As mentioned on previous occasions, at all times we must "open with blessing." Nevertheless, this principle is particularly relevant on the holidays which are "days of blessing." There is an additional emphasis to the above on Sukkos, for the Torah mentions happiness three times in connection with the celebration of this holiday,
thus establishing a chazakah, a sequence of three associated with strength and continued influence.
On the holiday of Sukkos, positive influence is also contributed by the ushpizen, "the honored guests" who visit our Sukkos. Although every night of Sukkos is connected with a specific ushpiz, there is an interconnection between the various nights and thus in addition to the influence of the ushpiz from the present night, we also benefit from the influence of the ushpiz of the previous night.
The ushpiz of the first night is Avraham whose significance is implied by his name which means "a father of a multitude of nations." This phrase is taken from the Torah and thus is applicable at all times, from the beginning of creation until eternity. Avraham is also connected with the Chassidic ushpiz, the Baal Shem Tov, the founder of the Chassidic movement as a whole.
The positive influence is enhanced by the ushpiz of the present night, the Patriarch Yitzchak. Indeed, Yitzchak possesses an advantage even over Avraham his father, for "the power of the son surpasses the power of the father."
Yitzchak is associated with the quality of happiness as reflected in Sarah's exclamation, "Whoever hears will rejoice with me." As soon as Yitzchak was born, he brought happiness to Avraham and Sarah and he continues to serve as a source of happiness in the generations that follow.
Even in the Days of Awe, when our happiness is expressed in the manner of "they rejoiced while trembling," Yitzchak receives prominence. The Zohar relates that on Rosh HaShanah, when we blow the shofar, Avraham is on the right side, Yaakov on the left side, and Yitzchak is in the center. In this manner, influence is drawn down from the shofar, an influence associated with the acceptance of G-d's Kingship which affects the nature of the entire year to come. Surely, the influence of Rosh HaShanah on Sukkos is pronounced, for it is the first holiday of the new year.
Yitzchak was also "a perfect sacrifice." As such, he remained in Eretz Yisrael for his entire life, being above any connection to the Diaspora. The above relates to every Jew for the qualities of the Patriarchs were endowed as a heritage to each one of their descendants.
It is on this day -- and in all the activities of the day, not only in one's eating and drinking -- that the qualities of Yitzchak must shine in a powerful manner as they do on his birthday. Significantly, the day of Yitzchak's birth is not explicitly mentioned in the Torah, but the circumstances of his birth are, i.e., the Torah relates that his birth was a matter of public knowledge. Furthermore, since there were gentiles who spread rumors that Yitzchak was not born to Avraham and Sarah, on the day Yitzchak was weaned, Sarah nursed the children of gentile kings to show that it was she who gave birth to Yitzchak.
The above must be expressed on the level of deed, for "deed is most essential" is one of the fundamental principles of the Torah. There are certain mitzvos, e.g., Torah study, which are fulfilled primarily on the level of speech, and other mitzvos which are fulfilled on the level of thought; for example, there are six mitzvos, e.g., the love and fear of G-d, which we are obligated to fulfill at all times. These six mitzvos are referred to as the six Cities of Refuge.
There is a connection between the Cities of Refuge and Torah study as reflected in our Sages' comment, "The words of the Torah are a refuge." A Jew who lives in a City of Refuge must live there forever. He is forbidden to leave his City of Refuge even to save the entire Jewish people. Similarly, a person must be totally absorbed in Torah study to the extent that his connection is not bounded by time. If, in fact, such limitations exist, they limit only the time when a particular subject should be studied, but the obligation to study is incumbent upon us at all times. For example, there is an obligation to study Torah on Tishah BeAv; in the present era, however, there are limitations on the subject matter that can be studied on that day.
As mentioned, "Deed is most essential." The deed of present concern is increasing our celebration of Simchas Beis HaShoevah, expanding our rejoicing beyond that of the previous day. In general, "one must always advance in regard to holy matters." Particularly, when happiness is involved and there is a new influence, ponim chadoshos, this should result in increased joy.
