Shabbos: Ta’am HaChaim Haazinu-Sukkos 5777
The Spiritual Ingathering of Sukkos
This week is Parashas Haazinu and will be followed next week by Sukkos. What is interesting about the association between Haazinu and Sukkos is that Haazinu is basically the end of the Torah, where Moshe informs the Jewish people of what will occur when they do not follow the Torah. In a sense Haazinu is the depiction of the End of Days and the Ultimate Redemption. Sukkos is referred to in the Torah as the Chag Haasif, and the Haftorah that we read on the first day of Sukkos is from Zechariah, where the prophet foretells the arrival of Moshiach and of the celebration of the Sukkos festival. Thus, Sukkos is a time of ingathering, and there are various aspects of ingathering that are reflected in Sukkos. One aspect of ingathering is that Sukkos is the time of the year when the farmers gather in the produce of the harvest, and this is a cause for joy. There is another ingathering, however, and this is the spiritual ingathering that occurs at this time of the year. It is said (Shemos 34:22) vichag Shavuos taaseh lecho bikurei kitzir chitim vichag haasif tekufas hashanah, you shall make the Festival of Weeks with the first offering of the wheat harvest; and the Festival of the Harvest shall be at the changing of the year.
Shemini Atzeres and Yosef
The Sfas Emes (Sukkos) writes that the word tekufas can be interpreted as strength, as Sukkos is the strength of the year. The Sfas Emes writes that Sukkos is the sustenance of the entire year. Let us gain a better understanding of this idea. There are several words that the Torah uses for ingathering. One word is asifah and another word is atzeres. After the seven days of Sukkos we have Shemini Atzeres. The Sfas Emes writes that Shemini Atzeres corresponds to Yosef. It is said (Tehillim 96:12) yaaloz sadai vichol asher bo az yiraneinu kol atzei yaar, the field and everything in it will exult; then all the trees of the forest will sing with joy. The Medrash (Tanchumah Emor § 16) interprets this verse to be alluding to the Four Species that are taken on Sukkos. There is an interesting hint contained within the word atzei. The word atzei is an acrostic for the words tzaddik yesod olam, the righteous one is the foundation of the world. The Sefarim write that Yosef is referred to as tzaddik yesod olam, because Yosef resisted temptation from the wife of Potiphar. Thus, we see a direct association between Yosef and Sukkos. Furthermore, we find that when Yosef was born, his mother Rachel declared (Bereishis 30:23) asaf Elokim es cherpasi, G-d has taken away my disgrace. We find a parallel to this wording when Yehoshua, who was from the tribe of Yosef, circumcised the Jewish People upon entering Eretz Yisroel. It is said (Yehoshua 5:9) vayomer HaShem el Yehoshua hayom galosi es cherpas Mitzrayim meialeichem vayikra shem hamakom hahu Gilgal ad hayom hazeh, HaShem said to Yehoshua, “Today I have rolled away the disgrace of Egypt from upon you.” He named that place Gilgal [Rolling], to this day. Regarding that incident of circumcision, the prophet also uses the term rolling away, which is similar to asifah in the sense that something is being removed or concealed. Thus, we can suggest that Rachel was hinting to the fact that in the future a descendant of Yosef would remove the shame of being uncircumcised from the Jewish People. It can be said that Yosef represents shemiras habris, the guarding of the covenant, and Sukkos is a time of strength that sustains us throughout the year. It is known that shemiras habris is what sustains the Jewish People, and will even be the herald of the Final Redemption.
The Shabbos Connection
In a similar vein, Shabbos is also an ingathering, as according to the Zohar, the blessing of the Shabbos sustains the whole week. Additionally, the Gemara (Shabbos 12a) states that if one visits someone who is ill on Shabbos, he should say Shabbos hi milizok urefuah kerovah lavo, though the Shabbos prohibits us from crying out, may a recovery come speedily. The Meor Anayim (Likuttim) offers a fascinating homiletic interpretation to this statement. He writes that normally one has to gather various herbs to create a medicine. Shabbos, however, is referred to as Shabbos Kallah and incorporates everything. Thus, on Shabbos one does not need to gather herbs from all over, and it is for this reason that the healing comes speedily. In conclusion, we see that Haazinu is the ingathering of the parshiyos of the Torah, Sukkos is the spiritual ingathering that is reflected through shemiras habris, and Shabbos is the time of ingathering that incorporates the week and the entire world within it.
