Shabbat and Sukkot Readings
15-21 Tishri 5781

 FROM THE TORAH

SHABBAT FIRST DAY OF YOM TOV AND SECOND DAY OF YOM TOV
OF SUKKOT
Leviticus 22:26-23:44

PATTERN OF SANCTIFICATION
22:26-33

The Eternal explains to Moses that a newborn ox or sheep or goat remains with its mother for the first seven days of its life.  From the eighth day onward it is acceptable for a fire offering to the Eternal.  However, you may not slaughter an ox or a sheep with its offspring on the same day.

When you make a sacrifice of thanksgiving to the Eternal, you sacrifice it for your acceptance.  It must be eaten on the same day; nothing of it may remain until the morning.  I am the Eternal.

Preserve and fulfill My commandments.  Do not profane My holy name, but let Me be sanctified in the midst of the Children of Israel.  I am the Eternal, who sanctifies you, who is bringing you out of the land of Egypt to be your God.  I am the Eternal.

THE SABBATH
23:1-3

The Eternal tells Moses to advise the Children of Israel regarding His appointed times:

For six days you shall do your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath of complete rest, a holy convocation.  Do no work.  It is a Sabbath to the Eternal in all of your settlements.

PESACH AND UNLEAVENED BREAD
23:4-8

The following also are appointed times of the Eternal, holy convocations which you shall declare at their appointed time:

On the Fourteenth Day of the First Month, at twilight, there is Pesach for the Eternal, and on the Fifteenth Day there is the Festival of Matzot for the Eternal: you shall eat Unleavened Bread for seven days.  The First of the Seven Days shall be a holy convocation for you: you shall do no work of service.  Throughout the seven days you shall bring fire offerings to the Eternal.  The Seventh Day shall be a holy convocation: you shall do no work of service.

GRAIN HARVEST
23:9-22

The Eternal tells Moses to advise the Children of Israel regarding the grain harvest:

When you come to the Land which I am giving to you and you reap its harvest, you shall bring to the Priest the First Sheaf (Omer) of your harvest.  Eat no bread or parched ear or fresh grain until the very day that you bring this offering to your God.  The Priest shall wave the Sheaf before the Eternal for your acceptance on the morrow of the day of rest.  On that day you shall provide a year-old lamb without blemish for a burnt offering to the Eternal.  Its meal offering shall be two-tenths of a measure of fine flour mixed with oil, a fire offering to the Eternal of pleasant aroma, and its libation shall be a quarter of a hin of wine.  This is an everlasting statute throughout your generations in all of your settlements.

You count from the morrow of the day of rest, from the day when you bring the Sheaf of Waving, seven complete weeks.  Then, on the morrow of the seventh week, count a Fiftieth Day and bring thereon a new meal offering to the Eternal.  You shall declare on that very day a holy convocation for you.  You shall do no work of service.  It is an everlasting statute in all of your settlements throughout your generations.

On that day, from your settlements bring two loaves of bread as a wave offering: two-tenths of a measure of fine flour shall they be and baked leavened, Bikkurim (First Fruits) for the Eternal.  Bring with the bread seven year-old lambs without blemish, one bull of the herd, and two rams, as burnt offerings to the Eternal, and their meal offering and their libations, a fire offering of pleasant aroma for the Eternal.  You shall provide one male goat for a sin offering and two year-old lambs for a sacrifice of peace offerings.  The Priest shall wave them as a wave offering before the Eternal along with the bread of Bikkurim, which shall be holy to the Eternal for the Priest along with the two lambs.

When you reap the harvest of your land, do not wholly reap the corner of your field, and do not gather the leftovers of your harvest.  Leave them for the poor and for the stranger.  I, the Eternal, am your God.

THE SEVENTH MONTH
23:23-36,39-43

The Eternal tells Moses to advise the Children of Israel regarding other holy convocations:

On the First Day of the Seventh Month, you shall have a day of rest, Zichron Teruah (“Announced by the Blast of a Horn”), a holy convocation.  You shall do no work of service.  You shall bring a fire offering to the Eternal.

