Rabbi S. WeissRabbi Weiss is Director of the Jewish Outreach Center of Raanana and of the Ohel Ari Jewish Heritage Center.
Torah reading for Sukkot 1st day (Mon) is from Emor; Chol HaMoed readings from Pinchas. Sukkot Tefilot include full Hallel, Hoshanot & waving of the Lulav in Hallel (E-S-W-N then up & down is the main custom). Tefilin (at least in Israel) are not worn.
Fri. night of Chol HaMoed we daven an abridged Kabbalat Shabbat; Kiddush & dinner are in the Sukka. Arba Minim are not taken on Shabbat.
Motzei Shabbat/Sunday is Hoshana Raba. Many stay awake to study all night. In the morning, the Tefila is of a semi-Festival nature. 7 processions with the Lulav are made, followed by the beating of the willow 5 times on the ground.
Sunday night - Mon. (Oct. 7-8) is Shmini Azeret/Simchat Torah, celebrated in Israel on the same day. Candles & Kiddush include Shehecheyanu. We no longer use the Sukka. Tefila includes 7 Hakafot - dancing with the Sifrei Torah. Many read a small section from V'Zot HaBracha after the evening Hakafot. We dance Hakafot again in the morning, then customarily give Aliyot to all the congregants.
Special Aliyot include Kal Han'arim (with the children gathered under a Talit); Chatan Torah (last Aliyah of the Torah); Chatan Breisheit (1st Aliyah). Yizkor & Tefilat Geshem are said, as we now begin saying Mashiv HaRuach U'Morid HaGashem. Havdala is said Mon. night on wine only. Festive Hakafot Shni'ot with live music are held Mon. night after the Chag in cities throughout Israel.
(Outside of Israel, Monday is Shmini Atzeret & Tues. is Simchat Torah. Yizkor is then said on Monday; Hakafot on Tuesday).
Chag Sameach – good luck working off the Yomtov meals!
One Hut, Two Huts
No sooner have we put our Shofar back on the shelf than we have to take out our Sukkah-building tools, & then select our Lulav & Etrog. Hey G-d, hey Torah: How about a little break, will You?! We’ve just been through 40 days on the mountain of Selichot, Teshuva, fasting & feasting; why pile it on now with Sukkot? What’s the rush? After all, there seems to be no reason why Sukkot must follow immediately upon Yom Kippur. We traveled in these pre-fabs for 40 years; so why not pick a more opportune date
to remember them?
I’ll get back to this in a minute. But first, more questions!
Moshe’s final speech, particularly in the last few chapters, is really charif – biting & critical. So much talk about all the negative things that can & will happen to us if we stray from G-d. I ask you: Is this how Moshe wants to be remembered? And more than that, should my prime motivation in acting G-dly be to avoid punishment? Just as I should not perform Mitzvot for their reward, so I should not refrain from violating them because of the punishments!
So let’s try to sort this all out.
Essentially, there are no punishments – or rewards – in Judaism. There are rather consequences. That’s right; consequences that naturally flow from our actions. Each & every action. That is why even a righteous person will be negatively affected when he does a sin, for every sin must perforce bring results in its wake, as does every positive act.
It’s not a punishment, per se; it is what happens when we do what we do. Distance yourself from Hashem, & you remove yourself from His protective force-field, you fall into depression, you end up too “far away” to collect His brachot. But get closer to Him, join Him in His palace, & good things are right there for the taking.
That’s what Moshe is trying desperately to teach us, but not for the sake of being critical. He wants us to thrive & grow & be safe;
he is warning us for our own good, because he loves us. He “sees” the truth, & so he tries to get us to see it, too.
Hashem wants the best for us, of course. So he gave us the Sukka, davka right after Yom Kippur. If our tefilot were lacking, if we are now in for tough consequences, then let the Sukka be a kind of “mini-Exile,” a kapara & expiation for our sins. But if we
deserve merit, then the Sukka is a living demonstration that we can & will survive even in cramped circumstances, even if G-d forbid we are forced out of our personal or collective homes.
Jewish history, after all, IS a Sukka!
Either way you cut it, there’s no reason to grouse when you leave your house; it’s great to get back to the shack.