THE GENERATOR OF JOY | SUCCOS | Harav Y Reuven Rubin Shlita

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By Harav Y Reuven Rubin Shlita

Did you know that the Holy Rebbe of Ropshitz Ztl was so dedicated to the mitzvah of Sukka that he would enter the site where his sukka stood and would work on it in some way every day throughout the year. It is said that when the Yom Tov arrived, the local Beth Din would have to be called in to decide if it was actually kosher, this because his ardent attentions would sometimes “over engineer” the entire project.

Truth to be said, the sukka has that certain appeal to everyone, it stands open to the weather, guarding us with flimsy leaves yet, we feel a unique sense of warmth no matter how chilled we may be.

I had the merit to oversee the building of the main Bobover Sukka way back when the Rebbe Rav Shlomo Ztl still lived in Crown Hights. It didn’t take much to get caught up with the Rav’s love for this unique time of the year. Plans were drawn up weeks in advance, and no stone was left unturned in seeking to bring new decorations to hang from the schach. A small group of bochurim would work none stop, barely sleeping in the days before the Yom Tov. One point of information, in those days the sukka actually served as the ladies section of the Bais Medrash. Hence the actual work could not start until Motzai Yom Kippur.  This was signalled by a uniquely sweet ritual. The Rav would share a communal meal on the night, in the middle of the Tish, Reb Yesroil Meir Germain Z”l would come in, hammer in hand, beard flecked with dust, and exclaim, “The Succah can now be decorated!” What this meant was that this holy jew had finished taking down all the ceiling tiles, exposing the wooden planks that supported the schach and decorations. The Rav would immediately honour this venerable Chassid with a glass of beer and a warm Lchiam, to which Reb Yesroil Moshe would shout out a brocha to the Rebbe for his good health.

We would hunt a whole year for special decorations, many hand created by the students of the Yeshivah. One of the marvels were the hundreds of walnuts that were covered in glitter and hung thru out the Sukka. These were not factory produced, rather we had to dip each nut in glue and then dip them in a bowl of glitter, next we would attach a length of string that was attached to the nut with melted wax. It was a laborious job, done with love and these glimmering specks served as the backdrop for the many exciting decorations that festooned the whole of the ceiling.

However, the greatest gem of all was that moment when the Rebbe entered the Sukka for the first time on Yom Tov. His Majestic figure, wrapped in Talis, Shtriemel framing his silver peyos and beard was breathtaking. He would stand at the entrance, and head thrown back, begin to chant the holy prayer that invites the Spiritual guests, the Shpezzen, to share in our mitzvah. The glow of the Rebbe, his overflowing joy of the moment, sent a shiver down ones spine. “Whew,” you thought, “could there be any greater enjoyment of a mitzvah than this?” Such moments of true simchas Yom Tov are a gift given to Klall Yesroil. I still have one of those glittered walnuts, handed to me by the Rebbe with his Brocha of continuous simcha.

The Jewish nation lives on an entirely different plain than any other. We have been chosen to come close to the worlds Creator and therefore we tread a unique path. Our pain and tribulations have been well documented throughout history, and yes, we have suffered beyond any other nation’s forbearance, yet, we thrive, we build, and, despite everything, we invite Angels into our Sukka’s with joy.

The Barditchever Rebbe Ztl who was an untiring advocate for the whole of Klall Yesroil, once remarked that if it rains on Sukkos it is a brocha (blessing). To explain his rather unconventional statement the Rebbe   pointed out that it is known from Chazal that in times past there was a segulah to spit in the face of a person who fears he has become the cursed by someone with an Ayin Horah (Evil Eye), and this would mitigate any harm. So, continued the Tzadik, when it rains on Sukkos it is like kaveuchal the Eibishter spitting over us to ward off any jealousy on the part of Malochim who witness our loyalty to Hashem’s mitzvahs and how we have drawn closer to Him over the Hieliga days.

We may smile with this titbit, especially those in Britain who would certainly enjoy a bit dryer experience over Yom Tov. Perhaps, but think for a moment, how wondrous these times are. We have so many mitzvos, and with each one we are drawn closer to Hashem. The heavens look down on us in wonder. Who could blame them for being jealous?

The Bobover Rebbe Ztl often spoke of a very special Sukka he constructed during the Milchoma. It was in the Bochnia Ghetto. The Rebbe took a table and stood it on end, draped what seemed to be wet laundry on either side and threw some branches over the top. There was only room for one person at a time to squeeze into this contraption, and under the noses of our hated enemies at that. Yet all day long, hundreds of people made their way surreptitiously to his Sukka to make a bracha. Why? Why did they bother at such a time? They did so because the neshama needs its mitzvos done with a bren, with heart.

This is the point of our simcha, to relish the warmth, and build within our hearts a reservoir of kedusha to serve us during the cold winter days that lay ahead.


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