But, says the Eternal to Moses, the Tenth Day of this Seventh Month shall be Yom Hakippurim (“The Day of Atonement”), a holy convocation for you, on which “you shall afflict your souls” (23:27) and bring a fire offering to the Eternal.  As it is the Day of Atonement before the Eternal your God, you shall not do any work on it, it is Shabbat Shabbaton (“Complete Sabbath”) for you.  Indeed any soul that is not afflicted on this same day shall be cut off from its people; I shall cause anyone who does work on this day to be lost from among his people.  You shall not do any work as an everlasting statute throughout your generations in all of your settlements, beginning on the Ninth Day of the Month in the evening, from evening to evening shall you observe your day of rest.

The Eternal advises Moses to speak further to the Children of Israel:

Beginning on the Fifteenth Day of this Seventh Month, when you gather in the produce of the Land, you shall observe the Festival of Sukkot (“Booths”) to the Eternal for seven days.  The First Day is a holy convocation, a day of rest: you shall do no work of service.  You shall take for yourselves the fruit of a splendid tree, branches of palm trees, a bough of a leafy tree, and willows of the brook, to rejoice before the Eternal your God for these seven days.  It is an annual observance, an everlasting statute throughout your generations.  In addition, you shall dwell in booths throughout the seven days, every native in Israel, so that future generations will know that I caused the Children of Israel to dwell in booths when I brought them out from the land of Egypt, I, the Eternal, your God.  Throughout the seven days you shall present a fire offering to the Eternal.

Then, on the Eighth Day you shall have a concluding holy convocation, a day of rest; on it you shall do no work of service, and you shall bring a fire offering to the Eternal.

SUMMARY OF APPOINTED TIMES
23:37-38,44

These, then, are the appointed times of the Eternal, which you shall declare, holy convocations, to bring a fire offering to the Eternal: burnt offering and meal offering, sacrifice and libations, each on its day, besides the Sabbath offerings to the Eternal and besides your gifts and vows and besides all of your voluntary offerings which you bring to the Eternal.  Thus Moses explains the appointed times of the Eternal to the Children of Israel.

Maftir
Numbers 29:12-16

On the Fifteenth Day of the Seventh Month there shall be a holy convocation for you; do not perform work of service; celebrate a Chag (“Festival”) to the Eternal for seven days.

On the First Day, offer a burnt offering to the Eternal: thirteen bulls of the herd, two rams, and fourteen year-old lambs; see that they are without blemish.  Their meal offering shall be of fine flour mixed with oil: three-tenths of a measure for each of the thirteen bulls, two-tenths of a measure for each of the two rams, and one-tenth of a measure for each of the fourteen lambs.  There shall be one goat for a sin offering.  All of this is besides the regular burnt offering, its meal offering, and its libation.

FIRST DAY OF CHOL HAMOED SUKKOT
Numbers 29:17-25

On the Second Day, twelve bulls of the herd, two rams, and fourteen year-old lambs, without blemish.  Their meal offering and their libations, for the bulls, for the rams, and for the lambs, shall be in prescribed amounts.  There shall be one goat for a sin offering.  All of this is besides the regular burnt offering, its meal offering, and their libations.

On the Third Day, eleven bulls, two rams, and fourteen year-old lambs, without blemish.  Their meal offering and their libations, for the bulls, for the rams, and for the lambs, shall be in prescribed amounts.  There shall be one goat for a sin offering.  All of this is besides the regular burnt offering, its meal offering, and its libation.

On the Fourth Day, ten bulls, two rams, and fourteen year-old lambs, without blemish.  Their meal offering and their libations, for the bulls, for the rams, and for the lambs, shall be in prescribed amounts.  There shall be one goat for a sin offering.  All of this is besides the regular burnt offering, its meal offering, and its libation.

