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10/14/2022 12:58:01 PM


"…because of the hand that was sent out to Your temple" (Machzor, Succot)

Whose hand?

Concerning the words in the Succot prayers "Because of our sins we were exiled from our land… because of the hand that was sent out to Your temple" the Jewish Sages ask, what does the verse mean by "…because of the hand that was sent out to Your temple" Which hand? Seemingly it should have been written "Because of our sins we were exiled from our land… because of the wicked gentiles who destroyed our Temple".

But first we must explain why the holiday of Succot is the one called "the time of our happiness" (as we say in the prayers "And G-d our L-rd gave us in love… this holiday of Succot the time of our happiness"). It would seem that the holiday of Shavuot is more suitable for this title of "time of our happiness". After all, on Shavuot the holy Torah was given and we know that this gladdens people's hearts, as it says, "The statutes of G-d are straight, gladdening the heart." The holiday of Pesach seems also more suitable to the "time of our happiness" for we were redeemed from slavery to eternal freedom and at the Seders we sit back comfortably in our homes with beautiful dishes, like kings. While on the holiday of Succot we live in a succah made of simple planks of wood and a roof of leaves or bamboo that is open to the winds and burning sun – certainly the succah does not have the great comfort of a house. If so, how can we say "the time of our happiness" on Succot?

In addition, why did the Torah add on by Succot "And you should rejoice in your holiday… and you should be only אך-- happy"? The word אך comes to exclude as it says in the Yerushalmi "The words אך and רק come to exclude".

Therefore, why does it say by Succot "And you should be onlyאך happy"? If אך  comes to exclude something, should we be less happy on this holiday?

We can say that the answer to all of these is written in Shir Hashirim (5) "I got up to open for my loved one (G-d) and my loved One evaded and left." In other words the Nation of Israel says to G-d "I got up to open" but you, my loved One, evaded me and left. This seems to be not understood. G-d says to the Nation of Israel in the Midrash (Shir Hashirim 5) "My sons, open a small opening for me of repentance the size of a needle head and I will open gates for you where wagons and carriages can go through."

If so, when the Nation of Israel says to G-d "I woke up to open for my loved One", why did G-d evade them and leave them, not accepting their repentance?

We can say that the answer to this question is "I woke up to open for my loved one" because in Hebrew the word I is superfluous and it can be written קמתי without אני. And what is that addition of אני- I?

The I shows superfluous pride. When a person feels too proud, he says I" got up, I did, I gave" and this is like the verse "My strength and the fortitude of my hands made all this valor." Therefore, when a person feels that with his strength and the fortitude of his hands he did everything, then certainly "my loved One" (G-d) will evade and leave him. For as we know, G-d cannot live together with a conceited person, as our Rabbis ob'm say (Sota 5) "By any person who is haughty G-d says "He and I cannot live together".

Therefore, a person must know that everything is due to His kindness and whatever a person does is from the strength that G-d has given him, as we see in the Midrash (Breishit Rabba 14)"Every soul (נשמה) shall praise G-d"- every breath (נשימה). This means that we must bless and praise G-d for every breath. Why? Because it says in Tehilim "Every soul shall praise G-d – for every breath that we breathe. Without G-d watching over a person and giving him life in this world every minute, a person would not be able to survive.

And that is why the prayer is worded "because of the hand that was sent to our temple" for the verse purposely uses the word hand to hint to us that the destruction of the temple was due to the hand – "My strength and the fortitude of my hands" that the Nation of Israel were proud and thought that everything was thanks to their strength and fortitude.


Fri, February 23 2024 14 Adar I 5784