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          THE PLACE OF SUKKOT IN THE CYCLE OF FESTIVALS

                      by Rav Yehuda Shaviv 


I.

	Towards the end of the "cycle of the festivals", as 
presented in parashat Emor, we are faced with a difficulty.  
The portion itself follows chronological order:  First it 
deals with Shabbat, and then the order of festivals, starting 
with Pesach (since Nisan serves as the beginning of the year 
for the Regalim [Rosh Hashana 1:1]), and ending with Sukkot.  
Then comes the conclusion of the portion:  "These are the 
feasts of the Lord, which you shall proclaim to be holy 
gatherings... beside the Sabbaths of the Lord..." (Vayikra 
23:37-38).

	And then, surprisingly enough, the Torah speaks again 
about Sukkot:  "Also on the fifteenth day of the seventh 
month, when you have gathered in the fruit of the land, you 
shall keep a feast to the Lord seven days... And you shall 
take for yourselves on the first day a "pri etz hadar"... you 
shall dwell in booths seven days... that your generations may 
know that I made the children of Israel dwell in booths..." 
(ibid 39-43).  And then the closing again:  "And Moshe 
declared to the children of Israel the appointed seasons of 
the Lord" (ibid 44).

	The way in which the Torah divides the discussion about 
Sukkot is somewhat surprising: part of it is included in the 
portion dealing with the festivals, and the rest is included 
afterwards as a sort of addendum.  We have dealt with this 
question before and have suggested some possible solutions 
(see Shema'tin, vol. 67-68).  Here we shall attempt to examine 
the issue from a new angle.

II.

	It appears that Sukkot is a part of two separate cycles:

a.  the cycle of the Regalim (pilgrimage festivals)
b.  the festivals of the month of Tishrei.

	On one hand, Sukkot is the third of the Regalim 
(following Pesach and Shavuot).(1)  On the other hand, Sukkot 
is the culmination of the festivals of the month of Tishrei:  
Rosh Hashana, Yom Kippur and Sukkot (and Shmini Atzeret).

	It may be that the portion of the festivals, Parashat 
Emor, is comprised of two cycles.  The Three Regalim form the 
major cycle while the festivals of Tishrei form a minor cycle.  
The major cycle, on the one hand, encompasses the whole 
parasha, which opens with the words, "And the Lord spoke to 
Moshe saying, Speak to the children of Israel and say to them, 
the feasts of the Lord..." (Vayikra 23:1-2) and closes with 
"And Moshe declared to the children of Israel the appointed 
seasons of the Lord" (ibid 44).  The minor cycle, on the other 
hand, is situated in the middle, in parentheses as it were, in 
pesukim 23-38.  Here too we find the closing:  "These are the 
feasts of the Lord...", followed by the rest of the major 
cycle, which returns to the subject of Sukkot.  Hence the 
structure of parshat hamo'adot is as follows:

	- Pesach
	- Shavuot
	- (Rosh Hashana, Yom Kippur, Sukkot)
	- Sukkot

III.

	This may enable us to explain the different aspects of 
the festival of Sukkot.  On the one hand, it is a particularly 
Jewish festival:  "Every citizen of Israel should dwell in 
sukkot in order that your generations may know that I provided 
shelter the children of Israel in sukkot when I brought them 
out of the land of Egypt..." (Vayikra 23:42-43).

	On the other hand, Sukkot also has a universal aspect, 
which manifests itself in the sacrifices of the day.  As Rabbi 
Eliezer explains:  "These seventy oxen [the total number 
sacrificed over the seven days of Sukkot] - of whom are they 
representative?  The seventy nations" (Sukka 55b).  This 
aspect of the festival is expressed in the vision of Zekharia 
concerning the nations of the world, which we read in the 
haftara of the day:  "And it shall come to pass that everyone 
that is left of all the nations who came against Jerusalem 
shall go up from year to year to worship the King, the Lord of 
hosts, and to keep the feast of Sukkot.  And whoever does not 
come up of all the families of the earth to Jerusalem to 
worship the King, the Lord of hosts, upon them shall be no 
rain.  And if the family of Egypt does not go up, and does not 
come, then they shall have no overflow.  This shall be the 
plague, with which the Lord will smite the nations that shall 
not come up to keep the feast of Sukkot.  This shall be the 
punishment of Egypt, and the punishment of all nations that do 
not come up to keep the feast of Sukkot" (Zekharia 14:16-19).

