Sunday, October 23, 2005

Succot in Jerusalem

Elokenu Velokei Avotenu, Mipnei Shehatanu Galinu Meartsenu

This prayer that we say every day on succot is traditionally the most depressing point of the joyous succot festival. “G-d, since we sinned, we have been kicked out of our land”. When I was still in Montreal, I would tell myself that as soon as I would be in Israel; this prayer would not be depressing anymore. I would be living Succot in Israel. It would one of the most joyous periods of the year.

Well, it really was joyous. Right before chag, the Rabbi of my Shiur, Rav Heller, took us to Mea Shearim to pick our arbat haminim. This was the first time we were going to Mea Shearim since the very gruelling experience of the kapparot. However, this time, the experience was more of a joyous one. In Mea Shearim, there is a huge shuk which is set up specifically to sell etrogs, lulavs, hadasses and aravas. Also, many stores close for succot and sell their space for people to sell the arbaat haminim. This is just amazing: a whole society changes gear simply because of the holiday of succot. Ok, not just "simply" because of the holiday of succot. Succot is a very special day.

I once read a passage from Rabbi Nachman of Breslev where he explained that Succot, Erets Israel and Tefillah had the same source. I never really understood why until recently. I think there are two things which connect these 3 concepts of Judaism and we can learn 2 lessons from them. The first thing which connects these concepts is the fact that you need Emunah to do all of them. Who would pray if they did not believe G-d would be there to answer? If you are praying, of course you have emunah! Leaving our houses with the most modern security systems and living in a succah is also a great show of faith. So too, in order to live in Israel, we need great emunah in G-d. This is first lesson we must learn. It is said in the Talmud that there are 3 things which are hard for us to get: Olam Haba, Limmud Torah and Eretz Israel. So, for all of us who will soon be living in Israel, we need to realize that it will not be an easy task and that it will take some self sacrifice in order to get to that higher level of spiritual life. The second thing which connects these concepts is the fact that we use all of our bodies in order to fulfill these mitsvot. We enter the succah with all of our bodies, we make aliyah with all of our bodies, so too, when we pray with kavanah, all of our body is dedicated to his action of tefillah. I think that from this we can learn that in life; in general, we should use not only all of our body, but everything that we own in order to serve G-d in the best possible way.

Of course, on succot, people also used to make aliyah laregel (come bring a sacrifice in Jerusalem). After buying my arabaat haminim I went back to yeshiva. My yeshiva, which is right in front of the kotel, is at the front seat for aliyah laregel. I prayed all the tefillot at the kotel. It was amazing how many people came in order to be next to the kodesh hakodashim on this very special day. The kotel was always full of people praying.

At one point in the day, it started raining. I then realized that in a few days, we would be switching the prayers from "Morid Hatal" to "Mashiv Haruach Umorid Hageshem" (Praising G-d for making rain fall). In Montreal, no one really understands why we switch the prayer at this point in the year. It has already started raining a long time ago. Most years, the coordination is horrible. However, here, in the holy land, the coordination is perfect. I keep on telling everyone how here we really live our Judaism, we don't just practice it. It's more then just an issue of being able to wear your kippah without fear of anti-Semitism. The Jewish Religion has been specifically built FOR Jews to practice it in Erets Israel.

Elokenu Velokei Avotenu, Mipnei Shehatanu Galinu Meartsenu. Yes, once we are in Israel, this sentence isn't as meaningful anymore. However, the next few become even more. "Ve-ein Anu Yecholim Laalot, Liraot Velishtahavot Beveit Behiratah" We cannot go visit the beit hamikdash anymore. Here, when we are so close and yet so far from the beit hamikdash, we really feel it is missing. This year, after we lost Gush Katif, we feel the need for the beit hamikdash even more. Here, in the front lines, the words "Ana Elokeinu", PLEASE G-D, are not just said, they are felt, they are cried, they are screamed, sometimes, they are even sung. Please G-d! Ana Elokeinu! Let us go back to har habayit to better serve you. Please G-d! Ana Elokeinu! Let us rebuild Gush Katif even stronger then before. Please G-d! Ana Elokeinu! Let us love every one of our Jewish Brothers, religious or secular, and dance with them in honour of the coming of the Mashiach. Ana Elokeinu!

1 comment:

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