Avodah Mailing List

Volume 14 : Number 009

Wednesday, October 6 2004

< Previous Next >
Subjects Discussed In This Issue:
Date: Mon, 4 Oct 2004 14:31:11 +1000
From: "SBA" <sba@sba2.com>

From: Micha Berger <micha@aishdas.org>
> moshes@mm.huji.ac.il wrote:
>: In Hebrew horseradish is "Chazeres" so he says "Yhi Ratzon shenachzor
>: bitshuvah"!
> Trans: May it be Your Desire that we return in teshuvah.

Chazeres is horseradish??

And couldn't eating something so bitter 'neutralise' the sweet year we
expect from dipping into honey?

[My wife bans pickles, nuts and horseradish right up to Hoshana Rabba...]


Go to top.

Date: Mon, 04 Oct 2004 12:02:10 +0200
From: Dov Bloom <dovb@netvision.net.il>
Re:Charcoal barbeque on Hag

We have neighbors who all most every chag (religiously) have a barbeque.

There are lengthy parts of M Beitza and Hilchot YT about cooking on YT,
charcoal was common even in times of Hazal, so the question seems strange
that anyone would question this. It could be that your questioner is
not experience with wood fires being used for cooking and baking.

Anyone who cooks over a normal wood fire ( as on any cooking campfire
nowadays and as Jews did in all generations until the last few...) also
fan coals, any wood fire also produces coals which at some point may
not have noticable flame but would flame more if you fan them.

Go to top.

Date: Fri, 01 Oct 2004 12:24:08 +0200
From: Daniel Eidensohn <yadmoshe@012.net.il>
Re: Balancing Machshavah Amuqah and Emunah Peshutah

Micha Berger wrote:
>: Abarbanel (Rosh Amana #23): If there are in fact foundation principles and
>: roots - then why didn't our sages mention them? If they exist it would
>: have been better if our sages had specifically discussed them then just
>: dealing with the mitzvos and the moral and ethical principles of Pirkei
>: Avos. Since our sages who are our guides seemed unconcerned with these
>: principles and did not mention that there were unique principles of faith
>: that a person needed to believe...

>This is his argument against the notion of ikkarei emunah. I don't catch
>why it is relevent.

The Rishonim acknowledged that Chazal did not express a systematic
theology. A consequence is that there is no indication of what principles
of faith - if any - are more fundamental than others.

>But more importantly, the question before us was not which is on
>greater footing, but whether machshavah ought to play a significant
>role at all. If it interferes with emunah peshutah, or simply doesn't
>play a role in our avodas Hashem, then why bother?

The recently published collection of Rav Wolbe's talks said at Yeshiva
Ber Yaakov has the following [excerpt] to say on the matter

page 348-349

"The young listeners of sichos can be divided into two camps. The first
camp claims that the matters are obvious and they didn't hear a chidush.
The second camp claims that the matters are too deep and they didn't
understand them. Perhaps this is the matter of divrei Torah that from
one perspective they are so obvious that it is difficult to find any
chidush in them. However from a different perspective they are so deep
that it is difficult to comprehend them... Shlomo hamelech indicates this
when he says just as he thought he has comprehended somthing properly
it became distant from him. One thing is clear: divrei Torah is not
what we call today hashkofos. [Hashkofa is a concept that developed
from the German culture where the concept of "hashkofas olam" was born.
In other words that a person creates for himself hashkofa how to look
at the various events that occur in the world]. Many want to hear in the
yeshiva words of hashkofa - i.e., clarification of various problems and
proofs of the truth of our faith. This is simple to do since there is
plenty of proof for our faith and these things are easy to comprehend.
In contrast divrei Torah is a totally different issue. They are like an
elevating platform. All those who stand on it are elevated with it. This
comes from careful learning of gemora, agada, halacha and mussar. All of
them have the property of elevating a person and developing his essence,
his conduct and spiritual approach. Therefore divrei Torah is unique and
is not so simple like words of hashkofa and also one can not expect to
derive from them what is accomplished with hashkofa....

            Daniel Eidensohn

Go to top.

