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Drasha Nuggests for Sukkot 5771

Mordechai Hochheimer

Chag: Sukkot

Key Sources: Gemara Avoda Zarah 3a-3b

Description: The Gemara describes the judgment of the nations of the world at the
end of days. They claim that they were not given the same advantages as Israel
since only Israel was forced to accept the Torah. Hashem responds by giving them
the mitzvah of sukkah. Then Hashem makes it uncomfortably hot and the nations
of the world leave their sukkos and kick them on the way out.

Why would Hashem give them the mitzvah of sukkah? And why would he make
them uncomfortable and force them to leave the sukkah?

One must look below the surface of the Gemara. At Mt. Sinai the Jews were forced
to accept the Torah because of Hashem’s revelation. The nations complain that
they were never given an opportunity to experience a complete revelation of
Hashem. To teach them a lesson Hashem gives them the Mitzvah of sukkah which
symbolizes exile. Then Hashem made them uncomfortable as if to say that their
mitzvah was not wanted because when the sukkah is uncomfortable there is no
mitzvah to sit in it. Not understanding that Hashem desires us to seek him out even
when it is not easy to see him, they left the sukkah and kicked it.

Hashem was showing the nations that the Jewish people constantly seek him out,
even when they are in exile and even when it seems that Hashem does not want
our mitzvos.

Practical Application: To try and see Hashem’s influence, and presence in your
world on a daily basis. Look at how your life would be different if not for your small
decisions, or random events.
Key Words: Emunah, Sukkah, Self- Reflection
Succot: Four Species and Four Levels of Growth

Mordechai Torczyner

Parsha: Emor

Chag: Shavuot

Key Source: Rama, Torat ha’Olah 3:62-3:63


Description: The arba minim guide us in our post-Yom Kippur evolution, as we set
about creating a year greater than last. Granted the humble realism of Reb Zushe,
the Rama reminds us that we dare not allow the hugeness of the task to limit our
horizon or lower our expectations.

Context: The lulav, etrog, hadas and aravah lend themselves to diverse
interpretations and applications, from appreciating the flora of the natural world, to
harnessing the body to serve Gd to appreciating each type of Jew.

The Rama looks at these arba minim as symbols of a person’s development in four
spheres – physical, filial, communal and spiritual - with the ultimate goal of
achieving completeness and bonding with Gd in the succah.


Succah – The Av he’Anan of Sh’mot 19:9, in which HaShem appeared to Moshe and
with HaShem protected the Jews. The sky must be visible, representing insight into
HaShem’s message as received by the navi.

Lulav – The lulav mirrors the spine, surrounding by limb-like leaves and topped by a
tyomet representing the brain. The righteous Jew controls those limbs; tzaddik
katamar yifrach.

Hadas – Vayyikra Rabbah 30:10 links the Hadas to Leah, who provides the bulk of
the children of Yaakov. The leaves surround the branch, as one’s household
surrounds him. So, all of us, owe an outstanding debt to our families and are
responsible to exert a positive influence upon them.

Aravah – The least common denominator lulav represents the community, which
even contains people with self-serving, smooth tongues, like the smooth edge of the
leaves of the aravah. Sometimes the community even requires a degree of mussar,
as when we strike the aravah against the ground on Hoshana Rabbah. Nonetheless,
we hold the aravah together with the rest of our community, and we are obligated
to exert a positive influence there as well.

Etrog – The pri eitz hadar lives on the tree from year to year, enduring eternally, as
does the neshamah. It is also associated with the eitz hadaas tov vara. When one
has achieved control of his physical nature, benefited his household and impacted
his community, he must still attain a fourth level, developing his neshamah.

I would use the Rama’s insight regarding the Succah (3:62) as the closer – when we
succeed in these areas, we achieve the ultimate purpose of the succah…

Practical Application:

I see this as more dvar torah than derashah, because the piece in its entirety it is
too diffuse for practical focus. Nonetheless, one who wished could use the Rama in
its entirety to discuss prioritization of our efforts, and one who wished could
highlight certain elements, such as our emphasis upon influencing family and

Key Words: Emor, Succot, Arba Minim, Family, Community

Yehoshua Grunstein

Chag: Sukkot

Key Sources: Vayikra 23/40, Midrash Tanchuma, Parshat Emor, Siman 30/Yalkut
Shimoni 247/651, Tur OC 581

Description: Why does the Torah command us to take the 4 species "on the FIRST
DAY"? In almost all other places, it says "the 15th day…the 10th day etc'?

