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Devarim Deutronomy

   235: Vayelech

236: Haazinu/Sukos

237: Shabbos-Chol/Hamoed-Sukos

Breishis Genesis

Shmos Exodus

Vayikra Leviticus

Bamidbar Numbers

Devarim Deutronomy

October 9, 1992 - 12 Tishrey 5753

236: Haazinu/Sukos

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Published and copyright © by Lubavitch Youth Organization - Brooklyn, NY
The Weekly Publication For Every Jewish Person
Dedicated to the memory of Rebbetzin Chaya Mushka Schneerson N.E.

  235: Vayelech237: Shabbos-Chol/Hamoed-Sukos  

Shake up, shake down.  |  Living With The Times  |  A Slice of Life  |  What's New
Insights  |  Customs  |  A Word from the Director  |  It Once Happened
Thoughts that Count  |  Moshiach Matters

Shake up, shake down.

The world is shaking from earthquakes. Florida was shaken by a hurricane. Big businesses are having major restructuring shake-ups. Tourists and locals alike suffer shake-downs in cities around the world. And what are we Jews doing about all this?

We're shaking! Right, left, front, up, down, back. For six of the seven days of the Sukkot holiday we'll be shaking the lulav and etrog in the four compass directions and toward the heavens and the earth.

The lulav (palm), etrog (citron), hadas (myrtle), and aravot (willow) are joined together, and a blessing is made over them. Then they are shaken. This occurs during all the days of the Sukkot holiday, except on Shabbat.

According to the Midrash these plants are symbolic of the different types of Jews who make up our nation. The etrog has an appealing taste and beautiful scent and is likened to a Jew who has a solid Jewish education and performs many mitzvot. The dates which grow from the lulav/palm have a taste but no aroma; they are like our brethren who have a solid Jewish education but don't necessarily excel in their performance of mitzvot.

The myrtle has a scent but no fruit; this is like Jews who are constantly doing mitzvot and good deeds, but lack Jewish knowledge.

Lastly, the willow has neither scent nor taste; it represents those of us who neither immerse ourselves in Jewish studies nor occupy ourselves constantly with mitzvot.

What message do we Jews give the world--even during these shaky political times--by reciting the blessing over the lulav and etrog and then shaking it and the myrtle and willow in all six directions?

We say, "We Jews are united. We are one. We are bound to one another like the lulav, myrtle and willow are bound to each other.

"Each and every Jew is important and essential regardless of affiliation, knowledge, or observance, just as each of the four plants is an intrinsic part of the mitzva, without which the blessing cannot be recited."

When all Jews participate in the mitzva of lulav, we make a further statement to the world, one which could literally shake the world to its very foundations. For the Talmud tells us that the reward for blessing the lulav and etrog on the first day of Sukkot is the name of Moshiach.

Living With The Times

Although we do many mitzvot on Sukkot besides sitting in the sukka, the festival is called "Sukkot," after the temporary booths we dwell in during the holiday. Why doesn't the Torah call the festival "Lulav" or "Etrog," or any other of the four species, or choose a name for the holiday after another mitzva connected to our celebration of Sukkot?

The mitzva of sukka has a virtue not shared by any other mitzva of the holiday. The obligation to sit in the sukka begins immediately when it gets dark on the very first night of Sukkot, whereas the mitzva of the Four Species--taking an etrog, lulav, myrtle and willow branches and making a blessing over them--is not done until the following morning.

Another characteristic of the sukka is that it must be prepared ahead of time. The walls of the sukka must be built with the specific intent to perform the mitzva, and the sukka may not be erected once the holiday itself has begun. In fact, building the sukka is considered to be part of the mitzva as well. The Four Species, on the other hand, can be readied on the holiday itself and their procurement is not part of the mitzva.

Another advantage the mitzva of sukka has over the Four Species is the fact that one can perform it at any time of the day or night, and its obligation continues even after one has sat in it. Unlike the taking of the lulav and etrog, a person can never say that he has already performed the mitzva of sukka, and he needn't enter one again that day! The sukka is considered our temporary dwelling for the entirety of the festival, and we eat, drink, learn and relax in it just as we would our own home.

But perhaps the most salient characteristic of the mitzva of sukka is the fact that it is unlike any other in its encompassing nature. Other mitzvot are performed with a particular limb of the body pertaining to that mitzva, such as tefillin, which are placed on the arm and head. The mitzva of sukka, however, totally envelops the person and is done with the entire body. The very same activities that were done in the house a week previously are elevated when done in the sukka.