Date: Fri, 1 Oct 2004 14:39 +0200
Researchers Track Humans to Common Ancestor

[Forwarded from the Usenet group soc.genealogy.jewish -mi]

From: koosh@worldnet.att.net (Bernard Kouchel)
Subject:Researchers Track Humans to Common Ancestor
Date: 30 Sep 2004 11:42:29 -0700

Researchers Track Humans to Common Ancestor

Science writer Steve Olson, in the current issue of the journal 'Nature',
writes that a new statistical model shows that all human beings have a
common ancestor, who lived just 3,500 years ago.

Read more:

Bernard Kouchel

From: mjmeshenberg@pobox.com (Michael Meshenberg)
Subject:Do we all have a common ancestor?
Date: 30 Sep 2004 07:48:25 -0700

 From the first paragraph:
"The most recent common ancestor of all humanity lived just a few thousand
years ago, according to a computer model of our family tree. Researchers
have calculated that the mystery person, from whom everyone alive today
is directly descended, probably lived around 1,500 BC in eastern Asia."

See summary of "Human Populations are Tightly Interwoven"
http://www.nature.com/news/2004/040927/full/040927-10.html. (Links to full
article at the end.)

Mike Meshenberg

Go to top.

Date: Sun, 3 Oct 2004 22:53:00 EDT
From: RabbiRichWolpoe@aol.com
Re: Dinosaurs = "ha'tanninim ha'gedolim"?

In a message dated 9/29/2004 11:39:09 AM EDT, BACKON@vms.HUJI.AC.IL writes:
> Although Rashi (Breishit 1:21) explians "ha'tanninim ha'gedolim" as
> "dagim gedolim", the Ramban there seems to indicate gigantic creatures
> (ba'avur godel ha'nivra'im ha'eleh she'yesh mey'hem PARSA'OHT RABOT).
> Could this refer to dinosaurs ?...

I have long maintained that Taninim Gedloim are Great Lizards which

See Hirsch on Parshas Vo'eirah and the Haftara re: par'oh = hatanim

Gmar Chasima Tova!
Rich Wolpoe

Go to top.

Date: Mon, 4 Oct 2004 14:18:49 +1000
From: "SBA" <sba@sba2.com>
Moshe Ish Elokim

Novel drush meinyoneih deyomah...

The Medrash Tanchuma explains Moshe Rabeinu being called 'Ish Elokim'
as - kaveyochul - 'husband' of Elokim [eg Ish Naomi], saying just like
a husband is meifer the neder of his wife - so was Moshe Rabeinu meifer
gezeros of Hashem against Am Yisroel...


Go to top.

Date: Sat, 2 Oct 2004 22:50:21 -0400
From: Gershon Dubin <gershon.dubin@juno.com>
Kah Keli

In this piyut, the list of korbanos is different than the corresponding
list in Vayikra, specifically in that shelamim is last in Chumash but
next to last in Kah Keli; Todah is including in KK but not in Chumash.
Anyone have an explanation?


Go to top.

Date: Mon, 4 Oct 2004 01:02:03 +1000
From: "SBA" <sba@iprimus.com.au>
YHR - Duchenen

Some time ago I mentioned the difficulty in understanding the request
we make saying the Yehi Rotzon during Duchenen:
"Vesitneinu ...lechein...ulerachamim b'einecho uve'einei kol ro'einu...
keshem shenosato es Yosef tzadikecho besho'oh shehilbisho oviv kesones
passim lechein lechesed ulerachamim b'einecho uveinei chol ro'ov..."

Aderaba, the Kesones Paassim was a major cause for all his tsores which
eventually led him to being sold as a slave in Egypt..!

Reb Seth sent me a piece in the Shu't of Rav Shmuel Salant z'l where he
is asked this question - with no actual reply.

This YT another part of that tefileh made me think.

We ask "Vesitein li ulechol nafshos beisi mezonoseinu uparnososeinu
bereivach velo betzimtuzm...mitachas yodcho harechovo kesheim shenosato
pissas lechem le'echol uveged lilvosh leYaakov Ovinu..."

That's it? 
That's all we are asking for? A piece of bread?

