Succos– Equal to the Sum of Its Parts

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    Succos– Equal to the Sum of Its Parts: Showing How Even the Aravah is Not Bereft of The Essential Qualities which Define a Jew

    ולקחתם לכם ביום הראשון פרי עץ הדר כפת תמרים וענף עץ עבת וערבי נחל
    You shall take for yourselves on the first day the fruit of a tree of splendor, fronds of date palms, and branches of a cordlike tree, and brook willows (Vayikra 23:40).
    The Midrash (Vayikra Rabbah 30:11) writes that each of the four species is symbolic of a different type of Jew. The esrog, which has both a pleasant taste and smell, represents the righteous Jew, who possesses Torah knowledge and performs good deeds. The lulav, whose fruit is a date, has a pleasant taste but no smell; this symbolizes a Jew who learns Torah but does not perform any good deeds. The hadassah, which has a pleasant smell but no taste, represents a Jew with good deeds but no Torah knowledge. And, finally, the aravah, which has neither smell nor taste, represents a Jew without Torah knowledge and without good deeds. Hashem says to tie all of the species together so that one can atone for the other’s deficits.
    And yet, the question arises: The Gemara (Yevamos 79a) tells us that every Jew possesses three attributes: “Sheloshah simanim yeish be’umah zu, harachmanim ve’habayshanin u’gomlei chasadim – The Jewish nation has three praiseworthy characteristics; they are compassionate, they possess a sense of shame, and they perform acts of kindness.” Then how can we say that there could be a Jew represented by the aravah, who is lacking any good?
    In truth, the Gemara is telling us something else. The Jewish nation as a whole possess these three characteristics, and even if a Yid as an individual is devoid of good deeds and devoid of Torah as the aravah, he can still count himself as part of the merciful, bashful, and kindhearted nation of Klal Yisrael. Even more, explains the Aderes Eliyahu (Vezos Haberachah; also brought down along with the Midrash quoted above), if the only merit this type of Jew possesses is that he calls himself a Jew and includes himself as part of the tzibbur, he receives reward.
    Rav Tzvi Hirsch Ferber (longtime rav in London and one of the founders of the Manchester Yeshivah), in Sefer HaMo’adim, explains that notwithstanding the aravah’s lack of Torah and good deeds, the four species would not be complete without it. In fact, the three essential Jewish traits are actually alluded to in the description of the aravah, when comparing it to the tzaftzefah, a leafy branch that is not acceptable for the four species.
    The Gemara (Succah 34a) describes three differences between the aravah and the tzaftzefah. First, the aravah has a reddish stem, while the stem of the tzaftzefah is a pale white. Next, the aravah has leaves with smooth edges, but the tzaftzefah has leaves with jagged edges. And finally, the aravah has leaves that are long and narrow, but the leaves of the tzaftzefah are short and round.
    It is these characteristics, which belong only to the aravah, that serve as evidence of the inherently good nature of Bnei Yisrael. First of all, the aravah has a reddish stem, which alludes to the quality of bayshanus, a sense of shame. When a Jew is reproved or realizes his mistakes, his face turns red because he is ashamed of his shortcomings. In addition, the smooth edges of the aravah allude to the Jewish quality of mercy, rachmanus; it is not jagged like the tzaftzefah. A Jew is not sharp and prickly but speaks softly and in pacifying tones, so as not to cause pain to another person. Last, the aravah has long, narrow leaves while the tzaftzefah’s are short and round. When rain falls on long, narrow leaves, it runs off and falls onto the adjacent leaves, hinting at the quality of kindness, gemilus chasadim, where Jews look out for the welfare of others and provide for those in need. But the tzaftzefah, with its short, round leaves, exhibits none of this kindness, with the water flowing from the round leaf to the stem and not helping its neighbors.
    Regardless of a Jew’s level of observance, if he considers himself one of us, he is special and worthy. And just as the four species are incomplete without the aravah, we are incomplete as a nation without the Jew who is represented by the aravah.

    Reb Eliezer

    If you remove the arava from the lulav, eventually you will need to knock it off.

    Reb Eliezer

    The Olalos Ephraim (Klei Yokor) has a nice mashel based on the pasuk karmi shli lo nitorti, I did not protect my own vineyard which combines the sukkah and lulav. A king sends his servants overseas to tend a big vineyard. As he realizes that it takes a long time to see results, he also gives them some small vineyards to support themselves. The servants recognizing that they need teamwork to see results from the big vineyard, give up the working on it completely by caring only for the small vineyards which is only temporary whereas the big vineyard could last lifetimes with crop rotation. The big vineyard is being destroyed. The king gives out two edicts to rectify this. One, once a year, they have to leave their home and live in the big vineyard to see its destruction and two, giving them a symbol to remember the importance of teamwork.
    The nimshal, the big vineyard is the next world and the little vineyard is this world. Once in the beginning of the year we are reminded the importance to work for the next world through doing mitzvas by leaving our home and entering the sukkah and we are given a symbollsm for teamwork through the lulav which is required in their performance. This also explains why we make a bracha on the lulav in the sukkah.

    Reb Eliezer

    Sukkah is against all the 613 mitzvos. It says at end of Koheles that keeping the mitzvos is against the human being consisting of 248 body parts (aivorim) and 365 senews (gidim). The mitzva of sukkah is performed with one’s body made up 613 parts.

    Reb Eliezer

    The word sukkoh, as explained by the Lacmei Todah (son of the Haflaoh), is made up of two parts mercy (26) and judgement (din, 65) where the mercy in the middle breaks up the din.

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