Our Sages said that a person who has no home "is not a person"; that is, he is not complete and whole without a place to live. The home affects the person not only when he is in it, but also when he is out in the marketplace and doing business as well. During the holiday of Sukkot, our home is the sukka, and it is through the performance of the mitzva that we reach our wholeness and perfection. Therefore, even when we are not physically inside the sukka we remain connected to it once we have declared it to be our primary dwelling for the duration of the festival.

Adapted from the works of the Lubavitcher Rebbe.

A Slice of Life


Benyamin Bresinger
by Pessy Leah Lester

A 35-foot state-of-the-art mobile home, stripped of its residential features and transformed into a Jewish mobile library, pulls up in front of an afternoon Hebrew school. Students line up eagerly as the library-on-wheels rolls in with Jewish music playing, a video display all hooked up and ready to go. The driver, 27-year-old Benyamin Bresinger, with a beard, black hat and tzitzit peaking through his suit, steps out. Greeting the kids as they board the lengthy library, Benyamin explains, "You can borrow any of these Jewish books, tapes or videos for 2 weeks. We'll be back then and when you return them you can borrow more." The children make their way through the material with genuine interest as Benyamin offers brief readings from his favorite books and shows a clip from one of the latest Jewish videos.

Benyamin Bresinger, Educational Director of Outreach for the Rabbinical College of America in Morristown, New Jersey, makes regular rounds of schools, community centers, senior citizen homes and prisons with the mobile library.

Just a few years ago, Benyamin would have been in need of such a Jewish service. Growing up in Montreal, he had little involvement with Judaism. But, the intermarriage of two of his siblings affected him greatly, causing him to seriously reflect about his own Jewish identity.

While at Concordia University in Montreal he majored in political theory, but was as far from Jewish theory as possible. "As student president I was asked to inform Jewish students of a protest for Soviet Jewry in Ottawa. I got involved and gathered a Jewish contingent from Concordia," he said. Benyamin recalled the long drive to Ottawa and an observant Jewish student who talked about Jewish ideas the whole trip. "I was fascinated. I hadn't heard much about traditional Judaism or Jewish concepts." The discussions ended but Benyamin's interest continued.

After winning an academic scholarship from Concordia, Benyamin continued his studies at the Karl Marx University in Hungary and later traveled through 20 countries in Europe and Asia. "I had long hair and always traveled with my guitar. Wherever I went I always ended up talking about philosophy and Judaism with fellow travelers and native countrymen. My last stop was Israel where I attended an intensive 3-day Torah study program at a yeshiva in Jerusalem." Upon returning home, he recalled his "first and only discussion about G-d with his family." Just then, he received a phone call from Rabbi Ronnie Fine, the Chabad representative in Montreal who reaches out to Jewish college students and routinely calls them to establish a rapport. "It was my first ever phone call from a rabbi," said Benyamin. Rabbi Fine not only helped him get through his family discussion, but continued to inspire Benyamin with Jewish learning, especially the Chasidic dimension.

Although law school was in sight, studying in yeshiva back in Israel beckoned. Fascinated with the Chasidic philosophy he had learned at the Chabad House in Montreal, Benyamin opted to learn at the Lubavitcher Toras Chayim yeshiva in Jerusalem. While in Israel and manager of a youth hostile, he met his wife-to-be, Keren, who just happened to be Rabbi Ronnie Fine's sister!

Following his marriage to Keren in 1990, he did advanced studies at the Rabbinical College where they currently live in one of the college's new garden apartments. After completing his studies he received the Rebbe's blessing for his current position. Although he is involved with many projects, his most successful effort is the only Mitzva Mobile Library in the world.

Benyamin used the mobile library's 2,000 Jewish books, videos and audio cassette tapes and 40-inch television and stereo sound system to dazzle his audiences. "We must give Jewish children fun, creative and unique Jewish materials that enhance their Jewish identity," he said.

What excites Benyamin is the fact that the Jewish children and adults alike from the entire spectrum of Jewish observance are turned on by the material he is presenting. "It's exciting for me to see the people excited about the Jewish library. At the end of the school year a whole class presented me with crayon drawn thank-you cards for coming to their school with the mobile library. Many principals tell me the mobile library is the answer to their prayers. Some of the more isolated schools don't have libraries or run small libraries on limited budgets and have little access to up-to-date Jewish educational materials. Then I come rolling in with this state-of-the-art library-on-wheels and offer them a free resource center. They love it."