And where does it say that Hashem gave Yaakov Ovinu 'pissas lechem'?

[True Yaakov asked for "Lechem Le'echol ubeged lilvosh', but he actually
had much more than that.]


Go to top.

Date: Mon, 4 Oct 2004 13:27:10 -0500 (CDT)
From: afolger@aishdas.org
Re: minhagim

RGD wrote: <<RYBS did say that the Ashrei is an integral part of
selichos, since selichos are "imru lefanai seder tefila" i.e. 13 midos,
so we say Ashrei, chatzi kaddish, selichos, tachanun, kaddish tiskabel,
for a complete tzura of tefila.>>

Uhum. I greatly respect the revered sevarot of Brisk, even though they
sometimes are not entirely in tune with ancient minhaggim. In such a case,
I think the minhag should be known, too. In Elsas and Germany, Ashrei does
NOT precede seli'hot. We say kaddish after the first 13 mniddot, which
is also after all the verses of lekha haShem hatzedaqa. I found out the
hard way, by once giving a shiur on Ashrei, mentioning why it is said at
the beginning of seli'hot, only to be told it isn't said in Yekki places.

Arie Folger

Go to top.

Date: Mon, 4 Oct 2004 11:40:13 -0500
From: "Avraham Bronstein" <avraham@thebronsteins.com>
Re: Sefer Zochiyos

Is it also possible that "sefer zechiyos" means "the book of the
innocents," based on zakhai being opposed to chayuv in a court context?

Avraham Bronstein

Go to top.

Date: Mon, 4 Oct 2004 17:41:54 -0400
From: Micha Berger <micha@aishdas.org>
Re: Sefer Zochiyos

On Mon, Oct 04, 2004 at 11:40:13AM -0500, Avraham Bronstein wrote:
: Is it also possible that "sefer zechiyos" means "the book of the
: innocents," based on zakhai being opposed to chayuv in a court context?

1- I think that would be the other nusach, "seifer zachuyos". I reiterate
my request to the mesorah regulars to confirm/correct.

2- The problem I have with the idea that it doesn't parallel the other
sefarim mentioned. We don't speak of a book of the wealthy, or the
healthy. The other books listed are named by the gift, not the recipient.


Micha Berger             None of us will leave this place alive.
micha@aishdas.org        All that is left to us is
http://www.aishdas.org   to be as human as possible while we are here.
Fax: (270) 514-1507            - anyonyous Dr, while a Nazi prisoner

Go to top.

Date: Tue, 5 Oct 2004 00:04:08 EDT
From: RabbiRichWolpoe@aol.com
Re: Is this the only opportunity for teshuvah?

In a message dated 9/19/2004 4:58:13pm EDT, ddcohen@verizon.net writes:
> One of the selichot that we recited this morning, "Imanta Me-az" by
> R' Binyamin ben Zerach (#49 in minhag Lita and #45 in minhag Polin),
> has a somewhat surprising assertion. It seems to be saying that while
> a community can do teshuvah any time of year, an individual is only
> able to do teshuvah during the 10 Days of Repentance, and any attempt
> at teshuvah during the rest of the year is futile. I'm not familiar
> with this in detail.

It is my understanding that an individual NEEDS to do Teshuva during
the year ONLY when he is aware that he has sinned.

OTOH, during the 10 days of Teshuvah (or perhaps from the 1st of Ellul)
one is obligated to LOOK instrospectively and find things upon which to
do Teshuva.

Gmar Chasima Tova!
Rich Wolpoe

Go to top.

Date: Tue, 5 Oct 2004 00:20:35 EDT
From: RabbiRichWolpoe@aol.com
Re: Balancing Machshavah Amuqah and Emunah Perhutah

In a message dated 9/23/2004 4:53:06pm EDT, smash52@netvision.net.il writes:
> I wonder in what "camp" RMB would put Rashi.
> In the framework of RMB's categories above, Rashi is neither scholastic
> nor anti-scholastic; he is non-scholastic. Similarly, he is not
> qabbalistic, like the Ramban, nor anti-qabbalistic, like the Rambam; he
> is non-qabbalistic. AFAIK, we have not only no significant philosophic
> works from this extremely central figure in the mesorah, but virtually no
> philosophic passages at all in his volumnious writings....
> Thus it seems reasonable to posit that he could serve as a model for
> what is termed above the Brisker approach.

