Beit Midrash

  • Shabbat and Holidays
  • The Essence of Sukkot
To dedicate this lesson

Returning to the Land

The Sukkot holiday is full of mitzvot (good deeds), including the mitzvah of the lulav, the four species. Our Sages say that the four species are similar to weapons - the lulav is similar to a sword, or perhaps a rifle, the etrog maybe to a grenade. In any event, the Sages intend to tell us that there are spiritual wars and there are physical wars, and Man in this world must confront various pests and ward them off.

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Rabbi Zalman Baruch Melamed

Tishrei 14 5782


A Generation with Light


The Sukkot holiday is full of mitzvot (good deeds), including the mitzvah of the lulav, the four species. Our Sages say that the four species are similar to weapons - the lulav is similar to a sword, or perhaps a rifle, the etrog maybe to a grenade. In any event, the Sages intend to tell us that there are spiritual wars and there are physical wars, and Man in this world must confront various pests and ward them off.


We find ourselves in a unique era. Rav Avraham Yitzhak HaKohen Kook said about our generation, the generation of the "footsteps of the Mashiach" that this is a generation in which "light and darkness are serving in disarray." There is a lot of light, a lot of progress, but on the other hand, there is also a lot of darkness. There is descent and ascent, there is a lot of dealing with permissiveness and freedom, with unloading the yoke - a thing that did not exist in previous generations; people did not dare unload the yoke. On the other hand, this is a generation of return to the Land of Israel, and a generation of confronting difficulties and overcoming them. There has not been a generation that has dealt with so much - there was no internet or television, no media, no press or literature, and other things that cause mainly teenagers, but also adults, to have to confront and stand against such attractions and stimuli that are hard to beat. And if there is a population that, despite all the difficulties, does not fall in its spirit, but on the contrary, builds for itself forces, and it confronts and wins, it is a special community that did not exist in previous generations when there was no such confrontation. So in a way, the light that emerges from the confrontation reveals a strong public with greater and more special powers than any generation before us. A spiritual war requires the repulsion of negative forces, and on the other hand, the building of the positive forces of love of Torah, of love for the Jewish people, of love for the Land of Israel, and of emuna. This is the challenge that we are facing and overcoming.


Quality determines


Kabbalists have said about the night of Hoshana Rabbah that this is a day of sending notes, the stage of signing that comes after the judgement, the sentencing, and there are tikkunim that are customarily said. Among these, it is customary to say as a tikkun on the night of Hoshana Rabbah the Book of Devarim. The Book of Devarim is about entering the Land of Israel, the heroism and daring of coming to the Land despite the great nations and the impending difficult war. Moshe tells the people not to be afraid, not because Israel is actually strong, but because G-d is with us. This means that, indeed the kings are strong and the war is difficult, and entering the Land of Israel involves great risk. But Moshe said to them, you saw what G-d did in the Exodus from Egypt, how we overcame great kings, Sichon and Og, and G-d helped us defeat them. Therefore we should not be afraid to enter the Land.


And last but not least, today were find ourselves in an era of confrontation against peoples who do not want us to control the entire Land of Israel, and even those who don't fight us don't want us to develop, and they search for any way to narrow our steps and prevent the development of the State of Israel, as it is contrary to the worldview of both Christians and Muslims.


But as the Torah says before entering the Land in the days of Yehoshua, just as today, we do not go in our own name, we come in the name of HaShem. G-d commanded us to settle in the Land of Israel, to conquer the Land of Israel, not to leave it in the hands of foreigners, and when we do mitzvot G-d helps us. And when G-d helps us no power in the world can interfere, and we must be filled with confidence in HaShem and state wholeheartedly our purpose and direction.


Many times our statesman say they have no intention to remain in all parts of the Land, rather we must make compromises and the like. And when Sukkot arrives all of us make a pilgrimage and declare that we are actually striving for the Temple to be built and the Temple Mount to be under our control. This contradicts the words of the statesmen that are said throughout the year, and it is absurd, because these things that we are really striving for, this is the true desire of the Jewish people. And when we bravely declare this and do what we can, the entire nation will be determined and confident in the Master of the Universe and in this path that we are walking. This is the role of our community. Even within the religious public not everyone sees the Divine process and the central purpose of our era, which is returning to the Land of Israel. Since the State was established by secularists, and they stand at its head, and there is no rule of Torah, they do not see here anything religious and Divine.


We, the faithful students of Rav Kook, know that this is an era of Redemption, and we see the progress that comes out of difficulties. This community is growing and expanding and it must be the heart leading the religious public - and then all of Israel - leading proudly, for rebellion, for heroism that came from the greatness of emuna, to know that G-d is the one who leads us on this path of Redemption. Although quantitatively we are not many, it is quality that determines, and when there is a quality of depth, of thought, of emuna, and of observance of Torah and mitzvot and all of its minutia - from out of this comes a love of the Land of Israel and love of the nation and the desire for Redemption. Of course this path should spread, and expand, and develop and it will lead, G-d willing, the entire Jewish people.


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