Egypt. However, Hashem had a different plan. "Follow Me into the wilderness, into an unsowed land" (Jeremiah 2:2). Where? The wilderness? Two million men women and children (including old, sick people, and pregnant women)? What will they eat? What will they drink? Do you know how much food two million people eat? Where will they find shelter? What about snakes and scorpions? Go into the wilderness? It sounds suicidal. Yet our ancestors did it out of love for Hashem and appreciation for all that He had done for them. Do you know what? He surrounded them with Ananei Kovod (Clouds of Glory) protecting them from the hostile elements of the desert. He performed miracle after miracle sustaining and protecting those two million people in this unlivable desert.
Sitting in the Sukkah is a beautiful mitzvah. The Torah explains why we live in the Sukkah during the seven days of Sukkos. "So that your generations will know that I caused the Children of Israel to live in Sukkos when I took them out of Egypt" (Vayikra 23:43). The Gemora explains that the Sukkah reminds us of the Ananei Kovod (Clouds of Glory) that surrounded and protected us in the desert for forty years. Hashem performed so many miracles and did so many acts of kindness for us then. Guess what? He is still protecting us and showering us with kindness. When we sit in the Sukkah, let us all try a little harder to appreciate all of the good that Hashem has done and continues to do for us.
"You shall rejoice on your festival (Succos)" (Devarim 16:14). "You will be completely joyous" (Devarim 16:15). Rashi explains that Hashem assures us that we will be completely happy on Succos. In our prayers of the day, we refer to Succos as zman simchaseinu (the time of our happiness). The Rambam writes (Hilchos Lulav 8:12,14) that we have a mitzvah to be happy on all of the holidays. However, on Succos there is an extra measure of happiness. We see over and over again that Succos is a time of great happiness. Why are we so happy on Succos? Let us think about this for a minute. What is the best way to enjoy our holiday? Let’s make a reservation in a beautiful luxurious hotel. We’ll rent a suite of rooms with thick rugs, plush furniture. We’ll have all of the meals served in the rooms. When the weather gets too hot, we’ll just turn on the air conditioning. If it gets too cool, we’ll just push a button for the heat. At night, we’ll sleep in a big comfortable bed. This will be a truly happy vacation. Or will it? Quite the opposite writes Rav Y. Neiman zt"l in his book "Darchei Mussar". How do we achieve such intense happiness on Succos? We move out of our comfortable secure homes and live in the sukkah. The sukkah has no real roof; rather it is exposed to the elements. Most sukkas consist of just one room, which must serve as dining room, bedroom and salon. Can there possibly be enough room to live as comfortably in the sukkah as you would in the house? The sukkah offers very little protection from heat and cold. How can we be so happy in such surroundings?
Living in the sukkah shows us what brings true happiness in life. The luxury items, fancy homes, plush carpets and furniture do not make a person happy. On the contrary, pursuing these things can make a person frustrated, jealous and miserable. The sukkah is a place where our entire body is enveloped in a mitzvah. The shechina (Divine Presence) rests upon the sukkah. By eating, sleeping, learning Torah, and entertaining guests in the sukkah, a person can achieve a closeness to Hashem that is unattainable any other time of the year. When we leave our comfortable homes to live in the sukkah, we are leaving the material comforts in order to draw near to Hashem. Can there be a greater happiness than that?
The sukkah is a very holy place. The shechina is there. Therefore, we must treat it with respect. When we do that, we will find that we are very happy in the sukkah. Listen to Abba’s divrei Torah, learn with him, sing zemiros, and enjoy Imma’s delicious cooking. Succos is a time to get close to the family and close to Hashem. That is the true happiness.
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