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September 17, 2014 / 22 Elul, 5774
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘Sukkah’

May A Woman Build A Sukkah?

Thursday, September 27th, 2012

The Gemara in Sukkah says that the sechach that one must use for his sukkah must be detached from the tree in order for it to be fit for use. The Gemara (Sukkah 11a) discusses what a person must do if one put branches on his sukkah before they were cut off from the tree. The Gemara concludes that branches must be detached from the tree and he then must shake them.

The Rif, when bringing this halacha (6a dafei haRif), says that the reason why one must shake the branches after they are cut is so that they should be made lishmah – for the sake of the mitzvah of sukkah. The Ran asks on the Rif that if we do not require that a sukkah or its sechach be made lishmah, why then must one shake the branches in order for the sukkah and sechach to have been made lishmah? The Ran concludes that the Rif is not to be taken literally and that one does not have to shake the branches with lishmah in mind; rather one only needs to shake them – and the sukkah is valid.

The Rambam, however, seems to believe that the Rif is to be taken literally, for when he writes this halacha in Hilchos Sukkah (5:12) the Rambam adds the same words as the Rif, namely that the reason that one must shake the branches after they are cut from the tree is so that they should be made lishmah for the sukkah. The Rambam would not have repeated the reason if he believed that it was not to be taken literally. But the Ran’s question then stands on the Rambam and his view of the Rif: Since we do not pasken that a sukkah must be made lishmah, why do the branches that were originally on the sukkah while they were attached to a tree need to be shaken lishmah after they are detached? We pasken in accordance with Beis Hillel that a sukkah needs only to be made for the sake of shade, not for the sake of the mitzvah. Why then does the Rambam require that these branches be shaken for the sake of the mitzvah?

Acharonim answer that indeed when one makes a sukkah and initially puts on kosher sechach he does not need to have in mind that it is lishmah, only that it will provide shade. However, when one has sechach that is unfit for use – for it is still attached to a tree – then in order to render that sechach fit for use (without removing them completely) one must shake them lishmah in order to use them for his sukkah. It would not suffice to merely shake them for the purpose of providing shade.

The reason for this is that by shaking the sechach one has not completely destroyed the sukkah; therefore it is still the same sukkah as it was prior to his cutting the branches off the tree. Since the original shade is still there it should be unfit for use. Shaking the sechach is not a new act of putting on new sechach; rather it is an act of making the sukkah. Only when one shakes them for the sake of the mitzvah can he render the sechach fit for use.

Tosafos, in Gittin 45b, quotes Rabbienu Tam’s view that women may not tie the lulav’s hadassim and aravos together; nor can they tie tzitzis. This is because since they are not obligated in the mitzvah, they cannot make the mitzvah. And since women are exempt from the mitzvos of lulav and tzitzis they may not make these mitzvos. Tosafos, in Gittin 45b, asks the following question on this opinion from the Gemara (Sukkah 8b) that says that women may build a sukkah: Since they are exempt from the mitzvah of sukkah they should not be allowed to make a sukkah – so why the discrepancy?

Acharonim answer that building a sukkah differs from the tying of tzitzis and a lulav. By tzitzis and lulav the tying is an integral part of the mitzvah and must be done lishmah. Therefore women cannot perform that part of the mitzvah since they are exempt from it. However, the building of the sukkah does not require that it should be built lishmah but rather it must only be built for the purpose of giving shade. The only restriction is that one may not use a sukkah that was made inadvertently. Such a process is not an action that requires lishmah – and women may partake in its performance.

My Machberes

Tuesday, September 25th, 2012

Jewish History Comes Alive:
The 5773/2012 Munkatcher Sukkah

There are many magnificent sukkahs throughout the world and Boro Park has a large number of them. Most renowned are those of Munkatch and Bobov.

The Munkatcher Sukkah, on 14th Avenue between 47th and 48th Streets serves not only as a Yom Tov citadel of chassidic rapture, but as a portal to the world’s great synagogues of the past, many of which are still in daily use.

Munkatcher Rebbe dancing with Eli Isaac Vegh.

Over the past ten years, a total of 150 enlarged professional photographs have adorned the Munkatcher Sukkah and simultaneously served as major contributions to the knowledge and appreciation of Jewish history, all taking place in midst of a brimming chassidishe setting.

To enhance the Munkatcher Sukkah this year, the Rebbe, along with world-renowned synagogue photographer Joel Berkowitz, and Cantor Eli Isaac (Robert) Vegh, selected 12 exquisite 20×30 portrait photographs that date as far back as the third century CE.

