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Succos - Ushpizin of Avraham

 

 

Each day of Succos corresponds to one of the seven Ushpizin - the seven saintly guests who visit us on Succos. The first day of Succos is the Ushpizin of Avraham Avinu.

 

"ואברהם זקן בא בימים וה' ברך את אברהם בכל."

“And Avraham was old and came with his days, and Hashem blessed Avraham with everything.” (Bereishis 24:1)

Rashi comments on this verse that the word “everything” means that Hashem blessed Avraham with a son. By saying this, it seems as if Rashi is actually minimizing the significance of this blessing. If Hashem blessed Avraham with “everything,” that would include a son. It is as if Rashi is telling us that Avraham was blessed only with a son.

 

"ויקרא אליו מלאך ה' מן השמים ויאמר אברהם אברהם ויאמר הנני ויאמר אל תשלח ידך אל הנער וגו'."

“And an angel of Hashem called to him from heaven and said: ‘Avraham, Avraham!’ And he said, ‘I am here.’ And [the angel] said: ‘Do not send your arm to the lad!’” (Ibid. 22:12)

Why did the angel call Avraham’s name twice?

 

"ומלכי צדק מלך שלם הוציא לחם ויין והוא כהן לקל עליון וגו'. ויתן לו מעשר מכל."

And Malki Tzedek the king of Shalem brought out bread and wine; and he was a priest of G-d… …and [Avraham] gave him a tithe of all he had.” (Ibid. 14:18-20)

This verse recounts how Malki Tzedek, also known as Shem the son of Noach, brought bread and wine for Avraham when he returned from the war against the four kings.

 

It says in Yecheskel (33:24): “Avraham was echad - one.” In what aspect was Avraham greater than everyone else? Although there certainly were many great tzaddikim throughout the ages, Avraham was unique in his knowledge of Hashem. In addition to his own acknowledgement of Hashem, he wanted to spread the name of Hashem throughout the entire world, and he converted many people to monotheism. This is the significance of the word “echad” in reference to Avraham, because Avraham taught the world that Hashem is “echad” – the one and only G-d.

 

On Succos we take four species – an esrog (citron), a lulav (palm branch), hadassim (myrtle), and aravos (willow). The Midrash tells us that the four species are symbolic of four different categories of Jews. The esrog, which is a flavorful fruit with a pleasant scent, symbolizes tzaddikim. The lulav is useful but has no scent, while the hadassim have a pleasant scent but no special use. These two species symbolize Jews who have certain qualities, although they are not completely righteous. The aravos represent the weakest elements of Jewry because this species has no special use, nor does it have any special scent.

On Succos, we take all four species together in order to show that all Jews are part of Am Yisroel. When the aravos – the weaker Jews – are connected to the other species, the sweet scent of the esrog will rub off on them and they will become better. We take two willow branches, because twice the word arava has the same numerical value as the words “Ahava Yisroel” – love towards every fellow Jew.

 

This concept is further hinted at in the Gemara (Succah 26b) where it says that “It is proper for all Jews to sit in one Succah.” On Succos, all Jews are accepted and welcomed into the Succah. This was Avraham Avinu’s mission. He dedicated his life to teaching people – all people - about Hashem.

 

Malki Tzedek was the king of Shalem, which means “shleimus” – completeness. He brought out bread and wine. These two items represent two different forms of avodas Hashem (Divine service). A person who strives for shleimus (wholesomeness) welcomes Jews from different walks of life even if they serve Hashem differently than he. The only thing that matters is that they are “priests for G-d” and strive to do His will.

When a person tithes his produce, he is permitted to eat all that is left afterwards. The act of tithing makes the entire crop permissible. Likewise, the tribe of Levi is called the “tithe” of the Jewish people. The tribe of Levi is not sanctified in contrast to the Jewish people, who remain lowly. On the contrary, the entire Jewish nation becomes elevated along with them, just as previously forbidden produce becomes permissible after being tithed. This is the meaning of the words: “And he tithed all he had.” Avraham included all people and elevated them. He did not draw any lines to exclude certain people, but he taught every single person about Hashem.

 

Therefore, Avraham prayed (Bereishis 17:18) that his son Yishmael should live for G-d. He knew that not all of his offspring will be as righteous as Yitzchak, and he feared that if only those who are completely righteous will be counted as part of the Jewish people, then the Jewish nation will lose many of its children. Avraham’s intention was that since “prayer accomplishes half of what is requested”, then even though Yishmael will not be part of the Jewish nation, at least Yitzchak and Yaakov’s offspring will forever be considered part of the Jewish people. Even if there will be Jews who go through difficult nisyonos and fail those tests, they will still remain the offspring of Avraham, Hashem’s beloved servant.

 

This is the meaning of the verse: “And Hashem blessed Avraham with everything,” and Rashi’s comment that this refers to Avraham’s offspring. Hashem blessed him that all Jews will forever remain the children of Avraham.

 

The angel called Avraham’s name twice – once to call Avraham, and once more as a reference to Avraham’s future offspring. The angel said: “Do not touch the lad!” Do not harm Yitzchak in any way because from him will come forth the Jewish people, who will spread the name of Hashem throughout the entire world.

 

Rashi’s comment that “everything” means Avraham’s children, doesn’t minimize the blessing. On the contrary, it increases the significance of the blessing, because Avraham was already old and he would not have had any benefit from his many blessings for much longer. By being blessed with offspring who will perpetuate his legacy, the many blessings he received will accompany his children throughout the generations and will remain with him forever.

 

Today, the first day of Succos, is the Usphizin of Avraham. We must emulate Avraham and welcome every single Jew, in order to bring them close to Hashem. We must strive to conduct ourselves according to the ways of Avraham by loving Hashem and loving every fellow Jew, and bring them close to Torah so that Hashem’s name should be sanctified and glorified throughout the world.

This Weeks Divrei Torah is dedicated in honor of:
Shmuel ben Chaim
Feinberg A"H
5708-5769 9 Shvat

This Weeks Divrei Torah is dedicated in honor of:

 
 
 
 
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