The anguished Chassidim who gathered in the home of Harav Shlomo Chaim of Sadigura, zy”a, were beside themselves. Ever since his older brother, their beloved Rebbe, Harav Avraham Yaakov of Sadigura, zy”a, was niftar, they had continued to draw inspiration and consolation from davening in his shul in Tel Aviv. There, surrounded by the memories of his exalted avodah, they felt connected to their mentor.
The shul had originally been rented for the Rebbe and, later, in order to ensure its continuity, a Chassid had bought the entire building. But he never transferred title of the shul section to the kehillah and, when his business became insolvent, the bank repossessed the building. Now the Chassidim were facing imminent eviction. A new place would be found for the minyan, but in the eyes of the Chassidim, no longer would it be their Rebbe’s shul.
Harav Shlomo Chaim, who had also been very attached to his brother, made no secret of his own anguish over the eviction. But he also offered his fellow Chassidim powerful words of chizuk.
“Es vet alles mitgein — it will all accompany you. …”
(More than five decades later, the shul continues to flourish under the leadership of his great-nephew, Harav Mordechai Auerbach.)
In the tefillah that many recite when bidding farewell to the sukkah, we plead that the malachim that are affiliated with the mitzvos of sukkah and the arbaah minim should “accompany us as we leave the sukkah and enter with us into our homes. …”
Nine glorious days of Yom Tov have come to a close, joyous days of celebration and cleaving to the Ribbono shel Olam. Now our task is to ensure that “es vet mitgein” — that the spiritual heights we achieved during this Yom Tov will accompany us throughout the year.
While the walls of a sukkah may be made of virtually any sturdy material that doesn’t have an offensive odor, only specific materials may be used for the s’chach. According to halachah (there are various customs), one should be able to see the stars through it, and a heavy rain should be able to penetrate it.
Many sefarim say that this is one of the powerful and relevant lessons of this Yom Tov. We leave what, in this mundane and physical world, is perceived as a “permanent” dwelling and move into a “temporary” one. By doing so, we are recognizing that, in fact, this physical world is really a temporary dwelling. By moving into a sukkah open to the elements, and from which one can see the sky, we are dedicating ourselves to looking upwards towards our father in Shamayim as our only source of security and protection.
Harav Shimon Sofer, zt”l, the Rav of Erloi, adds a fascinating facet to this discussion.
For those who spend so much of their time and energy toiling in this physical world, the notion that it is merely a temporary dwelling can be quite disconcerting. Especially when one takes into account the words of Koheles which we recite on Sukkos, “hevel havalim hakol hevel — futility of futilities, all is futile.” The thought of working so hard for so long on something that is futile is something that can be downright distressing.
Therefore, on Shemini Atzeres we lein the parashah of “Asser te’asser,” which teaches us about the mitzvah of maaser and tzedakah. The knowledge that the physical fruits of our labor can be used for such a lofty mitzvah — which in turn is a pathway to Olam Haba — tells us that, while this may be a world of futilities, our toil is not for naught after all, but serves a greater purpose.
The mitzvah of tzedakah and the crucial concepts of emunah and bitachon are intertwined. For it is only when we fortify ourselves with bitachon and recognize that all we have and own is from Hashem, and that the giving of tzedakah is the best possible investment, can we push away worries about our own financial future and open our wallets wide to the needy.
As we take leave of a Yom Tov which symbolizes bitachon, this is a most appropriate time to strengthen our emunah and bitachon, and aspire to aim for ever higher levels of tzedakah and chessed.