Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

12 Tishrei 5761 - October 11, 2000 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly








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Shema Yisrael Torah Network

Opinion & Comment
Succos on Shabbos in Shmitta

by HaRav Y. D. Rosenberg

One of the main thrusts of the modern effort is to tame nature, to bring it under control and to make everything predictable. We can light the night, warm the winter and cool the summer. We can hedge and insure against financial risks. We can even discover higher order in seemingly random events through statistics. We can build ourselves homes that can withstand shocks and quakes.

Progress is rapid and relentless. The greater bumps have been smoothed as lesser discomforts are also brought under control. Plastic surgery can change appearance. Diseases become more curable and preventable (though there are still notable exceptions). New materials and technology render our homes more comfortable and more secure.

On Succos, we turn away from all this, ensuring that the aftereffects of the achievements of our generation will be at least partially neutralized by demonstratively leaving our permanent physical homes and living for seven days in the shade of faith that is thrown by the primitive materials, "the refuse of the granary and the winepress," that constitute the sole roof over our heads.

Life is very temporary for that one week, reminding us that all life is only permanent in contrast, but in truth it too will pass before long. We must not become too enthralled and overwhelmed by the trappings of modern living. It is in the Succah, that symbol of impermanence and making do, that we have the privilege of living in a house of Hashem.

From that vantage point we can look from our temporary homes to our "permanent" homes and refresh our perspective on the true nature of life.

This year the message of Succos is amplified by the fact that the first day is on Shabbos, and that it all takes place in the first month of the shmitta year. One of the key lessons of Shabbos is that in Hashem's world, it is not just what we do that is important but also what we do not do. As we build our Succahs and prepare for the yomtov, we also accept the limitations of Shabbos and the responsibilities of shmitta.

"Hashem blessed the seventh day" -- With what did He bless it? That the mon did not fall that day. What an important and difficult lesson it is for us in this world, that we even had to learn from the mon -- the bread that fell straight from Heaven and was itself spiritual in nature -- that in following Hashem's words the fact that the mon did not fall on Shabbos, the day that is entirely kedusha, was the crucial source of blessing for the rest of the week.

This is surely one of the important lessons we can draw from shmitta, that all our striving must place spiritual values at the fore, and that to this end we must be as ready to refrain from work when we must as to do our work when we may.

May we draw these lessons and fully internalize them. Chag kosher vesomayach.

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