Illuminations #132, Tishrei 5778, Shabbat Chol Hamoed

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Illuminations #132, Tishrei 5778, Shabbat Chol Hamoed

Torah Gems

The Gemara relates a rather interesting story (Bava Metzia 85a): “There was once a calf that they were leading to slaughter, and it ran away and put its head in Rebbi’s (Rabbi Yehudah Hanassi’s) garment and cried. Rebbi told it, “Go, for this is what you were created for.” In Heaven they proclaimed, “Since he does not show mercy let suffering come upon him…” Rav Nasson Vachtfogel, zt”l, said, “What claim did they have on Rebbi? Doesn’t Chazal specifically state that animals are meant to be slaughtered? Is every shochet to be punished?” He answers that although it is true that animals are meant to be slaughtered, and there is no claim on any shochet for doing his job, nevertheless, if a calf runs away and comes underneath your wings requesting mercy that you save it, the attribute of mercy requires you to guard it in your shade and not throw it back! Consequently, said Rav Vachtfogel, this is the essence of the succah which is described as Tzila Dimehaimenutah – “the shade of emunah,” namely, that we find shelter in the shade of Hakadosh Baruch Hu. A person who is indeed sheltered by Hashem is privileged to unique mercy and treatment even though he may not be deserving of it. And even if, chas veshalom, there was some type of decree against him, nonetheless, the attribute of mercy obligates that if one comes to find shelter by Hashem, Hashem will not throw him away; instead, Hashem will protect him! This is what the sukkah is all about! This reminds me of one of the kavanos on the words in the Shemoneh Esrei: Melech, Ozer, Umoshi’a, Umagen. Hashem is Melech — King on Rosh Hashanah, Ozer – during the Aseres yemai teshuvah Hashem helps us to do teshuvah, Moshi’a – on Yom Kippur Hashem saves us, and Magen – we are shielded by Hashem during Sukkot.

Parsha Pearls

The Rashbam writes that we sit in the sukkah to remember that for the forty years we remained in the desert, we were without residence or inheritance. Remembering this will bring us to thank Hashem – the One Who has given us an inheritance and homes filled with all that is good. This way we will not erroneously assume that it was our intellect and talents that have brought us everything – it is all from Him! The Yesod Veshoresh Ha’avodah writes that most people think that they only have to go into the succah to eat and sleep, when in reality the proper perspective is that one should be in the sukkah all the time – twenty four hours a day. Only if for some reason a person must leave, does one have to regretfully leave this sacred haven. The Shelah Hakadosh writes that bnei aliyah would kiss the sukkah upon entering and exiting, and kiss the arba minim upon taking them. This was their expression of chivuv mitzvah (endearment of the mitzvah). The great Tzanzer Rav, the Divrei Chaim, used to say that the most beautiful noy sukkah – the most beautiful “decoration” of the sukkah – is to make sure that the poor are not hungry during Yom Tov.

Glimpses of Greatness

We all know how Avraham Avinu stood up to the rest of the world for the sake of Hashem. He was tried time and time again – asarah nisyonot – ten very hard tests. After the akeidah, Hashem said, “Now everyone will understand why I cherish Avraham so much! Also the Satan and also the nations of the world – everyone will testify that Avraham is a truly G-d-fearing person!” (Rashi, Bereishit 22:12). Avraham Avinu merited to become the father of our nation and the one in whose name we conclude the first berachah of Shemoneh Esrei, due to his steadfastness and his strong emunah in Hashem Yisbarach. May we all be zocheh to emulate his ways and not be swayed by the nisyonot we are faced with.

Halacha Weekly

Q: Can One Wear Tefilin on Chol Hamoed Where Others Do Not Don Tefillin? 2- 359

A: Artzot HaChaim of Malbim (R. Meir Leibush Ben YechielMichel Wisser Z”L) writes that it is not proper in one minyan for some of the people to place tefilin and others not. There is a concern here for lo titgodedu, the prohibition of forming factions. He writes a proof from the words of Magen Avraham (R. Avraham Abele Gombiner Z”L) and Pri Chadash(R. Chizkiah Silva Z”L, Orech Chaim, 493). Similarly, Aruch Hashulchan (R. Yichiel Michel Epstein Z”L, OrechChaim 31-64) writes that Sefardim are accustomed not to put on tefilin on Chol hamoed, while Ashkenazim don tefilin on chol hamoed, and each should continue his custom.  However, what is the case if there is a Beit Midrash, a single study hall (with both Sefardim and Ashkenazim)?  Some should not perform it one way and other the other way, because of  lo titgodedu.  Mishneh Berurah (R. Yisrael Meir Kagan Z”L, 31-100-8) agrees.

What if one is in a place where one is accustomed to don tefilin on chol hamoed and he goes to a  new place where the majority do not put on tefilin on chol hamoed and he does not want to change (his practice)? He answers that if he prays in the beit knesset that does not don tefilin also he should not don tefillin, that there it is a case of lo titgodedu; and similarly in the opposite case [when his custom is not to don tefilin]. Erech Shai(Gaon Shlomo Yehudah Tabak Z”L, 1-89) writes similarly.