Every day of Sukkos has two aspects: the common general theme of the seven days of Sukkos, and the individual, unique theme of the particular day. On the third day of Sukkos we will discover that the individual theme is also related to the general theme; its unique aspect is also expressed by the whole holiday.

Pesach is the first of the “Sholosh Regalim,” Shavuos is second, and Sukkos is the third holiday. This order is very precise because it will dictate a rule in Halachah.

The Gemara states:

And for festivals...the legal import of this rule is for determining when one who makes a vow transgresses the precept of “not delaying....” As it has been taught: Whether a man makes a vow...as soon as three festivals elapse [before he carries out his word] he transgresses the precept of “not delaying”...the three festivals must be in order, with Passover first. (Rosh Hashanah 4a)

Thus, the order that places Sukkos as the third holiday is very precise and exact.

Now, on the third day of the holiday this aspect of third is enhanced, for it is the “third of the third.”

The third day also carries with it the theme of “chazakah”:

A presumption (chazakah) is established only when it occurs three times. (B. Metzia 106b)

Thus, the holiday of Sukkos is firmly set and strengthened (the meaning of chazakah) with the onset of the third day.

This concept is connected with the Ushpizin, Sukkah guest, of the third day — the Patriarch Yaakov. Yaakov was the third and “chosen” Patriarch. Chassidus explains that he “sweetened” the blessings of the severity of Yitzchok, which came from the kindness of Avraham and allowed the great benevolence stored therein to be bestowed on the world. He introduced the “strength” of the manifold blessings.

The number “three” also has a connection to a gathering of many Jews. “Three” indicates peace and unity. “One” has no adversary, “two” oppose each other and the third makes peace. This is true of the heavenly peace which G‑d invokes upon the angels, Michael and Gavriel, as well as the peace of the three-member Bais Din which can make a definitive ruling in Halachah; only because there are three judges. When many Jews gather in unison we see that despite their differences they can be united. This is the power of three.

The special quality of the third day will also express itself in the Simchas Bais HaShoeivah of the third night. Although each day of the holiday has a special emphasis, in each day, the different parts of the day evoke different aspects of Divine service. Traditionally, the time for Simchas Bais HaShoeivah is at night, so that on the night of the third day of Sukkos the focus will be on the celebration of Simchas Bais HaShoeivah. Being that this is the first night of Chol HaMoed it will present the first opportunity to use musical instruments, torches, etc., to enhance the festivities and increase the joy of Simchas Bais HaShoeivah.

The theme of the third day of Sukkos will also enhance the general theme of all the festivals, which is “festivals for rejoicing.” Sukkos, of course, is called the “Season of our Rejoicing” which is most effectively expressed during the Simchas Bais HaShoeivah.

The third day of Sukkos is the first day of Chol HaMoed. There are differences between Yom Tov and Chol HaMoed, as expressed in Shulchan Aruch:

The two mitzvos of “honor” and “delight” (kovod and oneg) apply only on Yom Tov and not in Chol HaMoed, which is not referred to as a day of “holy assembly” (except regarding the sacrifices). (Shulchan Aruch HaRav, Laws of Yom Tov, 529:5)

Now, rejoicing, is specifically included:

The entire seven day period of Pesach and the eight day period of Sukkos as well as the holiday of Shavuos, everyone must be happy and glad of heart. (Ibid.:6)

The Alter Rebbe adds:

This rejoicing is a positive Biblical commandment as it is said: “You shall rejoice in your festival.” (Ibid.)

Thus the mitzvah to rejoice during Chol HaMoed is by Scriptural injunction. But since there was some question as to its basis, and the sages had to reaffirm its importance and clarify its source, it attains a stronger position; as any law which was questioned and challenged and then vindicated. So, when we rejoice on the third day of Sukkos, which is the beginning of Chol HaMoed, we enhance the theme of joy which is the basis of all of the holidays.

This year brings with it particular qualities relative to this day. The fact that this year is a leap year is a very general aspect of the year. Yet, this “wholeness” of the year should affect all aspects of the year and especially the holidays.

Chassidus explains that each festival radiates spiritual life which carries till the next holiday. If so, the holiday of Sukkos generates the greatest force, for it must last a half year until Pesach. While from Pesach it only lasts to Shavuos and from Shavuos it must only reach to Sukkos.

Now, in a leap year the extra month is Adar I which adds another 30 days to the period between Sukkos and Pesach. If so, on Sukkos of a leap year there must be a much greater spiritual force generated to last a longer time.