This is particularly true in the present year, 5752, ÜÉÖ ÇäÜ
äü ÜàÇîöÉ, "a year which will contain wonders." And these wonders will be "in all things" (niflaos bakol), affecting every element of existence and uniting all existence with its source in G-d's essence. We must publicize these wonders to the world at large and emphasize that they are G-dly in origin.
In this manner we will proceed together with the entire Jewish people and celebrate Simchas Beis HaShoevah in Eretz Yisrael, in Jerusalem, and in the Beis HaMikdash. May this take place in the immediate future.
- (Back to text) In contrast, the Torah does not mention happiness at all in connection with the holiday of Pesach and mentions it only once in connection with the holiday of Shavuos.
- (Back to text) For in all matters of holiness, there is an interconnection. In particular, this applies in the present context for the Patriarchs are involved. A spark of each of the three Patriarchs is found within every Jew. [In contrast, the twelve tribes are of general significance, yet each person belongs to only one tribe and does not have a connection to the others.]
- (Back to text) Mention was made of the significance of the ushpiz of the first night in last night's address as well, however, there is the need for further elaboration. (One of the reasons why the concepts were not elaborated on previously is because these concepts have been explained at length in the previous years and printed. Furthermore, it is more than forty years since the Previous Rebbe's passing, and thus we have all been granted, "a knowing heart, eyes that see, and ears that hear," i.e., the sensitivity to appreciate these teachings.)
- (Back to text) We see that the Torah existed before the giving of the Torah, for "Avraham observed the entire Torah before it was given."
- (Back to text) The Alter Rebbe explains that this is so because, "the power of the son" has its source in the essence of the power of the father, a level that surpasses the father's revealed potential.
- (Back to text) Happiness is associated with love and thus there is a connection with Yitzchak and Avraham, whose service was characterized by this quality.
- (Back to text) Our Sages explain that G-d tells us, "Accept My Kingship and then I will issue decrees for you." Our service begins with the acceptance of G-d's Kingship on Rosh HaShanah. Afterwards, comes G-d's decrees which are associated with the Torah.
The first expressions of our connection to the Torah in the new year are the verses included in the three blessings of Malchiyus, Zichronos, and Shofros in the Musaf service on Rosh HaShanah. These same blessings are recited in the Musaf service of Yom Kippur in a Yovel (Jubilee) year.
A Yovel is a fifty period which is considered "eternity" by our Sages. This is relevant in regard to our conduct as well. A Jew must realize that after fifty years have passed, his life possesses a dimension of eternity. Surely, this applies when he lives longer.
- (Back to text) Surely, this activity helped refine and elevate these gentiles. For milk comes from blood and blood is associated with the soul. Thus, Sarah's nursing of the gentiles' babies imparted a certain dimension of her spiritual qualities -- and those of Avraham, for a man and his wife are considered as a single entity -- to them. Needless to say, this elevated and refined the gentiles.
- (Back to text) Although the mitzvah of Torah study can be fulfilled on the level of deed, through writing down words of Torah, the most common manner in which the mitzvah is fulfilled is through speech. Furthermore, there are days, e.g., Shabbos or holidays, when the mitzvah can only be fulfilled through speech and may not be fulfilled through deed.
There is a necessity, however, to actually speak the words of Torah. For according to most authorities, a blessing cannot be recited when one merely thinks about words of Torah.
- (Back to text) In the near future, however, Tishah BeAv will be transformed into a festival.
- (Back to text) This refers to the level of yechidah, a point of G-dliness possessed by every Jew and by the world at large. The revelation of this quality relates to the revelation of the inner G-dliness that maintains the existence of every creation at all times.
- (Back to text) This relates to the birth of Yitzchak which, as mentioned above, was a miracle that was made known to the gentiles and had an influence upon them.