Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

8 Tishrei 5762 - September 25, 2001 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly









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Opinion & Comment
Succos in the Shadow of Current Events

What is the connection between Succos and the World Trade Center disaster?

It is clear that the huge dimensions of the terrible destruction that befell New York City and America in general were not just the work of evil terrorists. Though they are certainly responsible for the full consequences of their actions, no schemer could, in his wildest dreams, have expected to produce the awful wreckage that has ensued. Some 6,000 missing and presumed dead, disruption and shock for many thousands of others, two towers wrecked and three other buildings totaling about 15 million square feet (1.5 million square meters) of office space -- more than the total in many other cities, billions of dollars of lost equipment, and no telling when the wound will really heal.

Seen in this way, the terrible blow suffered by America cannot be attributed solely to the evil people who planned and executed it. It must also be recognized as a message from Heaven as well.

America, at least so far, has not taken it this way at all. The country has focused on the perpetrators and those who sent them -- as it should -- but it has not reevaluated itself or its actions at all, as it also should if it recognizes the real source of the full dimensions of the awful blow that it has suffered.

All of America's hurt and anger has been directed at outside sources. None of the power that has been aroused has been channeled to thinking about America itself and what it might do differently and better as it proceeds with its intense efforts towards "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness."

We urge only that the effort be undertaken by America. It is not at all appropriate for us to suggest what the outcome of that introspection might be.

Our concern is with the chareidi community, and how it might best respond. Seasonably enough, the proper fulfillment of the mitzvah of succah may be a fitting response.

At the beginning of maseches Avodoh Zorah (2b-3a) the gemora recounts a future dialogue between the nations of the world and Hakodosh Boruch Hu as it were. Each one tries to present its achievements in the best light, and Romi, the first one to be judged, asserts: "We set up many markets, bathing facilities and amassed vast amounts of silver and gold, and we did it all only for Israel, that it be able to occupy itself with Torah."

Hashem counters that they really did it for themselves. After a number of exchanges, the nations ask for a final chance to prove themselves, and Hashem suggests the "easy" mitzvah of succah!

Proper observance of the mitzvah of succah, with full awareness of the personal Providence that we enjoyed from the Clouds of Glory that the succah recalls, as well as the willingness to exchange our comfortable stone homes for a flimsy hut that is under His protection especially in the time that is the zman simchoseinu, show that we do not place our trust in anything else but Hashem. The succah represents the tzeilo demehemnusoh, the shadow of full faith, which is our true shelter.

Chag somei'ach!

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