This D’var Torah is in Z’chus L’Ilui Nishmas my sister Kayla Rus Bas Bunim Tuvia A”H & my grandfather Dovid Tzvi Ben Yosef Yochanan A”H & in Z’chus L’Refuah Shileimah for:
-My father Bunim Tuvia Ben Channa Freidel
-My grandmother Channah Freidel Bas Sarah
-My great aunt Rivkah Bas Etta
-Miriam Liba Bas Devora
-Aviva Malka Bas Leah
-And all of the Cholei Yisrael
-It should also be a Z’chus for an Aliyah of the holy Neshamah of Dovid Avraham Ben Chiya Kehas—R’ Dovid Winiarz ZT”L as well as the Neshamos of those whose lives were taken in terror attacks (Hashem Yikom Damam), and a Z’chus for success for Tzaha”l as well as the rest of Am Yisrael, in Eretz Yisrael and in the Galus.
חַג הַסֻּכּוֹת & חַג הַמַּצּוֹת
“Chag HaSuccos vs. Chag HaMatzos”
|[Vayikra 23:6-43] “And on the fifteenth day of this month is the Festival of Matzos to Hashem; a period of seven days you shall eat Matzos…On the fifteenth day of the seventh month is the Festival of Succos [Booths] for a seven day period… In booths shall you dwell for seven days, every native in Israel shall dwell in booths. So that your generations shall know that I [Hashem] caused the B’nei Yisrael to dwell in booths when I took them from the land of Egypt…”||[מג-ו:כג וַיִּקְרָא] 1.
וּבַחֲמִשָּׁה עָשָׂר יוֹם לַחֹדֶשׁ הַזֶּה חַג הַמַּצּוֹת לַה׳ שִׁבְעַת יָמִים מַצּוֹת תֹּאכֵלוּ
בַּחֲמִשָּׁה עָשָׂר יוֹם לַחֹדֶשׁ הַשְּׁבִיעִי הַזֶּה …
…חַג הַסֻּכּוֹת שִׁבְעַת יָמִים
בַּסֻּכֹּת תֵּשְׁבוּ שִׁבְעַת יָמִים כָּל הָאֶזְרָח בְּיִשְׂרָאֵל יֵשְׁבוּ בַּסֻּכֹּתלְמַעַן יֵדְעוּ דֹרֹתֵיכֶם כִּי בַסֻּכּוֹת הוֹשַׁבְתִּי אֶת בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל …בְּהוֹצִיאִי אוֹתָם מֵאֶרֶץ מִצְרָיִם
|[.ב סוכה – חננאל רבינו] 2.
|[Rabbeinu Chananeil – Succah 2A] “All of these Amora’im do not say like Rabbah [does] because they hold that this ‘knowledge’ that is written in the verse is not a ‘knowledge’ [specifically] for the one sitting in the Succah, that the sitter [dweller] needs to a [particular] measurement for his knowledge, that he is sitting within the S’chach of that Succah, but it is a [basic] knowledge for the generations, as if to say, the coming generations, [that] when they see that we are making Succos, and we leave the houses of our [usual] dwelling, and we sit, during the days of the Festival, in the Succah, they will ask: ‘Why [lit., because of what] are we doing this [lit., as such]?’ and their fathers shall relate [U’Maggidin, ומגידין] to them the event of the Exodus from Egypt.”|
|[Succah 27A] “R’ Yochanan said in the name of R’ Shim’on the son of Yehotzadak: ‘It says here [concerning Succos], ‘the fifteenth’ and says ‘the fifteenth’ concerning Chag HaMatzos; just as there, the first night it is obligation [to eat Matzah], while from then on, it is an option, also here, the first night, it is an obligation [to dwell in the Succah], while from then and on, it is an option.’”||[.כז סוכה] 3.|
|[Brachos 17A] “And R’ Alexandri, after praying, said this: ‘Master of the Worlds, it is revealed and known before You that our will is to do Your Will, but who is withholding [us]? The yeast that is in the dough, and the subjugation of the [gentile] kingdoms. May it be the Will before You that You shall save us from their hand, and we shall return to perform the statutes of Your Will with a whole heart.’”||[.יז ברכות] 4.|
|[Rashi – Brachos 17A] “The yeast that is in the dough: the Evil Inclination that is in our hearts that sours us [makes us as leaven, המחמיצנו].”||[.יז ברכות – רש״י]|
When one considers the circumstances and unique customs of Chag HaSuccos, the Festival of Succos (lit., booths), one might notice that this holiday apparently shares a lot in common with another holiday, Chag HaMatzos, the Festival of Matzos (lit., [unleavened] bread-crackers), referred to modernly as Pesach (Passover) [See Source 1 – Vayikra 23:6-43].