As Benyamin waves good-bye to the students visiting the library and packs away his books, he leaves one on the side for his own personal pleasure. "I enjoy these books too," he said. In fact, he admits that he often reads to his 1-year-old daughter Menucha Rachel. He adds with a wistful smile, "It's never too later or too early to start learning about your Jewish heritage."

What's New


Chabad of Flatbush is getting ready and helping others get ready for...Moshiach! A sign advertising the Moshiach Information Center (718-953-6168) adorns the outside of the Chabad House on Ocean Avenue in Brooklyn.


Jews working in the Big Apple can eat in public Sukkot again this year thanks to the Lubavitch Youth Organization. The Sukkot are located at four key points in N.Y.C.: the International Sukka opposite the United Nations; the Garment Center Sukka at Herald Square; the Wall Street Sukka at Battery Park; the City Hall Sukka at Police Plaza. The Sukkot will be open from 12 noon until 5:00 p.m. during the intermediate days of the holiday, For more info call (718) 778-6000. Call your local Chabad-Lubavitch Center for more info about your closest Sukka.


Tens of thousands of Jews will sing and dance in the streets of Crown Heights, Brooklyn, during Sukkot. They will be celebrating Simchas Beis HaShoeiva, "Rejoicing of the Water Drawing." During the intermediate days of the holiday the dancing will be enhanced by live bands. The celebrations start at 9:30 p.m. and last until the early hours of the morning. Similar celebrations take place worldwide in the Chabad-Lubavitch Center near you.



Adapted from a letter of the Lubavitcher Rebbe

In these days of preparation for the Festival of Sukkot it is appropriate to reflect on the following thoughts:

We are still in exile, a time when "darkness covers the earth," because the light of Torah has not fully and pervasively illuminated the world and its everyday affairs. This is reflected also in the world's attitude, sometimes even actions, towards Jews, and even among some Jews in their attitude towards their own Jewishness.

Both aspects are interrelated. For, as has often been pointed out, when Jews--as individuals or as a group--proudly adhere to their Jewishness and show it, this earns them respect--and a friendly and helpful attitude from the non-Jewish world.

Nevertheless, the fact that we are still in exile must not, and does not, dampen the joyful preparations for Sukkot, much less the actual joy of the holiday, particularly Sukkot (including the intermediate days, Shemini Atzeret, and Simchat Torah) which has been singled out and designated as "The Season of Our Rejoicing."

For, as in the case of the Egyptian Exile, when at the height of the surrounding darkness "there was light for all the children of Israel in their dwellings," a Jew's life, wherever he lives, is illuminated in all its aspects by the light of the Torah and mitzvot. And so, by intensifying the light in his daily life, the Jew is also hastening the Redemption and welcoming Moshiach.

An additional factor, which is also one of our fundamental beliefs and basic principles of our Torah, is trust in G-d. Trust in G-d means a true and absolute trust in Him who is the Master of all the universe, whose Divine Providence extends to each and everyone individually.

First of all, this trust includes that He surely granted that we were "sealed" for good in everything and in every detail, including also, indeed--especially the fulfillment in our own days of the hope, heartfelt yearning, and most fervent daily expectation, namely, the "coming of Moshiach, for whose coming I wait every day."

This trust, the basis of which is the simple belief of every Jew (as Jews are "believers of the sons of believers" who inherited this belief from our Father Abraham, the Father of Believers), unites and unifies all Jews. Moreover, this belief is the very same in all Jews, in all the ten categories into which Jew are classified by the Torah, from "heads" to the "drawers of water," though in all other aspects they differ.

It is this trust that makes the spiritual uniting of the people a reality, unifying all Jews into one entity, since their common, simple belief also pervades and moves everything in which they differ.

This is also reflected in Yom Kippur, the unique day, and the only day in the year, of all the festivals ordained by the Torah, which is celebrated for one day only, both inside and outside of the Holy Land. Yom Kippur is the day on which all Jews conclude on the same note and proclaim with profound inspiration and in a loud voice: "Shema Yisroel--Hear, O Israel, G-d is our G-d, G-d is One. Blessed be the name of His glorious Kingdom forever and ever; G-d, He is G-d!"

This same principle of unity is reflected also in the Festival of Sukkot. For on Sukkot we combine together the "Four Species" (etrog, lulav, myrtle and willow)--symbolizing all different types of Jews--into one mitzva, a mitzva created by virtue of a Jew unifying them.