Says the Midrash Tanchuma [sources below] that this is to teach that…the first day
of Sukkot is ‫ראשון לחשבון עונות‬/the FIRST DAY TO THE ACCOUNTING OF SINS!
Explains the Yalkut Shimoni/Brought in the TUR that since Yom Kippur just 4 days
ago, we've been busy…and had not time to sin; we're building a Sukka, finding the
4 species, cooking etc'. But now, on the FIRST DAY of Sukkot, all is in place…so we
have time to sin again. As such, the FIRST DAY of Sukkot is called this as it's the
FIRST DAY we have the time/ability/potential to sin.

Practical Application: It's not that difficult to be an ANGEL on Yom Kippur- the 5
prohibitions of the day + long davening make it very easy to get to an angelic level!
The real challenge, says R' CHAIM DRUKMAN, is to be a mentch/not to sin after Yom
Kippur, or to be an upright Human being in nature and not in the meta-natural
environment of the shul. As this FIRST DAY begins, let's hope we can meet the
challenge of being an upright Jew and Human being all year long.

Additional thought : Maybe this is why the term FIRST DAY…is written in reference
to the 4 species and not in reference to the Sukka; the sukka is not a natural place
to be in the Fall, and it's holiness and uniqueness [Keshem Shechal Shem
Shamayim Al Hachagiga kach chal shem Shamayim al hasukka] is felt and
acknowledged. But the 4 species are…natural, part of the natural world we see
every day. It's there [in the commonplace of work, bus, in line at the store etc.] that
the challenge of not sinning far harder and difficult.


'‫מדרש תנחומא פרשת אמור סימן ל‬

‫ והלא יום חמשה עשר הוא? אלא מאי‬,‫ וכי ראשון הוא‬,‫ביום הראשון‬..."‫"ולקחתם לכם ביום הראשון‬
...‫ ראשון לחשבון עונות‬,"‫"ראשון‬

‫תרנ"א‬/‫ילקוט שמעוני רמ"ז‬

‫"ביום הראשון"= זה חמשה עשר ואת אמרת ביום הראשון?‪ ....‬כך באין ישראל בראש השנה ועושין‬
‫תשובה‪ ,‬והקב"ה מתיר להם שליש של עונותיהם‪ ,‬באין עשרת ימי תשובה ומתענין הכשרים והקב"ה‬
‫מתיר להן רוב עונותיהן‪ ,‬כיון שבא יוהכ"פ וכל ישראל מתענין הקב"ה סולח לכל עונותיהן‪...‬מיוהכ"פ‬
‫עד החג כל ישראל עסוקין במצות זה עוסק בסוכתו וזה עוסק בלולבו וביום טוב הראשון של חג הם‬
‫נוטלין לולביהן ואתרוגיהן בידיהן‪ ,‬ומקלסין להקב"ה‪ ,‬והקב"ה אומר להן כבר מחלתי לכם על מה‬
‫שעבר‪ ,‬מכאן ואילך חשבו עונותיכם ]לפניכם[‪ .‬לפיכך אמר ביום הראשון ראשון לחשבון עונות מיום‬
‫הראשון של מועד ואילך‪.‬‬

‫טור או"ח תקפ"א‬

‫‪...‬ממדרש ר' תנחומא‪....‬בי"ה הכל מתענין ומוותר להם הכל במוצאי י"ה עוסקים במצות סוכה ולולב‬
‫ואין עושין עונות לכך קורא י"ט ראשון ראשון לחשבון עונות‪...‬‬

‫‪Key Words: Sukkot, Daily life‬‬

Yehoshua Grunstein

Chag: Sukkot

Key Sources: Vayikra 23/40, Sukka 37a, Sukka 42a, Berachot 11a, Tosfot [ibid

Description: The Torah just tells us to pick up the 4 species, and indeed
"Medeagba nafik bey"/when you pick it up it suffices. However, be it Rabbinic or
Biblical, it’s clear that the Gemara implies that we must shake them in all directions,
to the extent that we don't begin to educate our children to do this Mitzva…until
they know how to shake it [and not just how to pick it up-Sukka 42a]. What's the
shaking all about? Why does the Torah command us to take the 4 species "on the
FIRST DAY"? In almost all other places, it says "the 15th day…the 10th day etc'?

