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Monday, October 21, 2019 22 Tishrei 5780





Sukkot - the Festival of Huts - commemorates G-d’s shielding of the Jewish People with the clouds of glory for forty years as they wandered the Sinai Desert en route to the Land of Israel. It also celebrates the annual "gathering" festival, when the harvest was collected from the fields where the crops had dried all summer long. The intense G-dly revelation that existed at this festival made it is the most joyous of the festivals, marked by music and dancing. We celebrate this holiday by eating in huts, which like the clouds of glory, surround us on four sides and overhead, reminding us of G-d’s protection: just as He shielded the desert sojourners with the clouds of glory, so does He watch over us today.
Sukkot is the festival of joy. Get ready to dance. And if you’re lacking motivation, consider this: the Lubavitcher Rebbe has stated that our generation is the last one of the exile and the first one of the imminent messianic redemption. We have been hand-picked to experience the coming of Moshiach, a process which, according to the Rebbe, has already begun. Can there be a better reason to dance?
On Sukkot, we eat our meals and spend as much time as possible surrounded by our Sukkah (hut), recalling the Clouds of Glory that encompassed our ancestors during the 40-year desert sojourn that followed the Exodus of Egypt. During that period, whenever the Jewish nation camped, they erected the Tabernacle (a temporary Temple) as a house of worship for G-d. It occurred several times that in the midst of erecting the Tabernacle, the Clouds of Glory suddenly proceed forward, indicating it was time to continue traveling. This teaches us a profound lesson: in whatever location we may find ourselves, even if we are there for only a short span of time, we must make the fullest effort to worship G-d through carrying out His mitzvahs. 
The Four Kinds: Total Unity
In preparation for Sukkot, we take the Four Kinds:
  • Lulav (Palm frond)
  • 3 Hadassim (Myrtle Branches)
  • 2 Aravot (Willow branches)

we bind the above three together to form a single entity called "the Lulav."

  • Etrog (Citron)

Each day of Sukkot (with the exception of Shabbat), we take the Lulav in one hand, an esrog (citron) in the other hand, put the two together until they are touching (essentially forming one entity) and shake them in each of the four directions, as well as up and down. The binding of these four species represents the coming together in unity of four types of people. The shaking of the Lulav in all of the different directions reflects a central theme of Sukkot: the ingathering of the Jewish people from all corners of the world. This is also reflected in Sukkot falling out during the time of year when the produce is collected after having dried in the field all summer long. On a spiritual level, the holiness of Sukkot allows us to gather physical reality and bring it under the domain of holiness; much like a magnetic field draws into its realm all metal items. When the task of gathering all of physical reality into the domain of holiness will be complete, we will all gather in Jerusalem, at the site of the Third Temple.


* * *

Orphaned Children
On the first night of the festival of Sukot, 1989, thousands of Chasidim crowded the large synagogue at Lubavitch headquarters at 770 Eastern Parkway in Brooklyn. Upon the conclusion of the evening prayers, the Rebbe approached the lectern where he would deliver his nightly hour-long address on the significance of the festival. The crowd surged forward-Torah law forbids the activation of an electric current on Shabbat and the festivals, so the Rebbe would be speaking without the aid of a public address system.
Ten thousand bodies packed into a space that would normally hold a tenth of that number; ten thousand minds tensed to absorb the Rebbe's profound blend of mysticism and philosophy.
But the Rebbe wasn't speaking. He was searching the crowd. The Rebbe's secretary stepped forward and received a whispered instruction. Many long minutes passed until three children-ages two to six-were located and passed from hand to hand to the front of the room. Their young father, Rabbi Avraham Shlomo Scharf, had recently passed away from a serious illness. Under the Rebbe's direction, the children were settled on the carpet at his feet. For several moments, the Rebbe held the just-orphaned children in his kindly gaze. Only then did he turn to the crowd and begin his talk.
For the next two-and-a-half years, until the Rebbe's stroke, the Scharf children sat at the Rebbe's feet at virtually all of his public appearances: as he prayed in the synagogue on Shabbat, as he addressed his Chasidim on various occasions, and as he held his weekly farbrengen (gathering) on Shabbat afternoons. At these farbrengens, the Rebbe would speak for several hours, with brief interludes during which the assembled would sing Chasidic songs and raise their cups to say l'chaim to the Rebbe. During the interludes, the Rebbe would often direct his attention to the children, handing them pieces of cake from his plate and pouring them sips of wine from his cup.

* * *
Shmini Atzeres and Simchas Torah
The Living Torah
Simchat Torah is one of the most exciting days on the Jewish calendar, marking the completion of the year-long Torah-reading cycle, and the beginning of the new cycle. We celebrate this momentous occasion by removing all the Torah scrolls from the ark and dancing with them enthusiastically.
Unlike Shavuot, we do not celebrate this occasion with Torah study—in fact, the scrolls are not unfurled at all during the entire period of dancing. The reason for this is that we want to underscore that the Torah is a gift that belongs uniquely to every Jew, no matter the amount of time one has spent studying its teachings.
In the Shmini Atzeret morning service, Yizkor is recited in memory of the departed souls of loved ones, and charity is pledged in their merit.

We must devote special care to the Jewish education of our children by cultivating their unique connection to the Torah. Enrollment in a religious day school (or at least a Hebrew school) is a proven way of conveying to our children the true richness of their Jewish heritage.


Shmini Atzeret & Simchat Torah
Sunday night, October 20
Light Candles 18 min before sunset and Say Blessings 4 & 5
Kiddush & Hakafot (dancing)
Monday, October 21
  • Yizkor Memorial Service
Light Candles** after nightfall / appearance of stars and Say Blessings 4 & 5
Kiddush & Hakafot (dancing)
Tuesday, October 22
Kiddush & Hakafot (dancing)
Yom Tov ends after nightfall / appearance of stars

** Light only from a pre-existing flame. A pre-existing flame is a flame that has burned continuously from the onset of a festival—such as a pilot light, gas or candle flame.


2)  Bo-ruch A-toh Ado-noi E-lo-hei-nu Me-lech Ho-olom A-sher Ki-de-sha-nu Be-mitz-vo-sov Vi-tzi-vo-nu Le-had-lik Ner Shel Shabbos Ko-desh.
4)  Bo-ruch A-toh Ado-noi E-lo-hei-nu Me-lech Ho-olom A-sher Ki-de-sha-nu Be-mitz-vo-sov Vi-tzi-vo-nu Le-had-lik Ner Shel Yom Tov.
5)  Bo-ruch A-toh Ado-noi E-lo-hei-nu Me-lech Ho-olom She-heh-che-yoh-nu Vi-ki-ye-mo-nu Ve-he-ge-o-nu Liz-man Ha-zeh.

Look in the "Current Issue" of Reaching Out for more details and information.
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