	The "Jewish" aspect of Sukkot is what characterizes it as 
part of the cycle of the Shalosh Regalim.  This cycle is 
particular to Israel.  Pesach is the festival of freedom for 
Israel from slavery in Egypt, and we are warned:  "The 
stranger shall not eat of it..." (Shemot 12:43-47).  Shavuot 
is the festival of the giving of the Torah, and it is given to 
Israel specifically.  In the same way, Sukkot is a festival 
for Israel, in order that all future generations will know 
that God provided the children of Israel with sukkot.

	However, Sukkot is also one of the "festivals of 
Tishrei", the festivals of judgment, and judgment is passed 
over the entire world, as the Mishna teaches:  "On Rosh 
Hashana all the creatures of the world pass before You as 
sheep" (Rosh Hashana 1:2).  The timing of Rosh Hashana is also 
a result of its being "the beginning of Your creation, a 
remembrance of the first day..." (2).  

	The seventh day of Sukkot represents the final sealing of 
judgement which was passed on Rosh Hashana (Zohar, Vayikra 31; 
Shibbolei HaLeket, siman 371; Sefer HaManhig, Hilkhot Etrog, 
38).  Perhaps even the judgement for water which is passed on 
this day has some continuity from Rosh Hashana, since water is 
a basic necessity for life.  As a day of judgement, and as 
part of the festivals of the month of Tishrei, the month of 
creation, Sukkot is a universal festival.

IV.

	The two commandments particular to this festival - sukka 
and the arba minim - symbolize these two aspects.

	The commandment of the sukka is a remembrance of the 
sukkot in which Bnei Yisrael dwelled during their stay in the 
desert.  There is disagreement among the Tannaim as to the 
nature of these "sukkot", and the prevailing opinion is that 
this is a reference to the Ananei HaKavod (divine clouds of 
glory):  "The sukkot mentioned in the Torah, in which Israel 
dwelled, are a reference to the Ananei HaKavod which 
surrounded them in order to protect them from the elements" 
(Tur, Orah Haim, siman 725).  But these clouds also served the 
purpose of providing a protective barrier between Israel and 
the other nations, thus realizing - even during their sojourn 
in the desert - the prophecy, "They will be a people which 
dwells alone and is not counted among the nations."  And so 
the sukka represents the national uniqueness and separateness.  
Therefore the Torah emphasizes, "every citizen of Israel will 
dwell in sukkot."

	The arba minim, on the other hand, which are waved in all 
directions, represent the move outwards, in the direction of 
the nations of the world.  Indeed, the arba minim are 
particularly bound up with the issue of the judgement of this 
festival - that of water.  Everyone joins in the Simhat 
HaMayim.  The essence of the commandment of the arba minim is 
in the Temple:  "And you shall celebrate before the Lord your 
God seven days"  (Vayikra 23:40).  The  Temple also has a 
universalistic aspect in that it is meant to serve as a House 
of Prayer for all the nations (Yishayahu 56:7). (3)  Even the 
sacrifices of this festival include representation for the 
nations of the world.

	The specifically Jewish side finds expression in the 
sacrifices of the festival; on Shmini Atzeret, only one ox is 
sacrificed:  "Why one single ox?  To represent one single 
nation" (Sukka 55b).

V.

	The proof provided by the two mitzvot of the festival as 
expressions of its two aspects, and the fact that the essence 
of the mitzvah of the four species is only realized if it is 
carried out in the Temple, may be the key to solving our 
dilemma. 

	The Yalkut Shimoni comments on the pasuk, "You shall not 
plant an ashera of any tree near the altar of the Lord your 
God" (Devarim 16:21) as follows:  "Not even a house, not even 
a sukka."  If there could be no sukka near the altar, how, 
then, how, then, were the kohanim to eat the remains of the 
menakhot on Hol HaMoed (since eating is forbidden outside a 
sukka)? (4)  We are even more astonished at the following 
description in the Gemara:  "R' Yehoshua ben Hananya said, 
When we would celebrate the Simhat Beit HaShoeva, we would 
have no sleep.  How was this possible?  The first hour was 
devoted to the Tamid of Shaharit, from there we went on to 
tefilla... from there to the Tamid of Bein HaArbayim, and from 
then on was the Simhat Beit HaShoeva" (Sukka 53b). 