Says R' Yochanan [Sukka 37a] that we shake in 4 directions to show that G-d rules
all parts of the world, and shake upwards and downwards to show that the heavens
and earth belong to G-d as well.

Practical Application: Recently I was on a university campus in Israel, where each

building states the "area"/‫ איזור‬in which you are in. As there is the "Physics area",
the "Liberal arts area", and then, on the Shul/Beit Midrash building, there was a sign
"‫איזור יהדות‬/Judaism area! G-d forbid should Judaism be restricted…to 1 area/to 1
corner in our lives, be it 3 times a day davening [takes about 1 hour of 24], small
Daf Yomi shuir etc'! Judaism is meant to be part…of our entire day, and penetrate
every corner/area of our lives, including the office, the way we drive, the integrity of
conducting business and more! Thus, we take the most natural 4 species…shake
them in all directions in order to show that G-D CAN ENTER ALL AREAS OF OUR
LIVES and not be restricted to the shul and the home.

Additional thought : Maybe this is why the Halacha is that if you leave your sukka
after breakfast and return a few hours later you make another beracha of "Leishev
basukka", while 1 beracha of "laasok bidivrei Torah" in the morning covers the
entire day! Explains Tosfot that "being busy with Torah" is not limited to a specific
time/area but rather…should encompass our entire day. As such, even at the office
when not learning DAF-YOMI etc', we are "busy with Torah" [unlike the Sukka which
indeed is just in 1 area and you can walk out of.]


.'‫ מעלה ומוריד למי שהשמים והארץ שלו וכו‬,‫אמר ר' יוחנן מוליך ומביא למי שארבע רוחות שלו‬
‫תוס' ברכות י"א‪ :‬ד"ה שכבר"‪ ....-‬וא"ת מאי שנא מסוכה שצריך לברך על כל סעודה וסעודה לישב‬
‫בסוכה‪ .‬וי"ל דשאני תורה שאינו מייאש דעתו דכל שעה אדם מחוייב ללמוד דכתיב והגית בו יומם‬
‫ולילה והוי כמו יושב כל היום בלא הפסק‪ .‬אבל אכילה בסוכה יש שעה קבועה‬

‫‪Key Words: Sukkot, Daily Life‬‬

Elie Weissman

Source: Shulchan Aruch OC 739:7, Gemara Avoda Zara 3a

Question: Don’t Kick! Don’t Kick your parents. Don’t kick your sister. Don’t kick
your brother. Don’t kick your friends. Don’t kick a man when he’s down. Don’t kick
on fourth down when you’re inside the 5.

All these are good pieces of advice. Yet amazingly enough they have not made it
into the code of Jewish Law. Nevertheless, there is one time the Shulchan Aruch
tells us not to kick. Not to kick your succah.

Based on the gemara in Avoda Zarah. The Goyim wanted a mitzvah God gave the
succah. When it got too hot they kicked it down.

1)Why does God choose Succah?

2)Why do they get frustrated?
3)Why is their frustration bad?


Succah is a unique Mitzvah. It is almost ascetic. We leave the comforts of home. We

leave our usual shelter and we commune with God.

It is ambitious and idealistic. It is a deep expression of belief in God. We separate

from worldly needs.

The nations of the world viewed the Succah as an opportunity. To leave the
comforts of life, and focus solely on spirituality.

But when they suffered in the Succah. When they were forced to leave. They were
frustrated. They kicked the Succah. Because the pristine moment of spirituality was
destroyed. It was perfection or nothing. They could not imagine an imperfect
experience. One which existed amongst the problems of the real world.


Spiritual moments aren't always pristine. But that doesn't make them less

This is why God rejects their frustration. Religious Judaism, is about idealism in an
un-ideal world. Spirituality amidst distraction.

When you are suffering in your Succah. You move, you regroup. You find a new why
to celebrate God. It is the acceptance of imperfection. In the way we relate to God.

Being religious means the recognition that our moments won’t always work out
perfectly, but that is no excuse – and no reason to allow frustration to take over.

Key Words: Spirituality, Excuses