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The Systems of the Jewish Year

Being a Good Citizen

By TorahLab

I have become addicted to the news. I get news about Eretz Yisroel wherever I can. I have become an Arutz Sheva junkie wondering why they haven’t updated in the past five minutes. I call Israel. I wake up with my clock radio blaring news and I talk to anyone who knows. Like all of you, I hope, I’m taking this war very personally. This is not just a war over land, although the land is holy. It is not even about the casualties – Hashem Yinkom Damam shel Kedoshim. It is about the future of the Jewish people. For the past fifty years, when things have got tough, when stress has begun to mount, what do we dream about? We dream about Yerushalayim. Perhaps our imagination doesn’t take us to a Messianic dream but it is sufficient to just dream about the Eretz Yisroel of today. Davening at the Kosel, walking amongst friends, Gedolei Torah waiting for the bus, children with beautiful shining faces. Yerushalayim is the light at the end of the tunnel. They’re tampering with our “Reishis Tzmichas Geulaseinu”.

All that being said I have nothing to add in terms of political commentary; I have no special access to the news; the events in Israel are really speaking for themselves. Let’s talk about Sukkos.

There are all kind of Mitzvos. There are Mitzvos we do with our hands, mitzvos we do with our mouths, Mitzvos we do with our feet and of course mitzvos we do with our mind. Chazal teach that there are only two Mitzvos that we do with our entire mind, body and soul. They are the Mitzva of living in Eretz Yisroel and the Mitzvah of Sukkah. (See explanation of the Gra on Tehilim 76) The only way to fulfill either one of these Mitzvos is by making a total commitment. You can’t keep one foot out of the Sukkah, or out of Eretz Yisroel. In Kabbalistic language these Mitzvos are called Tzila DeMehemnusa. Under the shadow of faith. In both of these Mitzvos we move out of our luxurious, well bolted, insulated accommodations and go out under the canopy of Hashem. Unprotected and exposed, we put our faith in Hashem, and this faith itself binds us together as a people and brings us closer to G-d.

It is very interesting to whom the Torah directs the Mitzvah of Sukkah. “Every citizen of Israel should sit in the Sukkah.” Why does the Torah only point to citizens? We know this Mitzvah must be done in Eretz Yisrael as well as in the Diaspora. The Torah seems to be offering a new insight into how one acquires citizenship of our people. By going outside, exposing ourselves to the elements, and putting our trust in the Master of the Universe. If you sit in the Sukkah, wherever you may be you are a citizen of our Nation. It is with the Mitzvah of Sukkah that we can unite with our brothers and sisters and our children in Israel as citizens of the Jewish people and as one people. This unity is critical to our future. Our Mitzvah of Sukkah here will affect the security of those in Eretz Yisroel. Going outside makes us a citizen.

It is not always so easy to go outside and expose ourselves to the elements. The pictures on the cover of Friday’s NY Times turned my entrance into the “time of happiness” into a “time of mourning.” Almost as disturbing as the picture was the caption under it. “Italian television showed what it said was an Israeli being thrown from a window.” In other words the NYT can’t be expected to vouch for the nationality of the man in the picture. They had no problem last week misidentifying Jews and Arabs! They didn’t say “what the AP claims is a Jew beating an Arab”. G-d bless America! Thank G-d we are safe; thank G-d we are welcome. But we can never forget that we are in a Sukkah. On the other hand I received a beautiful call before Yom Tov from Michael Kronenberg. As he called I could hear the sirens blasting in the background. They weren’t sirens calling the people to shelter or to war. They were sirens calling the people to Shabbos. I asked Michael if he felt safe. He said, “Here we are, under the canopy of the Shechina, how can we not feel safe?”

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