We are usually accustomed in these addresses (of the nights of Sukkos) to speak about matters associated with the next day, which starts from the previous night, as written, "It was evening, and it was morning" -- a 24-hour day begins with the night. For Simchas Bais Hashoevah (Celebration of the Water-Drawing -- which took place on Sukkos at night) is associated with the drawing of the water used for the next day's water libation. Accordingly, we should tonight talk of matters associated with the third day of Sukkos.
But as an introduction, there is a matter associated with the preceding day (2nd day of Sukkos), which is the "erev" (eve) of today. Further, the third day of Sukkos is Shabbos; and the idea of "erev Shabbos" (this year the 2nd day of Sukkos) is particularly strong, to the extent that the whole concept of erev Yom-Tov is derived from that of erev Shabbos.
The connection between Shabbos and erev Shabbos is emphasized in the prayers said in Welcoming the Shabbos. The six psalms recited correspond to the six weekdays, and, indeed, there are some people who are accustomed to recite them while it is still day. In other words, welcoming the Shabbos begins with matters associated with erev Shabbos. Thus tonight comprises two aspects: 1) it is the night of Shabbos, the beginning of the third day of Sukkos, following the order of creation with day following night; 2) it is the conclusion of erev Shabbos, the second day of Sukkos, following the rule that "In kodshim (holy matters) the night follows the day."
The connection of tonight to the second day of Sukkos is strengthened in the light of Rambam's words in today's (Shabbos) portion of Mishneh Torah (Laws of the Daily Offerings 10:11): "Every day of the festival of Sukkos a special song would be chanted over the Mussaf offering of the day. On the first day of Chol HaMoed (i.e., second day of Sukkos), they would chant 'Render to the L-rd, children of the mighty'" -- the psalm recited in Welcoming the Shabbos. Rashi (Sukkah 55a) explains the connection between this psalm and the second day of Sukkos. "For this day is the beginning of Simchas Bais Hashoevah, that is 'honor and strength' [mentioned in this psalm], and in this psalm [it is written] 'The voice of the L-rd is over the waters' -- referring to the water libation [for which the water was drawn on Simchas Bais Hashoevah]."
It is because "honor and strength" refers to Simchas Bais Hashoevah that we have so often said and demanded that Simchas Bais Hashoevah be celebrated boldly and with the greatest of fervor.
After the above introduction, connected with erev Shabbos, the second day of Sukkos, let us now proceed to discuss Shabbos itself, the third day of Sukkos. Today's guests are the Patriarch Ya'akov (of the guests cited by the Zohar) and the Alter Rebbe (of the Chassidic guests). We explained on the preceding nights that while the two guests on each night of Sukkos are one concept, they simultaneously possess some characteristics which not only are different but are the opposite one from the other. The purpose of this is that the guests of a night should complement one another: When deriving lessons from one of the guests, there will be some matters that either we will not know that we should do them, or that we might do the opposite. It is the second guest of the night who teaches us how to act in those matters left unresolved by the lessons derived from the first guest. By thus learning from both guests, service to G-d will be whole.
Accordingly, we shall now explain the theme common to the guests of tonight and also the differences between them.
We explained last year that the common theme between the Patriarch Ya'akov and the Alter Rebbe is Torah. Ya'akov: it is written (Tehillim 78:5), "He set testimony in Ya'akov and placed Torah in Israel"; and it is also written (Bereishis 25:27), "Ya'akov was a plain man, dwelling in tents," -- which our sages interpret to mean that he sat and learned Torah in "the tent of Shem and the tent of Ever." More particularly, "the tent of Shem" refers to the Written Torah, and "the tent of Ever" refers to the Oral Torah. Also, "dwelling in tents" (plural) refers to the revealed and inner aspects of Torah.
The Alter Rebbe: He is known as "The author of the Tanya and the Shulchan Aruch," as alluded to in his name, Schneur, which means two lights, the light of the revealed Torah and the light of Chassidus.
In Torah itself, the Alter Rebbe is associated with the most lofty level, that of "Great is study for it leads to deed." This is what the Shulchan Aruch, written by the Alter Rebbe, is all about -- the halachah to know what to do. Moreover, unlike the Shulchan Aruch authored by the Bais Yosef (R. Yosef Karo) which does not include the reasons for the laws, the Alter Rebbe's Shulchan Aruch does give the reasons, thereby freeing a person from the necessity of learning the reasons in other works (as, for example, when learning the Bais Yosef's Shulchan Aruch, one would have to learn the Bais Yosef's commentary on the Tur).
The Tanya, too, comprises the halachos concerning service to G-d. The Tanya, the Alter Rebbe writes, is "based on the verse, 'For the thing is very near to you in your mouth and in your heart, to do it' -- to explain well how it is very close." In other words, the purpose of Tanya is to make clear the ways of service to G-d to every Jew, regarding all aspects of thought ("in your heart"), speech ("in your mouth") and deed ("to do it").