I don't know the sum of Rashi's haskafos but certain Hashkofos are
very apparent throughout his peirush on the Torah. EG The first Rashi
gives a strong hint at his view that Eretz Yisroel is central to Judaism.

Gmar Chasima Tova!
Rich Wolpoe

Go to top.

Date: Tue, 5 Oct 2004 00:16:21 EDT
From: RabbiRichWolpoe@aol.com
Re: Balancing Machshavah Amuqah and Emunah Peshutah

In a message dated 9/28/2004 2:51:35am EDT, micha@aishdas.org writes:
> One of my favorite lines in 19 Letters is where RSRH likens Geigerian
> wissenschaft to alchemy. In alchemy, one has a theory, and forces the
> data to fit. This is the R approach to Judaism -- they think they know
> what halakhah is all about, and cut out or modify the actual halakhah to
> fit that notion. In a true Science of Judaism, one would be constructing
> theories about how to understand the din.

If one studies torah and comes up with a "Theory" or a construct of
how a Halachah is suppoed to work and then finds a din or a minhag that
deviates fro mthe theory
Then: What should one do?

Uphold the Din/minhag and revise or surrender the theory
presume the din or the minhag is based upon a mis-understanding?

While indeed R proceeds to align certain facts in order to conform to
a pre-set doctrine, I don't think they possess a monopoly on this tactic.

Gmar Chasima Tova!
Rich Wolpoe

Go to top.

Date: Tue, 5 Oct 2004 00:33:19 -0400
From: Micha Berger <micha@aishdas.org>
Re: Balancing Machshavah Amuqah and Emunah Peshutah

On Tue, Oct 05, 2004 at 12:16:21AM -0400, RabbiRichWolpoe@aol.com wrote:
: If one studies torah and comes up with a "Theory" or a construct of
: how a Halachah is suppoed to work and then finds a din or a minhag that
: deviates from the theory
: Then: What should one do?

: Uphold the Din/minhag and revise or surrender the theory
: OR
: presume the din or the minhag is based upon a mis-understanding?

I don't know about minhag. But certainly din must force a revision
or total abandonment of the theory. One should not pasqen based on a
conclusion reached by lomdus over halakhah pesuqah. But I can't think
of example when someone does.

What happens is:

1- A pesaq in the sefarim contradicts halakhah as practiced, and there
are rabbanim that endorse the written version. Both of which would be
experimental data in the Hirschian model. It's a matter of which data
point you consider more reliable.
2- A conclusion reached by lomdus is used to choose one valid pesaq over
another valid pesaq. There is no experimental data giving preference to


Micha Berger                 Life is complex.
micha@aishdas.org                Decisions are complex.
http://www.aishdas.org               The Torah is complex.
Fax: (270) 514-1507                                - R' Binyamin Hecht

Go to top.

Date: Tue, 5 Oct 2004 17:58:57 -0400
From: "Glasner, David" <DGLASNER@ftc.gov>
"Shemini Atzeret" from Iqvei ha-Tzon by R. Akiva Glasner

"Shemini Atzeret"
from Iqvei ha-Tzon
R. Akiva Glasner

    Shemini Atzeret is the yahrzeit of my father, my master, my teacher,
    the mighty gaon, renowned through his commentary Dor Revi'i, Moshe
    Shmuel Glasner, of blessed memory, whose pure and noble soul ascended
    heavenward in the year 5685 suddenly on the night of the last day
    of the festival at the age of 69. He studied unceasingly and stood
    as an example to his people of exceptional self-sacrifice from an
    unbounded love for his people and his kindred; the fire of love for
    the torah and for his people was aflame and burning in his heart.
    May his memory be blessed for all generations.

