1. A distinction may be made between the celebration of Simchas Bais HaShoeivah in the Bais HaMikdash and the celebration of Simchas Bais HaShoeivah after the Bais HaMikdash was destroyed.

The Mishnah states:

The flute playing at Bais HaShoeivah (the place of the water-drawing) ... overrides neither Shabbos nor any festival day. (Sukkah 50a)

Thus, when the Bais HaMikdash stood they did not celebrate Simchas Bais HaShoeivah on Shabbos. Now, however, when we have no Bais HaMikdash, we may celebrate Simchas Bais HaShoeivah on Shabbos!

Strangely enough, the diaspora, which in every sense is so detestable, takes on a positive aspect in this case:

The spoiling thereof makes it fit. (See Shabbos 80b)

The galus allows us to celebrate Simchas Bais HaShoeivah even on Shabbos and Yom Tov. And since there might have been a doubt whether or not to permit the celebration because of the prohibition in the time of the Bais HaMikdash, and eventually it was allowed, consequently the intensity of the rejoicing must be increased manifold — like the quality of light out of the darkness.

Shabbos also adds to the rejoicing. How?

You called it the most desirable of days, (Siddur)

for we know that one of the translations of the term, “Vayechulu — were completed,” relates it to the root, “delight.” Since Shabbos brings perfection to the preceding days and blessing to the ensuing days, its strategic position in the middle of Sukkos enhances the joy of the celebration of all of the other days of Sukkos. Consequently, the Shabbos itself must have a more intense measure of happiness.

We can now examine the special addition of rejoicing introduced by the “Ushpizin — guests” of this day: Yosef and the Rebbe Maharash.

The Rebbe Maharash advocated the theme of “Lechat’chilah Aribber” — “From the outset strive to transcend.” This thought may be related to the fact that today’s first Ushpizin is Yosef, which changes, or “transcends” the chronological order of the Ushpizin (he should have been before Moshe). Yosef’s personal theme also expressed this idea, because it represented the theme of bringing another son (who was far away) to Torah. Again, superseding the normal powers.

Some opinions do place Yosef in his chronological place, before Moshe, which would then move Aharon to the sixth position, making him today’s Ushpizin. Aharon also, through his unmatched attribute of kindness, bestowed goodness on all the Jewish people — from the greatest to the simplest Jew — and also on the other Ushpizin — in a transcendental manner — “Lechat’chilah Aribber.”

Yosef, too, provided for his father, brothers and their families when they come to Egypt, which is why in Tehillim the Jewish nation is referred to as Yosef:

.. who leads Yosef like a flock. (Tehillim 80:2)

On which the commentaries explain that because Yosef cared for their needs, and supported Yaakov’s family during the famine, therefore the Jewish people are called Yosef.

So, Yosef, Aharon and the Rebbe Maharash all represent the theme of “transcending” from the start. And on this night the joy of the Simchas Bais HaShoeivah will increase in a manner of transcending from the outset.

The holiday of Sukkos also has a special emphasis relative to our potential influence on the nations of the world, an area where Yosef played a unique role. As Viceroy in Egypt, Yosef influenced the inhabitants of Egypt and Canaan to be subservient to him. This was a form of preparation for the time of the ultimate redemption when the people of the world will pay homage to the Jews and bring them their gold and silver, more than in the time of Yosef.

How do we effect this? — through our positive actions and good deeds, and especially through the rejoicing of Simchas Bais HaShoeivah. By dancing in the public domain — not only does the Jew feel the joy encompass and permeate his entire body so that he must sing and dance — but it is so intense that he must also go out into the street, and also influence and infect the non-Jew with happiness. And just as the Jew can simultaneously rationalize his emotional exuberance, it must also be intellectually transmitted to the non-Jewish observers within their own frame of reference.

2. The subject of the Sukkos guests needs some clarification. The Zohar coins the term: “Ushpizin Illa’in” — “most exalted guests” — clearly this connects the visit of the seven Ushpizin with the general theme of hospitality to guests during the holidays. And since during Sukkos the practice of inviting guests is more greatly emphasized, it follows that the Ushpizin make their visits during Sukkos.

The Rambam explains that our personal celebration of the holiday must include caring for others:

And while one eats and drinks himself, it is his duty to feed the stranger, the orphan, the widow, and other poor and unfortunate people, for he who locks the doors to his courtyard and eats and drinks with his wife and family, without giving anything to eat and drink to the poor and the bitter in soul — his meal is not a rejoicing in a Divine commandment.... (Rambam, Laws of Repose on a Festival 6:18)

When can we truly experience the joy of the holiday, only when we invite guests to our tables — happiness must be contagious and it increases when it is shared.