What is the connection between Ya'akov and the Alter Rebbe, and the festival of Sukkos in general and the third day of Sukkos in particular? The three Patriarchs, Avraham, Yitzchok, and Ya'akov, correspond to the three festivals: Avraham -- to Pesach; Yitzchok -- to Shavuos; Ya'akov, the third of the Patriarchs -- to Sukkos, the third festival. In man's service to G-d, Avraham corresponds to deeds of lovingkindness, Yitzchok to prayer, and Ya'akov to Torah. Further, Ya'akov was the choicest of the Patriarchs, and the Alter Rebbe was chosen by the Maggid to write the Shulchan Aruch.
Together with the theme common to Ya'akov and the Alter Rebbe (Torah), there are also differences between them. And since Simchas Bais Hashoevah is relevant to all Jews, even the most simple, everything associated with it -- in our case, the guests -- must be understood by even the simplest Jew. We should therefore search for the differences between tonight's guests in the histories well-known to all: In the case of Ya'akov, in Scripture; and in the case of the Alter Rebbe, in well-publicized stories.
Scripture relates (Bereishis 47:9) that Ya'akov said of himself, "The days of my life have been few and hard, and they have not attained the days of the years of my fathers' life." Scripture indeed relates the many troubles Ya'akov met during his lifetime: the troubles with Lavan, with Esav and with Yosef.
The Alter Rebbe's life, on the other hand, was filled with delight. First of all, the Maggid chose him from all his disciples to write the Shulchan Aruch. The Shulchan Aruch is comprised of clear laws for all Jews, and it was destined to be disseminated and accepted throughout all Israel for all generations -- despite the fact that the Bais Yosef's Shulchan Aruch had long been in existence.
After the Alter Rebbe had already written part of the Shulchan Aruch, he showed it to the brothers R. Shmelke and R. Pinchus, two of his colleagues who were famous for their genius and piety. They, after seeing it, "praised it most exceedingly." Seeing thus that he was successful in his work, the Alter Rebbe surely derived great delight. Similarly, the Alter Rebbe surely had great delight from authoring the Tanya, the Written Torah of Chassidus. Thus the Alter Rebbe's life was permeated with delight.
The Alter Rebbe derived delight also from events that would occur in the future -- the dissemination of Chassidus to all segments of Jewry, in the manner of "Your wellsprings shall spread forth to the outside," through which Moshiach comes. The Alter Rebbe saw what would happen in the future, for, as the Talmud says (Tamid 32a): "Who is a wise man (chacham)? He who sees that which will happen."
Let us explore what this means. Seemingly, one need not be specifically a "wise man" to know what will happen in the future, for anyone with a brain can figure out that if the situation at any given moment is such and such, then in the next moment it will be such and such -- cause and effect -- and so on into the future. Indeed, philosophers of the nations say that if a person would know clearly everything, all details, happening in the world at a given moment, and would know the laws of nature -- he can figure out what will happen in the next moment, and the moment after that, for all generations, since everything happens by cause and effect. Why, then, does one need wisdom spe-cifically to know what will happen in the future?
The Talmud says "Who is a wise man? He who sees that which will happen." There is a vast difference between knowing and seeing. Only through seeing something is a person so convinced of it that he will never change his mind. This is why "A witness cannot be a judge (in the case in which he is giving testimony)": If a judge hears testimony from a hundred reliable witnesses, such that their testimony is certainly true, he may nevertheless find grounds to favor the defendant. But if the judge himself witnessed the crime -- he won't be able to find favorable grounds, for since he has seen it, it can never change in his mind.
Knowledge of the future, then, can be had by any discerning person. To see the future, however, -- i.e., that it should be in front of his eyes -- needs a wise man specifically.
In our case, wisdom pertains to the Alter Rebbe particularly, for in correlation to the Sefiros, the Baal Shem Tov and the Maggid correspond to the two levels of kesser, and the Alter Rebbe to the sefirah of Chochmah -- wisdom. Thus the Alter Rebbe was able to see the future. He said, after he was freed on the 19th of Kislev from imprisonment, (imprisoned for spreading Chassidus), that "Because of this self-sacrifice for Chassidus, it has been decreed in the Heavenly Court that in every matter concerning Torah, fear of heaven and good character traits, the hand of those attached to him and who follow in his steps shall be on top."
Since the Alter Rebbe saw the spreading of Chassidus throughout the whole world, extending to the future redemption which will come as a result of the dissemination of Chassidus, it is easy to imagine how great was his resultant delight.
In sum, the difference between Ya'akov and the Alter Rebbe is that the former's life consisted of days "few and hard," while that of the Alter Rebbe was one of delight. We learn from this that Torah study (the theme common to both of these guests) must be carried out under all types of conditions, whether one is poor ("few and hard") or rich ("delight").