SECOND DAY OF CHOL HAMOED SUKKOT
Numbers 29:20-28

On the Third Day, eleven bulls, two rams, and fourteen year-old lambs, without blemish.  Their meal offering and their libations, for the bulls, for the rams, and for the lambs, shall be in prescribed amounts.  There shall be one goat for a sin offering.  All of this is besides the regular burnt offering, its meal offering, and its libation.

On the Fourth Day, ten bulls, two rams, and fourteen year-old lambs, without blemish.  Their meal offering and their libations, for the bulls, for the rams, and for the lambs, shall be in prescribed amounts.  There shall be one goat for a sin offering.  All of this is besides the regular burnt offering, its meal offering, and its libation.

On the Fifth Day, nine bulls, two rams, and fourteen year-old lambs, without blemish.  Their meal offering and their libations, for the bulls, for the rams, and for the lambs, shall be in prescribed amounts.  There shall be one goat for a sin offering.  All of this is besides the regular burnt offering, its meal offering, and its libation.

THIRD DAY OF CHOL HAMOED SUKKOT
Numbers 29:23-31

On the Fourth Day, ten bulls, two rams, and fourteen year-old lambs, without blemish.  Their meal offering and their libations, for the bulls, for the rams, and for the lambs, shall be in prescribed amounts.  There shall be one goat for a sin offering.  All of this is besides the regular burnt offering, its meal offering, and its libation.

On the Fifth Day, nine bulls, two rams, and fourteen year-old lambs, without blemish.  Their meal offering and their libations, for the bulls, for the rams, and for the lambs, shall be in prescribed amounts.  There shall be one goat for a sin offering.  All of this is besides the regular burnt offering, its meal offering, and its libation.

On the Sixth Day, eight bulls, two rams, and fourteen year-old lambs, without blemish.  Their meal offering and their libations, for the bulls, for the rams, and for the lambs, shall be in prescribed amounts.  There shall be one goat for a sin offering.  All of this is besides the regular burnt offering, its meal offering, and its libations.

FOURTH DAY OF CHOL HAMOED SUKKOT
Numbers 29:26-34

On the Fifth Day, nine bulls, two rams, and fourteen year-old lambs, without blemish.  Their meal offering and their libations, for the bulls, for the rams, and for the lambs, shall be in prescribed amounts.  There shall be one goat for a sin offering.  All of this is besides the regular burnt offering, its meal offering, and its libation.

On the Sixth Day, eight bulls, two rams, and fourteen year-old lambs, without blemish.  Their meal offering and their libations, for the bulls, for the rams, and for the lambs, shall be in prescribed amounts.  There shall be one goat for a sin offering.  All of this is besides the regular burnt offering, its meal offering, and its libations.

On the Seventh Day, seven bulls, two rams, and fourteen year-old lambs, without blemish.  Their meal offering and their libations, for the bulls, for the rams, and for the lambs, shall be in prescribed amounts.  There shall be one goat for a sin offering.  All of this is besides the regular burnt offering, its meal offering, and its libation.

HOSHANAH RABBAH
Same as Fourth Day of Chol Hamoed

FROM THE PROPHETS

Haftarah for the First Day of Sukkot
Zechariah 14:1-21

Behold, the Eternal’s day is coming,
when your spoil shall be divided in your midst.
I shall gather all of the nations for war against Jerusalem,
the city shall be captured,
the houses plundered,
the women raped,
half of the city shall go into exile,
while the rest of the people shall remain.

The Eternal shall fight against those nations,
as He fought in the day of battle,
His feet standing on the Mount of Olives,
which faces Jerusalem from the east,
and the Mount shall be split between east and west,
with a large valley between them,
and half of the Mount shall move to the north,
while the other half shall move to the south.

You shall flee to the valley,
the valley reaching as far as Atzel,
as you fled from the earthquake
in the days of Uzziah, king of Judah,
and the Eternal, my God,
shall come for you
together with all of the holy ones.

On that day there shall be
no natural light of any kind,
a day known only by the Eternal,
neither day nor night;
at the time of evening
there shall be light!
Living waters shall come out of Jerusalem,
flowing equally to the eastern sea and to the western sea,
in the summer and in the winter.
The Eternal shall become King over the earth;
on that day shall the Eternal be one
and His name one.

