Sefer By Rav Mordechai Kanner
Reviewed by Rabbi BZ Karman
As any rebbe in yeshiva can attest, they are always pressed for time to properly prepare their talmidim for the Yomim Tovim. There was always so much to cover: the basic halachos of the particular Yom Tov, the inyanei hashkafa and divrei agadah, as well as providing imparting the ruach of the chag.
Every Yom Tov had its particular challenge; but somehow or other, they manage to transmit what they feel is needed. Yet when Succos approaches, many cannot help but feel that their efforts fell far short of what was needed. With the burden of beginning of the school year, coupled with the immediate onset of the Yomim Noraim, there simply was not enough time to learn and teach the myriad of halachos and inyanei hachag properly.
Adults, too, are challenged by the dearth of time to thoroughly learn and absorb the multitude of dinim of this Yom Tov. During the weeks preceding Succos, many are preoccupied with the intensity of the Yomim Noraim, which leaves little time to review the multitude of halachos of arba minim, binyan succah, yeshivas succah, and the rest of zman simchaseinu. Now, with the publication of Shoshanas Yisroel by Rav Mordechai Kanner shlit”a, the task of getting ready for Succos is within the grasp of anyone who is committed to being properly prepared.
In this sefer, which encompasses 311 pages, all the relevant halachos of Erev Succos through Simchas Torah are compiled and presented in a most organized fashion, allowing the learner to absorb the essence of the halachah as well as its practical application. [On a personal note, having developed nearly fifty booklets for chadorim on hilchos yom tov, I especially appreciate the voluminous research and organization involved in producing this sefer, and the lucidity of the final product.] The footnotes, which elaborate and offer intriguing psakim of Rav Shlomo Miller shlit”a, are written in a comprehensive yet fluid style.
A quick perusal of the index will give you an idea at what is included. Besides for a clear explanation of the basic halachos, Shoshanas Yisroel is a virtual encyclopedia of the newest innovations and their application for the mitzvos of Succos. As an example, in the section about schach (1:13), the author discusses the keinus schach, as well as arranging the schach in a manner where the rainwater is directed outside of the succah (1:26) Or may hang an insect trap from the schach in a manner that does not render a psul in the schach. (1:29) Shoshanas Yisroel (10:34-38) also has a lengthy discussion concerning how to replace the schach if it fell down on Shabbos or Yom Tov.
Perek heh (5), which deals with the laws of eating in the Succah on the first night, is introduced with the minhag to increase charitable contributions on Erev Succos, and then explains the requirement of refraining from eating on Erev Succos, in order to be able to do the mitzvah of eating l’teiavon, with appetite. An interesting discussion ensues concerning if one must limit his food intake on the first day of Succos so that he will be able to eat on the second night l’teiavon (5:2:4). Rav Kanner quotes an interesting thought from Rav Shlomo Miller, who states that since eating during the first day is a mitzvah, he is absolved from refraining from partaking in a meal due to the rules of osek b’mitzvah patur min ha’mitzvah. Rav Kanner deliberates this point by questioning why it should be different from Erev Pesach which fell on Shabbos, where it seems the poskim agree that one must curtail his eating despite being osek in the mitzvah of Oneg Shabbos.
One unique and remarkable aspect of Shoshanas Yisroel is how the author not only organizes the halachos which are particular to the chag, but also incorporates incidental cases that commonly occur during the yom tov, and applies the halachah from other places in Shulchan Aruch to the case on hand. A typical example is if a person picked up an esrog to examine it for purchase, and it fell; is he liable for the damages or not? (12:14) Or if a person purchased an esrog, and found some brown spots the next day; may he demand a refund? (12:12) May an elderly person who cannot hold the arba minim be assisted when taking them; is it a proper netila or not? (12:39) If an eidim (son in law) has the custom to eat in the sukkah on Shemini Atzeres and he is by his shver (father in law) whose custom is not to eat in the sukkah, how should he conduct himself? (13:7-8:4) What is the halachah someone bought one of the kibudim, and the gabai accidentally honored someone else? (14:18) How may one wash the perspiration from his body after hakafos? (pgs 268-272) Shailos such as these and many more appear throughout the sefer, and Rav Kanner’s discussions and conclusions are fascinating.
Shoshanas Yisroel on Succos is the fourth sefer in this series, which has been preceded by Hilchos Niddah, Hilchos Bein Hamitzarim, and Hilchos Chanukah. In addition, a limited edition of Hilchos Nisuin has been distributed. These seforim have been well received in Toronto and Lakewood, and surely other mikomos hatorah and bnei torah will greatly benefit from them too.
Rav Mordechai Kanner shlit”a was born and raised in Antwerp, Belgium, where he began his initial learning in Yeshivas Eitz Chaim in Heide under the tutelage of Rav Yidel Treger zt”l, the son in law of Rav Shlomo Zalmon Auerbach zt”l. He continued on in Gateshead Yeshiva, under the leadership of Rav Leib Lopian zt”l and Rav Leib Gurwitz zt”l for two years, and then in Yeshivas Ponovezh under Rav Shmuel Rozovsky zt”l and Rav Elazar Menachem Schach zt”l. After marrying the daughter of Rav Akiva Ehrenfeld zt”l, the son of the Matterdorfer Rav zt”l, Rav Kanner learned for ten years in Bais Medrash Govoah of Lakewood, and then settled in Toronto, where he was a member of the prestigious kollel lead by Rav Shlomo Miller shlit”a.
Since 5752 (1992), Rav Mordechai Kanner has served as the Rav of Bais Meir Shul in Toronto. For several decades, he enjoyed an extremely close relationship with Rav Miller, and recorded many of Rav Miller’s psakim in his seforim. Shoshanas Yisroel has virtually become synonymous with the psak halachah of Rav Shlomo Miller, and is sought after by many rabbonim and bnei torah for these rulings.