Chag Hasukkot – Succot

It is said of the Rebbe Baruch of Mezibuz, that there was once a plague in Mezibuz. The Rebbe was very pained with the plight of the community, and he prayed mightily that the plague should halt, but the plague did not break.

One day the funeral of one of the victims of the plague passed by the Rebbe’s house, a comedian who wanted to cheer him up entered the house and announced in joy “The plague has stopped.”

The rabbi responded: “You can see more from the window. Take a look and you will see they are carrying a fresh coffin to the cemetery.

The joker replied: “Even the dead have returned to life, and they are being carried back home from the cemetery.”

With these words, the comedian managed to make the rabbi smile and go into an uplifted mood. Then, the Rebbe immediately prayed that the plague stop, and his prayer was accepted and the plague subsided. It was obvious to all that there is a special power to prayer out of joy.

Rebbe Zvi Hirsch of Zidichov wrote a letter to his followers in the city of Munkatch when a plague broke out there, instructing them to strengthen themselves to pray with joy, out of confidence in Hashem, and be very careful that in the entire city there should be no sadness or depression.

In this regard, it is said of the holy Baal Shem Tov zy”a, that once on the evening of Yom Kippur they could not see the new moon in order to make the monthly blessing. The Baal Shem Tov was very worried, because he knew by Divine Inspiration that if they were prevented from blessing the new moon then it would be a difficult year.

The holy Baal Shem Tov sat in his room deeply engrossed in prayer and holy thoughts to clear the sky. Nothing worked, and he sat alone in bitterness.

Suddenly, a group of Chasidim began to dance vigorously and with great joy. They barged into the Baal Shem Tov’s room and urged him to join them. The Rebbe joined them and the singing and dancing were greatly amplified.

Suddenly, someone ran into the room and declared “There’s a moon out!” The group went outside and recited the blessing, after which the Baal Shem Tov said “It seems that what I couldn’t accomplish with my prayers and holy thoughts, we were able to accomplish with sheer joy.”

The words of the Seer of Lublin are well known. On the verse in Psalms (106:44), וַיַּרְא בַּצַּ֣ר לָהֶ֑ם בְּ֜שָׁמְע֗וֹ אֶת־רִנָּתָֽם “He looked upon their distress when He heard their song (cries), he explains to mean – when does Hashem see the troubles of the children of Israel and helps them?, “When he hears their song” – when he hears them praying with joy and rejoicing although they are in trouble. And the article of the righteous is known about the verse (Isaiah 55:12) “For in joy you shall come out,” that by joy you shall come out of all trouble and tribulations.

In the Book of Psalms, the Psalm is often prefaced by the words “A Song/Psalm for David”, and the sages (Pesachim 117) say that King David was engaged in song and then the Holy Spirit enveloped him, because Shechinah comes neither out of laziness nor out of sadness, nor out of frivolity and not out of idle things, but out of the joy of doing a mitzvah.

And when there is the inspiration of the Shechina, prayers are heard and well received in any case, and all kinds of good influences in the spiritual and physical are continued.

Therefore, it is custom among Jews to season prayers with hymns of service and praise to the living G-d, and especially on Shabbat and Yom Tov, to sing various melodies in the midst of prayers, because through this they evoke joy, and create G-dly inspiration, and thus prayers for mercy and good will are received on High.

This needs special reinforcement during difficult times, because then the evil inclination strives to bring people to despondency, out of fear and worry about the future.

At such a time it is appropriate to use the advice given in the book of Imrei Pinchas (Sha’ar Taharat HaMidot, letter 16) in the name of Rebbe Yaakov Shimshon of Shpitivka, that when one is in a troublesome situation should not occupy his mind with what may come in the future. Instead, he should focus on the here and now moment.

Even if it is not good for him now, it is only one isolated moment that is not so hard to endure. This way, each moment will pass by on its own in a fleeting way. And the wise saying is well known (sefer Peleh Yoetz chapter on Worry): “The past is already gone; the future is not yet here. All we have right now is this present moment for you to live.”

It is worth noting further that all human life in this world is just like a temporary moment compared to the eternal long permanent life that will be in the next world where the essence of life is, and therefore man should not be pained so much when it is difficult for him and he doesn’t have what he wants in this temporal world.
In this regard it is worth mentioning an incident that took place with the Chafetz Chaim zy”a.

In his house in the city of Radin there was no proper furniture, and as his disciple Rabbi Ephraim Oshry, the rabbi of the “Beth Hamedrash Hagodol” in New York’s Lower East Side, told me, that there were only chairs made of pieces of simple wood, and without a backrest.

Once a guest came to the house of the Chafetz Chaim and expressed his astonishment that there was no decent furniture. The Chafetz Chaim asked him in return “Where is your furniture?” The guest replied, “I’m just a passerby here, but in my regular home I have a lot of luxurious furniture.

The Chafetz Chaim then said to him, “Indeed, I also behave like you, in this world I feel myself only as a passer-by, and my place of residence is only in the next world where I will make my permanent home, so I did not see fit to fill my temporary home with luxurious furniture. Every day of my life here I strive to serve G-d and achieve eternal treasures of luxurious furniture to have in the next world”.

Accordingly, we understand that one of the reasons for the mitzvah to leave our permanent apartment on Sukkot and sit in the sukkah which is a temporary apartment, to reminds us that we are in this world only temporarily. This thought helps us keep the mitzvah of “ְ וְשָׂמַחְתָּ בְּחַגֶּךָ etc. חַ֧ג הַסֻּכֹּ֛ת תַּֽעֲשֶׂ֥ה לְךָ֖ שִׁבְעַ֣ת יָמִ֑ים You shall make yourself the Festival of Sukkoth for seven days etc., And you shall rejoice in your Festival”, instructing us to rejoice in the holiday, no matter under what circumstance.

And the purpose of the special mitzvah of joy on this holiday is, that with the great power of joy, our holiday prayers will draw down from Heaven all kinds of good blessing for the new year, Amen. May it be G-d’s will. Moshiach NOW!!!
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