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Automatic Service

Automatic Service

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Three requirements are discussed about the materials for the sechach (the sukkah covering): that they grow from the earth originally, that they are no longer connected to the earth when used, and that they cannot become ritually impure. One of the later authorities inquires: do these conditions qualify the the sechach or disqualify it? (In other words: either the qualification of the sechach depends on these conditions, or the disqualification comes from their absence.) He proves from Rashi’s wording that the former is correct.

Thus, it is not enough that sechach contains nothing disqualifying; there must be positive qualifying conditions. This principle also applies to individual spiritual service:

A person, too, may be free of “disqualifications” but lack “qualifications.” He may be one who from earliest youth soaked up Torah and piety, and is therefore free of “disqualifications.” He may, however, still lack “qualifications,” in that his achievements are not the product of effort, but rather “automatic.” This type of sechach is “disqualified,” for without labor, an attainment lacks true value.

Moreover, even one who reaches a certain level is not allowed to rest content; rather he must labor to achieve more. Failing this, his present level is considered “automatic,” since he does not now have to labor for it.

(Sichat Simchat Beit Hasho’eivah 5714)

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