The above discussed difference between tonight's guests is alluded to in their names. "Ya'akov" received his name because "His hand was holding the heel ("eikev") of Esav" -- the heel, the lowest part of the body, and Esav's heel at that. "Schneur," on the other hand, means "two lights," encompassing all the possible different levels in light. Further, the Alter Rebbe's second name, "Zalman," is not in the holy tongue, but is Yiddish, connoting that the light of Chassidus penetrates to the lowest regions. Also, the letters of "Zalman" can be rearranged to read "Lizman," "to time," meaning that the light of Chassidus penetrates into the dimension of time (and place).
The theme represented by tonight's guests, Torah, is associated also with today's portion of Torah, the seventh section of parshas Berachah -- as had been discussed last year. Also their names are alluded to in the conclusion of today's Torah portion, which states, "before the eyes of all Israel." For Ya'akov is also called "Israel"; and the letters of the word "Israel" in Hebrew, "Yisroel," contain the word "or" (Yisroel), part of the Alter Rebbe's name, Schnei-or, and also the beginning letters of "Schneur" and "Lizman."
We shall now analyze a passage in today's portion of Rambam, which deals with the special song chanted by the Levi'im on the festival of Sukkos. Chapter 10 of the Laws of Daily Offerings and the Additional Offering states: "On the first day of Chol HaMoed they would chant 'Render to the L-rd, children of the mighty'; on the second day, 'And to the wicked G-d said.'" This is extremely puzzling, for why should such a verse as "And to the wicked G-d said, 'Why do you declare My statutes?'" be used as the opening verse of the chant of a festival. Moreover, Sukkos follows right after Yom Kippur, when atonement and pardon is granted to Jews, cleansing them of all sin. Yet the verse "And to the wicked G-d said" is chanted on Sukkos!
Rashi explains (Sukkah 55a) that "The whole psalm consists of words of admonishment to those assembled in the courtyard of the Bais Hamikdosh for the mitzvah of the festival and who rejoice in the joy of the festival. They are admonished with the words 'Why do you declare My statutes,' meaning, Why do you come to this House if you do not repent...?"
The question still remains, however: What place do words of admonishment have on a festival, especially immediately after Yom Kippur?
We can, however, connect it with today's guest, Ya'akov. Before Ya'akov and Esav were born, they were quarreling in their mother's womb; and Rashi interprets this to mean that they were arguing over who should inherit the two worlds (this world and the World to Come). In other words, Ya'akov was telling Esav that he, Esav, had no place there -- similar to the verse, "And to the wicked G-d said, 'Why do you declare My statutes?'"
There is another matter in today's portion of Rambam which is connected with the sacrifices brought on Sukkos. Rambam writes (9:5) that "The blood of a sin offering takes precedence over the blood of a burnt offering, for the blood of a sin offering makes atonement." Similarly, the Alter Rebbe explains (Iggeres Hakodesh, ch. 2) the concept of a burnt offering as that "after one has repented and the punishment has been pardoned ... one nevertheless sends a present before him that he may be found acceptable to see the king." Since the sin offering procures atonement, it follows that the burnt offering cannot precede the sin offering, for one does not send a present to the king to be found acceptable until he has first appeased the king (through the sin offering) and been forgiven.
Thus the order of precedence all year round. On Sukkos, however, this rule was not followed. Rather, Rambam writes (9:7), "They were offered according to the order they are mentioned in Scripture.... First the bullocks, then the rams, then the lambs and then the he-goats -- although the he-goats were sin offerings and all the preceding were burnt offerings." Now, according to our above explanation that a sin offering is an appeasement and a burnt offering is a present -- how could a burnt offering precede a sin offering on Sukkos?
Sukkos, however, follows Yom Kippur, when Jews are granted complete pardon and forgiveness. There is therefore no need on Sukkos to first bring a sin offering as appeasement to gain forgiveness. But then, why bring a sin offering at all?
Repentance, the Alter Rebbe writes, is principally a matter of the heart, and the heart has many levels. When, therefore, a person advances to a higher level, his service of repentance must be commensurately higher -- thereby necessitating a sin offering. In our case, after offering the burnt offering on Sukkos, a Jew advances to a higher level, thereby necessitating a higher level of repentance; and therefore he must bring a sin offering.
The above is connected with the joy of Sukkos. All aspects of Torah and mitzvos possess joy, as Rambam rules: "The joy which a person rejoices in performing a mitzvah ... is a great service." The mitzvah of repentance, which is loftier than all other mitzvos, must therefore certainly be done with great joy. This is one of the reasons for Simchas Bais Hashoevah on Sukkos, following Yom Kippur. It is joy of the highest magnitude, associated with the service of repentance on Yom Kippur.
Deed is paramount: One should mightily increase in tonight's celebration of Simchas Bais Hashoevah. And, as noted last night, the joy must be greater than that of last year's corresponding night, for every year "there descends a new, loftier light, like which has never before illuminated." Thus, the light which was drawn down on the third night of Sukkos last year was loftier than the year beforehand, and it illuminated until tonight. And tonight, a new, loftier light is drawn down.