At the end of the chapter of the sacrifices in poroshat Pinhas it says
(Numbers 29:35): "On the eighth day you shall have a solemn assembly."
Here also, as it did in referring to Rosh Hashanh, the Torah begins
by giving the name of the festival, which is called "Atzeret." This is
a parallel construction to the verse (Leviticus 24:42) "In the seventh
month, on the first of the month, you shall observe a day of solemn rest"
(shabbaton), which necessarily means that the name of the festival is
"Shabbaton." But the Scripture reveals not a trace about the content
or purpose of this festival which follows immediately upon the seven
days of Sukkot. Also in poroshat Re'eih, the Scripture only mentions
by way of a hint through the words "you shall be only joyful" (v'hayita
akh samei'ah), which, the Talmud deduces, is meant to include the night
of the last day of the festival (i.e., Shemini Atzeret).

A thick cloud covers the content and the purpose of this festival which
is adjacent to the preceding festival, the seven days of Sukkot. What is
the content of the festival? We have no hint or basis in the Torah.

On one side the Torah calls it "ha-shemini" (the eighth) which proves that
it has some relation and connection with the seven days of the preceding
festival. For if not, how could the Torah have called it "ha-shemini"?
Otherwise, it should have said "on the twenty-second day of the month,
there shall be a solemn assembly (atzeret) for you." Since the Torah
did not write in this way, it must be, as our Sages deduced, that eighth
day is included and associated with the seven days of Sukkot. But from
another side, it is a separate festival (regel bi-ph'nei atzmo) inasmuch
as all the offerings of the seven days of Sukkot are introduced by the
words "and on the ___ day" (u-va-yom) with a connecting "vav," which
shows the unity of the seven days and their relationship to one another
even though a different number of offerings were brought on each day.
But on this festival of the eighth day it is written "on the eighth day"
(ba-yom ha-shemini) without a connecting "vav," from which it was clearly
apparent to our Sages that the eighth day is a separate festival (Sukkah
48a; Rosh Hashanah 4b).

But a further question arises about this festival whose reason and
content are hidden and mysterious, namely: all the festivals, without
exception, have some historical basis in relationship to the exodus from
Egypt, the symbol of the special Divine Providence reserved for Israel,
Chosen People and the Holy Nation. (This is so even for Rosh Hashanah
and Yom Kippur, since man was created on Rosh Hashanah and the sin of the
golden calf was forgiven and the second tablets were given on Yom Kippur.
And they are all in remembrance of the Exodus from Egypt as we say even
in the kiddush of Rosh Hashanah which calls to mind the exalted and
sublime concept of the Divine Providence reserved to Israel.) Moreover,
the festival of the Eighth Day has no basic reason and its purpose is
hidden and submerged in the Scripture. In the chapter of the festivals
the reason for the festival of Sukkot is given as follows: "so that
your generations shall know that I made the children of Israel dwell in
booths when I took them out of Egypt." But this cannot be a reason for
the eighth day. The commandments of the sukkah and to take the lulab
terminate at the end of the seventh day. Not only that, but the Torah
limits the rejoicing associated with the eighth day, as it is written
"and you shall be only happy" (v'hayita akh samei'ah). And the word
"akh" is understood to be limiting, so that the obligation to be joyful
on the eighth day is somehow diminished compared to the previous days.
Rabbeinu ha-Qadosh therefore found it proper to point out in the Mishnah
(Sukkah 48a) that the Hallel and the peace-offerings of rejoicing were
offered all eight days of the festival to teach us that one is bound
to recite the Hallel and to offer the peace-offerings of rejoicing
on the last (eighth) day of the festival, just as on the other days
of the festival. And this is amazing. Also the fact that the editor
of the mishnah referred to the eighth day as the "last holy day of the
festival" (yom tov aharon shel hag) contrary to how the Torah referred
to it and to the conclusion of our Sages that it is a separate festival.
The upshot of this discussion is that the whole matter of this strange
festival appears before us as a sealed book and a riddle.