The Munkatcher Sukkah will present a visual display of the following important shuls:

Ancient Shul at Kfar Bar’am, Galilee, Israel

● The Ancient Synagogue at Kfar Bar’am, Galil, Israel, constructed in the third century CE. Its elaborate structure is built of big and beautiful basalt stones. It was built in the third century CE during the Mishnaic and Talmudic period in which the Jews flourished in the Galilee. The facade of the shul, which remains almost complete, is magnificent. It has three doorways and the middle one is especially large and beautiful. These gates, which face Jerusalem, are decorated with beautiful stone carvings.

● Azik Shul, Tangier, Morocco, built in 1820.

● Beis Pinchas Shul, Isle of Djerba, one of the oldest Jewish communities in the world;

● Endigen, Switzerland, built in 1764 and rebuilt in 1854.

● The Main Synagogue of Ensonia, Italy, built in 1882.

● Etz Chaim, Larissa, Greece, built in 1800. The shul alone remains of seven that existed before the Holocaust and currently serves the community’s 350 Jews. During the German occupation, many Jews fled to nearby mountains from where they fought as partisans. The rest were deported to Auschwitz.

Synagogue Florenza, Florence, Italy

● Synagogue Florenza, built in 1874, in Florence, Italy.

● Great Synagogue, Basil, Switzerland, built in 1850 by a then Jewish population of more than 15,000.

● Ezer Shul, Isle of Djerba, built in 1500.

● The Kaddish Shul, Divinsky, Lita, built in 1873.

● Karash Shul, Bursa, Turkey, built in1645.

Inside and Outside the Florence Shul

One of the highlights this year is an interior and exterior photo of the shul in Florence, Italy, considered by many to be one of the most beautiful in the world. The Munkatcher Rebbe was especially interested in the shul, completed in 1882. Considered a masterpiece of design and detail, it is one of the very few great European synagogues that survived the Nazis.

Great Synagogue, Basil, Switzerland

During World War II, the shul was used as Nazi headquarters and command post in Italy. Hitler ordered the synagogue to wired with explosives when the Nazis had to evacuate. He stood on a nearby bridge because he wished to witness the destruction of the shul. Through Heavenly design, relay switches failed and he furiously ordered the demolition crew to go back and correct the wiring defect, but was told that Allied troops had already taken up positions and that returning to the synagogue was impossible.

The shul today continues to serve the Jewish community with services three times every day.

 

The Exhibition’s Beginnings

Eli Isaac (Robert) Vegh of Lawrence is well known in the world of chazzanus. In addition to being a real estate financier, he is the chazzan for the Yamim Noraim at the Avenue N Jewish Center in Flatbush.

Eli has developed an exceptionably warm relationship with the Munkatcher Rebbe and shares his vacation experiences and shul photographs with him. The Rebbe, who has always had an intense interest in older shuls, asks a myriad of pointed questions, with a focus on whether the shuls continue to maintain traditional Torah practices and values and what their communities are like today.

Our Holy Visitors

Tuesday, September 25th, 2012

Sukkos comes to us as a beautifully wrapped gift from Hashem, right when we can use some pampering. Having just completed an exhaustive round of appeals to our Father in heaven to forgive our iniquities and grant us yet another chance to prove ourselves worthy of His beneficence and mercy, we emerge as newborns – clean and pure and free of the stain of sin.

An infant upon birth is immediately swaddled in blankets to protect it from the sudden change in temperature of its new confines. At the conclusion of Yom Kippur we are forgiven our transgressions and likened to a newborn; hence Hashem protects us with the sukkah, shielding our newly acquired holiness from becoming sullied by the vulgarities that surround us.

How apropos to celebrate a new beginning by inviting our elite leaders, our role models from time immemorial, to join us in the Sukkah. Enter the Ushpizin (Aramaic for guests) – the seven holy shepherds who blazed the trails for us to walk in, whose merits we invoke for our benefit at every turn in life.

The luminaries that comprise the Ushpizin are Avraham, Yitzchak, Yaakov, Moshe, Aharon, Yosef and Dovid, each representing one of Hashem’s divine attributes and each possessing a spiritual essence uniquely his own, along with the combined middos – the character traits – of them all.

Avraham Avinu represents the divine attribute of chesed (kindness) and is the epitome of the perfect host. He has served as our model for the mitzvah of hachnassas orchim ever since he invited the angels to “sit under the tree.”

