Parashat Ha’azinu

Bait Aaron wishes everyone 

Chag Kasher V’Sameach

the sukkot experience By Rabbi Mendel Weinback zt”l

On Sukkot, of course. The Torah commands us to move out of our houses on the fifteenth day of the Month of Tishrei and to make Sukkot (popularly translated as “booths” but better defined as shelters) our homes for seven days.

The revealed reason for this commandment is the Torah’s explanation that dwelling in Sukkot will remind us of the supernatural protection against the harsh climate of the desert which Hashem so graciously provided for our ancestors when He brought them out of Egyptian bondage. But, as is the case with all of the mitzvot there are many lessons to be learned from analyzing and performing this mitzvah of making a sukkah our home for a week.

Perhaps the most elementary lesson of all is the sense of “temporariness.” Although we are certainly expected to make every effort to dignify this mitzvah by making the sukkah as attractive as possible and to truly fulfill our Sages’ guideline that “you shall dwell in them as you live in your own home,” there is no escaping the feeling that this is only a “temporary dwelling.” When dining room, living room and bedroom all become combined in an area equal in size to only one of these units, and when furniture is kept down to a bare minimum, the dwellers of the sukkah are keenly aware that this is not a permanent situation.

The value of such an experience emerges from the classic tale of the Jew who came to visit the famous Torah giant, Rabbi Yisrael Meir Kagan, zatzal, (the Chafetz Chaim) in his humble abode in the Polish town of Radin. “Where is your furniture?” asked the astonished visitor of the saintly sage when he saw how barely furnished the room was. “And where is yours?” was the Chafetz Chaim’s response. “I have no furniture with me because I am only passing through,” explained the visitor. “I, too, am only passing through this world,” said the Chafetz Chaim, “for our lives here are only a preparation for the real world, the World to Come. For merely passing through this corridor of time I have enough furniture.”

In our pursuit of creature comforts and a higher standard of living we inevitably become ensnared in the illusion that we are here to stay forever and must therefore try make the most of it in terms of enjoyment. A week in a temporary home where there is only room for the bare essentials of survival restores our focus on the transient nature of our entire existence and provides us with at least a part of the transcendent perspective of the Chafetz Chaim.

Another vital lesson of the sukkah was colorfully summarized by a great Chassidic leader who said that “the mitzvah of sukkah is the only one you can immerse yourself in even with your boots.” There are 248 positive commandments, but all of them require only a portion of our physiology for their performance: e.g., for tefillin we utilize the arm and head, for prayer, the Shema and Torah study our mouths and brains, for waving the four species on Sukkot our hands. Only when it comes to the mitzvah of dwelling in the sukkah do we totally immerse ourselves in the fulfillment of the command.

(to live in Eretz Yisrael is another mitzvah in which a Jew can totally immerse himself but it is limited by geography, sukkah provides this opportunity wherever a Jew lives.)

This is a crucial perspective for every Jew to develop. His religious life is not limited to the time he spends in the synagogue or when he is fulfilling one of those 248 commands. He is expected to serve Hashem when he eats, sleeps and is involved in the pursuit of his livelihood.

The key to this approach is the Biblical guideline of “know Him in all your ways” which our Sages have interpreted as a challenge to dedicate even our most mundane acts “leshaim Shamayim” – for Heaven’s sake. If you eat, sleep and work in order to have the physical and economic well-being required for performing Hashem’s mitzvot you are considered as serving Him all of the time. How effectively does the sukkah home, with its enveloping of all our daily functions in the sanctity of divine service, bring home this important message to our minds and hearts.

One more dimension of the Sukkot experience is based on our preference for the translation of “shelters “rather than “booths.” The nuclear age in which we grew up fostered a certain sense of doomsday, with grim visions of someone on the other side of the world pressing a button and unleashing a deadly storm of missiles capable of destroying a significant portion of the human race. Even with the collapse of such a threat from a Cold War escalation into a hot one there still lurks the awful menace of suicidal terrorists blowing themselves up along with so many others and the access that such mass murderers have to nuclear weapons sold to the highest bidder.

The most depressing aspect of this doomsday feeling is that there is no salvation in any shelter designed by man. The sukkah reminds us that when Jews in the desert faced the dangers of a blazing sun or merciless cold they were provided with the shelter of pillars of cloud miraculously placed above and around them by Divine Mercy. It is this concept that Heaven will provide shelter against every danger – natural or man-made – which gives us the confidence to joyfully go on living our lives and dedicating every moment of them to Hashem Who will envelop us in His love and protection just as we envelop ourselves in the sanctity of the sukkah.

facts of life: take this serious

Nothing Like the Torah

“And Yeshurun became fat and kicked” (32:15)

Sir Moses Montefiore (1784-1885) was one of the greatest and best-loved statesmen and communal leaders in the history of the Jewish People.

