A Smorgasbord Of Simcha

Traditions
Sukkot And Its Many Joys

WHEN IT COMES TO JEWISH HOLIDAYS, ONLY SUKKOT AND SIMCHAT TORAH ARE CALLED DURING PRAYERS Z’MAN SIMCHATEINU, THE SEASON OF OUR REJOICING, AND THERE ARE SO MANY REASONS FOR IT.

By Rabbi Raphael Tennenhaus

 

What is so incredible about Sukkot is that there is a smorgasbord of simcha, such a variety of joy that one experiences many types of simcha, each type significant by itself, let alone when the simcha comes in bunches.

“You shall rejoice in your holiday” (Deuteronomy 16:14). This enunciation is one of three times the Torah explicitly tells you to rejoice on Sukkot, and it primarily speaks about the special mitzvah of joy on Sukkot.

The simcha of Sukkot includes a platter and variety, yes, a smorgasbord of simchot that includes, but is not limited to:

  • the simcha to rejoice on Sukkot;
  • a simcha which is greater than the simcha of all the other holidays;
  • a simcha which is above and beyond the joy one must have every day in one’s service to Hashem;
  • a simcha that is different than the simcha that must accompany every mitzvah, including the special mitzvot of eating in a sukkah, which is an expression of simcha that unites people;
  • the simcha of the mitzvah of the four species lulav, etrog, aravot, and hadassim, which further unites all categories of the Jewish people as one;
  • the greatest simcha of Sukkot, the Simchat Beit Hashoeva, the joy of the drawing of the water to be poured on the altar, about which our sages teach, “one who has not seen the simcha of the water drawing has never seen joy in their lifetime’’ ( Sukkah 51:A);
  • the simcha of having ushpizin—special visitors—in the sukkah, both the seven traditional tzaddikim beginning with Abraham (Zohar, Arizal) and the eight Chassidic Masters, beginning with the Baal Shem Tov (talks of the Chabad Rebbes);
  • the simcha of Shemini Atzeret, when Hashem says “I only want to celebrate with you” unlike the first seven days of the holiday which include the participation of the seventy nations;
  • the simcha of Simchat Torah, which in Israel coincides with Shemini Atzeret, and which is the simcha of completing the entire Torah.

When you study Torah and Chassidus (teachings of the chassidic rebbes), you realize that there are endless levels and layers of simcha.

One of the primary teachings of the Baal Shem Tov, founder of Chassidism, is the tangible focus on simcha in everything we do.

Earlier generations, before the Baal Shem Tov may have placed greater emphasis on fear, seriousness, bitterness, fasting, and others. This mode of focus was necessary in earlier generations, but the Baal Shem Tov came along and taught the Jewish world that the ‘’call of our era” is one of simcha, of joy, not an external joy, nor a false joy. The Baal Shem Tov taught us how Judaism, in our day and age, can and must be observed with unadulterated and internal joy. It is how we must serve Hashem, every single day of the year, every single moment of each day.

Joy brings you to great heights. It leads you to a better understanding of Torah and G-dliness. It enhances your observance of mitzvot. It enables you to bring the unaffiliated closer to Yiddishkeit (Jewishness or Judaism). It helps you be less self absorbed.

These aspects of simcha are 24/7. Yet when Sukkot comes along, a smorgasbord of simcha is served. The holiday is one of simcha. Each holiday mitzvah is done with simcha. The simcha of the water drawing was and is unparalleled. Add to all this, celebrating the holiday with family and welcoming both physical and spiritual guests to join in the simcha!

Certainly such simcha breaks all barriers (Samach Tesamach of the Rebbe Rashab 5657 and subsequent teachings of the Rebbes)! If this holds true and joy breaks all barriers throughout the year, how much more so does this happen to all of us on the holiday of Sukkot?

After tasting all the simcha items on the Sukkot simcha smorgasbord, we no doubt stand at the pinnacle of serving G-d with joy. As water reflects face to face (Proverbs 27:19), may our contagious joy elicit the true joy from G-d Almighty, who will deliver to us the final redemption when there will be Simchat Olam Al Roshom, everlasting joy on our heads (Isaiah 35:10, see Talmud Shabbat 88A) with the revelation of Moshiach, NOW! 

GUIDE

By Chani Rosenblum

1.- EVE OF SUKKOT
Sunday, September 27th, 2015.

  • Light candles.
  • Pray in the synagogue.
  • Recite the Kiddush of Shalosh Regalim (the three Pilgrimage Festivals) over wine.
  • Say the blessing Leshev Ba’sukkah and Shehecheyanu in a sukkah.
  • Say the blessing of hamotzi over two challot after netilat yadaim and enjoy a festive meal.

2.-FIRST DAY OF SUKKOT
Monday, September 28th through
Sunday October 4th, 2015.

  • From September 28th until October 4th (except Saturday) take the four species except the etrog (citron) with the right hand and recite the blessing al netilat lulav. Then pick up the etrog and shake.
  • The first time add the blessing shehecheyanu before you shake.
  • Go to the synagogue.
  • Make the Kiddush, say the blessing Leshev Ba’sukkah and enjoy a festive lunch under the sukkah with Hamotzi (after netilat Yadaim).
  • Light candles from a preexisting flame.
  • Pray in the synagogue.
  • Make the Kiddush, say the blessing Leshev Ba’sukkah and enjoy a festive dinner under the sukkah with Hamotzi dipped in honey (after Netilat Yadaim).

3.- SECOND DAY OF SUKKOT
Tuesday, September 29th, 2015.

Pray in the synagogue, remember the 4 kinds.

  • Make the Kiddush, say the blessing Leshev Ba’sukkah and enjoy a festive lunch under the sukkah with Hamotzi (after netilat Yadaim).
  • Light candles from a preexisting flame.
  • Pray in the synagogue.
  • Make the Kiddush, say the blessing Leshev Ba’sukkah and enjoy a festive dinner under the sukkah with Hamotzi dipped in honey (after netilat yadaim).

4.- SHABAT CHOL HAMOED
Friday, October 2nd and Saturday, October 3rd, 2015

  • Light candles.
  • Pray in the synagogue.
  • Make the Kiddush.
  • Say the blessing Leshev Ba’sukkah and enjoy a festive dinner and lunch under the sukkah with Hamotzi dipped in honey (after netilat yadaim).

CHOL HAMOED
Wednesday, September 30th through Sunday, September 4th, 2015  (excluding Shabbat).

During Chol HaMoed, the
usual restrictions that apply to the Biblical Jewish holidays are relaxed, but not entirely eliminated.
Work only if necessary, honor the festivity with the study of Torah and with food and wine excluding Shabbat.

HOSHANA RABA

It is customary to stay awake Saturday night studying Torah and reciting Psalms. Sunday morning in the synagogues, men circle the Torah reading platform seven times, with the four kinds in hand while reciting the Hoshanot.

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