1. Each day of Sukkos possesses two dimensions, a general quality connected with it as one of the days of Sukkos and a particular quality associated with its individual nature as the first, second, etc. day of the holiday. In addition, the seventh day of Sukkos possesses a further dimension as implied by the special name, Hosha’ana Rabbah, which is given to it.

As mentioned on the previous nights, we must increase our celebration and rejoicing on each day of Sukkos as implied by the general principle, “Always increase in regard to holy matters.” In particular, this applies in regard to Simchas Beis HaShoeivah. This obligation does not indicate that there was anything lacking in the previous days, but rather, since we are dealing with a holy matter, there must be an increase. Thus, tonight we must add to our rejoicing even though the celebration of Simchas Beis HaShoeivah on the previous nights was complete.

Surely, the latter statement is true. Throughout the entire year, Jewish law operates on the assumption that a Jew behaves as Torah requires of him. This definitely applies in the month of Tishrei, and in particular, on the holiday of Sukkos, when all spiritual qualities, including the true level of the Jewish people, are revealed.

We find a parallel to this concept in Torah law. Though throughout the year, the Sages would consider the unlearned people as ritually impure, during the festivals, they were considered as ritually pure. This is associated with their appearance before G‑d in the Temple. Our Sages stated: “Just as they would come to present themselves before G‑d, they would come to witness the revelation of the Divine Presence.” Thus, every Jew including even a young child who would be able to make the journey to Jerusalem holding on to his father’s hand would witness the revelation of the Divine Presence.

This concept is still reflected at present, while we are in exile. Even though the physical Temple is destroyed, the spiritual Temple, which revolves upon the Divine Presence resting in the heart of every Jew, is still intact. Indeed, G‑d’s command to build the Sanctuary in the desert, the source for the mitzvah to construct all future Sanctuaries and Temples, includes an allusion to the inner Sanctuary which each Jew possesses within his heart.

Thus, even though the physical Temple is destroyed, within the heart of every Jew, all the spiritual services performed in the Temple may be continued. On that basis, our Sages established the prayer services as compensation for the Temple sacrifices. Therefore, the tremendous celebration that was held in the Temple on the nights of Sukkos should also be paralleled in our service.

On this basis, we can understand the uniqueness of the seventh night of Sukkos. On each night of Sukkos, the celebrations were intensified and increased in comparison with the previous nights. Thus, on the seventh night, we reach a peak that was not achieved on any of the previous nights. In addition, this night possesses a unique quality as emphasized by the special name, Hosha’ana Rabbah, that it was given.

The literal translation of that name is “great salvation.” “Great” implies an aspect that transcends all boundaries and limitations, for as long as a quality has a limit, it cannot be truly deemed as “great.”

This dimension is reflected in the Hosha’anos — the prayers of praise that follow an alphabetical sequence and come as a continuation of the Hallel — recited on Hosha’ana Rabbah. Hosha’anos are recited on each day of Sukkos. However, on Hosha’ana Rabbah, we recite many more Hosha’anos than on the previous days. Furthermore, we repeat — and thus lift to a higher rung — all the Hosha’anos that were recited previously.

This unlimited dimension of Hosha’ana Rabbah is also related to its connection with the seventh day of Sukkos. Our Sages taught: “All sevenths are dear.” Thus, a measure of dearness that surpassed that bestowed upon all his predecessors was granted to Moshe, the seventh of the leaders of our people. Similarly, though there is a measure of dearness associated with each of the days of Sukkos, for they are all days of the festival, the aspect of dearness associated with Hosha’ana Rabbah surpasses all others.

[This quality receives greater emphasis this year — the Shemitah (seventh) year].

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2. The above is also associated with the Ushpizin of the present night, King Dovid and the Rebbe Rashab. The unique dearness of the seventh also relates to them. Thus, we find that the Hosha’anos recited on Hosha’ana Rabbah refer to Dovid: “Who exulted, danced, and sang; who studied Torah with the accompaniment of musical instruments,” and, “There has appeared a man, his name is Tzemach; it is Dovid, himself.”

The aspect of seven is also intrinsically connected with King Dovid who lived seventy years; i.e., seven ten year periods (for as we see in Pirkei Avos, our lives are divided into epochs of ten years). Furthermore, in those seventy years of life, King Dovid reached such a high level of fulfillment that even after his passing, on each Saturday night, we eat the Melaveh Malkah feast in his honor and, each month, when we consecrate the new moon, we proclaim: “King Dovid is living and enduring.”

