On this night of Hosha'ana Rabbah we find a special quality in the joy of the Simchas Bais Hashoevah. This emerges from the general theme of Sukkos as well as the specific theme of Hosha'ana Rabbah:
- Since it is the last day of the holiday and also the last day of Simchas Bais Hashoevah, Hosha'ana Rabbah brings completion and perfection to the practice of Simchas Bais Hashoevah as:
Everything is drawn after the conclusion. (Berachos 12a)
- Being Hosha'ana Rabbah and the eve of Shemini Atzeres, it carries certain intrinsic qualities which will also enhance the character of Simchas Bais Hashoevah.
The last day of Sukkos in the Bais Hamikdosh was the final day of the ceremony of pouring the water on the Altar. The previous night was the final night when the "drawing of the water" was celebrated -- as such, it was the opportunity for the most intense joy.
Additionally, the term Hosha'ana Rabbah indicates a factor of increase -- so that even in the areas of Divine service which were previously done with great enthusiasm and intensity -- when Hosha'ana Rabbah came it brought an even greater increase.
Chassidus also explains that Shemini Atzeres is symbolically associated with Yosef, (Ya'akov Avinu's son) which again introduces the theme of adding (the word Yosef means to add). Now, this increase must express itself in all aspects of the day including the joy of Simchas Bais Hashoevah. And since Hosha'ana Rabbah and Shemini Atzeres are both expressly associated with water, the intensity is even more pronounced. The Zohar says that Hosha'ana Rabbah is connected with water as we see in the prayers of Hosha'ana Rabbah. On Shemini Atzeres we recite the special prayer for rain and begin the daily recitation of "who causes the wind to blow and the rain to fall," which clearly indicates its connection with water.
Thus, the increase of Hosha'ana Rabbah and Shemini Atzeres will express itself in the joy of the Simchas Bais Hashoevah. When many Jews gather for Simchas Bais Hashoevah this intense joy is magnified.
With all this abundance and limitlessness Shemini Atzeres also represents the time for crystalizing all the blessings and spiritual attainments of the special days of Tishrei, from Rosh Hashanah through Sukkos. On Hosha'ana Rabbah we receive the good "k'vittel" -- the "print out" -- of the year's blessings promised on Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, and on Shemini Atzeres it is brought down to the simple reality of the material world. It is then that we see the blessing for a good year in family, life and sustenance, physically and spiritually. Thus, Hosha'ana Rabbah and Shemini Atzeres provide the setting to bring the loftiest blessings down to the reality of life.
Today's Ushpizin (Sukkos guests), King Dovid and the Rebbe Rashab, will also have a common theme with this concept of drawing the infinite into the material world. The Zohar explains that Dovid Hamelech (King Dovid) effected the infusion of the infinite Ein Sof into Torah.
The Torah has been described as:
Its measure is longer than the earth and broader than the sea. (Iyov 11:9)
Clearly an indication of infinity which pervades both the intellectual study of Torah as well as (and even moreso in) the actual fulfillment of mitzvos. Although this sounds like true limitlessness, nevertheless because it is expressed in relative terms and in relationship to "measure" -- it therefore does not represent the true infinity. There is however an infinite aspect of Torah beyond all comparisons.
It is Dovid, the king, who makes the contact and causes the radiation from the true infinity of the Ein Sof, with the Torah, even as it stands in a state of being "above" and being limitless.
What is Dovid's power?
Its source is from the essence of the Jewish soul. In Tanna D'vei Eliyahu we are told that the Jewish souls not only preceded creation, but actually came before every other thought, including Torah. That is why in Torah we find: "Speak to the Israelites."
Dovid raised the essential root of Torah to the level of the Jewish souls and thereby drew down the infinite power into Torah.
While accomplishing such lofty spiritual "acrobatics," Dovid also represents the attribute of royalty which effects the orderly devolution of the worlds, from the supernal, spiritual worlds down to our base, physical world.
Remember, the main purpose of the spiritual devolution is this corporeal world -- the goal of creation, where a dwelling place is made for the Shechinah and where the essence of G-d is revealed. Just as a person reveals himself in his own home.