If you have not noticed it before, take a moment to think about it now—and you’ll never look at these two holidays the same way again.
Succos and Pesach are the only two Biblical holidays which last seven days (eight days in the Diaspora). They are the only two holidays which have a group of intermediate days known as Chol HaMo’eid (“Mundane of the Festival”) which has a combined status and ruleset of both festival and weekday. Both holidays are especially linked to the commemoration of Yetzias Mitzrayim, the Exodus from Egypt [See Shemos 12-13 and Vayikra 23:43]. Both fall out on the fifteenth of the month, and indeed, the Gemara compares them for the sake of deriving rules between the two days on the basis of this commonality [See Source 3 – Succah 27A]. Moreover, they do not merely fall out at the same time of the month, but each month that the two holidays fall out in, in its own way, represents the beginning of the year, as Succos falls out in the month of Tishrei in which we celebrate Rosh HaShannah (lit., the Head of the Year), and Pesach falls out in the month of Nissan, which the Torah deems the first month of the year [Shemos 12:1]. Furthermore, various customs of both holidays ascribe significance to the number four (on Succos, there is a commandment to take four species, there are four walls maximum to a Succah, etc., and on Pesach, there are four questions asked at the Seder, four cups of wine corresponding to four expressions of redemption in the Exodus story, four sons described in the Haggadah, etc.).
Among many further parallels between the two festivals (we unfortunately won’t address them all here), perhaps the most striking is that the main Mitzvah (commandment) of each day entails some kind of limitation on our consumption of bread. While for the seven days of Pesach, one is supposed to eat Matzah, unleavened bread, and all Chameitz, or leaven, is forbidden for consumption, for the seven days of Succos, one is supposed to live and eat his food in the Succah, and no bread is to be eaten outside the Succah. So, while on Pesach, the concern is within the bread we eat, on Succos, the concern is the conditions under which we eat the bread.
Now, if there are not enough ties between the two holidays already, the Rabbeinu Chananeil confirms the association for us in his astounding comments concerning the commandment of Succah [See Source 2 – Succah 2A]. The Torah commands us to perform Succah “so that your generations shall know that I [Hashem] caused the B’nei Yisrael to dwell in booths when I took them from the land of Egypt…” [Vayikra 23:43] to which the Rabbeinu Chananeil suggests the following: “…it [the knowledge referenced in the verse] is a [basic] knowledge for the generations, as if to say, [concerning] the coming generations, [that] when they see that we are making Succos, and we leave the houses of our [usual] dwelling, and we sit, during the days of the Festival, in the Succah, they will ask: ‘Why are we doing this?’ and their fathers shall relate [U’Maggidin, ומגידין] to them the event of the Exodus from Egypt.”
Indeed, the goal of relaying the meaning behind the practice of Succah, as overtly formulated by Rabbeinu Chananeil, incredibly echoes the exact formula of the Pesach Haggadah which is famously arranged in the question and answer format in which the meaning of Pesach is related between father and son in the context of the story of the Exodus from Egypt! Undeniably, this excerpt sounds a lot like the question of the “Simple Son” during the Maggid [מגיד, lit., Relate] portion of the Seder (and just for good measure, Rabbeinu Chananeil utilizes the expression of Maggid; “U’Maggidin [ומגידין] Lahen”-“And they shall relate to them”).
With all of the above in mind, one has to wonder: What is the basis for the relationship between Chag HaMatzos and Chag HaSuccos? And knowing the apparent connection between the two holidays, what is the intrinsic difference between that which we are trying to accomplish on each of these two days?
To take the association between the icons of the two holidays slightly further, Matzah and Succah, one might notice that their symbolism as well is quite similar.
The Matzah represents humility and simplicity, two components necessary to attain spirituality, as the Matzah tones down the material nature of the bread. It is referred to in the Haggadah as “Lechem Oni,” the poor man’s bread, or the bread of affliction. It is made and even eaten in haste, not like normal bread which takes time to rise and is eaten with leisure. It is for this reason that the Evil Inclination which represents the natural drive for material pleasures is referred by Chazzal as the Se’or She’b’Isah, the yeast in the dough [See Source 4 – Brachos 17A with Rashi’s comments there].
Succah as well represents humility and simplicity as the Succah is a flimsy Diras Arai, temporary dwelling, not protected by a firm roof, but weak S’chach, a simple and fragmented covering made from natural earth-grown products. While on Pesach, one attains spirituality by leaving the luxury of regular bread behind, on Succos, one attains spirituality by leaving behind the luxury of one’s comfortable home.
