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Succot Lecture Part Three: A Place for The Shechinah

We have learned the concept of ‘as if.’ But then we learn of this machlokes between Rabbi Eliezer, who says learn the impossible from the possible and Rabbi Akiva who says, no don’t reach for the impossible. I believe that in general the halachos of succah follow the opinion of Rabbi Eliezer. Which is why we are always focused on the clouds.

The whole idea of a succah is not only ‘as if,’ to use my imagination to see the wall is bent, it’s not really an awning it’s a bent wall. But it will only be a bent wall for succas, because the minute succas is over it will be an awning. There is no empty space for the days of succas, but the minute succas is over, yeh there will be an empty space. But right now its not there. ‘As if’ that wall is bent, ‘as if’ I am who I was on Rosh Hashana, on Tzom Gedalia, on Aseres Yemei Teshuva and on Yom Kippur. And danim efshar me me-she lo efshar, let us do what is possible even though what we are trying to create is the impossible, it doesn’t matter. A Jew on Succot is able to grasp for the Ee-Efshar, even what we consider to be impossible. And think how impossible is would seem to us to be able to recreate the clouds of Glory?

We learn in many many places that the Clouds of Glory appeared in whose merit?

Aharon HaKohen.

But if you think about it,  yesterday, those of you who bowed down disagreed with this because the Yerushalmi says in the 3rd perek of Yoma, the 7th mishna, that the only people who actually bowed when the Kohen Gadol used the name of Hashem were the people who were standing next to the Kohen Gadol. But, if you were not actually standing next to the Kohen Gadol, you did not bow. 

So why do we bow? Where do we learn this idea of bowing? So think about it, Moshe Rabbeinu says to Hashem, as he is arguing after the Golden Calf: And he says to  Hashem listen, you are telling me that you want to wipe these people out. That’s not fair, we had a deal. You never told me that they would mess up, that I not going to lead them. You presented this as a fact that I would take them out, I would lead them to Israel. Now You are changing Your mind. So therefore what You need to do is, not only to forgive us, but I want more. Ve’lifninu ani ve’amecha – we want to be different from everyone else in the world and we want You to make that concept manifest. In other words, everyone must know that we have a relationship with You that is different from every other relationship that the nations may have with You of with their idols.

So Hashem appears to Moshe, and what does Moshe do when Hashem appears? Vayemaher Moshe – Moshe hurried up. Vayikod arzah – and he prostrated himself on the ground. Vayishtacho – and he bowed down.

So the Brisker Rav says, why do we bow down, because when there is a revelation of the Shechina, you bow down.

So think about, on Yom Kippur, if we are just feeling the name of Hashem then what we do is say Baruch Shem, the only people who bow down, are those who are bowing down in the presence of the Shechina. So when we bow down on Yom Kippur, instead of just crying out Baruch Shem, what are we saying? We are not just hearing the name of Hashem, but we are literally standing in the presence of the shechina. So this our concept, the Shechina that we bring into the Succah on Succot is already a reality for us on Yom Kippur. Because otherwise we would not bow down. The only ones who bowed were the ones who were in the actual presence of the shechina. We bow, you bow.

That means that you held that we were literally standing in the presence of this Shechina. So immediately after Yom Kippur, we go outside and we begin to build our succah because we, who had to bow, who were obligated to bow because we not only heard the name of Hashem, which would demand that we would say Baruch Shem, but we actually were standing in the presence of the Shechina, we know what the Shechina is. And because we know what the Shechina is, and we experienced standing in the presence of the Shechina so much, we can take that experience and use it to build our Succah.

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