Shabbos in the Zemiros
The composer was Dunash ben Librat, the famed medieval grammarian and paytan who lived from 4680-4750 (920990 C.E.). He was born in Baghdad and, except for twenty years in Fez, lived there his entire life. He was a nephew and disciple of Rabbeinu Saadiah Gaon and was acquainted with many of the Sages of his time. Rashi and Ibn Ezra quote him extensively. His name appears four times as the acrostic of the stiches in stanzas 1,2,3, and 6. This zemer is a prayer to HaShem to protect the Jewish People, destroy its tormentors, and bring the Nation peace and redemption.
דְּעֵה חָכְמָה לְנַפְשֶׁךָ. וְהִיא כֶתֶר לְרֹאשֶׁךָ, let your soul know Torah, then it will be a crown on your head. As we approach Sukkos, we can interpret this passage to mean that when one “knows” Torah, i.e. he becomes one with the Torah, as דעת means intimate connection, then the Torah that he studied will be a crown on his head on Simchas Torah.
A Sukkah from the Cemetery
There was once a Karliner chassid who lived in a small town in a small broken down house. This chassid did not have much of anything, but nonetheless he was happy with his lot. Every year when the festival of Sukkos arrived, the chassid would wait until everyone else had built their Sukkos, and he would then go around and ask for whatever they had left over. People would offer him a rotted board or a rusted nail, and it was from these leftovers that he would build his Sukkah. For seven days the chassid would sit in his Sukkah and sing with great joy. Across the field from the chassid lived a very wealthy man. This wealthy man owned the local factory and employed most of the town. The magnate’s house was large, and he did not lack anything in the way of materialism. The wealthy man had everything he could imagine, but he was not happy. In fact, he was more than just not happy. He was really sad and downright miserable. The Sukkah that the wealthy man had built every year was a wonder. The Sukkah was the size of a football field, with an oak table, candelabras and running water. The Sukkah had within it everything one could imagine. Nonetheless, every year the wealthy man sat in his Sukkah, and when he would hear the Karliner chassid singing from across the field, it drove him absolutely crazy. There is nothing that makes a sad person so sad as to meet a happy person, and there is nothing that makes a sad person happier than to meet another sad person. One year as the festival of Sukkos approached, the wealthy man was struck by an idea. The wealthy man approached everyone in his town and told them, “When the Karliner chassid comes around asking for a rotted board or a rusted nail, do not give it to him.” Now when the wealthy man issued such a directive, what was anyone to do? After all, the wealthy man did own the town. Thus, when the chassid requested from the townspeople if they could spare a leftover piece from their Sukkah, the people would just shrug their shoulders, turn their palms up, and shake their heads. “I am sorry,” they would say, “but this year I cannot even spare a rusty nail.” The chassid was rejected by every single person in town and was about to despair of building a Sukkah that year, when suddenly he had a brainstorm. In the town’s cemetery, the people would place wooden planks to serve as tombstones instead of the standard marble or stone tombstones. On the wooden planks was inscribed the words “Here lies..” The chassid knew that there were many wooden planks in the cemetery, so he thought to himself: “certainly there will not be hundreds of people who die in this town over Sukkos. Thus, why would anyone care if I were to borrow a few planks and return them after the holiday?” The day before Sukkos arrived and the wealthy man looked across the field and smiled. This year there was no Sukkah outside the house of the Karliner chassid. Sukkos arrived and the wealthy rich man sat at his oak table in his Sukkah, with his candelabras and everything he could imagine. The wealthy man recited Kiddush in peace and blissful quiet. He then began to eat his fish, still in peace and blissful quiet. Suddenly, from across the field, he heard singing! The wealthy man quickly jumped up! “How can it be?” he wondered aloud. He looked outside and lo and behold, across the field, a shabby Sukkah was propped against the Karliner chassid’s house. The wealthy man ran across the field and burst in on the chassid. “Where did you get the wood for this Sukkah?” the wealthy man exclaimed. The Karliner chassid received the wealthy man with a glowing face. “Shalom Aleichem! Come in! Sit down!” Still standing, the rich man repeated his