Where specifically can we pinpoint the extra energy? In the Simchas Bais HaShoeivah. The extra month will be Adar, the month of joy, therefore the extra strength must come from the joyouscelebrations of Simchas Bais HaShoeivah during Sukkos, which will radiate till the months of Adar I and II.

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This aspect, that a leap year is a “whole year” (13 months full) may be related to the “Ushpizin — guest” of the third day, the Alter Rebbe. His name was Schneur Zalman, and it is known that he illuminated the world with the “two lights” (Shnei-or) of Torah (exoteric and esoteric). But the Alter Rebbe had a second name, “Zalman.” Being a Yiddish name, it signifies the absolute descent and application of the influence of “Schneur”; the absolute unity of purpose, with action. This same idea is expressed by the term “whole year.” Every aspect of time in this leap year is whole and complete in a uniform and unified manner.

These same thoughts will also express themselves through the Torah section assigned to this day. In today’s Torah section we find:

And of Zevulun he said, “Rejoice, Zevulun in your going out; and Yissachar in your tents.” (Devarim 33:18)

Rashi expounds:

Yissachar, be successful when you sit in your tents to study the Torah. (loc. cit.)

We find a similar reference in the portion of Vayechi when Yaakov blessed Yissachar:

Yissachar bears the yoke of Torah like a strong donkey upon which may be placed a heavy load. (Rashi, Bereishis 49:14)

Clearly the role and theme of Yissachar is Torah study. However we may understand that Zevulun shared that association with Torah. Rashi put it this way:

Zevulun and Yissachar entered into a partnership. Zevulun dwelt at the harbor of ships and went out in ships to trade; he made profit and used to provide food for Yissachar who stayed at home and occupied themselves with Torah. Consequently he mentioned Zevulun before Yissachar (although the latter was the elder) because Yissachar’s knowledge of Torah was due to Zevulun. (Rashi, loc. cit.)

In this arrangement Zevulun’s business sorties were not for their own end, rather only as a means to provide for Yissachar’s Torah. As the Shulchan Aruch actually rules, two people may agree that one person will study while the other will support him — and the merit of the Torah will be divided. Moreover, it will be considered as if the business partner had actually studied the Torah.

So, both the blessings given to Zevulun as well as Yissachar revolve around the importance of Torah. We can relate this subject with today’s Ushpizin — Sukkah guests — Yaakov the Patriarch and the Alter Rebbe. Both had the theme of Torah!

In discussing the importance of Torah study begun with the blessing of Yissachar, in today’s Torah portion, we see an advancement to a higher level in Torah expressed by Moshe in the blessing bestowed on the tribe of Gad:

To Gad he said: ...He dwells at peace like a dread lion tearing as prey the arm and head...for that is where the portion of the law giver is hidden...doing what is just with G‑d, and lawful with Israel. (Ibid 33:20-21)

The Torah studied in Yissachar’s tents refers to normal times and normal situations when there are no problems involved in studying Torah. But there may be times and places where Torah study is threatened and one must show mesirus nefesh (un-daunted self-sacrifice) in order to study Torah.

This demands the prowess of Gad — because they settled near the border they were as strong as lions — and in their Torah study they exhibited the same steadfastness. Similarly, when there is opposition, it is necessary to conjure up the power of the “Lawgiver” — Moshe our teacher, who “engraved” the Torah in the heart of every Jew and gave us the “lawful” rules of Halachah. For when the rules of Halachah are actually applied in daily life, then Torah is truly expanded. Thus in today’s portion we move from normal Torah study, to the need for sacrifice, until the ultimate level of action.

In the case of Yaakov and the Alter Rebbe we will find these varied levels of Torah study. Yaakov was at first:

A scholarly man who remained with the tents; (Bereishis 25:27)

similar to Yissachar’s tents. He then was faced with trials and tribulations when he was forced to leave Eretz Yisrael and descend to Charan which represented the “anger of G‑d at the world” (Rashi, Noach). Like a lion he had to overcome the opposition and he continued to study Torah with mesirus nefesh.