There is an additional aspect to the above: In general, our service involves the study of Torah and the fulfillment of mitzvos. Between the two, precedence is given to the study of Torah as our Sages commented, “Torah study is equivalent to them all (i.e., all the mitzvos).” Furthermore, even within the context of the fulfillment of mitzvos, Torah study is also considered as a mitzvah and possesses a unique advantage over the other mitzvos.

There are many mitzvos which are connected with a certain time or circumstance. On a higher rung are the six mitzvos which we are constantly obligated to fulfill: believing in G‑d, loving Him, fearing Him, etc. (See the Introduction to Sefer HaChinuch.) However, even in regard to these mitzvos, the intent is not that in each moment, all of these mitzvos must be felt with equal force. On the contrary, there are times when the service of love is emphasized and, other occasions, when the stress is on fear.

In contrast, the obligation to study Torah is incumbent on a person every moment of the day. Indeed, if a person were to study Torah the entire day and spend one moment not studying Torah (or not involved in activities which Torah deems necessary) is considered to have “neglected Torah study” and is subject to the strict words of censure quoted by the Alter Rebbe in the first chapter of Tanya.

Furthermore, when Torah is studied in a complete manner, a person’s entire body is involved. It is not enough to think about the Torah one studies, one must actually vocalize the words of Torah. Also, not only one’s mouth, but one’s entire body should become involved in the process of study. Thus, our Sages declared, “If one’s Torah is wound up with one’s 248 limbs, it will be protected.” Hence, we see how, even from the standpoint of mitzvos, the study of Torah possesses a unique position.

[It must be emphasized that during this year, the Shemitah year, greater emphasis is placed on Torah study. Generally, the large majority of the Jewish people spend most of their time in worldly occupations, earning a livelihood. Though they also must establish fixed times for Torah study, it is only a select few who are able to devote their entire attention to Torah study. Nevertheless, in the Shemitah year, all agricultural work comes to a halt and all Jews can dedicate their time to Torah study.]

The unique dearness associated with the number seven is also connected with Torah for we find that our Sages spoke of the Torah as having seven books. Though generally we speak of the five books of Moshe, our Sages explain that the Book of Numbers actually contains within it three books. The two verses beginning, Vayihi B’nsoa HaAron... — (Whenever the Ark set out...) are considered as a “Book” and for this reason are surrounded by inverted nunnim in the Torah. Thus, the portion of Numbers before this verse is one book, these two verses a second, and the latter portion of Numbers, a third. Together with the other four books, we reach a total of seven.

The aspect of Torah is also related to the celebrations of Simchas Beis HaShoeivah and the Ushpizin of the present night. The celebrations of Simchas Beis HaShoeivah are associated with the verse: “And you shall draw water with joy from the wellsprings of deliverance.” Both “water” and “the wellsprings of deliverance” are metaphors for Torah. Similarly, the Book of Psalms authored by King Dovid parallels the Torah. It is divided into five books, but also subdivided into seven portions, each one corresponding to one of the days of the week. The Rebbe Rashab is also connected with Torah as emphasized by his founding of the Yeshivah Tomchei Temimim. There, the students reached a level of completion in Torah study, learning Pnimiyus HaTorah with the same depth of comprehension as one learns a subject in Nigleh, the legal realm of Torah study.

The two verses: “Whenever the Ark set out... And when it came to rest...”, which is central to the concept of the seven books of the Torah communicates three basic points: a) an emphasis of the aspect of the ark; b) the ark’s “setting out,” i.e., its effect in the world at large; c) its coming to rest, which is related to the concept [explained on the second night of Sukkos], “Do not abandon your place.”

Thus, the unique dearness of seven that is associated with the Torah is related to the ark “setting out” and bringing about change in the world. This is related to the description by the Previous Rebbe in the maamar, Basi LeGani, of Moshe, as the seventh of the righteous upon whom a unique dearness was bestowed. How was that dearness expressed? He was the one who brought the Shechinah to the world; i.e., the dearness of the seventh is associated with the revelation of G‑dliness with the world.

The latter quality is also related to the seventh day of Sukkos and the Ushpizin associated with that day. In regard to the seventh day of Sukkos:

The holiday of Sukkos is celebrated only by the Jews. [Indeed, our Sages explain that the Torah specifically excludes gentiles from the performance of the mitzvos of the holiday.] Nevertheless, the seventy bulls offered on Sukkos are representative of the seventy gentile nations and has a beneficial effect on them. In that context, it was explained on the previous nights that the fact that the number of bulls offered each day diminishes is a sign that the darkness and “goyishkeit” of the gentiles diminishes as the sacrifices are offered.