question, “Where did you get this wood from?” “I will be glad to tell you,” the chassid said, “just come in and sit down.” The wealthy man’s eyes darted to and fro, first gazing at the chassid, and then at the Sukkah, the door, and then back to the chassid. Frowning, the wealthy man at himself on the half broken chair across from the chassid. The Karliner chassid then said to the wealthy man, “please, allow me to tell you a story. Yesterday, I was looking around town for some way to build a Sukkah, and I asked people if they could spare a board or a nail. It was the strangest thing that ever happened to me, as I could not find anything. It seemed like everyone had used up their materials and there was nothing left over. It was already getting late in the afternoon and I was still walking around town without even the first board to use for a Sukkah. Who do you think I should then run into? None other than the Angel of Death!” Upon meeting him, I said, ‘Angel of Death! Shalom Alechem!’ and he said, ‘Alechem Shalom.’ I said, ‘what brings you to town?’ The Angel of Death responded, ‘I just have one more pick up before the holiday comes in.’ I said to the angel of Death, ‘one more pickup, huh? Would you mind if I ask you who it is?’” “Now, you will not believe this,” the Karliner Chassid continued, leaning forward, staring right at the rich man, “but the Angel of Death mentioned your name!” I then said to the Angel of Death, ‘That guy? You came to get that guy? You do not have to bother.’ The Angel of Death asked, ‘I do not have to bother? Why is that?’ I said to the Angel of Death, ‘You do not have to bother, because that guy is so sad, it is like he is already dead.’ The Angel of Death said, ‘He is that sad?’ ‘Yes,’ I responded, he is that sad.’ ‘Well,’ said the Angel of Death, ‘if he is that sad, I guess I do not even have to bother. Thanks for saving me the work!’” “Now,” said the Karliner chassid, “as the Angel of Death was about to leave, I asked him for a little favor. I said to the Angel of Death, ‘Listen, I helped you out, so maybe you can help me out?’ The Angel of Death responded, ‘Sure, what can I do for you?’ I said to the Angel of Death, ‘I really need a Sukkah for the holiday.’ The Angel of Death paused, and then he said, ‘You know, I am not scheduled to return here until after the festival. In the burial society, they have the wooden stakes that they put in a new grave before they put up the headstone. Those are the wooden stakes that say ‘Here Lies… at the top. I am not planning to return here, so you can use those stakes to build your Sukkah.’” “That is exactly what I did,” the chassid said. “In fact, if you look up there, you can see that on each board, it says ‘Here Lies….’” With that, the Karliner chassid burst into a joyous song. The Chassid’s words pierced the wealthy man’s heart like arrows. He began to cry from the depths of his heart. Finally, the wealthy man asked the chassid, “What can I do? I cannot remove the sadness from my heart. Tell me, I have everything, but no joy. And you, who have nothing – from where do you get all this joy?” The chassid responded: “If you want to be joyous, you must go to the holy Karliner Rebbe. There you can learn what true simcha is.” The wealthy man went to Karlin, and where in the past he had been full of anger and sadness, he was transformed into a person full of joy and happiness, and became one of the greatest Karliner Chassidim. All that he needed was for someone to ignite the spark that was hidden deep within him.
Shabbos in Halacha
Wringing and Laundering
Two melachos that pertain to washing dishes and cleaning spills on Shabbos are סחיטה; wringing, and כיבוס: laundering. Previously we discussed sechita as it applies to extracting juice from fruits. Here we will discuss the halachos of wringing liquid from an absorbent fabric. We will also briefly discuss the laws of laundering as applied to common situations.
- Activities Affected by These Prohibitions
One is prohibited to use a sponge, washcloth paper towel or other absorbent item to wash dishes because water will inevitably be wrung from them while washing. One is also prohibited to use synthetic scouring pads and steelwool pads that trap waters between their fibers.
However, one is permitted to use a synthetic pad whose fibers are widely spaced and cannot trap water. One is also permitted to use a nylon bottle brush.
Shabbos Ta’am HaChaim: Haazinu-Sukkos 5777
Is sponsored לזכר נשמת האשה החשובה מרת חיה אסתר בת ר’ משה צבי הלוי אוקוליקא ע”ה ת.נ.צ.ב.ה.and as a zechus לרפואה שלימה חיה דינה חביבה בת שושנה בתוך שאר חולי ישראל.
Have a Wonderful Shabbos and a Gut Yom Tov!
