Sunday, September 25, 2005

Succot

Yesterday, ashkenazi people started saying slichot for the first time. Unlike us sephardic people who need to say many more slichot for eating kitniyot on pessah and eating dairy products on tisha beav, this was a big thing for the ashkenazi community. In that honor, Rav Elon gave a speech which was very inspiring. Now, you might be asking yourselves why I entitled this post "Succot" when it is speaking of Slichot.

The main idea in Rav Elon's speech was that all the slichot, rosh hashana and yom kippur are not a goal in themselves. Most people think of slichot as preparation for Rosh Hashana and the 10 days of repentance. We think of these 10 days as preparation for Yom Kippur. However, how many people make the connection and see that all of this is really a preperation for Succot. You see, all the slichot, Rosh Hashana, Yom Kippur are all spiritual preparation. Succot is when we apply this preperation into the real world. On Succot, we live in little huts, in what would be called a "modest lifestyle". Succot is the only chag in Tishrei which we can say relates to the regular world. On Succot, we learn how to incorporate G-d into a normal and regular lifestyle. We learn, to make G-d a part of our lives, without the need to change our inner selves. Sure, we need to change our bad middot, our sins etc... That is why we have Ellul, Yom Kippur; however, once we corrected these things, we can now live our every day lives as good Jews.

Rav Elon told us a story. Once, his grandfather asked him right after Yom Kippur: Why do we say "Vehou Rahoum Yehaper Avon (And he is Merciful and will excuse our sins)"? We just finished Kippur, we have no sins left!Maybe, by the time we get to the shmona Esrei, we can say Selah Lanu Avinu Ki Hatanu (Excuse us because we have sinned). By then, we will probably have had dozens of bad thoughts; we would probably have not concentrated enough on our tefillah etc... But right when Yom Kippur finishes: why? Rav Elon told us his grandfather explained to him that the reason we say Vehu Rahoum is specifically to ask G-d for forgiveness for thinking Yom Kippur was over! This kills the whole purpose of Yom Kippur. The reason we have Yom Kippur is to apply it to our lives. It is never over. This is also why we have succot right after Yom Kippur.

I wish you all a Ktiva Vehatima Tova and forgive me if I ever did anything wrong to any of you, even if I don't know you. May this year be the year where we all meet in the beit hamikdash for succot.

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