Mazel tov wishes of the highest order to our good friends Carole and Shlomie Blisko, the Woodmere Bliskos, upon the engagement earlier this week of their son Josh to Elie Rubinfeld (Teena and Stu). We look forward to dancing at this wedding.
Mazel tov to Reva and Yechiel Fuchs upon becoming new parents to a baby girl and mazel tov of course to Chana and Jay Fenster the very proud grandparents. A special mazel tov to Mr. and Mrs. Phil Fenster, Mrs. Marsha Wohl, great grandparents and to the entire extended Fuchs, Fenster and Wohl mishpochos.
Mazel tov to Naomi and David Kaszovitz very proud grandparents for the first time when their daughter Sarah now married to Netanel Goldstein had a baby boy. Mazel tov to the great grandparents, Beverly Skolnick and Bonnie and Gabe Kaszovitz.
And a very hearty mazel tov to Frimmit and Murray Forman on the birth of a baby, boy born to their children, Yael and Aaron Zelig. A special mazel tov to Mr. and Mrs. Irving and Libby Forman of Staten Island and to Mrs. Markowitz, Frimmit’s mom, all very proud great grandparents.
Raboyseyee and Raboyseyettes:
The Chinese that stole Sukkis
Avada it’s bavust (well known and accepted) that certain umois-ho’oilom (goyim), specifically those that follow Yoshka (Jesus), have bastardized many of our givaldige chagim (Jewish holidays). Ober on this erev yom tov of the festive Sukkis holiday, we will examine how the Chinese mamish took our Sukkis and how they celebrate. And maybe they deserve it. Says the medrish (Wikipedia) azoy: The National Day of the People’s Republic of China is celebrated throughout Mainland China, Hong Kong and Macau with a variety of government organized festivities, including fireworks and concerts (think Shweky, Eitan Katz and others). Public places, such as Tiananmen Square and Beijing, are decorated in a festive theme (think decorations). Portraits of revered leaders (think posters of the gedoilim- famous rabbis), such as Mao Zedong, are publicly displayed. When and what is The National Day of the People’s Republic of China?
Avada we all know that the Chinese are famous for copying everything manufactured under the sun; that’s what they do and they are very good at their craft. Ober did you know that they also copied our festive Yom Tov of Sukkis? Shoin, this past week, Yiddin all over the world were busy hocking away or otherwise erecting their sukkis getting ready to enjoy this great and festive Yom Tov. Of course, not everyone enjoys this work and geloibt der abishter (thank the good lord) that many of us have wives who are decent hockers, if you chap. And for those who don’t, there are many tools and services available; for a decent fee, two or more yeshiva teens will hock and erect your sukkah. In any event, while the Yiddin are getting ready to celebrate, beginning this coming Wednesday evening, the next seven or eight days of Sukkis, depending of course on which rabbi you follow, over in China, it was already Yom Tov. It was? The Chinese have been out partying since October 1st and won’t return to work until at least the 7thand many on the 8th. Are the Chinese celebrating Sukkis with us? Not! Ober over in China this past week and every year from October 1-7th, they celebrate a seven day Yom Tov called The National Day of the People’s Republic of China. Some call it by its shortened name of National Day. What is it?
