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.