The Four Free Days
The Midrash (Yalkut Emor 651) comments on the verse, “You should take for you on the first day,” that Succos is the first day for the accounting of sins. Many explanations are offered to explain this difficult Midrash.
The Shlah HaKadosh explains that in the four days between Yom Kippur and Succos people are so busy preparing for Succos that they have no time to sin. Others say that the influence of Yom Kippur and its power to expiate sins extends into these four days. Rabbi Yehonasan Eiebeshitz writes in Ya’aros Dvash that the gematria of 1vt 7n (the Satan) is 364, from which Chazal learn that the Satan, the evil urge, has power 364 days of the year, and not on Yom Kippur. The n signifies that five of the remaining days the Satan has reduced control. These are the days between Yom Kippur and Succos (counting a portion of the first day of Succos as the fifth day).
The effect of Yom Kippur is so overwhelming and inspiring that a Jew is catapulted to a level far beyond his real attainment. We are judged according to our level, and therefore one on a higher level is judged more harshly for the same sin than one on a lower level. Thus if Hashem were to judge us immediately after Yom Kippur according to our level at that time, the result would be an unduly harsh judgment.
Just as before Rosh Hashanah we are given a minimum of four days of selichos in order to prepare ourselves to enter Rosh Hashanah as blemishless sacrifice, so we are given four days after Yom Kippur to settle back to our real level. The accounting of our sins during these four days is then retroactively calculated according to the level we reach on the first day of Succos. These four days are like a decompression chamber given to a deep sea diver.
Another aspect of these euphoric four days is the fact that we are so charged emotionally and so busy preparing the materials for Succos that even when we sin, those sins are rarely premeditated or calculated. Similarly, the preparations are also executed in a frenzied mood of elation that leaves little time or place for calculation and meditation. To a certain degree, this elation is positive. It corresponds to the days after that first Yom Kippur in the desert in which the materials for the Mishkan were donated and the people gave with unbridled emotion, without any calculation of necessity. Finally Moshe had to call a halt to this unbridled giving and announce, “Enough.”
This powerful emotion is the raw material to be shaped with reflection into a MisEkan. The Torah relates in this week’s parashah that Hashem bid Moshe to ascend Har Nevo to expire “in the midst of the day.” The entire people had said they would try to prevent Moshe’s death. The obvious question is: What could they have done to prevent Moshe from dying? The answer is nothing. But the people were so emotionally charged with love for Moshe despite the month-long rebuke to which they had been subjected, that rational calculation did not exist. By commanding Moshe to go up at midday to show their helplessness to prevent his passing, Hashem, at the same time, publicized this commendable desire of the Jewish People. Later the unbounded love for Moshe was refined and shaped into the loyalty which the people transferred to Yehoshua.
The four days between Yom Kippur and Succos correspond to the four letters of Hashem’s Ineffable Name. Our feelings during these four days are raw material to be shaped in calm reflection and transformed into our calculated service of Hashem on the first days of Succos.
May we utilize the segulah of these four days to prepare for Succos and the mitzvah of lulav, symbolic of our victory on Yom Kippur, and by channeling the intense emotion with which we emerge from Yom Kippur so that it extends its influence into the entire year.