Once more, the theme of unity can be found in the sukka itself, concerning which the Torah says: "It is possible for all Jews to sit in one sukka."

May G-d grant that just as on Yom Kippur, after the many prayers and the culminating experience, one shofar blast is sounded, a tekiah gedola, according to custom, followed by the loud proclamation: "Next Year in Jerusalem."

So may every Jew--after the many prayers throughout the long exile, including (five times on Yom Kippur) the daily prayer, "May our eyes behold Your return to Zion in mercy," and, while still in exile, Jews demonstrate that "We Your people and sheep of Your pasture, we will constantly pray thanking You."

May every Jew, man and woman, very soon indeed hear the sound of G-d's great shofar announcing our liberation, followed immediately by, "Bring us... to Jerusalem Your Holy House with everlasting joy."


What is some of the symbolism of the lulav, etrog, etc.?

The lulav (palm), etrog (citron), hadas (myrtle), and aravot (willow) are joined together, and a blessing made over them during the Sukkot holiday (except on Shabbat). They are symbolic of how we should serve G-d. The etrog is shaped like the heart (considered to be the seat of wisdom), indicating that we should serve G-d with our minds; the lulav is like the spine--our entire body should be used for G-dly purposes; the hadasim are shaped like eyes, for we are enjoined not to go after that which our eyes desire. The arava is like the mouth, for we should fill our mouths with words of Torah, and be vigilant with our speech.

A Word from the Director

Rabbi Shmuel of Lubavitch, known as the Rebbe Maharash, the fifth Chabad Rebbe.

Once, the Rebbe Maharash was speaking with one of his chasidim, a simple businessman who was neither a great scholar nor one who meditated at length when praying. The Rebbe said to this chasid, "Elye, I envy you. You travel to various fairs; you meet many people. Sometimes, in the middle of a business transaction, you get into a warm discussion about something Jewish and you awaken the other fellow's interest in studying more about Judaism. This causes joy On High and G-d rewards such 'trade' with the blessings of children, health and sustenance; the larger the fair, the more work there is and the greater is the livelihood earned."

The Rebbe was not spouting platitudes, nor being patronizing. He truly envied this simple Jew who, through injecting Judaism into his business affairs, transcended the mundane.

The Rebbe Maharash's comment was not addressed to a Torah scholar, or a person who was well known for his contemplation during his G-dly service. No, the Rebbe Maharash was speaking with a simple Jew. The lesson of his words, therefore, are even more powerful, for they apply to each and every Jew, from the simplest to the greatest.

We should continually increase our Jewish knowledge, day by day. But, we needn't wait until we are great Torah scholars before we imbue our lives and each activity within our day with a higher purpose. For, we can arouse the envy of even the greatest tzadikim by just happening to get into a warm discussion about Jewish matters even in the middle of a business transaction!

Rabbi Shmuel Butman

It Once Happened

Before Reb Mordechai of Neschiz assumed his position as rabbi, he was a merchant. His son, Reb Yitzchak, recalled that every time he would return from a buying trip, he would take a portion of his profits and put it aside in a special box to be used to buy an etrog.

One year he had amassed the sum of six silver rubles, and he made his way to the town of Brody to purchase the etrog. As he travelled down the road, he was surprised to hear the sound of weeping. He came upon a poor man sobbing over the loss of his horse, without which he had no means of support. Reb Mordechai told the man to stay put, and with his silver rubles, he rushed off to purchase a new horse for the man. The poor man couldn't believe his eyes when he saw Reb Mordechai approaching with a horse! He gratefully heaped blessings on his benefactor and went on his way.

As for Reb Mordechai, now left without any money, he also turned towards home. He realized that he would be without an etrog for the upcoming festival, but he thought to himself: "What's the difference? Buying an etrog is a mitzva commanded by G-d, and helping my poor brother is also a mitzva commanded by G-d." A smile crossed his face and he chuckled to himself: "Everyone else will make the blessing over an etrog; I'll make my blessing over a horse." And so he continued home in a very happy mood. In fact, someone brought him an etrog in good time to use for the Yom Tov, and that year he made a blessing not only over an etrog, but over a horse as well!

Preparations for the festival of Sukkot were under way, but for the poor, there were often obstacles. Finding wooden boards with which to erect the sukka was always hard, and so every year Reb Mordechai of Lechovitch amassed wooden boards that he lent out to needy Jews.