This implies that the gentiles will continue to exist, but in a refined manner. We find that the gentiles will exist even in the Messianic age as implied by the Rambam’s statements that the Mashiach will:

Improve the entire world, [inspiring all the nations] to serve G‑d together as it states: “I will make the peoples pure of speech that they will all call upon the name of G‑d and serve Him with a common purpose.”

Nevertheless, even then, Israel will be the chosen and the gentiles will serve them as the prophets proclaim: “Kings will be your guardians...” and “foreigners will arise and pasture your sheep” as Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai states: “When Israel performs G‑d’s will, their work will be carried out by others.” This implies that the gentiles will exist, however, the intent of their existences will be to serve the Jewish people.

[This concept is also related to the Shemitah year, when as mentioned above, the Jews refrain from involvement in all agricultural activities and dedicate their energies to Torah study. Therefore, they are worthy of having their work performed by others.]

This point is also related to the Ushpizin, King Dovid and the Rebbe Rashab. The coming of the Mashiach relates to both of them; to King Dovid, because the Mashiach will be a scion of Dovid and to the Rebbe Rashab, because as he emphasized in one of his addresses to the students of Tomchei Temimim, his aim in founding the Yeshiva was to educate “soldiers of the House of Dovid” who will nullify the influence of “those who shamed the footsteps of Your Mashiach” and prepare the world for the coming of the Mashiach.

What is the essence of the Messianic Age? It will be a time when the Jews and the entire world at large attain a state of ultimate perfection. The Jews will perform the mitzvos “as the commandments of Your will,” i.e., in total accordance with G‑d’s will. Similarly, the world at large will “serve G‑d with a common purpose.” Furthermore, it is explained that the fundamental aspect of Mashiach is the Yechidah of the Jewish people, i.e., that aspect of the Jewish soul which is bound up in essential connection with the essence of G‑d.

The revelation of this quality comes through the revelation of the Yechidah of Torah, i.e., Pnimiyus HaTorah, particular as it is revealed and explained in the teachings of Chabad. Studying this aspect of Torah will hasten the revelation of the correspondent quality in the world at large.

There is also a positive dimension to the concept of “those who shamed the footsteps of Your Mashiach” which is related to celebration. Even though generally, shaming a person is a negative quality, King Dovid set an example of an expression of this quality in the realm of holiness. When Dovid had the ark brought to Jerusalem, he “danced and celebrated before the ark with all his might.” Michal, the daughter of King Saul and Dovid’s wife — and thus, a person whose statements cannot easily be discounted — reproved him: “How glorious was the King of Israel today who revealed himself today as one of the low fellows shamelessly reveals himself.”

Dovid responded: “I will celebrate before the L‑rd and be more lightly esteemed than this, holding myself lowly, [and through this] I will be honored.” I.e. he explained that his celebration was in honor of the ark, the more lowly he held himself, the greater his true honor would be. This is the positive expression of shaming oneself, expressing an unbounded dimension of rejoicing, which though on the surface appears as demeaning, is ultimately, an expression of genuine honor.

The above narrative is also relevant to the holiday of Sukkos. The Rambam concludes Hilchos Shofar, Sukkah, and Lulav with the statement:

The rejoicing with which a person will celebrate at the fulfillment of a mitzvah and his love for G‑d who commanded it is a great service... Whoever lowers himself and regards his person lightly is truly great and worthy of honor.... Thus, Dovid, King of Israel, said: “I will be more lightly esteemed than this, holding myself lowly, [for] there is no greatness and honor other than to celebrate before G‑d.”

Thus, Dovid’s behavior serves as an example for all Jews in regard to the happiness they should feel in their service of Torah and mitzvos. However, the fact the Rambam mentions this concept in regard to the laws of Sukkos implies that there is a unique emphasis of this concept in regard to the celebrations of the festival of Sukkos.

Within the holiday of Sukkos itself, there is a greater stress on rejoicing on the seventh day because: a) it is the conclusion of the celebration of Simchas Beis HaShoeivah; b) it contains the unbounded dimension contributed by Hosha’ana Rabbah; c) it possesses the unique dearness granted to any of the seventh; d) its Ushpizin, King Dovid, sets the example for unbounded rejoicing.

Thus, the rejoicing of the present night has the potential to draw down happiness into the entire year that comes. Furthermore, it can also add a dimension of completeness to the celebration of the previous nights for Torah also gives the Jew the potential to change the past.