Consequently, the holiday which has the most intense joy must have the most guests — Sukkos! For the Torah expresses the term “rejoicing” threetimes regarding the holiday of Sukkos.

Now, Sukkos, with allitsfacets, was celebrated as soon as the Jews entered Eretz Yisrael, which raises the question: How can the Zohar tell us that the seven Ushpizin include David HaMelech? He was not born for several hundred years after entering Eretz Yisrael?!

This same query certainly applies to the Chassidic Ushpizin! Our question takes on an ironic twist relating to the Chassidic Ushpizin. It was the Previous Rebbe who revealed to us the concept of the Chassidic Ushpizin — as transmitted to him by his father, the Rebbe Rashab.

Now, how is it possible, that the Rashab, a corporeal human being, could sit in his Sukkah and relate to his son the concept of spiritual guests, who come from the heavenly worlds to visit the Sukkah of every Jew, and include himself in the group?!

Similarly, this question would apply in each preceding Chassidic generation, and also in the case of David HaMelech!?

The explanation is elementary: The “most exalted guests” are souls. The souls also exist in their spiritual state before they come into physical bodies on earth. Thus, when the Jews entered Eretz Yisrael and celebrated the holiday of Sukkos, all of the spiritual guests visited their Sukkos — including Dovid — and including also all the souls of the Chassidic Ushpizin.

This explanation, however, remains unsatisfactory in the case of the “exalted guests” during their life times. How can we explain that the Baal Shem Tov lived as a human being in a physical body and at the same time came down from Heaven with the other spiritual Ushpizin?

We might relate the aspect of “Ushpizin” to the inner facet of the soul — the source or root of the soul, which normally is not revealed in the living person. However, in truth, this answer is not conclusive and since we are consistently insisting on “Mashiach Now,” our hope it that before Mashiach arrives, Eliyahu will come and will answer our questions, including also this paradox.

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In today’s Chumash section (Shevi’i) the Torah relates:

Moshe climbed up from the western planes of Moav to Mount Nevo ... G‑d showed him all the land ... as far as the final sea (Mediterranean Sea). (Devarim 34:1-2)

Rashi comments:

Read this as though it did not state the final sea but unto the latest day. (Rashi, loc. cit.)

In this last episode of Moshe’s life we find an approach which was synonymous with the saying of the Maharash, today’s Ushpizin: “Lechat’chilah Aribber, from the outset ... transcend.”

How do we see this? Remember, vision captures all the nuances of the scene at one glance, but, under normal conditions it is still limited. The Gemara establishes that a normal person’s field of vision will reach to 16 mil (mil = 1 kilometer).

When G‑d gave Moshe the ability to see to the final sea here was clearly a case of “transcending from the outset” — at one glance he saw much more than was normally possible. Rashi’s commentary adds, that the Torah was speaking in terms of time rather than space:

The Holy One, Blessed be He, showed him all that would in the future happen to Israel unto the latest day when the dead will again live. (Ibid.)

Clearly an all-encompassing prophetic vision; transcending time.

Even Moshe’s ascent onto the mountain was by a transcendental, supernatural giant step, as Rashi explained:

There were several gradients leading from the plains to the summit, but Moshe covered them in one step. (Ibid.)

When we study this episode we recognize another aspect of “Lechat’chilah Aribber” in G‑d’s plans. Standing on the summit of that mountain G‑d speaks to Moshe:

G‑d said to him: “This is the land regarding which I made an oath to Avraham, Yitzchok and Yaakov, saying, ‘I will give it to your descendants.’ I have let you see it with your own eyes but you will not cross [the river] to enter it.” (Ibid.:4)

Moshe had already been informed that he would not enter Eretz Yisrael — was it necessary to reiterate this again? Was this not a case of pouring salt on the wound?!

In truth however, Chassidus explains, that the generation of the desert are to receive a reward which will be higher and greater than “Olam Haba — the World to Come.” It will match their Divine service, which actually was beyond the level of serving G‑d for the sake of the World to Come; they showed true devotion out of love! In the same manner, when G‑d told Moshe he would not enter the land the intention was that for him the reward of entering Eretz Yisrael would notbeenough.

What was Moshe’s reward? — to enter the 50thgate of understanding, which he attained when he giant-stepped onto Mount Nebo. The name Ne’bo means Nunbothere he reachednun — the 50th gate of understanding — the 32nd path of wisdom — the ultimatespirituallevel of the soul’s yearning.