The ultimate redemption is also associated with Dovid Hamelech of which we speak on Hosha'ana Rabbah:
The voice of the herald brings good tidings and proclaims: "There has appeared a man, his name is Tzemach, it is Dovid himself!" (Siddur)
Thus, in Dovid we see both extremes, on the one hand the connection of the Ein Sof with the supernal Torah and on the other hand the revelation of measured G-dliness and life in the lowest corporeal world.
The Chassidic Ushpizin today is the Rebbe Rashab who broadened the scope of "disseminating the fountains of Chassidus" by founding Yeshivah Tomchei Tmimim, which unified the revealed aspect of Torah with the hidden aspect of Torah into one "complete" Torah.
This combination of exoteric and esoteric teachings is symbolic of Dovid's role in connecting the infinite Ein Sof with the supernal Torah.
The Rashab also states that the students of Tomchei Tmimim are the soldiers of Dovid's army who must wage war against those who:
Taunt the footsteps of Your anointed one (Moshiach).
They accomplish this by revealing the light of Moshiach and spreading it to the outside which brings Moshiach, the ultimate victory, for eternity.
All this will come in a manner that will be real:
And the glory of the L-rd shall be revealed and all flesh shall see it together. (Yeshayahu 40:5)
Then today's Ushpizin will reach the Ein Sof and bring down the infinite light to the lowest everyday world!
Hosha'ana Rabbah expresses a dual theme -- on the one hand, infinity, and on the other hand, investment in corporeal reality -- in a special way.
All creation embodies this duality of finite and infinite, for in the material physicality of the world is embedded and revealed the true essence and "being" of the (infinite) Ein Sof.
The physical senses respond to the physical world -- you can touch and take hold of physical matter. Where does this physicality and corporeality come from? The Alter Rebbe explains in Tanya:
The nature and essence of the Blessed Emanator, whose being is of His Essence, and He is not, Heaven forfend, caused by some other cause preceding Himself. He alone, therefore, has it in His power and ability to create something out of an absolute naught and nothingness etc.
To this, the Mitteler Rebbe adds the axiom that the created reality is bound up in the true supernal reality.
This thought was also expressed by the Rambam:
There is a first being who brought every existing thing into being. All existing things...exist only through His true existence.... To the tiniest insect that is in the interior of the earth.
(Laws Concerning the Basic Principles of the Torah
G-d's existence is the first and only true being -- not only is He the Creator and maker of the world, but also its true exist-ence! As the Alter Rebbe describes it in Tanya:
Clearly, the purpose of the Hishtalshelus of the worlds and their descent, degree by degree, is not for the sake of the higher worlds, because for them this is a descent from the light of His Blessed countenance. But the ultimate purpose of creation is the lowest world for such was His blessed will.... (Tanya ch. 36)
This is based on the Midrashic dictum:
The Holy One, Blessed be He, yearned to dwell with His creatures in the terrestrial regions.
(Bemidbar Rabbah 13:6)
This means that the only true and perfect dwelling place for the essence and being of the Ein Sof -- is in this lowly physical world.
And it is here that the order of devolution of the higher worlds (Hishtalshelus) reaches its goal. To illustrate this point we cite the parable that when one wishes to raise a building it must be lifted by the foundation and since all principles in the physical world have descended from above, (see Tanya ch. 3) it follows that the same is true in the spiritual realm.
In dealing with this concept we should stop for a moment and consider a troubling aspect of our view of the relationship between above and below.
In many places in Torah, when we want to understand a spiritual, ethereal principle (for which we do not see the spiritual paradigm -- because it is spiritual) we regularly invoke and cite a physical example, such as our custom of using the parable of a human king from which we extrapolate a rule for the spiritual Creator.
Take for example the well-known adage, "On a ta'avah (de-sire for physical pleasure or satisfaction) you cannot ask 'why?'" This means that just as we cannot ask the question "why?" when dealing with a physical "ta'avah" so too, we cannot ask: "Why did G-d desire?"
In dealing with a logical decision or intellectual opinion the question "why?" may apply; what is the reasoning or logic of such an opinion. But a proclivity, lust, or longing is not motivated by intellect and consequently cannot be explained by logical deduction.
However, the analogy to supernal desire leaves us unenlightened and with a klotze kashe -- a perplexing pondera-tion: How can we project onto the G-dly "desire" the same parameters ruling a human desire!?
The essence and being of the Ein Sof is very different from the essence of a physical being and not limited by the same rules and restrictions. In the case of desire perhaps the same rules will not apply?
