Sukkos in the Teshuvos of the Chasam Sofer


sukkahsBy Rav Yissochor Dov Rubin zt”l

An anthology from the teachings and doctrines of the rov of Klal Yisroel about matters concerning Yom Tov, the succah, the arba Minim, Simchas Beis Hashoevoh the last day of Yom Tov and more.

Women are Exempt from Sitting in the Succah

“The civilian” excludes the women (Succah 28a) “For in Succos” – two types of Succos, anonei hakovod and actual Succos during the war of Sichon and Og. (Eliyohu Rabboh, beginning of siman 625 in the name of the Rokeach).

Since the women were also included in the miracle, why were they exempt from the mitzva of Succah?

However, this matter itself has to be understood, what was unique about the Succos that the Bnei Yisroel dwelt in during the Sichon and Og battle compared to the Succos and tents they dwelt in throughout the forty years in the midbor?

We have to say that during all those forty years in the desert the Jewish people dwelt in a Succah that was a “Succah under a Succah” because the anonei hakovod covered their tents.

The anonei hakovod, on the other hand, did not travel with them and cover them during the battle of Sichon and Og, and so it turns out that they sat in halachically kosher Succos. Therefore, the mitzva was fixed for generations specifically as a commemoration for the Succos from the battle of Sichon and Og. However, why did the anonei hakovod not travel with them to the battle in order to shield them?

Indeed, only the military personnel went out to war, whereas the women and children, who do not go out to battle, stayed in the camp. Therefore the anonei hakovod stayed in the camp to protect those who remained there – the women and children, therefore the anonei hakovodBnei Yisroel to war.

Consequently, only soldiers, and not women and children, sat in the Succos of the battle of Sichon and Og, in commemoration of which the mitzva of Succah was fixed for generations to come. Therefore the mitzva of Succah does not apply to women for all future generations.

We are now in a position to understand: on the one hand Bnei Yisroel’s dwelling in their Succos on Succos and on the other hand the women’s exemption from this mitzva, both of them together serve as testimony and proof to both types of Succos. Bnei Yisroel’s sitting in a succah, a mitzva which the women are exempt from, is a hint and commemoration of the Succos the Jewish army sat in – without the women – during the battle of Sichon and Og. At the same time, women’s exemption from this mitzva also alludes to the anonei hakovod, which did not travel with Bnei Yisroel to the battle of Sichon and Og but remained to protect the women and children who stayed behind in the camp and did not go out to fight with the army in the battle. This is what the Torah says “In Succos you will dwell . . . every citizen” to exclude the women. “So that your generations will know that in Succos – two types of Succos -” I made dwell”.

(Chasam Sofer)

To thrust the Lulav in the eyes of the Soton

“Rav Acha bar Yaakov used to wave it to and fro (he thrust and pulled the lulav towards him and shook it) saying: “this is an arrow in the eye of Soton” (“this is pressure in the Soton’s eyes, who sees with his eyes that there is no power which will cut off from us the yoke of mitzvos” (Rashi) (Succah 35a).

Why is the sharp edge directed towards the eyes of the Soton?

The Chasam Sofer explains:

Succos comes just after Yom Kippur when Bnei Yisroel received atonement for their sins. Any Jewish person may assume that because all our sins were atoned for, there is no Soton – who is the yetzer hora (Bovo Basra 16a) – to rule over us, and the yetzer hora does not try to achieve his wayward will again.

However, in truth, this is not so. On the contrary, “The greater a person is, the greater is his evil inclination” (Succah 52a). The yetzer never says “stop, enough” and he never eases up on his fight against us. Therefore, also after the atonement of Yom Kippur, not only must we not weaken our stance against the yetzer, on the contrary, we have to continue to devote our energy and increase our courage in our battle against the yetzer hora.

Therefore, when Rav Acho bar Yaakov took the lulav and shook it, he said to the Soton: “I thrust it in your eyes.” This is, you should not think that the arrow is directed towards the yetzer’s back as he is fleeing from us, but rather the arrow is pointed towards the yetzer’s eyes, face-to-face, as in a battle.

And so we see, even after Yom Kippur, in the middle of Succos, the war against the yetzer continues in full force.

(Droshos of the Chasam Sofer)

And strangers shall Tend your Flock

The Chasam Sofer explains the drosho of Chazal (Succah 48a) “and you should be only joyful” – includes the night of the last day of Yom Tov, as follows:

“Seven days of Yom Tov hint that a person should not feel secure even if he has acquired worldly goods, but should always sit in the shadow of Hashem, as the stars are visible from inside the succah and the rain can fall into it. He must not rely on his home but place his trust only in Hashem. He is sheltered by the schach consisting of the wastes of the threshing floor and the winepress, to teach us that, in practice, a person should work with his hands as R. Yishmoel says (Brochos 35b), “And you shall gather up your grain” – “you are to [combine Torah] with a worldly occupation.”