The only indication of the meaning of the festival is from the name
applied to it by the Torah "Atzeret" which shows only that there is
a prohibition against work requiring us to be confined to our homes
and to cease all work in the field. The words of the Midrash, which
Rashi brings in poroshat Pinhas, are well known. On this festival,
when only a single bull, in contrast to the seventy bulls offered on
the seven days of the Sukkot festival, the Holy One Blessed Be He says:
"your departure is difficult for me bear." So He holds them back for
one small intimate meal, as the nations leave the scene of this festival
designated only for the Holy One Blessed Be He and his precious one,
Israel. This is a beautiful and extraordinary Midrash, but it, too,
does not come to clarify but to conceal. We require interpretations and
explanations that probe the depths of the profound meanings of the Torah
and the Midrashim of our Sages. The field is ploughed but not planted
and requires uncovering and explaining the hidden reason. And this
is why we were created: to toil and reflect and delve into depths of
the Torah that are covered and hidden from us. And "the secret things
belong to the Lord our God, but the things that are revealed belong to
us and our children." And even one as insignificant as I is entitled
to express his opinion concerning this sublime matter.

We have already explained previously in our earlier discussion of the
festival of Sukkot that the obligation to dwell in the sukkah and the
offering of the seventy bulls demonstrate the existence of the Creator who
sits on the throne and superintends over all the inhabitants of the earth
and over everything under the sun through His agents and intermediaries
who fulfill His instructions. It was therefore appropriate - and this
was the intention of the Torah - to provide, immediately after the
festival of Sukkot, a symbol of the Divine Providence that is reserved
exclusively for Israel by way of a direction that does not depend on the
alignments of the heavens and the stars, but through the unintermediated
supervision of the King of the kings of kings, the Holy One Blessed Be
He Himself in His glory, as it is written (Exodus 12:12) "I am the Lord."
"I am He, and no other, and no messenger."

The festival of the eighth day is reserved for an intimate, secret
celebration between the Holy One Blessed Be He and Israel. The festival
of Sukkot, by way of offering the seventy bulls, includes and encompasses
all the nations symbolizing the Heavenly guidance of their affairs
through intermediaries of the Most High King. And the festival of the
eighth day is confined and reduced to a celebration reserved for the Holy
One Blessed Be He and Israel without the participation of the nations.
It is therefore correct that the Torah called this day "Atzeret," not in
the sense of ceasing from work and being gathered in from the field to
the home so as not to perform work, but in the deep sense of "Atzeret"
in its special meaning, namely: the union of the Holy One Blessed Be
He with Israel, the joining of Israel with the Holy One Blessed Be He
Who says to His precious people: "your departure is difficult for me
to bear." This day is a symbol of the special Providence designated
by the Holy One Blessed Be He for Israel and not for outsiders or
strangers or other nations. And therefore only one bull. A small
repast that encompasses only a narrowly defined domain - adjacent and
related to the festival of Sukkot with the offering of seventy bulls,
which symbolizes His rule over all the nations - that between the Holy
One Blessed Be He and Israel, His precious people. The festival of
the eighth day is tied to the seven days of the preceding festival,
and it has a deep connection to them, which is why it is called "the
eighth day" of the festival of Sukkot as a symbol of the general Divine
supervision and guidance of the entire world. But from another angle,
it is a separate festival, a special festival, symbolizing the special
Providence that is reserved for Israel alone and no other. For Israel
is His treasured people, the holy and separate people whose Providential
supervision is different from that of the other nations.