All the Land shall be turned
low like the Aravah,
from Geva to Rimmon, south of Jerusalem,
and Jerusalem shall be elevated and populated,
from the Gate of Benjamin to the First Gate
as far as the Corner Gate,
from the Tower of Chananel
to the Royal Winepresses,
and Jerusalem shall dwell in safety.

The Eternal shall strike with a plague
all of the peoples who waged war on Jerusalem:
their flesh and their eyes and their tongue shall rot;
the resulting havoc will cause
each one to attack his neighbor,
Judah will wage war against Jerusalem
and will collect the wealth of all of the surrounding nations—
gold, silver and fine clothing in abundance.
All of the beasts in those camps
shall experience a plague like this:
the horses, mules, camels, and asses.

All of the remnant of those nations
who came up against Jerusalem
shall go up from year to year
to worship the King, the Eternal of hosts,
and to celebrate the Festival of Sukkot.
Upon the families of the earth who do not go up,
there shall be no rain.
Upon the families of Egypt who do not go up,
there shall be the plague.

On that day there shall be
on the bells of the horses
“Holy to the Eternal,”
and the pots in the House of the Eternal
shall be like the pans before the Altar.
Every pot in Jerusalem and Judah
shall be “Holy to the Eternal of hosts,”
and all sacrificers will take of them
and cook in them,
and there will no longer be traders
in the House of the Eternal of hosts
on that day.

Haftarah for the Second Day of Sukkot
I Kings 8:2-21

All of the men of Israel join King Solomon in the month of Etanim, at the Festival of the Seventh Month, and all of the Elders of Israel come with them.  The Priests and the Levites carry the Ark of the Eternal and the Tent of Meeting and all of the sacred vessels in the Tent.  The King and all of the community of Israel who are with him sacrifice innumerable animals of flock and herd.

The Priests bring the Ark of the Eternal’s Covenant to its place, to the Devir of the House, to the Holy of Holies.  The Cherubim spread their wings over the Ark and its staves.

The staves were long enough for their ends to be seen, from the Sanctuary, above the Devir, but they could not be seen outside; and there they have been until this day.  In the Ark there were only the two tablets of stone, placed there by Moses at Horeb, which the Eternal covenanted with the Children of Israel in their Exodus from the land of Egypt.

As the Priests go out from the Sanctuary, a cloud fills the House of the Eternal, preventing them from staying to minister, for the Critical Presence (Kavod) of the Eternal fills the Eternal’s House.

Then Solomon speaks:  The Eternal has said that He will dwell in thick darkness (cf. Exodus 20:18; Leviticus 16:2).  Now I have built for You an exalted habitation for You to dwell in forever!  The King then turns to the congregation, and as he blesses them, all of the congregation rises.

He speaks further:  Blessed is the Eternal, the God of Israel, who spoke with His mouth to David, my father, and authorized him in accordance with these words.  From the day that I brought My people Israel out of Egypt, I did not choose a city from any of the tribes of Israel, in which to build a House to bear My Name, but I chose David to be over My people Israel.  It was the wish of David, my father, to build a House in the Name of the Eternal, God of Israel.  To my father He said: Insofar as it was in your heart to build a House in My Name, you did well that it was in your heart.  However, you shall not build the House, but your son, who emerges from your loins, he shall build the House in My Name.

Solomon continues:  So does the Eternal fulfill His promise, and I arise in the stead of David my father to sit upon the Throne of Israel, as the Eternal promised, and to build the House in the Name of the Eternal, God of Israel.  So have I put there a place for the Ark, containing the Covenant of the Eternal, which He made with our fathers when He brought them out from the land of Egypt.

