Shabbos Chol HaMoed Sukkos
Rabbi Maury Grebenau
We know that the Torah portion chosen by Chazal can tell us a great deal about what aday is all about. Looking deeply into the part of the Torah which is read can give us deep insightsinto what we are to gain from our precious holidays. The Gemara (Megilla 31a) tells us that thereading for Shabbos Chol HaMoed Sukkos is a section of Ki Tisa dealing with the aftermath of the sin of the golden calf and also briefly touching on the festivals. When it comes to ShabbosChol HaMoed Sukkos the question of why this reading is chosen is particularly interesting sinceSukkos is mentioned for just a half a pasuk (Shemos 34:22) out of the entire reading.Rashi explains that the reason for this section being chosen is that Shabbos, the threefestivals (including Sukkos) and also one of the pesukim used to derive the laws of CholHaMoed ae all present in this reading. Rashi seems to understand that this reading is a catch allfor the day in that it mentions all three aspects of the day: Shabbos, the festival (of Sukkos) andthe specific status of Chol HaMoed.The problem with R
ashi’s approach is that it only accounts for the very end of the
reading; all of these aspects are only mentioned in the 7
aliyah. Why do we start so much earlier and mention the end of the golden calf story. All the aspects which Rashi highlights take place inthe final aliyah. There must be a deeper reason that Chazal included Moshe creating the secondset of luchos. Let
s explore a possibility.Sukkos is the capstone for two different cycles in the Jewish calendar. If we fullyappreciate these cycles then we will gain new insight into this reading and the character of Sukkos overall. Sukkos is the last of the three regalim (festivals). They begin with Pesach whichis both the beginning of the story (the Jews being taken out of Egypt) and also takes place in Nissan which is the first month
. Then we receive the Torah on Shavous and end with Sukkos.At the same time during Tishrei we have three holidays which together comprise the
(high holy days). We begin with Rosh haShanah and continue with Yom Kippur. Sukkosis also the end of this cycle. How does Sukkos function as the final piece of both of these cycles?
Hutner (Kuntres Yerech HaEisanim Maimar 9) explains that the nature of Sukkos isthat it celebrates the closeness we can achieve with Hashem after we have sinned. Yom Kippur recalls the day that we received the second set of luchos after having been forgiven for sinningwith the golden calf.
We recite “
on each of theregalim, Each of these chaggim celebrate an aspect of our chosen status and our specialrelationship with Hashem. On Pesach we are celebrate the fact that Hashem took us out of Egypt
It is during Nissan that we are given the Mitzva to have a calendar (Shemos 12:1). See also the first Mishna inRosh HaShanah that Nissan is the beginning of the regalim and the Gemara (Rosh haShanah 7a) which explains thesource for this.