And according to all that has been said, the verse (Deuteronomy 16:15)
"and you shall be only joyful" (v'hayita akh samei'ah), from which the
Sages deduce that the obligation to rejoice extends also to the last night
of the festival (i.e., the night of the eighth day), is well explained.
The plain meaning of the text indicates a diminution of rejoicing because
the words "akh" and "raq" always signify some exclusion, inasmuch as the
plain meaning of "akh" signifies some kind of diminution and lessening,
as is known to those who are familiar with the language. And this
rejoicing of the eighth day, the day in which the Holy One Blessed Be
He and Israel are united, the day that symbolizes the exclusion of the
nation of Israel from the rest of the nations of the world in the manner
of supervision and guidance, the day that symbolizes and embodies the
idea of the separation of Israel from all the nations to be the chosen
people and a holy nation that stands alone under the unintermediated
governance of the Holy One Blessed Be He. This idea was the basis of
the covenant at Sinai, and was expressed by Moses when he came to redeem
Israel from Egypt (Exodus 19:6): "And you shall be for Me a kingdom of
Priests and a holy nation." Our Sages therefore said that the hatred
of the nations for Israel descended from Sinai, for the making of this
covenant at Sinai caused us trouble and was the source and root for
the hatred of the Gentiles for Israel. It is understood then that our
happiness is not complete on this day in which the Holy One Blessed Be
He and Israel are united through the offering of a single bull for a
small repast without participation of the nations who received their
share in the great feast of seventy bulls in the first seven days of
the festival. The Torah therefore said "and you shall be only joyful"
(v'hayita akh samei'ah) on the eighth day, which means that on the eighth
day your joy cannot be complete. Rather diminish your joy somewhat.
And for this reason the Sages made a point of saying in the Mishnah of
the Tractate of Sukkah, "Hallel is recited and the peace-offerings of
rejoicing are brought all eight days which teaches us that one is bound
to recite the Hallel and to offer the peace-offerings of rejoicing and
to show honor on the last (eighth) day of the festival. They did not
say that one is obligated to be as joyful on the last of the festival
as on the other days of the festival, because in truth one is supposed
to diminish the quantity of rejoicing on the last day of the festival.
And this is demonstrated because a specific derivation was necessary to
include the night of the last day within the obligation of rejoicing,
for without this derivation we would have diminished the rejoicing at
night, as opposed to the rejoicing of the first seven days, as well as
during the day of the last day on the basis of the exclusionary "akh."
But there is an obligation to show honor on the last day equally to that
of the other days of the festival for the sake of the sublime essence
of the last day, the day that was set aside for the unity and intimacy
between the Holy One Blessed Be He and his dear people, Israel. It is
then proper to honor the day and to increase its holiness through an
elevated spiritual joy as it is written: "This is the day which the Lord
has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it" (zeh ha-yom assah ha-Sheim
nagilah v'nism'ha bo). In the Midrash it is written:

When it says 'let us rejoice and be glad in it" (bo), I do not know
whether "bo" refers to the day or to the Eternal, but when it says (Isaiah
25:"let us rejoice and be glad in His salvation" (nagilah v'nism'ha
bi-shu'ato) you must say that "bo" refers to the Holy One Blessed Be He.

Thus, on the eighth day we rejoice in the union between the Holy One
Blessed Be He and Israel as His treasured people who are like a king's
legion, which is not subject to any minister or officer of state, but to
the king alone. And this, with the aid of the Eternal, is very correct.

According to this correct explanation the principal rejoicing of the
eighth day is not physical rejoicing through ample eating and drinking.
Although we say concerning the other festivaldays, based on the Talmudic
derivation of the verse "and you shall rejoice in your festivals"
(v'samahta b'hagekha), that there is no rejoicing save with meat and wine,
this is true of a generic holiday and, in particular for those festivals
on which the obligation to rejoice involves an increase of enjoyment
and pleasure. But on the eighth day, concerning which it says and "you
shall be only joyful" (v'hayita akh same'ah), a day that is set aside
exclusively for the elevated spiritual joy and exaltation of the soul
through coming close to the Eternal Who, in His mercy and great kindness,
superintends us with a special providence,there is no occasion for an
increase of eating, drinking and bodily pleasure. Rather we are to
rejoice in the Holy One Blessed Be He and in His salvation. And that is
why this day was designated to be Simhat Torah, for the principal content
and the secret of the eighth day is to be "only joyful" (akh same'ah),
i.e., joyful with a minimum of eating and drinking but an increase of
honor for the day, as the Mishnah states "to show honor to the last
day of the festival" - by honoring the Eternal who gave the Torah and
by offering praise and thanks that He chose us from all the nations as
a holy people and nation to be treasured under his special providence.
It is also possible that the Torah called the eighth day "Atzeret" to
hint that we should not eat and drink and partake of physical pleasures
excessively, but rather increase the honor to heaven and the honor and
love of the His holy Torah, which is our life and on which we meditate
day and night.

