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   Shalom and Bracha!

   This year the Egyptian government has forbidden export of palm branches used for the Lulav with the clear intent to interfere with the observance of Sukkot. When any form of oppression is used against the Jewish people to prevent us from fulfilling the Torah, we must rise up and show our pride and determination. I urge everyone without exception to fulfill the Mitzvah of Lulav and Etrog and encourage their friends to do the same. If you cannot get you own use a friend’s or the synagogue’s or call Chabad. Am Yisrael will not be defeated and no one will prevent us from keeping our heritage!! Am Yisrael Chai!!!
 

   This Wednesday night ushers in the festival of Sukkot. Unity and joy are central themes of the holiday that are expressed in its two special Mitzvot, the Sukkah and the Lulav. We are commanded to dwell in the Sukkah in order to remind ourselves of the Clouds of Glory that surrounded us during the Exodus from Egypt. The Mitzvah is unique in that it unites all parts of our body in the fulfillment of the Mitzvah. When we put on Tefillin, our hand and head are active, and our body is passive. When we study Torah, our minds and mouths are active, but our body is passive. When we enter a Sukkah, we are entirely encompassed in the Mitzvah. Similarly, the Sukkah unites all of its participants. The activities we do, such as eating, drinking, and meeting with people become a part of the Mitzvah as well. When we share a Seder, we each eat a separate piece of Matzah. One Sukkah encompasses all those who sit inside. The Talmud learns from the verse “All the citizens of Israel shall sit in Sukkot” that the entire Jewish are fit to sit in one Sukkah. Thus the Sukkah has the power to unite the entire Jewish nation. The Sukkah is also known as Sukkat Shalom, the Sukkah of peace. Chassidut teaches that the same Divine emanation that reigned in Noach’s ark and prevented the animals from hurting each other radiates in the Sukkah.
 

  The Midrash explains that the four species represent different groups among the Jewish people. The Etrog (citron) represents the scholarly and pious. The Lulav (palm branch) represents those who are knowledgeable but less pious. The Hadasim (myrtle branches) represent the pious who are less scholarly, and the Arava (willow) represent the less pious and less knowledgeable. In order to fulfill the Mitzvah, all four must be held together. If any of the four are lacking, there is no Mitzvah. Similarly, we must act united as one people to received Hashem’s blessing. Another explanation in the Midrash is that the four species represent parts of our body: the heart, the spine, the eyes and the mouth. Through waving the Lulav we bring health and blessing into our lives.
 

The Mitzvah of Lulav is also connected with victory over our enemies. The Midrash explains the Mitzvah with a parable of two people exiting from a court of justice and we don’t know who won. If one exits with a flag, he won in judgment. On Rosh Hashanah, Hashem judges between Israel and our enemies. When we raise the Lulav, it is a sign of victory.
 

 During the times of the Temple, every night a celebration was held when the water was drawn for the Temple service. The Talmud says that no celebration paralleled the joy of the drawing of the water. Seemingly, what’s so exciting about drawing water? When we conclude the days of awe, we rejoice in our bond with Hashem that is beyond extraneous expression. Water is simple and basic, but if we are drawing it for Hashem, the very service of Hashem is pure joy.
 

   May the Mitzvah of Sukkah bring Hashem’s protection for the entire Jewish people, especially those in Israel, and may the Mitzvah of Lulav bring forth Jewish unity that we need so greatly and our victory over our enemies. Above all, may the Mitzvah of rejoicing bring forth the true joy when we will sit in the Sukkah of Levyatan’s skin with the coming of Moshiach.

   Chag Sameach and Shabbat Shalom,

 Rabbi Biggs

Sukkot Guide

 

  This year is very special in that Rosh Hashanah, Sukkot, and Shemini Atzeret all fall on Thursday and Friday. Although it is permitted to cook, light candles, and carry on the holiday in preparation for Shabbat, there is a special Mitzvah we must perform, called an Eruv Tavshilin. Wednesday during the day a Challah is to be taken together with a cooked piece of food, such as an egg or piece of meat or fish, and handed to a second party, while saying “ I hereby grant a portion in this Eruv to anyone who wishes to participate and depend on it. Then the head of the household takes back the food and says “Baruch Ata Adonay Elohaynu Melech Haolam Asher Kid’shanu B’mitzvotav V’tzivanu Al Mizvat Eruv- Through this it shall be permitted for us to bake, cook, store, light candles, and do all that is necessary to prepare on Yom Tov for Shabbat together with all Jews within this city.” This is a demonstration of respect for the holiday, because we begin our preparations for Shabbat on Wednesday and only finish off on the holiday, rather than making Friday a regular cooking day. The Challah and food must be kept for Shabbat. There is a custom to eat them at the Seudah Shlishit.
 

  Wednesday and Thursday nights the blessings for candles are 1) “Baruch Atta Adonai Elohainu Melech Haolam Asher Kid’shanu B’mitzvotav V’tzivanu L’hadlik Ner Shel Yom Tov.” 2) “Baruch Atta Adonai Elohainu Melech Haolam Shehechiyanu V’kimanu V’higyanu Lizman Hazeh.”
 

  The blessing Shehechiyanu is thanking Hashem for allowing us to live until this day and is said every holiday in Kiddush and also the first time we perform a seasonal Mitzvah each year.
 

 Thursday night the candles should be lit from an existing flame.
 

  Wednesday night begins the Mitzvah of eating in the Sukkah. Every meal until next Shabbat should be eaten in the Sukkah. Every time we eat in the Sukkah we make the blessing “Baruch Atta Adonai Elohainu Melech Haolam Asher Kid’shanu B’mitzvotav V’tzivanu Leysheyv Basukkah.” The first time that we eat in the Sukkah each year we make the additional blessing “Baruch Atta Adonai Elohainu Melech Haolam Shehechiyanu V’kiymanu V’higyanu Lizman Hazeh.” These blessings are included in the Kiddush.
 

  Friday night the regular blessing is made on the candles. The candles should be lit from an existing flame.
 

  Thursday we begin the Mitzvah of Lulav and continue through Wednesday. The blessing over the Lulav must be said during the day. The Lulav is held in the right hand and the blessing is Baruch Atta Adonai Elohainu Melech Haolam Asher Kid’shanu B’mitzvotav V’tzivanu Al Netilat Lulav is said. The first time we also make the blessing Baruch Atta Adonai Elohainu Melech Haolam Shehechiyanu V’kiymanu V’higyanu Lizman Hazeh. The Etrog is then picked up with the left hand. All four (Lulav, Etrog, Hadassim, and Aravot) are brought together and touch the heart. The four should then be waved together in all directions three times: three times to the right, three times to the left, forward, up, down, and to the back. Each time the four touch the heart. Waving in all directions protects from negative forces. The Lulav is not used on Shabbat.
 

    May Hashem grant you a wonderful Sukkot and Shabbat and a fantastic new year.
 

  Chag Sameach and Shabbat Shalom,

Rabbi Biggs

Dedicated to Yonah Furman on the occasion of his Bris. May he be a joy to his family and a shining star to his people.

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