One year when the eve of Sukkot fell on Friday night, a tattered-looking man limped up to Reb Mordechai's door and asked if he could borrow a few boards to build his sukka. The tzadik replied that unfortunately there were none left. Without a word, the poor fellow turned and limped off to continue his search for the requisite boards.

Reb Mordechai watched sadly as the man disappeared into the alleyway, and then burst out in tears. He addressed G-d, crying, "Master of the Universe! See how Your children love the mitzva of dwelling in a sukka! Here You see a poor, wretched cobbler, lame in one leg, with torn clothing and no proper shoes--tramping through the mud, doing what!--looking for boards to build his sukka! Heavenly Father, look down from Your holy dwelling place and bless Your people, Israel--`Spread out over them Your Sukka, Your Tabernacle of Peace.'"

Reb Mordechai went outside, climbed his roof, and searched until he discovered a few loose boards. He then called his attendant and instructed him to bring the boards to the poor cobbler, and since time was short before the holy Shabbat, to help him to build the sukka as well.

The tzadik, Reb Pinchas of Koretz, didn't have a moment of peace. There was no dearth of suffering people--some needed a blessing for health, some for children, still others needed guidance in business affairs. Since Reb Pinchas couldn't turn away from his fellow Jews, they came to him day and night, knocking on his door, pouring out their hearts and souls.

Reb Pinchas did all he could for them. In fact, so completely did he devote himself to his brethren, that he felt his own divine service suffering. One day Reb Pinchas prayed that he become disliked by his fellow man. Then, he would be free of their demands, and would be able to devote himself to his own spiritual service. And so it was that from that day on he became a recluse, never emerging except to pray in the synagogue.

When the festival of Sukkot approached he tried to find someone to help him build the sukka, but no one was willing, since all his fellow Jews disliked him so much. He had to hire a non-Jew to do the work, and when he needed to borrow tools, even that wasn't easy because of the animosity his neighbors felt toward him.

After services on the first night of the holiday, Reb Pinchas wanted to fulfill the mitzva of inviting guests into his sukka, but no one would accept his invitation. When he arrived home, he entered the sukka and began chanting the traditional invitation to the first of the Ushpitzin (the Forefathers, who visit the sukka each night). When he looked up, he saw Abraham standing outside the door of the sukka.

Reb Pinchas saw that this year the Patriarch was unwilling to enter, and he cried to Abraham, "Why do you not enter my sukka? What is my sin?"

Our father Abraham replied, "I have the custom to enter only those places where guests are welcome."

Reb Pinchas understood from that response that he had been wrong in his path of service. He prayed that he be returned in favor to his fellow Jews, and that he be able to continue as before.

Thoughts that Count

O people, vile and unwise (Deut. 32:6)

A transgressor who is also "unwise" is worse than a clever sinner. No matter what he may have done, if the sinner is of sufficient intelligence there is always a chance that he will realize his mistake and do teshuva. A foolish sinner, however, is less likely to do so...

(Divrei Shaul)

Return, O Israel, to the L-rd your G-d (from the Haftora)

Rabbi Eliezer said: Such is the way of the world, that a person who is publicly humiliated by another is not satisfied with a private apology, and demands that it be made in front of the very same people who witnessed his shame.G-d, however, does not ask the same of us. Even for one who publicly defames the name of G-d in the marketplace, a private apology is accepted...


Rabbi Yehuda Hanasi taught: How great is the power of repentance, for no sooner does a person decide in his heart to return to G-d than his repentance is accepted. How high can he then ascend? Right up to the Throne of Glory itself. That is why the prophet Hoshea said, "Return, O Israel--(directly) to the L-rd your G-d."

Sukkot: "One who is caused distress (by being in the sukka, such as in the middle of a heavy rain) need not sit in the sukka."

Rabbi Menachem Mendel of Kotzk once sat in his sukka in a drenching downpour. He explained: The only reason a person is exempt from the mitzva of sukka when it rains is that he may be uncomfortable if he gets wet. To me it appears, however, that a Jew who sits in a sukka and gets upset by a little rain doesn't deserve to perform the mitzva...

Moshiach Matters

A chasid persistently asked his Rebbe to tell him why the Messiah has not come and why the Redemption promised by the Prophets and Sages has not been fulfilled. The Rebbe answered: "It is written, 'Why has the son of Jesse not come, either today or yesterday?' The answer lies in the question itself: Why has he not come? Because we are today just as we were yesterday."

  235: Vayelech237: Shabbos-Chol/Hamoed-Sukos  
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