By Rav Shmuel Brazil
Just a thought I had on the way to Yerushalayim after arriving in Eretz Yisrael following davening on Yom Kippur in Yeshiva Shor Yoshuv…
The Medrash says on the passuk “Vehashem bairach es Avraham bakol” that the word bakol refers to the mitzvah of succah. It is obvious that the Medrash leaves one with a deep puzzelment of its cryptic interpretation. The Vilna Goan explains this enigma as follows that the mitzvah of succah is derived from the acronym of the word bakol which all introduce the mitzva of succah. The letter beis serves as the first letter in the beginning of the passuk Basukos teishvu shivas yamim. The letter chuf is the first letter of the passuk “Kol haezrach beisrael yeishvu basukos”. The letter lamed in bakol is the first letter of the passuk “Lemaan yaidu dorosaichem ki basukos hoshavti es bnei yisrael…..”
Let us take this interpretation a step further. Rashi brings the Chazal that bakol is gematria ben 52 referring to the fact that Hashem blessed Avraham with a son. So we now see a further connection between the mitzvah of succah and the beracha of having a son, specifically Yitzchak. What is this new connection?
The mefarshim ask why should the mitzvah of succah come in the time period of Tishrei when the passuk says that the succos symbolize the clouds of glory which accompanied Am Yisrael as they left Mitzrayim which is during the month of Nissan? To this the Gaon answers that the Yom Tov of Succos was instituted because of the clouds of glory that returned after being absent from the period of the sin of the Golden Calf. After Yom Kippur when Moshe Rabbeinu brought down the second luchos and the Yidden were forgiven for their sin, they were commanded to build a Mishkan for Hashem’s prescence to dwell in. On the 15th of
the month of Tishrei those clouds returned to Am Yisrael. This is the reason why Succos is in Tishrei.
According to the Gaon, Succos represents the Yom Tov that displayed that our teshuva was accepted. The Benei Yissaschar writes that true teshuva only applies to Yidden and not to the goyim. The reason being because there is a halacha that states that a father can forgive [be mochail] his kavod but a melech cannot. Our relationship with Hashem is a relationshiip of father and son as the passuk says Banim atem Lashem Elokeichem. The goyim’s relationship with Hashem is a relationshiip of servant and king. When they go against His commands, as a melech He cannot forgive his kavod and they therefore must be punished.
What comes out of this is that true teshuva is uniquely a Jewish phenomenon. Succos and the return of the ‘annenei hakavod” therefore symbolized the relationship of banim that Am Yisrael has with Hashem. This is also demonstrated with our commandment to take the four minim on this Yom Tov. The Benei Yissaschar explains that the four minim do not grow by the usual angels that are in charge of all other vegetation growth. These four minim grow directly from Hashem’s hashgacha. They
are therefore likened to the scepture of the king. We are commanded to take the scepture on Succos to show that we have the din of banim with Hashem. For anyone else who uses the scepter of the king is punished by death. The four minim therefore symbolize our incredible power of teshuva which we accomplised during the “aseres yemai teshuva” for only we are priveledged to wave the scepture of the king our father.
Now we can glean a deeper insight into Rashi’s comment that bakol which symbolizes Succos is also gematria ben. For Succos represents the Yom Tov when Hashem revealed to the world our special and exclusive relationship with Him – that of ben and av. That is why bakol which hints to Succos is gematria ben and specifically referrring to Yitzchak. For the gemarrah says that in the future when Hashem will come to our avos and make the claim that their children sinned they will respond that they should be wiped out. It is only Yitzchak who retorts back to Hashem Why do you call them my children? Aren’t they also YOUR children? It is Yitzchak who stresses that relationship that we have with Hashem and thereby saves Klall Yisrael from annihilation. This is also one of the reasons why the Simchas Bais Hashoaiva begins on the ooshpizin of Yiztchak.
Following Succos we celebrate Simchas Torah. The upshot is that after we use the sharvit melech – the scepter of the king which
demonstrates our relationship of banin with Him, we rejoice with the Torah which also symbolizes that relationship. For a son honors and fears his father because of his love for him and also that he is an extension of his inner being. It is for this reason that he is willing to go the extra mile and not just perform the letter of the law which is not found in the relationship of a servant to his master. That is why we find that the words Banim Atem Lashem with the 12 letters is gematria sharvit melech 611 – Torah.
May Hashem bless us with a wonderful Yom Tov of feeling the banim relationship with our King and that our teshuva was accepted before the throne of glory.