	The Gemara questions this, pointing out that a person 
cannot manage for even three days consecutively without sleep 
(as we know it from Rabbi Yohanan's statement regarding an 
oath) and answers:  "Rather, what it means is that we did not 
sleep properly, but rather dozed on each other's shoulders."  
There was no proper sleep, but there was dozing.  But is 
dozing not considered as a type of short sleep?  Even a short 
sleep is forbidden outside of a sukka (Sukka 26)!

	One answer provides the solution to both of these 
problems:  No sukka was required in the Temple courtyard, 
neither for sleep nor for eating.  There, only one aspect of 
sukkot is emphasized - not the separate and individual aspect, 
but rather the breaking down of barriers, the universalistic 
aspect of the festival.

	Perhaps what is meant, however, is something different:  
The Temple is itself like a sukka, since the same function 
which the sukka fulfills for each individual in Israel, is 
fulfilled by the Temple (and its courtyard) for the nation of 
Israel.  Sitting in the sukka is termed in the Zohar (Vayikra 
103) "yeshiva betzila demehimnuta" - sitting in the shade of 
faith.  And there is no place more worthy of being considered 
the seat of faith than the Beit HaMikdash.

VI.

	"One of the characteristics of Sukkot is simha (joy):  
Although we are commanded to rejoice on every 
festival, on Sukkot there was additional joy in the 
Temple, as it is written:  "You shall rejoice before 
The Lord your God seven days"...  It is a mitzva to be 
abundantly joyful..."  (Rambam, Hilkhot Lulav, 8:12ff)

	The extra joy of the festival seems to be derived from 
the accumulated joy from the other Regalim, together with the 
joy of the Yamim Noraim (since even the latter are festivals, 
and are celebrated with joy).  We learn this both from Torah 
and from Hazal.  Ezra and Nehemia told the nation on Rosh 
Hashana, "Go your way, eat well and drink sweet drinks and 
send portions to those for whom nothing is prepared... for the 
joy of the Lord is your strength." (Nehemia 8:10).  And so it 
was:  "And all the people went their way to eat and to drink 
and to send portions and to make a great celebration..." (ibid 
12).

	And Hazal teach with regard to Yom Kippur:  "There were 
no joyous days in Israel... like Yom Kippur" (Mishna, end of 
Taanit).

	Thus the days of Sukkot are the epitome of all the 
festivals of the year, and the joy of these days is the 
culmination of the joy of all the festivals.


Footnotes:
(1)  Alternatively it may be that the two festivals that 
comprise Sukkot - Sukkot and Shmini Atzeret - parallel Pesach 
and Shavuot, as indicated by Pesikta deRabi Kahana, piska 28, 
on the pasuk:  "BaYom ha-Shmini Atzeret" (Bamidbar 29:35):  
"Just as the atzeret of Pesach is fifty days away from Pesach, 
so this atzeret should be fifty days away.  So why is it 
adjacent to Sukkot... because after Sukkot the rains begin and 
the roads are difficult to travel."  According to this, the 
seven days of Sukkot parallel the seven days of Pesach, and 
Shmini Atzeret parallels Shavuot.

(2)  Yom Kippur is the day on which forgiveness culminates for 
ISRAEL (Rambam, Hilkhot Teshuva, 2:7) for it is the day upon 
which Moshe descended from Har Sinai with the second tablets 
and the message that God had forgiven the nation.  It is also 
the day of the re-giving of the Torah (end of Masekhet 
Taanit), which is particular to Israel.  But the obligation of 
the day, that of Teshuva, is incumbent on the entire world, as 
expressed by the haftara which we read at Mincha and which 
deals with the Teshuva of non-Jews - the population of Ninveh.

(3)  Also, Sukkot was celebrated already in the desert, and we 
remember those sukkot.  The mitzva of the arba minim, on the 
other hand, seems to have become obligatory only when Bnei 
Yisrael entered their land.  While walking in the desert they 
were a "solitary nation," but with the entry into the land 
they were faced with the challenge of becoming a kingdom of 
priests and a light unto the nations.  For this reason the 
Torah was written in seventy languages (see Sota 36a).

(4)  On this question see the discussion in Dvar Malkhut by 
the Lubavitcher Rebbe, Erev Shabbat Ki Tetze 5751.


(Translated by Karen Fish.)
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