Sunday, October 12, 2014


Erev Succos – “Z’man Simchaseinu” 5775
14 Tishrei 5774/October 8, 2014
In a recorded lecture from Rabbi Ephraim Wachsman (Nissan 2004) he described his experience spending Shabbos near the grave of the great Rebbe, Rav Elimelech of Lizhensk, together with over fifteen hundred Jews from all walks of life.
Rabbi Wachsman recounted that the arrangers of the Shabbos set up four huge tents, with little cubicles containing heat, new carpeting, fresh beds, and fresh linen. There was a computer printout which directed everyone to their room. However, when Rabbi Wachsman arrived on Thursday evening the printout was not yet available, so they were told to sleep wherever they found place. The next day when the majority of the crowd arrived, everyone who had already found place had to move to their newly assigned room. One would expect in such a situation that people would become annoyed and things could become heated. But unbelievably there wasn’t one raised voice, or argument.
The Shabbos meals were hosted in a huge tent. The guests included groups of Jews from many walks of life, who in a regular setting probably wouldn’t talk to each other. At one point a Yerushalmi Jew with a booming voice stood up on the table and began singing “Ashreichem Yisroel”. Almost immediately, the whole tent exploded in song. It was a moment of ecstasy, and many people had tears in their eyes as they sang together.
Rabbi Wachsman continued, “Why was it that way? Did everyone who arrived in Lizhensk suddenly have the sterling character of Rav Yisroel Salanter?”
He explained that throughout the year and life generally we are busy with many pursuits that occupy our time and efforts – our cars, homes, businesses, investments, etc. Those relentless quests create barriers between him and others. But when he is removed from it all, he doesn’t have to be taught to love his fellow Jew, it’s already imbedded in his soul. Generally he isn’t in touch with his true feelings because there are so many hindrances that get in the way. But take away the pursuits which subjugate and occupy him, and the true inner self is free to emerge.
In Lizhensk all they had was their little cubicles, all the rest of their “stuff” was left at home. Jews without their extra baggage are free to unite and connect.
On Succos we leave our homes and supplant ourselves in the spiritual environs of the Succah. Without all of our “stuff” which interferes with our souls and hearts throughout the year, we are free to connect with our true selves, and of course with our Creator.
There is a prevalent custom to recite the beracha on the Four Species each day of Succos specifically in the succah. Holding the Four Species together symbolizes the unity of the Jewish people. Inside the succah where we are freed from the shackles of our “stuff” and live only under the protection of G-d, we can truly feel the unity of our people.
Is it any wonder that this Holiday is deemed the “season of our joy”? 

Good Yom Tov & Chag Sameiach,
            R’ Dani and Chani Staum     

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