Rejoice On Your Festivals, You, Your Son and Your
The Rambam writes (Hilchos Yom Tov 17-18), "A person must be
happy and glad of heart on [the festivals] he himself, his
wife and his children . . . each of them with something
suitable for them. For women, one should buy clothes and fine
Someone close to HaRav Shach related: "Once on erev
Succos, our master gave me an envelope and told me, `This
is yours!' I thought there was a letter or something similar
inside. I opened it and found three hundred dollars there. I
`Rosh Yeshiva, what is this?' I asked him.
He told me, `You led the davening very well on Rosh
Hashonoh. You deserve payment!'
`Rosh Yeshiva! Should I take money for being
`I'm telling you its honest money,' he said. `Take it with a
`Rosh Yeshiva, I won't touch that money!'
`I'm telling you to take it without a fuss. It's from me,' he
`I won't touch it,' I said.
The Rosh Yeshiva stroked me and said, `It's erev Yom
Tov. Maybe you need something at home? . . . Buy
something for your family. Maybe your wife needs
`Rosh Yeshiva, I want a blessing!'
`A blessing one thing and money is another,' he said and
continued, `Listen, buy something nice for your wife to wear
for Yom Tov. Take it. Listen to what I'm telling you . . .'
He said it in such a fatherly way!
Of course I shrugged in refusal: `Chas vesholom.
Nothing. Just a gutte brochoh' "
Make Yourself the Festival of Succos!
Rav Partzovitz relates: "When our master was living in
Yerushalayim's Kerem neighborhood, I saw him on erev
Succos carrying a load of branches for sechach
down Rechov Geulah (today Rechov Malchei
Yisroel). He had already been appointed rosh yeshiva of
Ponovezh but he still lived in Yerushalayim. I hurried over
and asked him if I could take the sechach from him but
he wouldn't let me.
" `I can take it myself,' he said. `I'm stronger than
"I thought to myself, `Nu, he doesn't let me take it
because of his humility — he doesn't want to derive
benefit from his standing as a talmid chochom. He says
that he can take it himself and I can see with my own eyes
that he can. But as for being stronger than me . . . I am
young and he is middle aged. How can he, the paragon of
truth, say something that isn't true?'
"Much later, when I heard Rav Chaim Shmuelevitz' idea on `he
made his heart one and rolled away the stone,' about the
power of a person's will that can increase his strength, I
realized that our master had been speaking the plain truth.
He did have more strength than me because he had stronger a
will and greater enthusiasm for the mitzvah!"
Rejoice Before Hashem . . .for Seven Days
We learn (Succah 41), "This was the custom of the
men of Yerushalayim. A person would leave his house carrying
his lulav; he went to the beis haknesses carrying his
lulav; he said krias Shema and prayed carrying his
lulav . . . What does this teach us? It tells us how eager
they were to do mitzvos."
HaRav Shach asked his uncle HaRav Isser Zalman Meltzer
zt'l, that if they went to shul carrying their
lulavim, they fulfilled the mitzva of taking
lulav before they prayed, yet we rule that, `A mitzva
that is performed more frequently comes before one that is
done less frequently.'
Rav Isser Zalman replied that the Netziv asserted that even
though the mitzva of lulav can be fulfilled by picking
up the arba minim momentarily, every subsequent taking
is also fulfillment of the mitzvah since the posuk
tells us, "and rejoice before Hashem . . . for seven days"
(Vayikra 23:60) [i.e. all taking of the lulav
during this time fulfills the mitzvah]. (Similarly, the
Netziv maintains that all matzoh eaten on the
seder night fulfills the mitzvah of eating
matzoh because the posuk says, "you shall eat
matzos in the evening" (Shemos 12:18).)
The men of Yerushalayim were therefore fulfilling the mitzvah
from daybreak until nightfall. A frequently occurring mitzvah
only takes precedence over a non-frequent one if delaying the
latter will not result in its being lost. Here, where the
mitzvah can be fulfilled every moment [and every moment's
delay means missing some of it], there is no need to wait
past the first time it can be done. One should take the
lulav early on and keep it with him for as long as one
I Have Never Been a Man of Words
Rashi (Shemos 4:10) explains, "We learn that
Hakodosh Boruch Hu enticed Moshe for seven days by the
bush to accept His mission . . . the reason for his
reluctance was that he was unwilling assume a greater
position than that of his brother Aharon who was both his
senior and a prophet . . ."
HaRav Boruch Shmuel Deutsch relates: "One Simchas Torah, it
was suggested to our master that since he didn't usually go
to daven in the yeshiva on Simchas Torah, he should
daven in one of the batei knesses in the
yeshiva's proximity. He refused and explained, `I know that
they'll accord me honor there, which is really due to the rov
of the shul'!
This, despite the fact that that rov was not only willing to
forgo his own honor but had actually personally invited our
master to come and daven there."
And Yosef Sustained His Father and Brothers
One of his talmidim relates: "I remember one year when
one of the bochurim who was supposed to have been
among those helping our master to put the sechach on
his succah, arrived in a state of alarm because he was
late. Our master told me that he'd waited for this
bochur and had not completely finished putting up the
sechach, even though other bochurim had wanted
to help him finish, because he thought that this bochur
might arrive late and be upset to see that they had
finished the succah. He therefore left an area for him
to help with. There's a lot to learn from such a story."
And When You Lie Down
HaRav Meir Heisler relates: "Our master once showed us a
difficult piece of Ramban in Bava Kama. The following
day he met me and asked me, `Have you eaten breakfast?' I
told him that I had.
"He asked, `And did you sleep well?'
" `Boruch Hashem,' I replied.
" `Aren't you ashamed to admit it?' he asked in amazement.
`Yesterday I showed you a difficult passage of Ramban in
"He told me how many sleepless nights he'd had because of
that question. `And you can sleep well and calmly eat
breakfast . . .?' "
Dwell On it Day and Night
HaRav Eliyahu ben Shlomo relates: "A certain communal matter
once had to be attended to and someone suitable was found for
the job. He was unwilling to accept the task though, unless
our master specifically instructed him to do so. He argued
that if he became involved in it his learning would
"Our master agreed to speak to him and told him, `Listen and
I'll tell you something. While I was teaching in Bnei Brak
and living in Yerushalayim, I used to travel along the old,
narrow, winding road. One day, while we were driving around
some sharp curves, the driver steered towards an abyss while
talking to one of the passengers. Everyone worried about him
taking his attention away from the road and one passenger
rebuked him, `Stop talking and concentrate on your
"The driver replied, `Don't worry, I'm reliable . . .'
"HaRav Shach laughed and said, `If the posuk
(Yehoshua 1:8) instructs us to 'dwell on [Torah] day
and night,' it is testimony that one can be immersed in
learning literally all day and night, without anything else
diverting one's attention. I wouldn't advise you to be
immersed in learning while you drive but with that exception,
you can learn under any circumstances!' And he instructed him
to accept the task."