1. It is proper to begin with blessing, with the salutation, Moadim l’Simchah. To a greater extent than on other holidays, this greeting is particularly appropriate for the festival of Sukkos, “the season of our rejoicing.” There are levels within the concept of happiness. The other festivals focus on other aspects — freedom and the giving of the Torah — and happiness is not the primary concern. In contrast, as the name “the season of our rejoicing” implies, on Sukkos, the focus is on happiness.

The concept that “the season of our rejoicing” follows “the season of the giving of our Torah” provides us with a fundamental lesson. On the surface, the ultimate source of happiness is the knowledge that G‑d “chose us from among the nations and gave us His Torah.” If so, why should the celebration of Sukkos be more joyous than that of Shavuos to the extent that it is called, “the season of our rejoicing.”

In resolution of this question, it is explained that Sukkos is also associated with the giving of the Torah for the second tablets were given on Yom Kippur. This dimension is not, however, stressed on Yom Kippur because that day is associated with forgiveness and atonement and it is on Sukkos, that the connection with the Torah1 comes into revelation2 and thus, becomes a source for happiness. Indeed, it is marked by even greater rejoicing than that associated with the giving of the first tablets. Therefore, the rejoicing of Sukkos surpasses that of Shavuos.

On Sukkos, the complete revelation of the influence of the giving of the Torah is at the conclusion of the holiday, on Shemini Atzeres and Simchas Torah3 which share a more direct connection with the giving of the second tablets on Yom Kippur. For that reason, the rejoicing of Simchas Torah surpasses that of all the other festivals, and even surpasses that of all the days of Sukkos.4

Thus, tonight is also an appropriate night to mention the importance of increasing our study of Torah and in particular, the study of Pnimiyus HaTorah as revealed in the teachings of the Rebbeim.5 Through Torah study, a perfect and wondrous union with G‑d is established. As the Zohar relates, there are three bonds, the Jews connect with the Torah and the Torah connects them with G‑d. Similarly, the Jews connect G‑d’s essence to the Torah. [This clarifies the expression “three bonds.” Generally, the Torah is seen as an intermediary to develop the connection between the Jews and G‑d. Chassidus, however, explains how through the Jews’ bond with G‑d, they draw down His essence into the Torah they study.6 ]

It is possible to elaborate further on these concepts, but that is undesirable for it would detract from the time to be spent celebrating Simchas Beis HaShoeivah. Each person desires happiness. Accordingly, he should do his part in increasing that happiness.

What does this entail? A factor which always contributes to increased happiness is the presence of new faces, people who have not taken part in the celebrations previously. Therefore, each person should do his part to bring others to Simchas Beis HaShoeivah. Each person has an inclination to refrain from these efforts, explaining to himself: This is the fifth night of Sukkos. If the other person has not come to Simchas Beis HaShoeivah as of yet — and I have not done anything to bring him — why should tonight be any different. This is, however, a wrong approach. One must go out and try to influence another person, even if his level is far less than yours to join in these celebrations.7

In this context, a lesson can be taken from the ushpiz8 of the present evening, Aharon, the priest,9 who is described as, “loving peace and pursuing peace.” We are told to “Be of Aharon’s students... love the creations10 and bring them close to Torah.”

[Here, we see a connection to the Chassidic ushpiz of the present evening, the Tzemach Tzedek who risked his life in his activities connected with the Cantonists, in order to bring them close to Torah.]

There is another dimension to the above directive. Just as we should try to bring other people, “new faces,” to Simchas Beis HaShoeivah, we should also bring out a new person in our own being and bring him to Simchas Beis HaShoeivah and celebrate with new and increased joy.

This will lead to the time when we proceed, “with our youth and our elders, our sons and our daughters,” to Eretz Yisrael, to Jerusalem, and to the Beis HaMikdash and the Holy of Holies, together with Mashiach and the ultimate redemption. May it come about immediately.