He was born in Leghorn, Italy and grew up in London. In 1827 he made his first visit to Eretz Yisrael. His stay in the Land had a profound effect on him; he became religiously observant, and from then until the end of his life he was scrupulous in all areas of mitzvah observance.

It happened that one Shabbat, the great sage known as the “Chatam Sofer” stayed with Sir Moses. Sir Moses was overjoyed to have the honor of hosting such a great Torah scholar, and he did not stint to honor his guest in every way. And not just physically. As was his way, Sir Moses was just as concerned with the spirituality of Shabbat, if not more so, than its physical side.

Sir Moses was a humble man. He did not want to pass up the opportunity of correcting even the smallest infraction of halacha, and so, after Shabbat, Sir Moses took the Chatam Sofer aside and said to him, “May I please ask your honor if there was anything you saw about our Shabbat that was not in accordance with that which is written in the Torah?”

The Chatam Sofer replied immediately, “I saw nothing here this Shabbat that was in accordance with what is written in the Torah!”

Sir Moses’ jaw dropped. Could he really believe his ears?

Continued the Chatam Sofer, “It says in the Torah, And Yeshurun became fat and kicked. Rashi explains that this means the Jewish People became rich and prospered because of G-d’s kindness, but neglected the service of their Creator.

“I have spent a Shabbat with someone whom the Creator has blessed with great wealth, and yet everything is done in the service of the Most High. So you see, nothing I have seen here this Shabbat is accordance with what is written in the Torah!” They then shared a smile of Torah happiness.

According to the Vilna Gaon, the hardest Mitzvah in the Torah to fulfill is to be happy all 7 days of Sukkot. Why? Because true happiness requires constant awareness and recognition that Hashem is the source of everything. The Torah hints this to us by telling us to remember how Hashem freed us from Egypt right before the commandment to be happy (Devarim, 16;12, 14). It is only through happiness that one can establish a connection with Hashem, for He only dwells in places of joy (Chagigah, 5a). We must make sure to perform all of His commandments out of love and not out of fear/habit, for it is only through love which we could establish a connection with Him. It’s a GREAT Mitzvah to be constantly full of joy, and we should all learn how to gladden our hearts during times of trouble.


The reasons for going into the Sukkah, as given by the commentaries, all center around the idea that we leave our permanent abode to live with Hashem. It is a reminder that the world is temporary; it is symbolic of us going into galut. Nevertheless we find that it is a mitzva to beautify the Sukkah. We decorate it. We must bring out all our expensive dishes. Why?  Shouldn’t we keep it plain and simple? Why have the gashmiyut(“indulgence in earthly pleasures” )which we are trying to escape follow us into a ruchniyot (spiritual) dwelling?

There are a number of answers to this question.The Sukkah symbolizes our short time on earth. The seven days represent the seventy years of a person’s life. The temporary walls and leaky roof remind us that life is very flimsy and can end any moment. The only thing important is serving our creator who looks down on us at all times and is clearly visible if we bother looking up through the cracks.

By beautifying the Sukkah we see the joke of our pursuit of life’s luxuries. Look around, are we not fooling ourselves? No matter how much money we have or where we live or what we drive, no matter how much we spoil ourselves and indulge in life’s decorations we are still living in a world that is as flimsy as a Sukkah.

simcha corner

Joe had just recently become Orthodox and was looking to get married so he went to his friend Mike was who trying to become a part time shadchan – matchmaker. Joe was a little worried about this whole blind date business especially the idea of going out with someone he’d never seen before. “What do I do if I don’t find her attractive in the slightest?” says Joe. “I’ll be stuck with her all evening.”

“Don’t worry,” Mike says, “just go up to her door and meet her first. If you really can’t stand the way she looks just shout ‘Aaaaaauuuggghhh!’ and fake an asthma attack.”

So that night, Joe knocks at the girl’s door and when she comes out he is awe-struck at how attractive she is. He’s about to speak when the girl suddenly shouts:


Bait Aaron Big sukkah is available for  members of our Community the whole 7 days of chag for use at no cost.

Bait Aaron

invites all for

Simchat Torah

(October 24,25)

For singing and dancing around the Torah.