By day I was consumed by the scorching heat, and at night by the frost, when sleep was snatched from my eyes. (Ibid. 31:40)

In fact, the strength of Gad comes as a reward for Yaakov’s action, for the power of Gad was based on the mitzvah of Tefillin; (See R. Bachya in Bamidbar, Mattos) and we know that Yaakov fulfilled the inner goals of the mitzvah of Tefillin, when he carved the sticks. (See Zohar I, p. 161b)

The Alter Rebbe, too, underwent an odyssey, first studying peacefully with the Maggid, then experiencing the jealousy of his peers when he rose above them, for which he needed superhuman strength to withstand, and finally reaching the zenith of his knowledge when he was appointed by the Maggid to write the Shulchan Aruch, which teaches directives and halachic rulings.

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This theme of Torah which we perceive in today’s Ushpizin may also be connected with today’s Rambam section.

In chapter 3 of Laws of Festival Offerings (Chagigah) the Rambam speaks of the mitzvah of Hakhel which took place during the holiday of Sukkos in the year following Shemitah (the seventh, fallow year).

It is a positive commandment to assemble all Israelites, men, women and children... and in their hearing to read chapters from the Torah which shall keep them diligent in the commandments and strengthen them in the true religion. (Laws of Chagigah 3:1)

And as the Torah says:

They will thus learn to be in awe of G‑d your L‑rd, carefully keeping all the words of this Torah. (Devarim 31:12)

Clearly, the theme of Hakhel is the same as the theme of the third day of Sukkos — Torah.

But another point must be made. In discussing the mitzvah of Hakhel the Rambam emphasizes certain points:

..They must make ready their heart and give ear with their ears to hearken in awe and reverence and troubling joy, as in the day when the Torah was given on Sinai. Even great scholars who know the entire law must listen with utmost attention... for Scripture has ordained it solely for the strengthening of true religion; and a man should so regard himself as though the Torah was now laid upon him for the first time and as though he heard it now from the mouth of the L‑rd.... (Ibid.:6)

In other words, the main purpose of Hakhel is not just to teach everyone Torah, but also to reestablish the link of G‑d, Torah and Israel, for one must visualize that he is standing at Sinai and receiving the Torah.

This would be similar to prayer, which follows Torah study, when the intention is to unite oneself with the Giver of Torah, the Holy One, Blessed be He. It is also comparable to the influence of the esoteric teachings on the revealed Torah — which adds “soul” to the “body” of Torah study and introduces the proper “intention” and “attention” on the part of the scholar. Here we see an additional connection to the Alter Rebbe who shone with “two lights,” the revealed and hidden lights of Torah.

By using the term “true religion,” the Rambam also makes the connection between Hakhel and Yaakov who represented the attribute of “truth,” (cf. Tanya ch. 13) and the Alter Rebbe, who revealed the ultimate truthofTorah by combining prayer as an introduction to Torah and the hidden and revealed aspects of Torah together.

The Rambam teaches that the mitzvah of Hakhel is to gather all Jews together, in other words, the act of coming together is part of the mitzvah. Clearly we see in this an expression of Jewish unity, which epitomizes Ahavas Yisrael as an essential ingredient in Hakhel.

Let us now gather together all of these thoughts and relate them to the joy of Simchas Bais HaShoeivah. The Alter Rebbe explains in Likkutei Torah that the joy of Simchas Bais HaShoeivah — drawing the water from the well — and pouring it — is symbolic of the deep questing and “drilling” of Torah study into the fundamental sources of man’s soul and the hidden recesses of the Torah. The joy of Simchas Bais HaShoeivah is the joy of Torah, especially when it is learned in the manner of Yaakov as he was in Charan — the aspect of self-sacrifice for Torah. In fact, the Midrash relates that Yaakov used to recite the psalms of Shir HaMa’alos — songs of ascension — in Tehillim.

The Gemara tells us that during the Simchas Bais HaShoeivah the Levites,

..were there upon the fifteen steps leading down from the Court of the Israelites to the Court of the Women corresponding to the fifteen psalms of ascent in the Tehillim. It was upon these that the Levites stood with their instruments of music and sang their songs. (Sukkah 51b)

Thus the theme of today’s Ushpizin, and the content of the Rambam section, as well as the other Torah sections, all blend together the idea of Torah and simchah with the joy of Simchas Bais HaShoeivah.

This leads to the practical application of all this philosophy — to rejoice tonight in an immeasurable way. And may the joy pierce the boundaries of the galus and bring our righteous Mashiach — first, Mashiach ben Yosef and immediately thereafter, Mashiach ben Dovid. The true and complete redemption through our righteous Mashiach, Dovid King Mashiach, speedily and truly in our days.