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The Crown of Halacha

Succos 5778 – A Second Chance

This entry is part 2 of 11 in the series Bereishis 5778

Succos 5778 – A Second Chance

There are those who say that our judgment is not completely sealed until after HoshanaRabba. For sure many of us would want to make a final appeal, but what would we say? What unique aspect of Succos can we focus on so that our last appeal will be heard with the greatest rachamim? Rabbi Eliezer Rosner, zt”l cites a well-known story about Rabbi Yehuda HaNasi that can help us discover how, during the week of Succos, we can mitigate a harsh judgment that may have been handed down on Yom Kippur.

The Runaway

The story begins with a calf breaking free while being led to slaughter. According to Chazal, the calf, bellowing in terror, tries to hide under the robe of Rabbi Yehuda HaNasi. Rabbi Yehuda pushes the animal away, saying: “Go, for this purpose you were created.”  For responding to the calf in this manner, Heaven inflicted upon Rabbi Yehuda, painful gastric problems, saying, “Since he showed no pity, let us bring suffering upon him”.

Chazal remarks that when Yehudah haNasi prayed for relief, his prayers were ignored, just as he had ignored the pleas of the calf. Many years later he prevented his maid from expelling baby weasels from his house in a violent manner, on the basis that “It is written: ‘His Rachamim is upon all his works.’” At this point Heaven removed the gastric problems from him, saying, “Since he has shown compassion, let us be compassionate with him”. (Baba Metzia 85A)

Why Was Rabbi Yehuda HanasiPunnished at All?

On the surface, it seems that Rabbi Yehuda did not do anything that was deserving of such punishment. After all, the calf was destined to be slaughtered. And it would certainly be out of character to think that he spoke to the calf harshly or gave the calf a kick. Most likely he was soft with his words and gentle with his actions. So the overwhelming question becomes, “Why was Rabbi Yehuda haNasi punished at all? What did he do that was so bad?”

The answer is that the moment the calf came under Rabbi Yehuda haNassi’s robes he was under the domain (reshut) of Rabbi Yehuda. Therefore he could have annulled the decree that was against the calf. He had the ability and the right to do so. Because he did not, he was punished.

The Succah is Our Chance to Dwell Together With the Shechina!

The power of the Succah is that it is Hashem’s domain. The Shechina dwells on the schach and we rejoice while under Hashem’s divine protection. Hashem planned that we would enter into His domain immediately after Yom Kippur so that we would have another chance to ask for forgiveness. “Hashem, I am in your domain! I take pleasure in your commandments! Please, look kindly on me; please mitigate any bad decree against me. I beg of you, have rachmonus on me and my family!”

May we all merit see the BaisHamikdash rebuilt in our days and rejoice in the SimchasBaisHashoava!



Series Navigation<< Shabbos Shuva 5778 – The Master CraftsmanNoach 5778 – Build it to Last Forever >>
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