“Indeed, when a person does the will of Hashem with extra holiness, as R. Shimon Bar Yochai says, (“When Bnei Yisroel do the will of Hashem their work is done by others” this is a allusion to Shemini Atzeres) then they will not need to do anything, and will even sit in the shade of waste of the threshing floor and not do a thing, “And strangers will come and tend your flock” (Yeshayohu 61,5).

“Therefore, “You will celebrate Succos when you have gathered your grain” having, in accordance with the view of R. Yishmoel, gathered our grain [so that] Hashem will bless [us] . . . and in all [our] handiwork.

And so, “You should be only happy” – there is a slight diminishing in our joy, for we have still not merited the higher goal.

This is the increase (ribbui) of simchah on the eighth day, when a person should be full of joy for he has merited the level of R. Shimon bar Yochai, “and strangers will come and gather your grain.”

(Droshos of the Chasam Sofer, 5594 (1834))

How pleasant for you Mizbeiach

“When they left they said, ‘How pleasant for you o’ Mizbeiach, how pleasant for you o’ Mizbeiach'” (Succah 45a).

The Chasam Sofer explains:

“They would surround the Mizbeiach with young boughs of arovos, their tops bent on the Mizbeiach, and the kohanim would encircle the Mizbeiach.

“This means, the kohanim the servants of Hashem a tribe of his righteous servants, were on the inside and the rest of the nation stood on the outside. And after the days of teshuvoh, the baalei teshuva stand within the tzadikim who surround them from the outside.

“The arovoh symbolizes the reshoim who have no taste or smell. But now [that they are baalei teshuva] they merit to be on the inner side surrounding the Mizbeiach with the kohanim surrounding them from the outside.

“When they leave they say: “How pleasant for you o’ Mizbeiach,” which atoned for our sins, or ‘for Hashem and for you, Mizbeiach’, because if Hkb”h would not have helped him he would not have merited teshuvoh, and to surround the Mizbeiach.

No Servant Pours a Jug on his Master

“The question was asked, who poured on whom (Rashi: The question is on the explanation of the Mishna, [which says that rain on Succos is like a servant coming to pour a cup for his master and he pours it in his face. In the Mishnah, it is not clear to whom the final pronouns refer] does the pouring of the jug refer to sitting in the Succah or rainfall? (Succah 29a). That is, has the servant poured the contents of the jug on his master, or has the master poured it on the servant?

How can we even imagine that a servant would pour a jug on his master?

When the Yom Tov comes in its due time, then the time for rain is only from the seventh of Cheshvan onwards. If rains fall out of season on Succos, this symbolizes the master throwing water onto his servant’s face, and is the sign of a kloloh.

However, when Nisan does not fall in the spring and we want to make Pesach and bring the omer in the proper manner, and then we add a month of Adar, which then causes Succos to fall during the rainy season.

Then the master does not throw water in his servant’s face but the servant comes to pour a cup for his master on Pesach and to bring the omer in the proper manner, and so he has thereby poured a jug on his Master’s face on Succos.

It is on this itself that the gemora asks, is this also a sign of kloloh? Or maybe we can say that because it is a result of nature, and because it was Beis Din that decided to add a month lesheim Shomayim – it is only a sign of blessing.

(Chasam Sofer)

Joy bereft of all Worry

“And you shall be only joyful” (Devorim 16,15)

With the joy of the harvest of the passing year, a man begins to worry about the rainfall of the coming year. Soon they will begin sowing the fields again and perhaps the produce will chas vesholom not be bountiful and good.

Therefore the posuk comes and says, “You shall be only happy” – without a trace of worry, neither about the past nor about the future.

(Chasam Sofer)

The difference Between two Types of Sinners

“Perhaps [the posuk] means an inflorescence of palms? Abaye answered, it is written, ‘Its ways are ways of pleasantness and all its paths are peace’ (Succah 32a). “For the ways of Hashem are right, and the just walk in them; but transgressors stumble therein.” (Hoshea 14:10).

The Chasam Sofer explained as follows:

If the righteous associate with the wicked to go in the ways of Hashem, then the righteous will stumble because of them.

About such people Ezra said: “You have nothing to do with us to build a house for Hashem” (Ezra 4:3).

Why do we find that we bind the arba Minim all together, including the arovoh, which has neither taste nor smell, and corresponds to the sinners among the Jewish nation?

We must distinguish between sinners who come to sin as a result of their desires and ignorance, and wicked people who intentionally rebel against their Master and deny the King of the world. The former – symbolized by the arovoh – have to be brought close and united with observant Jews, so that one group can atone for the other. However, the latter type, such as the kusim at the time of Ezra, we have to reject and keep at a distance. About such people the posuk says, “You have nothing to do with us to build a house for Hashem.”

This idea is hinted at in the word lulav which, when taken as an acronym, stands for “Lochem Velonu Livnos Bayis,” indicating that we should join them.

It suggests “an inflorescence of palms” (Succah 32a) – to allude to heretics and Minim. Lest you say that they too should drawn closer and joined with us, Abaye says, ‘Its ways are ways of pleasantness and all its paths are peace,’ and they have no peace: “There is no peace, says Hashem, concerning [for] the wicked.” (Yeshaya 48:22).

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