There is a further explanation that we can offer to this lofty idea
inasmuch as we can say that the difference between physical joy and
spiritual joy is that every physical joy is limited and must come to an
end, so that every joy that stems from physical pleasure and enjoyment is
mixed with the unpleasant feeling that it must quickly reach its limit
and terminal point. For the end of mirth is grief, as it passes away
so quickly. After his appetite is sated and the object of his heart's
desire is fulfilled, his soul will be repelled by what he had previously
wanted. The soul detests all these worldly desires and pleasures.
But this is not so for spiritual joy that comes to a person through
being engaged in the study of Torah and ideas and the service of the
Eternal which is infinite and unbounded. For in the acquisition of
Torah there is no end to the desire of one's heart for Torah and his
longing for an abundance of knowledge and wisdom constantly increases.
The outcome of spiritual joy is therefore not grief, and it has no
unpleasant feeling associated with it, but, on the contrary, the joy
increases according as the amount of knowledge increases and ascends
upon the ladder of perfection. This is the meaning of "only joyful"
(akh samei'ah), joyful with no feeling of regret that the joy must cease.
Such joy is possible only through the exalted joy of the spirit and the
soul. This is the idea that is expressed in the joy of the eighth day,
and in this spiritual joy the procession of the joyous days of Sukkot
come to an end - on the day of Shemini Atzeret.

And to conclude this essay which I have dedicated to the elevation and
memory of my father, my master and my teacher, the Gaon of blessed memory,
I will mention one other exalted idea related to the eighth day, namely:
the words of the Targum Yonatan on poroshat Pinhas (Numbers 29:35):
"On the eighth day, you shall be gathered in joyously from your sukkot
into your homes." The meaning is that the content and reason for the
festival of the eighth day is to be gathered in from the sukkah into
the home. The sukkah symbolizes the desert and the exile - "that I made
the Children of Israel dwell in booths when I took them out of Egypt" -
and the home is the symbol of a permanent domicile established within
the boundaries of the land of Israel, the holy land. That is why the
festival that recalls to Israel the travels in the wilderness, the exile
without protection or cover given over to murder, destruction, attack,
and humiliation is closed with the eighth day, the day of ingathering
into the home - the symbol of the redemption and the ingathering to our
land and our permanent home speedily in our days. In my book, Dor Dorim,
I have, based on the words of the Targum Yonatan, discussed at length
what is relevant to halakhah in the sugya of "sukkah bi-shemini," and I
will not repeat myself here. Seek it in its place and your thirst will
be quenched.

David Glasner

Go to top.

Date: Wed, 6 Oct 2004 05:36:10 -0400
From: Micha Berger <micha@aishdas.org>
Words said during na'anu'im

I wonder whether one can understand more about the mitzvah of 4 minim
by looking at the words of Hallel during which we perform na'anu'im.

"Hodu lashem ki tov..." - hoda'ah. It's a step beyond tehillah, in that
it's not only praise, it acknowledgement of indebtedness because of the
thing we're praising.

So, it would seem from this pasuq that the 4 minim are an expression
of hoda'ah. Unsurprising for the role of plants used during a harvest

My problem is that "Ana H' hoshi'ah na" seems to be entirely different.
While thinking about it, it hit me that "Ana H'..." doesn't seem to be
tehillah at all, but rather bakashah. What's it doing in Hallel?

Perhaps if I could resolve that first question, I would understand why
it warrants na'anu'im.


Micha Berger             A person must be very patient
micha@aishdas.org        even with himself.
http://www.aishdas.org         - attributed to R' Nachman of Breslov
Fax: (270) 514-1507      

Go to top.


[ Distributed to the Avodah mailing list, digested version.                   ]
[ To post: mail to avodah@aishdas.org                                         ]
[ For back issues: mail "get avodah-digest vXX.nYYY" to majordomo@aishdas.org ]
[ or, the archive can be found at http://www.aishdas.org/avodah/              ]
[ For general requests: mail the word "help" to majordomo@aishdas.org         ]

< Previous Next >