Therefore, G‑d assured him — Do not fear that being shown the land portends that you will be takendown from this higherlevel, back down to the land, you have already gone beyond that. Because you transcended from the outset, “Lechat’chilah Aribber”!

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3. Today’s Rambam section includes the conclusion of the Laws of Firstlings and the beginning of the Laws of Offerings for Transgressions Committed through Error. In both cases we will discover the theme of “Lechat’chilah Aribber.”

The last chapter of Laws of Firstlings deals with the laws of tithing the flocks. Since it is the lastchapter it is bound to the firstchapter, which deals with the Laws of Firstlings. But it also has the quality of inclusiveness — just as the beginning (rosh) includes all that follows; similarly the end, being connected to the beginning, also includes all the details in-between. We may therefore deduce that the end of the Laws of Firstlings personifies the rule that there is no beginning and no end — for it comes full circle. Thus it conveys the same idea as “transcending from the outset,” for there is no real beginning and end, rather, one continuum.

In the second chapter of Offerings for Transgressions Committed through Error the Rambam writes:

If the very sin itself which he had sinned was not known to a man, even though he knew of a certainty that he had transgressed a negative commandment involving extirpation, he is exempt from a sin offering, for it is said: “his sin, wherein he has sinned” (Vayikra 4:23): he is liable only if he knows what the sin was wherein he had sinned. (2:3)

In the following halachah the Rambam continues:

If a man sinned and his sin became known to him, but he again forgot what it was, he must bring a sin offering for whatever the sin was, and it must be eaten in the manner of other sin offerings which are to be eaten. (Ibid 2:4)

This means that this sin offering has the same rule as in all cases of sin offerings; the Kohanim are given their share, which they eat, and the person who brought the sacrifice achieves atonement.

The source of this ruling of the Rambam is in the Tosefta (Kerisus 2:3) where a second ruling is also mentioned, that, if after bringing the sin-offering the man does remember what his sin had been, he should then bring another sin offering. [The Rambam evidently had a different version of the Tosefta for he ignores the second halachah entirely.]

The Raavad does cite the second case of the Tosefta and the Kesef Mishnah explains that the first sacrifice effects a partial atonement and the second offering will complete the forgiveness.

This case of sin offering conveys an important subliminal message. What triggers the liability for the sacrifice? The knowledge of the person! But this person is a sinner?! No matter. Being a Jew, we look not at his present situation, rather, his intrinsic quality determines the presentation of a korban; when he remembers the sin he is obliged to bring the sacrifice and it attains all the aspects of holiness. If he should notremember — he is freed of the responsibility to bring the sacrifice!

Thus, in the second case, his memory will again be the determinant factor, whether he must bring the second korban. If he remembers the specific sin an animal will again be presented and sacrificed in the Temple with all the attending ceremony — the Kohanim, Levi’im and the “mystery of the sacrifice rises to the mystery of the En Sof.” (See Zohar II, p. 239a)

Hence, the knowledge of a Jew, no matter who he is, can reach and effect the highest aspects of G‑dliness — truly a feat of “Lechat’chilah Aribber.”

But now to the rejoicing of Simchas Bais HaShoeivah, where the Gemara tells us there was also an aspect of teshuvah intertwined in the festivities:

Others used to say, “Happy [is] our old age which has atoned for our youth,” these were the penitents. (Sukkah 53a)

For teshuvah must always be accompanied by happiness, being so important a mitzvah.

The joy of Simchas Bais HaShoeivah should express itself in dancing, singing in the private domain as well as the public domain, which converts the public street into the private domain of the Ruler of the world. And which brings the true and complete redemption through Mashiach.

May the joy of Simchas Bais HaShoeivah in the diaspora bring us to the joy and dancing in our Holy Land, “where the eyes of G‑d your L‑rd are on it at all times, from the beginning of the year until the end of the year,” (Devarim 11:12) in conjunction with the unified nation, our youth and elders, sons and daughters: “... a great company shall return there.” (Yirmeyahu 31:7)

The unity of our people will join together with the complete Torah and mitzvos, which is analogous to the concept of Shabbos, when “all your work is done.” May it proceed from the most lofty level down to our mundane plane, and may it commence with a blessing from the Holy One, Blessed be He, for us all in all our temporal needs: children, life-health, and abundant sustenance: and all of these in great abundance.

Till we pierce the limitations of the exile with explosive joy and may we see the prophecy: Yerushalayim shall be inhabited like unwalled towns, (Zechariah 2:8) with the true and complete redemption through our righteous Mashiach — speedily and truly in our days — Now!