FROM TALMUD AND MIDRASH

Leviticus Rabbah 27:10

“When an ox or a sheep or a goat is born,
it shall stay with its mother for seven days;
then, from the eighth day onward,
it is acceptable for a fire offering to the Eternal.”
(Leviticus 22:27)

Rabbi Joshua of Sichnin in the name of Rabbi Levi taught:  This may be compared to the conquering king who decrees that none of the population shall see him before they have seen his queen.  Thus said the Holy One, blessed be He: You shall not bring Me an offering before the Sabbath has passed over it, as there are no seven days without a Sabbath!

Similarly there is no circumcision without a Sabbath.  That is what is meant by: “From the eighth day onward it is acceptable!”

Leviticus Rabbah 27:8

“When an ox or a sheep or a goat is born…”
(Leviticus 22:27)

What did He see
to mention the ox
before all of the other
sacrificial animals?

Said Rabbi Levi:  It may be compared to the case of a lady whose reputation was besmirched by one of the nobles in the kingdom.  The king looked into the facts and found no basis for the rumor.  So he put on a banquet and placed the noble who had started the rumor at the head of the table.  What did all of the king’s efforts accomplish?  They let it be known that he had looked into the facts and found no basis for the rumor!  So the nations of the world harass Israel: You made the golden calf!  But the Holy One, blessed be He, looked into the facts and found no basis for the accusation.  For that reason, the ox was made chief of all the offerings, as is written: “An ox or a sheep or a goat…!”

Rabbi Huna and Rabbi Ayvu in the name of Rabbi Samuel bar Nachman argued in support that if Israel had made the golden calf, then they would have produced the rallying cry, “This is our God, O Israel!” Instead, it must have been the non-Israelites who came up with them from Egypt who made the golden calf and then egged them on by saying, “This is your God, O Israel!” (Exodus 32:4)

Sifra Emor 8 Parshata 10 Perek 12:12

“When you reap the harvest of your Land,
do not wholly reap the corner of your field,
and do not gather the leftovers of your harvest.
Leave them for the poor and for the stranger.
I, the Eternal, am your God.”
(Leviticus 23:22)

Rabbi Avardimas son of Rabbi Yosi asks why this commandment of providing corners and leftovers of the harvest for the poor is placed in the Torah alone amid instructions for festival offerings.  (The commandment was first included in Leviticus 19:9 among general matters of holiness and rules of fair treatment.)  The reason for its placement here, amid festival offerings, is to teach that one who provides corners and leftovers of the harvest for the poor is acting as if the Temple is standing and he is bringing his festival offerings to it.  Obversely, one who fails to provide corners and leftovers of the harvest for the poor is acting as if the Temple is standing and he is not bringing his festival offerings to it.

Malbim (Rabbi Meir Leibush ben Yechiel Michel, 19th cent.): One of the purposes and benefits of the festivals was to provide for the priests and for the poor, both of whom depended upon the sustenance of God’s table, as in Deuteronomy 26:12: “You shall provide for the Levite, for the stranger, for the orphan, and for the widow…”, and elsewhere.  The insertion of this mitzvah here indicates that these provisions must continue beyond the festivals themselves to gifts from the harvest and that these gifts to the poor are on the same level as the festival offerings from which the priests derive sustenance, coexisting with the spirit of Deuteronomy 18:1: “The Priests, the Levites, all of the tribe of Levi, shall not share any portion or inheritance with Israel; they shall consume the fire offerings of the Eternal and His inheritance.”  Providing for the poor is observed for the entire year, and also after the Temple has been destroyed. Obversely, one who does not provide a portion for the poor resembles one who holds back from bringing his offerings to the Temple.

Pesikta d’Rav Kahana 27:1

“You shall acquire for yourselves…”
(Leviticus 23:40)

“A good acquisition have I given you,
My Torah,
do not forsake it!”
(Proverbs 4:2)

Rabbi Abba bar Kahana opened his discourse with the verse:

Acquire my teaching, and not silver;
and knowledge over fine gold!”
(Proverbs 8:10)

He then explained:

“Acquire the teaching of Torah, and not silver”: “Why pay out silver for that which is not bread?” (Isaiah 55:2) “Why do you pay out silver” to the children of Esau?  Is it not “that which is not bread?!”  That is to say, what you are paying for does not provide you with the nourishment of Torah!  “And your toil for that which does not satisfy?” (Ibid.)  Why do you toil for the benefit of foreign nations?  “Which does not satisfy?”  Wherein you have derived no benefit from the “bread” of Torah or the “wine” of Torah, as wisdom said, “Come, eat of My bread, and drink of the wine I have prepared” (Proverbs 9:5)!