Together, both the Matzah and the Succah went out with us into the wilderness when we left the material, spiritually debased Egypt; the Matzah hoisted onto our shoulders, and the Succah, either literal booths or the Clouds of Glory surrounding us.
Clearly, with this deeper understanding of the parallel Mitzvos, Matzah and Succah, the apparent relationship between the two holidays is they share the goal idea of reliving our spiritual development anew as when we left Egypt, and of course to transmit that spiritual development to each subsequent generation.
But if all of that is the case, what is the basis for the apparent differences between Chag HaMatzos and Chag HaSuccos? Based on everything we’ve suggested, one might argue that the two holidays should be observed simultaneously. In fact, they should be only one holiday altogether. Yet, we observe them in two different seasons, as we mentioned, at two different junctures, both dubbed “the beginning of the year.” What is the basis for this apparent difference?
Looking back at Matzah and Succah, as was also alluded to, although both Mitzvos similarly place a restriction on our consumption of bread and symbolize spirituality, Matzah limits the internal consumption of the bread while Succah limits the external or environmental circumstances in which we must eat it. The apparent distinction in time may have something to do with the apparent difference in the particular avenue we take towards the spiritual improvement we achieve on each day. But what is the basis for the difference between Matzah and Succah, the internal measure and the external measure?
There are apparently two spiritually negative forces in the material world, each which necessarily hinder our relationship with Hashem and our service to Hashem, or in shorter terms, our spiritual lives; one force develops from within and once from without, one innate and internal, one external, in the air, in our environment, and in the surrounding culture.
Pesach marks our birth as a nation and the beginning of the spiritual maturation process. Hashem brought us forth from Egypt with His open miracles, and hardly if at all, by our own merits. We were spiritually fragile and completely dependent. On that day, our inner essence must be completely purged of the Se’or She’b’Isah, the negative force from within. We give no leeway to the Evil Inclination as symbolized by the Chameitz.
But what happens over time, unfortunately, is that although we’ve done a job on our internal attributes, as we go through life in this world, the Evil Inclination from without still to attempts to seep its way back in to our lives in many forms, trying to drag us down, as exemplified by the national regression in the form of various sins such as the Cheit HaEigel (Sin of the Calf) which was stirred by a foreign culture without that still lingered in the nation’s midst. The same external force manifests itself in many other ways today, such as the continued hostility exacted against our people by the nations of the world—oppression, Hellenization, etc.—all forces which hinder our service of G-d.
Once we’ve purged ourselves, yet again, by the end of Yom HaKippurim, the Day of Atonement, where we have afflicted ourselves and reunited as a nation to destroy the negative forces from within, we have yet that external negative force surrounding us, the culture and oppression of the nations of the world. Succos is thus a time where we seek serenity from those forces, when we attempt to keep them from sneaking back into our lives. Thus, on Succos we seek worldly benevolence while simultaneously withholding ourselves from assimilating amongst the nations of the world. Thus, we live, not under the typical roof, but the Succah which symbolizes an environment of G-d’s unique protection, the Clouds of Glory, which separated us from the oppressors. All the while, we offer Korbanos (offerings) on behalf of the nations of the world [Midrash Aggadah, Midrash Tehillim 109:4, Rashi to Succah 55B, etc.], because the goal is to unite all people under the service of G-d so that we can all properly observe Hashem’s Torah, each according to his obligation, without the externally negative influence and pressures in the world holding us back.
Indeed, both of the spiritually negative forces in life, as we’ve described them, are explicitly referenced in the supplication of R’ Alexandri, as he prays [See Source 4 again – Brachos 17A]: “Master of the Worlds, it is revealed and known before You that our will is to do Your Will, but who is withholding [us]? The yeast that is in the dough [Se’or She’b’Isah], and the subjugation of the [gentile] kingdoms [She’ibud Malchiyos]. May it be the Will before You that You shall save us from their hand, and we shall return to perform the statutes of Your Will with a whole heart.’”
Thus, with both Chag HaMatzos and Chag HaSuccos, we have the potential to conquer all the spiritually negative forces that withhold our spiritual development, each in its proper time, the Matzah as the cure for our souls from within and the Succah as our protection from the environment without. And with Hashem’s help, as R’ Alexandri prays, we will succeed with these measures and be saved from their hands, proceed to fulfill His Will with a whole heart.
May we all be Zocheh to conquer all the spiritually negative forces in our lives, purge ourselves from within, and this Succos, be protected from without so that we can achieve benevolence from the nations of the world as they no longer hinder us, but unite with and assist us in our Avodas Hashem with the coming of the Geulah and the days of Moshiach, Bimheirah Biyomeinu! Have a Great Succos and a Chag Kasher V’Samei’ach!
-Josh, Yehoshua Shmuel Eisenberg 🙂