The answer to this problem is that our analogy from the human functions is not presented as an intellectual explanation -- rather as a proof and empirical fact. Because all that we see in the lower world "devolved," descended and "unraveled" from the spiritual source, it follows that when we find certain empirical facts among humans in the lower worlds, where, "you are called men," because: "you are compared to Above" (Shaloh 3:1), this corporeal manifestation then becomes the proof and example of what really exists in the higher worlds and the supernal "man."
Consequently, when we see that in the human realm the question "why?" cannot be asked regarding a "ta'avah" it proves that we can also not ask this question in relation to the Holy One, Blessed be He -- no questions on a desire!
When speaking of Torah wisdom we can and must ask questions, for only thereby will we fathom the true understanding of Torah. And we must even seek meaning for the statutes of Torah, until we attain,
A reason for them, so far as we are able to give them a reason. (Laws of Substituted Offerings 4:13)
But on a ta'avah we can ask no questions, it is simply not governed by the rules of logic.
Do we find this principle in Torah?
The answer is that we find this rule in the reality of the world. Since G-d created man in such a manner that his desires are supralogical (or sublogical) as opposed to intellect, which must be questioned, this indicates that the same is true above. By our fundamental faith we know that the construct of this world reflects, as it were, the supernal world.
It is on Rosh Hashanah that the infinite is drawn into and revealed in the lower worlds and even more so on Hosha'ana Rabbah and Shemini Atzeres.
For on Rosh Hashanah creation and the order of devolution of the worlds began:
This is the day which is the beginning of Your work, a remembrance of the first day. (Siddur)
On Rosh Hashanah the connection between the created reality and the true spiritual reality was established, which led to the establishment of a dwelling place for the Shechinah in the corporeal world.
Rosh Hashanah also introduces the importance of the Divine service of earthly man, to the point, that more may be accomplished when it comes from below. For it is the day in which man by his actions and prayers draws a greater measure of G-dly creativity.
Since we are, "children of G-d your L-rd" (Devorim 14:1), we carry the power of the father to the point of revelation, just as in Halachah:
The son's power is more extensive than the father's power; (Shavuos 48a)
And although our own power comes from the power of the father, we have the ability to reveal it and in this respect it is more powerful.
Thus, when on Rosh Hashanah we bring about "the remembrance of the first day" we actually do more than the original creation which came from above without our Divine service. This point is accentuated on Rosh Hashanah.
The ultimate revelation of Rosh Hashanah takes place on Hosha'ana Rabbah and Shemini Atzeres, and consequently, the perfection and full expression of the power of the lower worlds are expressed on Shemini Atzeres and Hosha'ana Rabbah.
Hosha'ana Rabbah has the added aspect of being connected with Moshiach -- for we say "Kol Mevaser":
The voice of the herald proclaims good tidings.
(Siddur p. 334)
This is the announcement of the coming of Moshiach -- Dovid the king -- the Ushpizin of Hosha'ana Rabbah. And it is the Messianic redemption which encapsulates the totality of human Divine service and its superiority over the initial creation.
Although creation made a complete world, nevertheless, with our Divine service, through the ensuing six thousand years of earthly existence, we create a new state of perfection even as compared to the primordial perfection.
This thought comes to the fore in these last generations, the time of the "approaching footsteps of Moshiach."
True, it is a lowly and gross generation, and, if the early ones were like angels we are like men, and so on, especially in the final generation of "the 'heels' of Moshiach," when darkness covers the world and we have not the strength to carry out great accomplishments, only to "polish the buttons"; still, the job is attributed to those who complete it. And therefore the redemption will come through the efforts of the last generation who long for the end to exile and the coming of Moshiach, the true and ultimate redemption.
Who brings the redemption? The "soldiers of the house of Dovid," through their Divine service "spreading the fountains to the outside."
For in the times of Moshiach there will be no need for real war, rather, it will be accomplished in a pleasant or peaceful manner. Effort in Torah will purify and forge the clarity of the golus and nullify those who shame the footsteps of Moshiach.
We have shown how human effort is closely tied to the redemption -- those ultimate lofty revelations -- and that it is within the power and potential of each and every Jew in the last generation to accomplish it. For the salvation will affect everyone, hence everyone has a stake in bringing the redemption and certainly we all have the power, for:
I do not ask...but in accordance with their means.
