Thursday, October 1, 2015

Succos I 5776

Erev Succos – Z’man Simchaseinu
14 Tishrei 5776/ September 27, 2015

Each year on Erev Rosh Hashanah and Erev Yom Kippur I try to visit the cemetery which is a one minute drive from our shul. I daven at the kevarim of some of the tzaddikim buried there including Rav Mordechai Schwab, Rav Nesanel Quinn, the Ribnitzer Rebbe, and the Skulener Rebbe zt’l.
Each year as I enter the cemetery I tuck my tzitzis into my pants so that they are not visible as is the halacha. Shulchan Aruch (Oh”C 23:1) states that if one’s tzitzis are visible when he visits a cemetery it is tantamount to “mocking the impoverished”. Those who have already left this world understand how invaluable every mitzvah is. Since they no longer have the opportunity to perform mitzvos we don’t want to ‘stick in their face’ as it were, especially as we approach them to intercede on our behalf.
As I tuck in my tzitzis I wonder what the deceased would say about the cell phone visibly hanging from my cell phone. If having tzitzis visible in a cemetery is analogous to mocking the dead, I wonder if having a cell phone visible is analogous to giving the dead a good laugh. “You foolish people, fritting your time away with so much nonsense, why don’t you put that silly time-killer away?” Surely there is much good that we do with our phones, but many of us spend a great deal of time using our phones and other media to escape into the fantastical and fake world of social fantasy media.
The cemetery in Monsey has a well with a pump attached to it so those who visit the cemetery can wash their hands afterwards, as is required by halacha. To siphon the water one needs to pump vigorously for a minute or two until the water begins to flow out.
The focal point of the joyous celebration of Succos was the Simchas Bais Hashoeivah. Although the actual service was the pouring of the drawn water onto the side of the Mizbeaiach, the celebration is titled “the joy of the drawing”.
In a sense that represents what the joy of Succos is all about. Succos celebrates our reconnection with G-d and all that is valuable in life, which we attained through our efforts that culminated with Yom Kippur.
The pouring of the water is the result of the drawing, our herculean efforts to reach deep within ourselves and draw out our latent greatness so it can gush forth.    
In Shir Hashirim, Shlomo Hamelech poetically and nostalgically states: “I am asleep but my heart is awake.” Isn’t that the story of our lives? In our hearts we yearn for greatness, but our bodies are sloth and sluggish. But during the celestial moments of Neilah we are finally awake. Before we have the chance to lap back into slumber we quickly immerse ourselves in the celebration of Succos. We spend a week in the embrace of G-d, shaking the Four Species in all the directions which G-d controls. It’s a joy that stems from deep within; joy that we have drawn out from in ourselves.     
Succos is the joy of the soul merging with the happiness of the body; a celebration of our ability to overcome our inclination to frit away our life, by performing mitzvos as long as we are living.

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

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