Rabbi Berechia and Rabbi Chiya his father in the name of Rabbi Yosi son of Rabbi Nehorai—The prophet foresaw that Jacob’s children would be reconstituted by God as before, “and (in addition) I shall overrule all who squeeze him” (Jeremiah 30:20), including charity collectors, except for those who receive stipends for teaching Mishnah and Bible as compensation for their idleness from gainful employment.  Whereas a payment for teaching even one word of Torah no one could rightfully provide!

It was taught:  At the beginning of the year meals are assigned except for what one receives on holidays, sabbaths, new moons, intermediate festival days, and what children bring to school.  How little or how much one receives depends on how little or how much is contributed.

Rabbi Yochanan journeyed from Tiberias to Sepphoris together with Rabbi Chiya bar Abba.  When they came to a certain farm, Rabbi Yochanan said: I used to own this farm, but I had to sell it in order to engage in the study of Torah.  When they came to a certain vineyard, Rabbi Yochanan said: I used to own this vineyard, but I had to sell it in order to engage in the study of Torah.  When they came to a certain olive grove, Rabbi Yochanan said: I used to own this grove, but I had to sell it in order to engage in the study of Torah.  Rabbi Chiya bar Abba began to weep.  Why are you crying? asked Rabbi Yochanan.  I am crying, he said, because you have nothing left for your old age.  He said to him: Chiya my son, do you really think that it was a mistake on my part to sell what was made in six days in order to acquire something that was made in forty days and forty nights?  So was the entire world created in six days, “For in six days the Eternal made the heavens and the earth” (Exodus 31:17), but the Torah was not given until the completion of forty days and forty nights, as is written, “And he (Moses) was there (on Mount Sinai) with the Eternal for forty days and forty nights” (Exodus 34:28)!  When Rabbi Yochanan died, his generation said of him, “Even if one offered all of his wealth for love” (Song of Songs 8:7), as Rabbi Yochanan loved the Torah, “he would be scorned” (ibid.)!

Song of Songs Rabbah 8:7:  “Mighty waters cannot quench love…” (ibid.), those “mighty waters” being the nations of the world; “…even if one offered all of its wealth for love” (ibid.), even if any of the nations of the world opened up its treasuries for one word of Torah, “it would be scorned” (ibid.), it would be of no avail to them!

“You shall acquire for yourselves
(1) the fruit of a splendid tree,
(2) branches of palm trees,
(3) a bough of a leafy tree, and
(4) willows of the brook…”
(Leviticus 23:40)

Said Rabbi Abba bar Kahana:  From the reward of acquiring in Egypt you may infer the reward of acquiring the four species of lulav.  In Egypt, Moses ordered the Elders: “Acquire a bunch of hyssop” (Exodus 12:22) to apply the blood of the Pesach to the lintel and doorposts of your houses.  For how much in cost?  For four or five coins, which enabled you to enjoy the spoils of victory when you left Egypt, when you crossed the Red Sea, when you defeated Sichon and Og, and thirty-one kings.  Now, a lulav, how much the moreso, for while it costs much the same as a bunch of hyssop, it enables you to perform several mitzvot by virtue of the four species that are bound with it!  Therefore Moses charges Israel, “You shall acquire for yourselves” the four species “on the First Day” (Leviticus 23:40)!