(Bemidbar Rabbah 12:3)
And when we "polish the buttons" properly we will effect the salvation for us and the whole world. King Dovid will be accompanied by Moshiach and all the Ushpizin mentioned in Zohar: Avraham, Yitzchok, Ya'akov, Moshe, Aharon, and Yosef, as well as the Chassidic Ushpizin: the Baal Shem Tov, the Maggid, the Alter Rebbe, the Mitteler Rebbe, the Tzemach Tzedek, the Maharash, and the Rashab, and with a lively Chassidic song we will all proceed to our Holy Land.
Then the joy of Simchas Bais Hashoevah will spread across the world so that the whole world will wake up from its sleep and slumber -- we will all go to the Holy Land, and to Yerushalayim the Holy City and the Holy Mountain, and the Bais Hamikdosh.
And we will merit to see the inside of the Bais Hamikdosh, as the Gemara says:
Whenever Israel came up to the festivals the curtain would be removed for them and the Cherubim were shown to them. (Yoma 54a)
May all these details of the future come now -- as we pray three times daily -- instantly, and in a split second, speedily and truly in our time.
The moment of creation, or birth, of everything in existence generates great joy, for in its emergence into being it crystalizes the revelation of the essence of the Creator in a true fashion.
A physical being can be touched and handled and can only exist because of the Creator's creative force in the being.
Add to this raw joy the refined happiness of one who studies Torah and observes mitzvos, as it says:
The mandates of the L-rd are upright rejoicing the heart,
and you then have a more intense level of joy.
When you also take into account the Rambam's teaching that all Torah must be fulfilled with more joy:
Rejoicing in the fulfillment of a commandment...is a supreme act of Divine worship ...King Dovid leaping and dancing before the L-rd, (Laws of Palm Branches 8:15)
you then have a truly intense celebration of life.
Now, how much more so will the joy be intensified on a holiday whose whole essence is joy -- "Moadim L'Simchah" -- "festivals for rejoicing."
When we choose among the holidays, we must single out Sukkos, the Season of Our Rejoicing, and in the Holiday of Sukkos we single out the celebration of Simchas Bais Hashoevah which reaches the apex of rejoicing. When we come to the last day of Simchas Bais Hashoevah, when it reaches its zenith and culmination and the rejoicing is at its greatest intensity, beyond all measure or restriction, we attain the greatest moment of consummate joy as it is celebrated here.
One more added factor. Being a leap year, this year is called a "complete year," so that even the Simchas Bais Hashoevah on the night of Hosha'ana Rabbah stands in a state of perfection.
Finally, there is the joy of the hoped for and expected redemption, which is especially emphasized on Hosha'ana Rabbah and which we hope we will see this year. Then the ultimate purpose of the world will be realized and:
The glory of the L-rd shall be revealed and all flesh shall see it together, for the mouth of the L-rd has spoken it.
Then we will reach the consummate joy, for we will be with the king in his palace -- this is the state of joy we attain at this time.
In today's Chumash study section we learn the first section of V'Zos HaBerachah which indicates that the blessings of G-d are radiated down to us so that in the corporeal world we can benefit from His blessing and point to it and say "V'Zos" -- "This". Now is this not similar to the promise of the future when the glory of G-d will be revealed and all flesh will see?! Then we will see the ultimate indwelling of G-dliness.
Further in the chapter we find:
He was king in Yeshurun, (Devorim 33:5)
which connects us with King Dovid, the Ushpizin of Hosha'ana Rabbah, for the scepter of royalty belongs only to the family of Dovid; as Chassidus explains it, Dovid represented the attribute of royalty. Moshiach, too, is of the family of Dovid -- when the kingdom of the Holy One, Blessed be He, will be revealed in the world.
The verse goes on to speak of the gathering of the leaders of the people -- Ahavas Yisroel and Jewish unity. This subject, too, is connected with the redemption -- for the destruction and dispersal of the Jewish people into the diaspora came about as a result of hatred and divisiveness. Eliminate the source of the problem, take away the cause, and the effect disappears. When there is Ahavas Yisroel instantly the redemption can come and the true unity of the Jewish people will be realized for "a great company will return here" -- as one entity.
