Thursday, October 5, 2023

2nd Days Succos 5784




Hoshanah Rabbah - Erev Shabbos Kodesh Shemini Atzeres

21 Tishrei 5783/October 6, 2023


A few weeks ago, our family joined our yeshiva, Heichal HaTorah, for a “yeshiva Shabbos” on the grounds of Camp Nageela in Fallsburg, NY. After a beautiful Shabbos, we headed to the nearby pizza shop for melava malka before heading home.

While we were there, the store was relatively quiet with only a handful of other customers coming in to pick up orders. I struck up a conversation with the frum worker who was managing the store. He noted that only a few weeks earlier the store was packed on Motzei Shabbos. But now that the summer season had come to an end, most of the summer frequenters had returned to their communities, and business was much slower. Although there were occasional holiday weekends during the coming months when business picked up, for the most part it remained relatively quiet during the winter. Essentially, the store generated sufficient revenue during the summer months to make it worth staying open all year.

When I asked the manager if it was worth it, he replied “we’ll see!” He added that this is the fourth year that they have remained open, so it seems that it has been worth it so far.

Every Yom Tov we daven, “Vhasiainu Hashem Elokainu es birchas moadecha - Load us up Hashem, our G-d, with the blessing of Your festival (lit. set meeting).” Every Yom Tov has its own spiritual focus and blessing. Yom Tov is not merely a break from our regular routines. Rather, it is meant to be a time of investment when we can “stock up” on the endemic blessing of the holiday so that its spiritual revenue remains with us all year.

Rav Yechezkel Sarna zt”l would say that when reciting Aleinu at the end of davening daily, he would mentally connect with the sanctity of the Yomim Noraim, when Aleinu is recited during the sublime moments of Mussaf.

A friend related that throughout the year, whenever the Torah is being taken out, as he recites the words “Ki miZion tetzei Torah” in his mind he sings the words in the tune jubilantly sung on Simchas Torah. He does the same with the pesukim recited as the Torah is being returned. It gives him a momentary throwback to the intense joy of Simchas Torah.

In addition, throughout the year, whenever we reference the mitzvah of remembering Yetzias Mitzrayim at the end of Shema, it should spark within us a feeling of connection to the august nostalgia of Seder night.

Rav Yitzchak Hutner zt”l was legendary for his incredible ma’amarim, deep and penetrating constructs of Torah outlook and thought, masterfully developed and elucidated. The ma’amarim were long and deep, and required constant focus and understanding. (They have been recorded for posterity in the seforim, Pachad Yitzchak.) Each ma’amar provides its own foray into a nuanced explanation of the meaning, essence and depth of one component of each Yom Tov. If one was able to comprehend the profundity of a ma’amar, his understanding of the holiday was revolutionized and galvanized forever.

Rav Hutner would convey those fundamental thoughts specifically during the Yomim Tovim of the year. He felt that such depth of thought could only be appreciated and internalized when one is in a heightened state of spiritual joy, romimus hanefesh. That state could only be achieved on Yom Tov, including Chanukah and Purim.

Our Yomim Tovim themselves demonstrate the greatness and uniqueness of Klal Yisroel and the Torah. I convey to my students that there will never be a Pachad Yitzchak about Thanksgiving or Labor Day. One can relate the history of turkey on Thanksgiving, but there isn’t much to say about the deeper symbolic meaning of how eating turkey connects Americans to their ultimate mission and purpose.

In short, secular holidays are days off; Yomim Tovim are days on!

We ask Hashem to please help us lock in the blessings of the beautiful Chag. We hope we can maintain a spark of the spiritual elevation we feel, so that it continues to inspire us and elevate us throughout the year.


Piska Tava & Git Kvitel

Shabbat Shalom & Good Shabbos

Gut Yom Tov & Chag Sameiach,

         R’ Dani and Chani Staum