Pesikta d’Rav Kahana 27:2

“You shall take for yourselves
on the First Day
the fruit of a splendid tree,
branches of palm trees,
a bough of a leafy tree,
and willows of the brook
(the four species constituted in lulav and etrog),
to rejoice before the Eternal your God
for these seven days.”
(Leviticus 23:40)

“Make known to me the path of life;
in Your presence is abundant joy,
pleasure in Your right hand forever!”
(Psalms 16:11)

Said David before the Holy One, blessed be He:  Master of the universe, when petitioners appear before me, “make known to me the path of life!”—How can I know which of the petitioners is to be favored?

When this was debated among the Rabbis, one said: Favor the group who comes with the scholarship of Torah and charitable deeds.  The other opinion was: Favor those who teach Bible and Mishnah rigorously to children.

Rabbi Abin compared the question to two groups of litigants who come before the judge.  How do we know which of the two prevails?  The one who emerges carrying the palm—we know that he is the victor.

Thus, when Israel and the other nations present their cases before the Holy One, blessed be He, on Rosh Hashanah, we have no way of knowing which of them prevails, except for the fact that Israel emerges joyously from before the Holy One, blessed be He, with their lulavs and etrogs in their right hands!

Therefore, Moses was careful to prepare Israel with lulav and etrog “on the First Day!”

Pesikta d’Rav Kahana 27:6

“You shall take for yourselves…”
(Leviticus 23:40)

These words can be construed literally: You shall take that which is for yourselves, i.e., that which belongs to you.  Rabbi Chiya taught: The taking should be of that which is yours, not of that which belongs to someone else (stolen).

Said Rabbi Levi:  The taking up of a stolen lulav is a case of one’s defender turning into his prosecutor.  This may be compared to a highwayman who robbed a tax collector who was on his way to perform his duty.  The highwayman took all that the tax collector had collected.  Eventually the highwayman was arrested and about to be put on trial before the king.  The tax collector went to the highwayman and promised to testify on his behalf if he would return to the tax collector all that he had stolen from him.  All that the highwayman had left of what he had stolen from the tax collector was a single rug, so he gave him that, and the tax collector said he would keep his promise to testify for the highwayman.

When the tax collector was called to testify, he recounted to the king his robbery at the hands of the highwayman:  You sent me to collect tax from a certain province, and this man held me up and took everything that I had, and this rug is a witness to what he did!  Whereupon all began to say: Woe to him whose defender turns into his prosecutor!

Similarly, a man takes a lulav to advocate for him, but if the lulav was stolen, it cries out before the Holy One, blessed be He, “I am stolen! I am robbed!” and the ministering angels say: Woe to him whose defender has turned into his prosecutor!

Pesikta d’Rav Kahana 27:9

“The fruit of a splendid tree,
branches of palm trees,
a bough of a leafy tree,
and willows of the brook…”
(Leviticus 23:40)

The lulav and etrog, as a cluster of four species, represent Israel.  As the etrog has both taste and aroma, so also does Israel have those who both study Torah and perform good deeds.  Just as the fruit of date palms has taste but no aroma, so there are in Israel those who have knowledge of Torah but do not perform good deeds.  Just as the leafy bough of myrtle has aroma but no taste, so there are in Israel those who perform good deeds but lack knowledge of Torah.  Just as the willows of the brook have neither taste nor aroma, so are there in Israel those who lack knowledge of Torah and fail to perform good deeds.

When Moses commanded the banding together of the four species into a single cluster, he was reflecting the refusal of the Holy One, blessed be He, to omit any of the four.  Instead, He said, let them atone one for the other!

Talmud Pesachim 50a

“On that day the Eternal shall be one…”
(Zechariah 14:9)

Why “on that day,” as in the future?  Is He not one now!  Said Rabbi Acha bar Chanina:  The difference may be found in how we respond to God’s decrees.  In this world we thank God for the good by saying, “Blessed is the One who is good and does good,” while for evil tidings we say, “Blessed is the true Judge.”  But in the future world all thanks shall be one; we shall respond to everything as to one, “Blessed is the One who is good and does good!”

SHABBAT SHALOM!

CHAG SAMEACH!

Copyright © 2020 Eric H. Hoffman

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