Some say this holiday commemorates the founding of People’s Republic of China. Ober says an unnamed medrish, though likely as true as any other, azoy: Der emes iz (the truth is) that the Chinese celebrate this week in honor of our very festive Yom Tov of Sukkis. And why would the Chinese who do not follow in the ways of the RBSO care about any of our holidays, especially Sukkis? Says the Oihave Kesef, a universally accepted medrish azoy: it turns out that one Toirah inspired entrepreneur yiddile may be responsible for this entire celebration. It does appear that the 1.357 billion Chinese people owe a big yashar koiach (thank you) to one yiddile, mistama the son of a holocaust survivor. Tradition has it that 50-60 years ago, one yiddile who chapped the meaning of the mitzvah of sukkis and knew that sukkis meant more than attaching a few old doors into a square or rectangle and/or the hanging of a few sheets as walls, saw big bucks in this mitzvah. He also chapped that there must be a better solution than climbing up on trees to cut off a few branches that were then used as schach (roof of sukkah). Yiddin are not meant to climb trees. Moreover, tree branches were free; how could he make a living when the Yiddin could get the materials for free? What to do? Shoin, he made his way over to China. Why China? Because he also chapped that one day, everything would be made in China, the labor was cheap. Veyter with the story. On the flight over, he drew up the first ever design of the canvas sukkah and shoin. A year later, he returned with a design for a fiberglass model. And while there he noticed how bamboo was mamish in abundance, the Chinese were using it as scaffolding (they still do). And shoin – suddenly, he was an importer, a gisheft that spawned a healthy number of millionaires. Who didn’t want to be an importer back then? He began to import sukkis made from canvas, then added fiberglass to his line and eventually he also added silkscreened canvas which now included the Ushpizin, the Kiddush, faux windows and easy assembly. This fellow was mamish a genius ober soon thereafter, like in most businesses started by yiddishe entrepreneurs, he wasn’t alone. Within a year or so, other Yiddin figured out that this guy was making too much money and shoin, soon there were many copycats. Today, there are close to a dozen echtige (genuine) importers of sukkis coming out China. Of course there are dozens more who are distributors, retailers, and on-line sukkah merchants. The bottom line: sukkis is big, big business. Some say as big as Pesach though of course not everyone agrees.
And since then, all over China, beginning in the late winter, and throughout the entire spring and early summer, millions of Chinese arbeyter (workers) are hocking and klapping away, sewing canvas and staring at Hebrew lettering which to them looks not at all like Chinese. Bamboos are being cut in myriad sizes and decorations typically more associated with the Christmas season are instead being manufactured for sukkis large and small, all over the world. Bazman Hazeh (in our times), kimat (nearly) every part of our sukkahs, inside and out, are made in China! Life is beautiful!
All these goods are loaded onto huge shifilich (boats) which make their way over to the USA and also over to Israel where each year, hundreds of thousands of new sukkis are bought. And just as the Yiddin are coming into Sukkis, the Chinese are celebrating the sale of all their goods; their inventory depleted, they’re off on vacation and not a Chinese worker or manager is to be found in any factory or office from October 1-7th. Why 7 days? Mamish as hakoras hatoiv (gratitude) to the Yiddin who are commanded to sit in their sukkis for seven full days. And it’s only right; after all, the manufacturing of sukkas, bamboo poles, mats and decorations is big business. Of course a number of Chinese people, those who come from Chutz Lo’oretz (Diaspora) and who hold like certain rabonim (rabbis) who suggest that these people carry the restrictions of their home country with them on their travels, hold an eighth day. Some hold 7½ days and will return at midday on the 8th.
Welcome to sukkis, the Yom tov that always features at least some gizunta rain and/or rain combined with a windstorm, one that always wreaks some havoc on all your hard work. The Yom tov when one can come home and find half his schach on the ground and the decorations strewn about.
And what is Succis and why do we taka celebrate this Yom Tov? Nu, for those who know mamish nothing though you spent years roaming the hallways of the Yeshiva and day schools, lommer unfangin (let’s begin) with a few sentences, quotes mamish, from the heylige Toirah (Vayikra 23:42-43) which tells us azoy: “You shall sit in Sukkot for seven days; all citizens of Israel will sit in Sukkot. In order that your generations shall know that I enabled the children of Israel to dwell in Sukkot when I brought them out of Egypt, I am the Lord your G-d”. Of course the Yiddin had no idea what all this meant, but many centuries later, when the codifiers of the Mishna and the heylige Gemora sat down to argue over pretty much everything, they also codified an entire Tractate of Gemora (Talmud) which they aptly named Succah, and in which they discuss and argue every minute detail of its observance. From height, width and length, always important measurements, if you chap, to architecture to interior design, all can avada be found in the Gemora where we also learn about schach (approved succah covering), décor, weather restrictions and loopholes. The Gemora of course, also discusses the arbah minim (the Lulav, esrog, willow and myrtle branches), how the esrog needs to be held and how to properly shokel (wave) your lulav. It won’t kill you to learn a little Gemora.
