Wednesday, September 25, 2013

PARSHAS BEREISHES 5774


“RABBI’S MUSINGS (& AMUSINGS)”
Succos/Hoshana Rabba - Z’man Simchaseinu / Erev Shmini Atzeres
21 Tishrei 5774/September 25, 2013

A few weeks ago one of the gold cufflinks I received as a gift from my kallah shortly before our wedding broke. More than their inherent value, they are precious to me because of their sentimental value. Ten years of wear every Shabbos and Yom Tov will understandably do that. But it took me some time to get around to drop it off at the jeweler to have it fixed.
The jeweler explained to me that he could just solder the broken piece back on, but doing so wouldn’t ensure that it wouldn’t happen again. The ideal approach was to replace the thin bar that wrapped around the back of the cufflink and to solder the piece to that bar.
On Erev Succos the jeweler called to tell that my cufflinks were ready. The broken cufflink looked perfect. In addition, they polished both of them, making them look more beautiful than they have in years.
As I donned them before Yom Tov I realized that the one just fixed was stronger than the original. True, if one looked closely at the back he could see where it was fixed, but the cufflink would be more durable because of it.
The gemara Succah (53a) notes that at the festive Simchas Bais Hashoeivah each night of Succos in the Bais Hamikdash, there were incredible performances taking place in view of the masses. The righteous would exult and proclaim “Praised is our youth which didn’t shame our old age”, while those who repented would exult and proclaim “Praised is our old age which has achieved atonement for our youth.” 
In the sefer ‘Z’man Simchaseinu’ from Rav Dovid Kohn shlita, the Rosh Yeshiva of the Chevron Yeshiva, he explains that it was specifically the righteous and those who repented who celebrated center stage on Succos, for those two groups personified the dual nature of the holiday of Succos. On the one hand the holiday represents the climax of the annual cycle of a Jew’s growth (symbolized by the progression of the three major festivals – Pesach, Shavuos, and concluding with Succos). The righteous represent the perfection of one who has ascended the ladder of growth – represented by the trilogy of the holidays - and now gleams in spiritual bliss.
Those who repented represent the nature of Succos as the apex and conclusion of the process begun during the Days of Awe. During the holidays of Rosh Hashnana and Yom Kippur we repent out of fear, while on Succos we graduate to the ultimate level of repentance out of love, joy, and devotion.
Succos concludes with Hoshana Rabba, the day when the decrees which were sealed on Yom Kippur are actually dispatched to our world. Then we celebrate on Shmini Atzeres/Simchas Torah in sheer bliss and devotion with our Creator and the Torah He has endowed us with.
Not everyone is analogous to the unbroken pristine cufflink which has achieved divine perfection in an unhindered quest for greatness. But everyone is analogous to the repaired cufflink which is perched alongside its companion, fulfilling the same role, with greater durability.
Not everyone can celebrate completing a cycle of Torah study from the previous year. But everyone can dance and sing with renewed commitment and dedication to spiritual growth and Torah study.  

   A git k’vitel/ G’mar Tov
 Good Yom Tov & Chag Sameiach,
      R’ Dani and Chani Staum

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