According to a fascinating midrash, it is as a result of this gesture that Avraham’s children were rewarded with the mitzvah of sukkah. Shedding light on the correlation, the Zohar teaches that Avraham Avinu’s intent when inviting the malachim to rest beneath the tree was to teach his guests (the angels disguised as mortals) that one is to place Hashem before him always. The seven days during which we are commanded to sit in the sukkah correspond to the human lifespan of seventy years – during which time our every act and deed, physical or spiritual in nature, is to be done l’shem shamayim, for the sake of heaven. (Alshich HaKadosh)

Yitzchak Avinu represents the divine attribute of gevurah (strength). Who can possibly begin to fathom the remarkable strength of a young man who had allowed himself to be bound by his father, in readiness to be offered as sacrificial lamb to God per divine instruction? Their complete submission to the will of Hashem attests to both father’s and son’s unerring faith in their Creator. Their actions have spoken for all eternity and have achieved atonement for our weaknesses and failings time and time again.

Yaakov Avinu is aptly accredited with the divine attribute of tiferes (beauty). By integrating the qualities of his father (gevurah) and his grandfather (chesed), Yaakov managed to achieve the perfect blend of character traits to qualify him as progenitor of the twelve tribes of Israel.

Following Yaakov’s defeat of Eisav’s ministering angel, Hashem named him Yisrael – which contains the words yashar (straight, upright) and Kel (one of God’s names), thus validating Yaakov’s uprightness in his service of Hashem.

Moshe Rabbeinu, whose legacy lives on in teachers of Torah throughout the generations, personifies the divine attribute of netzach (eternity). The mere mention of Moshe Rabbeinu invokes the trait of humility. Yet if he was truly “more humble than any man on earth,” how is it that he did not have an issue with being summoned to ascend to the top of Mount Sinai to accept the Torah as an intermediary between God and the Jewish nation? Shouldn’t he have protested “Who am I to go…?” as he did when Hashem told him to approach Pharaoh?

Moshe knew Hashem had chosen the smallest mount for Mattan Torah and rationalized that it was fitting for him, as the smallest Jew, to be mekabel the Torah on the smallest mount. (Kedushas Levi)

Aharon HaKohen, bestowed with the majesty of the kehunah by the Almighty Himself, represents the divine attribute of hod (glory). The role of kohen gadol was most suitable for Aharon, whose love for his fellow man was legendary. He was close to the people and genuinely took their troubles to heart. As one who took upon himself the tza’ar of Klal Yisrael and constantly prayed that their burdens be lightened, he was the perfect candidate to wear on his heart the choshen – the breastplate that depicted the twelve tribes of Israel via precious gemstones set upon the woven square. (Be’er Mayim Chaim)

Do It Yourself Sukkah Shelf

Sunday, September 23rd, 2012

Way back then, when we put up our Sukkah for the first time, my father-in-law added a shelf along one of the walls. Right away I was struck by how simple and practical this idea was. Years later, people are still commenting about it. So here are the details for the many who have a wood panel Sukkahs. With simple supplies, and minimal “handy man skills” your candlesticks, seforim, bentchers, flowers, etc can “hang around” the entire Yom Tov, and not be moved and removed countless times from being in the way.

Supplies:

Finished piece of wood (pre cut pine shelving) I used 48’x9’x1/2’- the exact exact size will vary based on the size of your Sukkah and on distance between beams you will drill into

Decorative molding (optional) Decorative brackets Wood Stain Standard hardware (All supplies can be purchased in any home improvement store: Home Depot, Lowes, etc)

Directions:

Stain the wood the color of your choice (I used a stain/shellac combo applied with a lint free rag.)

Measure the distance between the beams and attach the brackets to the wood accordingly. Use at least two screws to attach bracket into the beam and at least one screw to hold the shelf to the bracket.

Choose a practical spot (high enough so items will be out of reach of children – about 5’), yet keep in mind that there needs to be a safe distance between the top of the Leichter and the Schach). The wall near the flames should be covered with aluminum foil. Hurricane lanterns are available, but the glass is very fragile.

For best results use a level to ensure the shelf is straight.

(TIP- If you don’t have a level, mark a constant one inch height around the circumference of a clear cup and fill with water to that height. When shelf is level, water should be at the one inch mark all around the cup.)

