Some Concluding Thoughts on Masechet Sukkah

April 02, 2014 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman
As we have studied Masechet Sukkah together, we have stressed two themes: that of simcha, joy; and that of the unity of the Jewish people. Of course, these two themes are really one—the coming together of the Jewish people is the greatest of smachot. While these themes exist on Pesach and Shavuot—as we celebrate the forging of disparate individuals into a nation that then joined together “like one person with...
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Sukkah 52: The Greatest Joy

April 01, 2014 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman
“Whoever did not see the celebration of the drawing of the water (simchat beit hashoeva) has never witnessed joy in their life” (Sukkah 51a). The Mishnah goes on to describe the dancing, the juggling, the music, and more of these most festive days. In an astonishing display of dexterity, the Gemara records how Rabban Shimon ben Gamliel would juggle eight torches of fire, “and they did not touch one another, and there...
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Sukkah 48: Pass the Water

March 28, 2014 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman
In a recent post, we discussed the opposition to the mitzvah of placing the arava on the altar. An even greater dispute arose vis a vis the mitzva of nisuch hamayim, the mitzvah to pour water on the altar in conjunction with the morning sacrifice on Sukkot. Accompanying the daily morning sacrifice was the nisuch hayayin, the pouring of wine libations on the altar. It is wine and meat that are the symbols of joy, and...
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Sukkah 46: A Daily Dose of Blessings

March 26, 2014 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman
“Rav Yehuda said in the name of Shmuel: lulav, seven; and sukkah, one” (Sukkah 45b). So begins a discussion as to how often we are to make a bracha on these mitzvoth. Shmuel, the Gemara explains, is of the view that since there is one continuous mitzvah to sit in a sukkah for seven days and nights, “all seven are like one long day”; and hence, a bracha is recited only once. However, the mitzvah of lulav is...
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Sukkah 45: Seeing Double

March 24, 2014 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman
The arava, the willow branch, has a dual function on Sukkot. It is the last of four species that make up the mitzvah of “lulav”. Without this lowly branch, it makes little difference how beautiful the etrog may be—as without the arava, there is no mitzvah of etrog. It bears repeating that our Sages saw the four species as representing different types of Jews, with the arava representing the Jew who is neither learned...
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