And as we started above, Succis is a time of happiness. What does that mean and why are we so happy? We’re deliriously happy because we’re still alive. Grada on Yom Kippur, a chaver who had been reading the Al-cheyts in English walked over and asked azoy: what does this word mean? When I answered, he stated quite emphatically- “yes, I’m guilty of that as well'” and the emes (truth) is that we should all be dead. That could easily have been your fate. The RBSO heard you plead guilty; over 500 times in a 25 hour period and that doesn’t include the Oshamnu, Bogadnus. Moreover, the RBSO also knows what images you were conjuring up, minuvil that you are, as you were admitting to each of the sins. And even moreover, the RBSO also knows that you will shortly, if you haven’t already; revert back to your chazerish behavior. Why? Because you are a minuvil with bad habits and as we’ve stated in the past few weeks; azoy hut der Abishter bashafin mentchin (that’s how the RBSO created us). And why are you still alive? Because thank the RBSO that He has rachmunis and is (at times) merciful.
Therefore, on this Yom tov, we can exhale and rejoice. Seemingly you’ve been spared. Sounds quite logical. He has decided to give you a pass, so far at least, in order to see if you might finally change your errant behavior. Will you? Ah nechtigur tug (fugetaboutitttt). Ober Raboyseyee, the RBSO is zicher watching and has you on a short leash. On the other hand…………..we are taught that although the RBSO typically seals one’s fate on YK, there seem to be exceptions and some argue that we have until Hoishana Rabba (next week) to do one final repentance. And maybe to also chap areyn a few more aveyrois (sins), if you chap.
Can we? Maybe! Says the heylige Toirah (Lev. 23:39): “But on the fifteenth day of the seventh month, when you have gathered in the fruit of the land, you shall keep a feast to the Lord seven days; on the first day shall be a shabbis, and on the eighth day shall be a shabbis. And you shall take for yourselves on the first day the fruit of a beautiful tree, date branches, a branch of a leafy tree, and willows of the brook and you shall rejoice before the Lord your God seven days.” Asks the Midrash Tanchumah azoy: “Why is it called the first day, indeed it’s actually the 15th day of the month? And the good news: the Medrish answers his own question azoy: it is referred as the ‘first day’ because it’s the first day of the counting of new sins. It is? On Yom Kippur the Yiddin fast and daven and of course do t’shuva (repent.) They come clean by reciting the Al Cheyts and other admissions of guilt. On the first day of Sukkis the people take their fully adorned lulovim and dance in praise before the RBSO. He forgives them and says, ‘I will erase all your previous sins and start counting new sins from this day forward.’ And says the medrish so gishmak azoy: the first day of Succis is called “Rishon L’Cheshbon Avoinos, “the first day that the RBSO starts to count our avayrois since doing Teshuva on Yom Kippur.”
Nu, mistama you’re wondering…hey….what about the avayrois we committed in the days between Yom Kippur and Succis? Surely you didn’t go 4 days without sinning! Do you ever go 4 days without? Do they not count? Did we get a freebie? Wouldn’t that be nice? And mistama you’re saying…”if only I would’ve sent this Toirah a few days earlier”…. Chazir that you are. And why may we taka get a four day pass? Says the heylige Gemora (Yuma 86b) that when we do Tshuva out of fear “Zidonois Na’aseh K’Shgogois” meaning that the RBSO downgrades our intentional avayrois to accidental ones, those without intent. Perhaps the forerunner of the plea deal system, the first ever downward departure and does not punish us. However when we do Tshuva out of love mamish for the RBSO, “Zidoinois Na’aseh K’Zichuyois” (our sins become our merits) and we get a second level downgrade of the sin. And just like that, our avayrois turn into mitzvois.
Well- blow me down! Such is the power of Tshuva Me’Ahava. Said the Kedushas Levi azoy: on Yom Kippur we do Tshuva out of fear. Avada we’re frightened stiff, want to live, want to prosper and are willing to do anything and say anything. As proof, we swing live chickens over our heads, share a mikveh with a few degenerates looking for a cheap thrill, shtupp suppositories where the sun doesn’t shine, even refrain from texting and spend kimat the entire day mumbling words we don’t understand while beating our chests a few hundred times and punishing our bodies; also the people sitting immediately to our right and left. Our fate hangs in the balance. The RBSO ignores our avayrois and we get a pass. Succis, on the other hand, is a Yom Tov of Simcha and great joy. It’s a time when we do Tshuva out of extreme love for the RBSO. In fact, we are instructed to ‘be happy’ on this holiday. Weather permitting, we sit in the Succah and enjoy mouthwash in the morning and Yom Toiv showers, both in and out of the house. And since we’re doing all this loving, our old avayrois are now turned into mitzvos. Are you following all this? Good! Let’s go veyter.