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New Stories Haazinu-Sukkos 5777
A Lebanese Soldier Joins the Jewish People
From an early age, I asked God, “Why was I created a Muslim?”
by Chanania Bleich
My name is Munir Mundar. I am a Lebanese Muslim who served in the Israel Defense Forces and gave my all for the State of Israel.
If those words strike you as unusual, you’re not alone. It was with these words that I introduced myself to the public two years ago as I embarked on my road to Judaism. Last week, under the guidance of the beis din of Haifa, I joined the Jewish people.
The news caused a social media uproar in Israel, but once people heard my life story, even those who experienced terror themselves expressed their support and sympathy.
I posted my story online in the hopes of raising understanding.
“I want to tell you, my dear Israelis, the story of my life. My mother and sister were killed by terrorists. Another sister was wounded. My brother’s children are crippled for life. This was the work of the murderers of Hezbollah. Like Hamas, al-Qaeda and Daesh, they are a depraved organization fighting against Israel and the entire world.
“I want you to understand why I am sharing this with you. After all, I was born a Muslim, and many of you will say that I just want to benefit from your country and give nothing in return. So I want you to know that I have fought for Israel. I have fought for the safety of every citizen. And finally, I want you to know that I am studying Torah, and after a long process, I have completed my conversion. I am a proud Jew.”
I was born in Beirut, the youngest of four girls and two boys. My parents divorced when I was young, but our family remained close-knit.
When I was 10, my brother joined the South Lebanon Army, a well-armed, largely Christian militia of about 4,000 soldiers who allied with Israel to maintain security along the Israel-Lebanon border. With assistance from Israel, the SLA fought terrorist organizations, including the PLO and later Hezbollah.
Two years after my mother and my sister started working for the Israeli army, Hezbollah killed them.
The SLA was active mainly in southern Lebanon, where Israel was in military control from the late ’70s until its withdrawal in 2000. Life under Lebanese control had been turbulent – we were under the rule of one terrorist organization, then another and another. We didn’t particularly love Israel, but at least it was peaceful. Many Lebanese civilians found work on Israeli army bases in southern Lebanon, my family among them. My mother worked as a base cook, my sister as a checkpoint guard, checking the papers of anyone passing down that particular road.
Hezbollah, needless to say, did not approve of Lebanese citizens cooperating with the IDF, and my family paid a heavy price.
Two years after my mother and my sister started working for the Israeli army, Hezbollah killed them. One night, terrorists broke into our house, firing in all directions. My mother and sister were killed, and another sister was severely wounded. I was 12 years old.
I was not home at the time; I was staying at my father’s house. In the morning, when my father went out to work, taking me with him, we were stopped at a checkpoint and informed that my sister and my mother had been murdered. My world was shattered.
I began to resent my own Muslim faith and those who claimed to represent it. They killed my mother and sister only because they worked for the Israelis.
Over the next few months, the trauma of the murders, coupled with chaos in the villages of southern Lebanon, caused my family to fall apart – what was left of it. My father had remarried and had children; he took less of an interest in us. Except for my oldest sister, I grew distant from most of my siblings. After my injured sister was released from the hospital, we had nowhere to go. For some time, we lived in an abandoned house.
At the age of 15 I officially joined the SLA militia.
In 1990, an SLA officer found us hiding out in the ruins, took pity on us and rented an apartment for us. This officer happened to be assigned to patrol the area where we lived, and I became his aide and accompanied him on all his duties.
Exposed to SLA activities, I officially joined the militia a year later, at the age of 15. I would serve for the next three years, but in 1993, I was wounded by a roadside bomb. Two of my friends were killed in that attack.
I was badly injured. I was evacuated to Rambam Hospital in Haifa and hospitalized for two months. I went back to Lebanon, but it took two years to fully recover. I could not do anything. During those years, I was considered a disabled veteran and received aid from the State of Israel.
Upon my recovery, I returned to the SLA. Though the Lebanese fighters did the dirty work on the ground, IDF soldiers always fought with us, shoulder to shoulder. Over the years, I married a Lebanese girl and had two children, but the marriage became rocky, and when the IDF withdrew from Lebanon in 2000, I, along with other SLA veterans, left with them. I wanted to start a new life in Israel, away from the violence and terrorism.