Chassidus also explains that the term Yeshurun refers to the Jewish people on a level above "Ya'akov" and "Yisroel." When the Jewish people attain the level of "Yeshurun," then the king will be revealed -- the king Moshiach -- for there will be a revelation of the Yechidah -- soul-essence of the Jewish people -- which is the essence of Moshiach.
Now, this Jewish unity discussed in the verse about the gathering of the leaders of the tribes is also expressed in the blessings bestowed by Moshe to the tribes of Reuven, Shimon and Yehudah recorded in today's section.
Chassidus explains that Reuven symbolizes the beginning of all Divine service, Yehudah represents the conclusion and Shimon symbolized the Divine service relating to the outside world.
Today's Rambam section deals with the atonement on Yom Kippur. Chassidus explains that esoterically the schach (branches) covering of the Sukkah symbolically emerges from the incense cloud of Yom Kippur.
The Rambam rules that Yom Kippur and its sacrifices will only bring forgiveness to those who believe in the principle of forgiveness of Yom Kippur. Similarly, the Rambam rules in the Laws of Teshuvah that Yom Kippur forgives only those who repent.
There seems to be a discrepancy, for the Rambam also rules that the "scapegoat" does forgive minor sins even without repentance. How can this be true?
All major sins for which there must be repentance to effect atonement have an aspect of knowledge and intention. We find this discussed in great detail in the laws of the sacrifices and the other punishments of death or kares (extirpation). In all of these cases the repentance must also reach his conscious mind, knowledge and intention -- the sacrifice, or day of Yom Kippur, or scapegoat will not suffice.
The minor sins did not necessarily involve his conscious intention -- rather only his action -- for this reason the scapegoat alone will suffice to bring atonement.
We may glean a lesson from this in relation to the ultimate redemption.
Sometimes when a person makes a true accounting of his endeavors in the area of all his actions for the sake of heaven or knowing G-d in all his ways -- he may come up difficient and he might fall into a state of despair, G-d forbid.
To him we say -- all the deficiencies are not connected with a true lack of intention, rather there were superficial causes, the pressures of the times, or the confusions of the evil inclination. Your essence wants to do all the mitzvos. And even if the schemes of the Yetzer Hora were successful, still, the rule:
That none of us be banished, (II Shmuel 14:14)
is true in fact. There is no place for despondency or sadness, you must always be joyous and do your best to act "for the sake of heaven" and know G-d in all your ways.
And since the creation of the Yetzer Hora was only temporary, with the intention that it be rejected and destroyed completely, we have certainly reached the time for this to take place with the complete and true redemption, instantly, so that in a split second -- on the clouds of heaven -- we will find ourselves in our Holy Land, in Yerushalayim, the Holy City, on the Holy Mountain in the Bais Hamikdosh -- the "Holy House."
In speaking of redemption it is appropriate to close with a matter of tzedakah, for "charity is great."
However, since many must still return home to say Havdalah I will distribute dollar bills after the recitation of Tehillim at which time there will also be more people present who will wish to receive the dollar bills to give to tzedakah with the addition of their own.
Tehillim is of course connected with Dovid, today's Ushpizin, and therefore tzedakah given in conjunction with Tehillim emphasizes the aspect of redemption.
Question: If so, why speak about the tzedakah now before Havdalah, if the distribution will be after Tehillim? The answer is that when a Jew accepts a good resolution he immediately receives the merit of the mitzvah. So here the merit of tzedakah will bring the redemption closer and Moshiach can come even before we start reciting the Tehillim; and even before Havdalah.
Obviously, we cannot miss such an opportunity -- when we can push the whole world to the side of merit by making an announcement of a future mitzvah, which will certainly cause everyone here to make good resolutions.
There are those who say I speak "wild talk." Just a few hours before Tehillim to announce that our righteous Moshiach can come before we say Tehillim -- really, so soon!?
But the truth is the golus and the darkness of the golus is a "wild thing." What does a Jew have to do with the diaspora?! In such a case "wild talk" is appropriate.
Furthermore, what difference is it what they say? -- the main thing is that Moshiach should come immediately and bring the true and complete redemption, here and now.
And so may it be speedily and quickly and we will continue with all the aspects of joy in our Holy Land, in Yerushalayim, the Holy City, "with everlasting joy on their heads."