Therefore, when Succis starts and we do Tshuva Me’Ahava, the RBSO takes out all the avayrois that he “threw away” after Yom Kippur when he forgave us and starts to count them again. Why? Ober, since these are now mitzvos, the RBSO wants to recount them in order to credit us for these “mitzvos”. Is that beautiful or what? Says the Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim (529:2): “A man is obligated to be happy and good at heart on the festivals, he, his wife and children and whoever is around him. How does he make them happy? To the kinderlach (the minors) he gives roasted grain and nuts. And the eishes chayil? Nu, it’s hard to make them happy as has been proven over the generations ober one thing is zicher. No eishes chayil (wife), no matter how angry, ever said no to jewelry and new garments and taka says the Shulchan Oruch that he is to buy the eishes chayil garments and jewelry, according to his means (or level of guilt.) And he is obligated to feed the strangers, orphans, widows as well as other poor people.”
And how does he make himself happy? Taka an excellent kasha. Of course that’s a rhetorical question; never mind you chazir! Ober the answer is quite simple. Had the husband behaved properly, he would have no reason to be buying the eishes chayil (wife) any jewelry and mistama could get away with giving her nuts as well, if you chap. Sadly ober (however), we all know that most men taka make themselves happy only too often. Or worse, find themselves in a situation rachmono litzlon (heaven forbid) with a happy ending, if you chap, and now it’s payback time. Shoin. And the bottom line? We are commanded to be happy. And if we can’t be happy at home, efsher finding happiness outside in the Succah or efsher elsewhere is what is prescribed, ver veyst.
Some taka ask why the Shulchan Oruch deals only with everyone else’s happiness and not with the happiness of the man? Answer: Nothing makes a person happier than making others happy. Not always emes but a gishmak pshat nonetheless.
Besides being famous for being a joyous holiday, the only one which carries the moniker of z’man simchosaynu (time of our happiness), sukkis is of course also known as being the most controversial of all the Jewish Holidays and every year at this time, people polish off centuries machloikes (arguments) about its celebration. They discuss and argue issues long not resolved, issued that may or may not be resolved even when the Moshiach makes an appearance.
Until then there will never be consensus on how to properly observe Sukkis. And questions including if an American limoshol (by way of example) spending Sukkis over in Israel is to observe one or two days, will remain in play. Nor will we ever resolve the big Shmini Atzeres, a holiday that has its own name and date in the heylige Toirah controversy dealing with eating indoors or in the sukkah. And of course you all know that some hold one day, some two days and some, for reasons that defy logic, a day and a half. There are prominent rabbis on both sides and one can read hundreds of pages on this topic. Which rabbis got it right, ver veyst? And like everything else in the practice of our beautiful religion, a gift from the RBSO and then later from hundreds of rabbis who tried making senses out of what He told us to do, it depends who you ask.
Zicher the Oisvorfer is not equipped to finally resolve the matter for all but does have the chutzpah to posit a very logical solution. Here we go. Says the Oisvorfer azoy: since the sukkah is shaped like a box, be it a square or rectangular, we should be able to resolve the entire debate by taka looking at the different views of the holiday as being inside or outside the box. Let’s further illuminate. Say limoshol, a person wants to keep three days of Yom Tov. Does anyone hold that three days is acceptable? Not! And say limoshol that a person came along and wanted to hold zero days of yom tov. Is that an acceptable position? Also not. Ober if one wants to hold one day or even two days, one can find any number of rabbis, highly respectable ones, which will support his positon. And practically speaking? Shoin, if you hold 1 day or 2 days, you are clearly in the box and in good company. If you hold zero days and or even three days, you are a giferliche minuvil.
And whether you keep 1, 1and ½ or even 2, enjoy the coming Yom Tov.
Chag somayach- a gittin yom tov-
Oisvorfer Ruv – Shlita