Chic Hanging Vases

Sunday, September 23rd, 2012

For many of us, there can never be too many flowers around, so here are some “bright” ideas to add to your Sukkah decoration repertoire

Supplies

Clear light bulb Small needle nose pliers Screwdriver Long screw Fishing line type thread (available at sewing/craft store) Cloth gloves and goggles for hand and eye protection

 

 

Directions

Diagram A

Using your pliers, carefully remove the metal piece from the bottom of the bulb. (Diagram A)

Diagram B

After the piece is removed there will be a hole in center. Begin breaking away the black glass insulator by inserting a screw in the hole and prying out. (Diagram B)

 

Diagram C

With the bottom of the bulb removed, begin removing the innards of the bulb carefully with the pliers and screwdriver. (Diagrams C and D). Caution: Though this task is not at all complicated, caution should be used as the glass is (obviously) fragile.

Diagram D

Measure how low you want vase to hang down, double the thread and cut accordingly.

Diagram E

Wrap the thread around the neck of the bulb and tie a double knot. (In order to insure the vase hangs straight, it is a good idea to take another string and tie it the opposite way. Then, take the strings from both sides and tie them together to form a “handle.” (Diagram E).)

 

Hanging options:

Hang from s’chach

Screw hooks into the wall and hang the vases from them – great as a filler in between decorations.

If cleaning out light bulbs is just not your thing, here’s a similar idea without the adventure.

Supplies

Clear plastic balls (available in craft stores in various sizes) Silk Flowers Fishing line type thread (available at sewing/craft store)

Directions

Remove silk flowers from stem and place in one side of the ball, close ball.

Thread the fishing line through the hole on top of the ball

Mentioning Rosh Hashanah In Davening

Wednesday, September 12th, 2012

The Mishnah in Rosh Hashanah 32a lists the Yom Tov’s berachos and the order in which we must daven on Rosh Hashanah. The Mishnah says in the name of Rabbi Akiva that we begin with the berachah of avos. We then recite, in this order: gevuros (atah gibor); kedushas Hashem; kedushas hayom (we incorporate malchuyos in that berachah); zichronos; and shofros. This is followed by avodah hoda’ah and birchas kohanim (sim shalom). The Gemara there brings a beraisa that cites a source in the Torah for reciting each one of these berachos.

The Achronim discuss two basic questions on this Gemara: First, why does the beraisa need to bring a special pasuk to tell us that we must recite a berachah on the kedushas hayom of Rosh Hashanah? The Gemara in Sukkah 46a derives from the pasuk, “Baruch Hashem, yom yom,” that we must always mention in our davening and bentching the kedushah of that day. Why then would Rosh Hashanah differ from every Shabbos, Yom Tov and Rosh Chodesh when we always mention the kedushas hayom?

Second, why does the beraisa that is discussing the source for reciting the berachos of the Rosh Hashanah amidah need to bring pasukim that are the source for reciting the first three and last three berachos of the amidah? We only change the middle berachos of the amidah, while the first three and the last three are always recited and never change. Why then did the Mishnah have to mention that we recite those berachos, and why did the beraisa deem it necessary to cite a pasuk as the source for it?

The Pnei Yehoshua, in Rosh Hashanah, suggests that the Gemara in Berachos says that one is forbidden to add praise of Hashem to his davening; rather we can only recite the praises that Chazal, based on pasukim, instituted. Since the Torah commanded us to recite malchiyos zichronos and shofros on Rosh Hashanah, one may have thought that we should omit the general praise that we recite in the amidah and only recite the praises of malchiyos zichronos and shofros. Therefore the Mishnah and the beraisa felt that it was necessary to teach us that we do indeed recite the first three berachos of the amidah – even on Rosh Hashanah.

The Aruch LaNer points out that the Pnei Yehoshua’s answer does not explain why the beraisa also included the source for the last three berachos. I would suggest that perhaps once the beraisa must mention the first three and the middle berachos it is not strange for it to continue to mention the last three berachos. The Aruch LaNer suggests that the beraisa is in fact a Tosefta (Rosh Hashanah 2:11) and there the Tosefta does not mention any of the first three or last three berachos – only the middle ones. The Gemara here in Rosh Hashanah added the source for the other berachos based on the beraisa from the Gemara in Megillah, since it was mentioning the source for the other berachos.