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3. Also, it is possible to derive a lesson from today’s portion of the Psalms. This is particularly significant on the present night for Psalms was authored by King Dovid, “the sweet singer of Israel,” who is the Ushpizin of the present night. Though there are a number of ways in which the Book of Psalms has been divided, we will explain the connection of the present day to the portion of Psalms as it is divided according to the monthly cycle. There are two reasons for this choice: a) This is the pattern of study which the Previous Rebbe instituted as a daily practice for our generation; b) these portions are relevant to the days of Sukkos, year after year without change.

Today’s portion of Psalms contains two Psalms: The first Psalm begins with the verse: “My soul, bless the L‑rd,” and the second Psalm concludes with the verse: “so that they might observe His statutes and keep His Torahs.” Both Psalms also conclude with the exclamation: “Halleluyah!”

It is possible to say that the first Psalm is associated with King Dovid, and the second Psalm, with the Rebbe Rashab as will be explained:

Our Sages explain that the Psalm, “Let my soul bless the L‑rd,” was written by King Dovid and reflects the relationship between the soul and G‑d; “just as the soul fills up the body, G‑dliness fills up the world.” Thus, it is associated with the Or HaMemale Kol Almin, the G‑dly light which enclothes itself within creation. This light has its source in the Sefirah of Malchus, the seventh Sefirah, which is associated with King Dovid.

The verse, “so that they might observe His statutes and keep His Torahs,” uses the plural for Torah, implying the combination of Nigleh and Pnimiyus HaTorah in a unified program of study as was fostered by the Rebbe Rashab by founding Yeshivas Tomchei Temimim.

As the verse continues, this fusion of the two disciplines of Torah leads to the exclamation: “Halleluyah! This can be explained as follows:

In the tenth (which reflects a level of completion) chapter of Hilchos Teshuvah, the Rambam describes the ultimate level of service of G‑d, the service of love as epitomized by our Patriarch, Avraham. The Rambam states:

What is the proper [degree of] love? That a person should love G‑d with a very great and exceeding love until his soul is bound up in the love of G‑d. Thus, he will always be obsessed with this love as if he is lovesick.... He will be obsessed with it at all times as is fitting, leaving everything in this world except for this.

Obsession implies a connection beyond the level of knowledge, a bond parallel to “the foolishness of holiness” described by the Previous Rebbe in the maamar Basi LeGani.

The Rambam concludes this chapter:

One can only love G‑d [as an outgrowth] of the knowledge with which he knows Him. [One’s] love is dependent on [one’s] knowledge... Therefore, it is necessary for a person to seclude himself in order to understand and conceive wisdom and concepts which make his Creator known to him.”

This approach to G‑d’s service is so fundamental that even “women and children who are [at first] educated to serve [G‑d] out of fear” must ultimately be taught to serve Him from love. To quote:

This secret should be revealed to them [slowly], bit by bit. They should be accustomed to this concept gradually until they grasp it and know it and begin serving [G‑d] out of love.

[This relates to the obligation women have to study Chassidus, as frequently explained. Since women are also obligated to fulfill the mitzvos of loving G‑d and fearing G‑d, they are required to engage in a program of study that will allow them to know G‑d, for that knowledge will bring about these emotions as explained above.]

Thus, to return to the verse from today’s portion of Psalms: The manner in which one “keeps His Torahs” has got to lead a person to such feelings of love that he cries out in praise of G‑d, Halleluyah!

Furthermore, the emphasis is that the study of both Torahs must evoke these feelings, i.e., not only the study of Chassidus which explicitly explains those subjects which motivate love for G‑d, but even the study of Nigleh must call forth these emotions.

This exclamation is connected to the holiday of Sukkos as a whole and, in particular, to Hosha’ana Rabbah. Halleluyah relates to the intent of the recitation of Hallel, particularly, the complete Hallel, and even more so, Hallel as accompanied by the Hosha’anos as is the custom on Sukkos. These prayers include reference to the full range of existence, from the most mundane and worldly to the deepest truths.

The above is more relevant today, which is: a) the final day of reciting Hallel on Sukkos; b) Hosha’ana Rabbah which has many additional Hosha’anos; c) the day connected with the Ushpizin, King Dovid; d) a day on which both of the Psalms in its daily portion conclude with the exclamation, Halleluyah!

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4. It is also necessary to derive a lesson from the Torah portion connected with the present day. That portion is from the sixth Aliyah in Parshas Zos HaBerachah (which is read this year for two weeks and also, the beginning of a third week for Simchas Torah, which falls on Sunday, is also associated with Zos HaBerachah). That Aliyah contains the verse: “Happy are you, Israel!”

