Masechet Ta'anit ends with a description of how, on the 15th of Av and on Yom Kippur, "the maidens of Jerusalem" would dance in the fields, providing a wonderful opportunity to meet a potential spouse. In order to 'level the playing field' between the different strata of society, "all of Israel would borrow [clothes], one from another, so as not to embarrass those who did not have" (Ta'anit 31a).
“[Then journeyed] the flag of the camp of Dan m'aseif, the gatherer, of all the camps” (10:25). As the Jewish people prepared to march to the land of Israel—no one imagined it would take forty years until they would arrive—they formed a precise pattern with four groups of three tribes each, with the tribe of Levi and the mishkan in the middle of the camp.
"Ten miracles were performed for our ancestors in the Beit Hamikdash...and no one ever said to his fellow, 'the place is too cramped for me to sleep in Jerusalem'" (Avot 5:7).
One of the Rambam's principles of faith is the eternity of the Torah. While historical circumstances may prevent the performance of certain mitzvoth, the mitzvah of Talmud Torah encompasses these "theoretical" mitzvoth as we hope that these mitzvoth will soon move from the theoretical realm to the practical.
After close to 2,000 years in exile, mitzvoth that were once dormant have come back to life. The Torah is no longer just a guide for individual living--it is the template for a nation back in its homeland.
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.
This d’var Torah is sponsored by Claire and Howard Glowinsky l'ilui nishmas Chanah bas Rachel a”H, their dear aunt who passed away early this week. May her memory be for a blessing.
The Talmud classifies sukkah as a mitzvah kalla, a light and easy mitzvah. Where one must be almost deathly ill before one is permitted to eat on Yom Kippur or to violate many other Torah prohibitions, such is not the case with the sukkah. Here, a little discomfort—some rain, very hot weather, a few bees—and one may leave the sukkah; "mitztaer patur misukah", one who is uncomfortable is exempt from the mitzvah of sukkah.
The concept behind an eiruv is that the people making it join together as one large household. Each household contributes some food, which is put in a common area, and all are welcome to come and eat. The area within the eiruv must be enclosed, and there is much Talmudic discussion on what exactly constitutes an enclosure.