The Aruch LaNer concludes that at a later point in time he received the Ritvah’s commentary on Rosh Hashanah and noticed that the Ritvah asks this same question. The Ritvah answers that the Mishnah wrote the first three and last three berachos to teach us that we may not add to those berachos; rather we must recite them as we always do. The Ritvah adds that this is contradictory to our custom to add zachreinu l’chaim, mi kamocha, vekasveinu, and b’sefer chaim. However, he says that our custom is based on the Masechta Sofrim, which is implicit that we should add those prayers into those berachos.

The sefer, Harirai Kedem, suggests that the opposite can be deduced from our Mishnah and beraisa. Maseches Sofrim says that each berachah on Rosh Hashanah is different from the rest of the year. Our Mishnah and beraisa are teaching us that very same idea. Thus it was necessary to write about those berachos as well, in order to teach us that there is a new obligation to add to those berachos.

Regarding the question of why the beraisa needed to write the source for why we mention the kedushas hayom on Rosh Hashanah when we should have already known that we must mention it (as we do on every other Shabbos or Yom Tov), the Harirai Kedem offers this beautiful explanation: It is clear from this that there is a new and separate halacha that requires us to mention the kedushas hayom of Rosh Hashanah on Rosh Hashanah – aside from the general halacha. Based on this we can explain a discrepancy that is found between the mentioning of the kedushas hayom of Rosh Hashanah and that of all the other Yamim Tovim. On all other Yamim Tovim we do not mention the particular Yom Tov; rather we conclude the berachah with “mekadesh Yisrael vehazmanim.” On Rosh Hashanah we conclude the berachah by mentioning the actual essence of the day, for we say, “melech al kol ha’aretz [malchuyos]… mekadesh Yisrael v’Yom Hazikaron.” This exclusive mention of the actual kedushah is only done on Rosh Hashanah because there is a new halacha on Rosh Hashanah to mention the kedushas hayom.

Tishrei’s Universal Message

Wednesday, September 5th, 2012

The start of the Jewish New Year, the month of Tishrei, is filled with holy days, among them four foundational celebrations: Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, Sukkot and Simchat Torah-Shemini Atzeret.

They are quite different from one another. Yet we may also think of all four holidays as two pairs of two. The first two – the day of memory and accounting and the day of atonement – are awe-inspiring and grave compared with the last two festivals, which are days of joy.

At the same time, the first three holidays do have a common denominator: As much as they are Jewish holidays, they carry a universal message. Embedded within them are three of humanity’s cardinal touchstones: accounting and judgment; mercy and atonement; and the joy of life.

These attributes and qualities are essential to the lives of every human being. We mark the New Year by commemorating creation on the one hand and celebrating the Kingship of the Lord on the other. Both creation and God’s sovereignty pertain to all humankind and are not specifically Jewish.

The Day of Atonement, too, is relevant to every human being. Life is full of mistakes and transgressions. Without atonement it would be unbearable to go on living with the unresolved and painful pieces of our past.

Sukkot at first glance seems to be far more connected with Jewish history. Yet at its essence, the holiday is actually a festival of thanksgiving for what we have. We acknowledge the tranquility in our lives and express our gratitude for Divine gifts.

Moreover, our sages teach us that during Sukkot in the days of the Holy Temple, seventy bulls were offered to God in the name of the seventy nations of the world. As the prophet Zachariah foretells, in the days to come it is on Sukkot that all the peoples of the world will come as pilgrims to the Temple in Jerusalem.

This combination of the particular and the universal is not just one more interesting point; it is the key for understanding the meaning of these three holidays. In all our other celebrations, and perhaps in Jewish religious life in general, we stress the specificity of Jewish existence. Most of our holidays and memorial days are deeply connected with our own history.

In Tishrei, however, we focus on our fundamental humanity, on the fact that we are human beings with great problems. In this context, humanity is not defined as a group of human beings. Here we speak of our basic humanity – humanity as a quality.

The very touchstones that we mark in Tishrei are what make us human. The essence of the universality of these holidays, then, is not in the point of sharing with others, it is in delving into ourselves in order to reveal and find some of the fundamentals of our existence. We explore and acknowledge what is universal to all humankind within our own selves.

The fourth and last of the holidays of Tishrei, Shemini Atzeret (and with it Simchat Torah), stands in clear contrast to the first three. As beautifully depicted by our sages, the king made a great banquet to which he invited all the citizens of his realm. At the end of these feasts, he called his most beloved friend and said now that all these big events are over, let us have a small banquet just for the two of us (tractate Sukkah 55b).

Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz is a world-renowned scholar who has authored more than 60 books and hundreds of articles on Torah.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/opinions/tishreis-universal-message/2012/09/05/

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