On this verse, Rashi comments: After Moshe mentioned the particular blessings for each tribe, he told them, “Why must I mention all the particulars? The general rule is: `Everything is yours.’“ Thus, this portion expresses the conclusion and the sum total of the blessings which Moshe, described as “one who loved Israel,” gave the Jews. He told them: “This is the blessing...,” i.e., the blessing was concrete to the extent that he could point to it and say, “This is it,” and concludes with this general blessing that transcends all particulars.

This blessing is also connected with the seventh day of Sukkos and its Ushpizin, King Dovid. As the Midrash comments: Dovid began [the Book Of Psalms] where Moshe concluded. Moshe concluded, “Happy are you, Israel.” Dovid began: “Happy is the man....” The Book of Psalms, in turn, concludes with the exclamation, “Halleluyah,” which is also the conclusion of today’s portion of Psalms.

To explain the above verse from a deeper perspective: The Hebrew word Ashrechah — translated as “happy are you” is related to the quality of Ta’anug — pleasure, an unbounded potential. Therefore, it can serve as a general category including all the blessings.

This concept is also associated with the first verse of the daily portion: “[The heavens are] the abode of the eternal G‑d.” This verse continues the theme of the verses which precede it that describe G‑d as the One “who rides through the heavens to your aid, through the skies in His grandeur,” emphasizing how G‑d is totally unbounded, transcending the heavens.

Today’s portion continues: “Israel will dwell in safety, alone, in keeping with [the blessings of] Yaakov.” Baddad, “alone,” is numerically equivalent to ten, a number which implies a state of perfection (e.g., the ten commandments, the ten utterances of creation). These blessings are given to each and every Jew.

The final verse of the portion states: “you shall tread on their high places,” which the commentaries associate with Yehoshua’s command to the people to tread upon the necks of the conquered Canaanite kings, and thus, sheds light on the Jews’ relations with gentiles.

It was explained above that the Jews were “chosen from among all the nations.” This implies that there are to be many nations, so that the world can continue in a settled fashion, and from them G‑d chose the Jews. In this way, the Jews will be able to devote themselves to the study of Torah and the performance of mitzvos and their work will be performed by others. “Kings will be your guardians, and their queens, your nursemaids.”

The abovementioned verse communicates a similar concept. The “high places,” i.e., the gentiles, exist. However, the reason for their existence is so that the Jews can tread upon them. [Furthermore, by having the people tread on the necks of the conquered Canaanite kings Yehoshua made it easier for this quality to be revealed again. In Tanya, the Alter Rebbe explains that once anything has been carried out for the first time, less effort is required for the phenomenon to be repeated.]

This concept is intrinsically related to the holiday of Sukkos, when seventy bulls are offered corresponding to the seventy nations of the world. Bulls are considered “the kings of the domesticated animals” and thus, they refer to the kings of the gentiles as mentioned above.

The sacrifice of these seventy bulls alludes to the refinement of the gentile nations. Thus, Hosha’ana Rabbah, the final day of these sacrifices, is the culmination of this process of refinement and is related to the Messianic era when the gentiles will be transformed into good with the revelation of G‑dliness throughout the world. This is even more relevant at the present time when we are close to the conclusion of the exile and only a few moments remain before the Mashiach’s coming.

May the above words have an effect and motivate a celebration of Simchas Beis HaShoeivah in a manner that surpasses the celebrations of the previous nights. Thus, in addition to reciting the Tikkun of Hosha’ana Rabbah, the celebration of Simchas Beis HaShoeivah should be held in an appropriate way. Furthermore, even the gentiles should be encouraged to watch [and participate in] the celebrations as may be inferred from the explanations above.

Also, a reminder should be made regarding the custom of eating an apple dipped in honey on Hosha’ana Rabbah. This is an extension of the more widespread custom of eating an apple dipped in honey on Rosh Hashanah.

In Russia, in the synagogue where my father and I prayed, it was customary that during the recitation of Psalms on Hosha’ana Rabbah, the gabbaim would distribute an apple and honey to all the congregants. Those who followed the Chabad custom of not eating anything outside a sukkah would later take the apple and eat it in the sukkah. May this custom bring everyone a good and sweet year, including the ultimate good — the coming of the Mashiach.

This will be hastened by an increase in joy, an increase in singing and dancing, and also, an increase in the celebration of the gentiles as implied by the verse, “Praise the L‑rd, all you nations,” until we merit the ultimate dance of celebration with the coming of Mashiach, speedily, in our days.