Today is Isru Chag from Sukkos/Shemini Atzeres. There are many interesting inyonim related to these two Yomim Tovim. I do not have wifi in my sukkah, otherwise I’d have written about them at the time, but seeing as there is still an element of the previous Chag that carries over into Isru Chag, now would be the best time to write about them.
There is an interesting discussion about a posuk mentioned in Hallel in Maseches Sukkah, אסרו חג בעבותים עד קרנות המזבח “Bind the festival offering with cords unto the corners of the Altar.” There are two different ways of understanding this according to the gemoro in daf 45a-b, the first being that we can understand this to mean that through fulfilling the mitzvos of the arba minim properly, which are bound together, it is considered that one has built the Mizbeach (altar); the other opinion, said in the name of R’ Shimon bar Yochai, is that we should bind the holiday itself through eating and drinking, which according to many means to rejoice with a special seudah on Isru Chag, the day after the Chag.
One aspect of receiving brochos, as I learned from one of my rabbis some years ago, is that there must be a kli (vessel) to receive the brocho. This is the essential idea of using a kos shel brocho (cup of blessing) for Birkas HaMazon, as well as leaving some bread behind before saying the blessings, that is that there should be a substance for Hashem to grant us blessing through. Through Sukkos and Shemini Atzeres there are various Yichudim that are performed in the higher worlds. The Shechinah and Z’air Anpin (Masculine Divinity) turn from their backs facing each other, kav’yochol, to facing each other, and being completely unified, as explained in depth in Shaar HaKavannos. This is done through the living in a sukkah and shaking the Arba Minim every day of Sukkos, and on Shemini Atzeres we simply have the mitzvah to rejoice with Hashem, as stated in the gemoro in Maseches Sukkah that Shemini Atzeres is the holiday in which the King dines privately with His beloved subject; this is further explained in the Zohar describing the great joy that this is for Hashem and Klal Yisroel.
In order to receive the blessings of all the previous days, we have to create the vessel for this. It isn’t enough to perform the ritual actions, we have to carry the simcha of the holiday with us also. The Belzer ruv said in the name of the Ateres Tzvi of Zidichoiv that learning Torah by night throughout the winter brings the kedusha (sanctity) of the holiday upon those who do this l’shem shomayim. Through eating a special seudah today to show our love for Hashem and His mitzvos with the intent to connect this (read: to bind this) with the mitzva of Arba Minim, it can be properly considered as if we built the Mizbeach and brought offerings to Hashem, as shown through the movements done with the Arba Minim according to the Maharsha. Since we connect the mitzva of Arba Minim to the day of Isru Chag through also eating the seudah, this allows us to bring down the great chasodim we arouse through our tefillos and mitzvos from the past week into the physical world, for ourselves as well as those around us.
A git vinter, a gezinte vinter!