The other SLA soldiers and I were temporarily in apartments across the country, mostly in the north. Then, after six weeks, Israel struck an agreement with Germany allowing us to emigrate there and be granted German citizenship. I went, but after 10 months I moved back to Israel. I didn’t belong. I could not get along with the people there.
Upon my return, I received Israeli citizenship. I was issued an ID card recognizing me as a disabled IDF soldier, and with it disability pay from the Defense Ministry. I tried to make a life for myself as a loyal Israeli Muslim. But it was lonely. The Muslim community didn’t go out of its way to make me comfortable. Nobody ever invited me for a holiday meal, so for 14 years I did not celebrate. Although I tried my hand at various businesses, I had little success, and eventually got involved with less than savory people.
But then, once again, help arrived in the form of an army officer – this time, an Israeli. A senior officer recognized me from his time in the SLA, when he was stationed in Lebanon, and volunteered to help. Thanks to his generosity, I was able to get away from the criminal element I had been involved with. I was able to regain my confidence and dignity because he had faith in me.
But the most dramatic change in my life happened three years ago on Yom Kippur, when my benefactor invited me to join him for the prayer services. It was the first time I had been exposed to Jewish prayer.
From an early age, I asked God, “Why was I created a Muslim?” I suffered a lot for being Muslim. But when praying with the Jews, I saw that they only pray for peace. They did not pray “Death to the Arabs.” I realized for myself, that despite the hard times I have had, it was the Jews who saved me. In 14 years, a Muslim never invited me; now the Jews were taking me in. I resolved to become a Jew.
The next week, I was in Haifa. I was walking down the street and saw a rabbi. I told him I had a friend who wanted to convert. He gave me his phone number and told me to give it to my friend. For a few days I tried that number, but no one answered.
A few days later, I ran into the rabbi again. This time, he gave me the number for the beis din.
I called the court and told them that my name is Munir Mundar and I want to convert. They invited me to come in for an interview. I told them my story and they gave me the phone number of a rabbi and told me to talk to him and set up lessons in Judaism. And they opened up a case file for me.
A few days later, I joined a newly-opened class. I passed the conversion exams after a year and a half of intense studies. Last week, my request for conversion was approved, and I underwent the required halachic procedures.
I became Meir Mizrachi, a Jew.
Until now, I never really felt settled in my identity. I felt temporary. Now I feel good. I have peace of mind. I am proud to belong to the people of Israel.
I have peace of mind. I am proud to belong to the people of Israel.
The process has been difficult. At the beginning, keeping Shabbat was hard for me. The classes were hard. Now, keeping Shabbat makes me feel good. The hardest thing was wondering if people would accept me. I really want to be part of the nation.
Converting can’t be a decision made lightly. I have proven that I really want to be a Jew. Today I am a fully observant Jew. I am on the right path, thank God. I hope and pray that one day I will have a Jewish family.
My anger at the Muslim world has not abated. I’ll never forget what they did to my mother and my sister.
Hezbollah, Hamas, Fatah, Daesh, al-Qaeda, al-Nusra. The list of terrorist organizations goes on and on. They all claim to speak in the name of the Quran. The Quran says it is permissible to kill. It commands you to kill. Salafists kill Shiites, Sunnis kill Alawites. Each one kills the other and each one says that killing is the appropriate response to their grievances. Look at what’s going on in Syria! Sheer chaos. All in the name of the Quran and the name of Allah. What kind of religion is that?
Israel always wants peace, but who can we make peace with? Abbas is a terrorist. He gives money to the families of suicide bombers. Anyone who supports terrorists, I believe, is a terrorist. In Syria, Assad destroyed his own people just to stay in power. It’s the same in most Arab countries. And they have the nerve to say that Israel does not want peace?
If the Arabs don’t like what I have to say, I don’t care. I am not afraid. I have trust in God. Only He determines when I was born and when I will die. I’m not afraid of anybody.
If there is one thing I would tell my Arab cousins, it is this: a general rule of history. Every country in the world that has no Jews receives no blessing. The United States is successful because it has a great Jewish population. Am Yisrael is the chosen people. It even says so in the Quran.
And as for my new family, the Jewish community – we are living in very difficult times. If we’re not together in the fight against terrorism, we will have a huge problem. We must be united in everything as a nation.
This article originally appeared in Ami Magazine. (www.aish.com)