Sources and Tales Miscellany
A collection of anecdotes, stories, poems and the like for the educator and youth worker.
1. Rediscovering Sukkot
From the book of Nehemiah:
(Neh. VIII, 14-17)
2. An Unusual Sukkah
From the Talmud:
3. Eat and be Merry
From the Talmud:
4. Holy guests in the Sukkah
When a man sits in this abode of the shadow of faith, the Divine Presence spreads her wings over him from above and Abraham and five other righteous ones make their abode with him.
R. Abba said, "Abraham and five righteous ones (Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses and Aaron) and David with them. Hence it is written:
and a man should rejoice each day of the festival with these guests who abide with him."
R. Abba further pointed out that first it says "you shall live" and then "all citizens in Israel (they) shall live in booths" (Leviticus 23.42).
The first refers to the guests, and therefore Rab Hamnuna the Elder, when he entered the booth used to stand at the door inside and say,
and he used to stand up and greet them, saying,
He would then raise his hands in joy and say,
and then he took his seat
The second "live" refers to "all citizens in Israel"; for he who has a portion in the Holy Land and holy people sits in the shadow of faith to receive the guests so as to rejoice in this world and the next.
He must also gladden the poor, because the portion of those guests whom he invites must go to the poor . . . . R. Eleazar said, "The Torah does not demand of a man more than he can perform, as it says:
A man should not say, I will first satisfy myself with food and drink, and what is left I shall give to the poor, but the first of everything must be for the guests. And if he gladdens the guests and satisfies them, God rejoices with him."
5. The Sayings of our Sages
The supply of water (for Eretz Israel) is ordained during Sukkot. Why did the Torah order the libation of water during the festival? Rabbi Judah in the name of Rabbi Illa explained that G-d told Israel:
(R. Hash. 16a)
6. Meditation on Entering the Sukkah
This meditation or introductory prayer is recited as one enters the sukkah, to invoke God's acceptance of the performance of this commandment.
7. A Sukkah Tale
Every year Rabbi Zusya of Hanipol invited many simpletons and ignoramuses to his sukkah.
When asked why he extended hospitality to such people, the sage replied,
"In the future world, where the righteous will dwell in the Tabernacle of Eternal Peace, I will also want to be among them. I fear that I may not be permitted to enter the Tabernacle, because it is unseemly that a lowly person like me can be on the same level as the righteous; therefore, I am establishing a just claim for myself. If the angels ask me, "How can you, an ignorant man, expect to be admitted into the Sukkat Shalom?" I will be able to reply, 'I welcomed simple people into my sukkah.'"
8. The Way of the Jews
The Duke of Mannheim once asked Rabbi Tzvi of Berlin, "What is the reason that children ask the 'Four Questions' on Passover and not on Sukkot? After all, on Sukkot you have more customs than on Passover, especially since you leave your permanent homes and live in temporary booths."
"Let me explain it to you," replied Rabbi Tzvi. "On Passover a child sees the family seated around a table with many tempting dishes, and they are freely relaxed in a way we Jews are not always permitted to enjoy. Therefore the child is surprised and asks the questions. But what does the little one see on Sukkot? The people of Israel leave their homes and sit outside without a roof over their heads. This is no surprise, for even a child knows that is the way for Jews in the Diaspora."
The materials in this file have been adapted from the "SUCCOT" folder written and produced by the former Publications Division of the Youth and Hechalutz Department, WZO and from "SUKKOT", a leaflet by the American Zionist Youth Foundation, WZO, New York.