1. A gathering of Jews, especially children, and particularly in a place where one prays to G‑d and studies His Torah — such as at this very gathering, when minchah was prayed, and verses from the Torah and saying of our Sages were learned — is cause for great joy for the participants. This joy leaves a strong impression on one’s soul, causing him to afterwards impart the impressions gained to the members of his household. The precious nature of this gathering, and the joy it causes, is further enhanced by the fact that each of you belong to Tzivos Hashem, G‑d’s soldiers, who have the mission to spread Torah to other children — to enroll them in Tzivos Hashem.

If the above is true of every such gathering, it certainly applies to the period we now find ourselves — “the Season of our Rejoicings” — the special time which G‑d has chosen for joy. “The Season of our Rejoicings — plural tense — refers to two types of joy: “Israel rejoices in its Maker,” and “G‑d rejoices in His works.” The latter is dependent on the former: Through a Jew rejoicing in the fact that G‑d created and devotes attention to him, G‑d reciprocates and rejoices in the Jewish people in general, and in Jewish children in particular.

Although these two types of rejoicing apply all year, they are obviously special in “the Season of our Rejoicings” — as evidenced by our not reciting “tachnun” in these days because of the special joy present.

This joy also leaves an imprint on this gathering, the aim of which is to undertake good resolutions. When it takes place in a time of joy, the undertaking and implementation of these resolutions receive extra force. When a person is in a happy and uplifted mood, and moreover, feels that his Commander-In-Chief (which in the case of Tzivos Hashem is G‑d) is also in a joyous mood, he tries harder to fulfill his mission properly, with joy and a good heart. Furthermore, when in such a mood, it is also easier to carry out that mission, particularly when it is also G‑d’s joy — and such that both types of joy are united together: “the Season of our Rejoicings.”

There is another point involved here: In addition to this “Season of our Rejoicings” being an independent time, begun with the recital of “Shehecheyanu,” its conclusion, Shemini Atzeres and Simchas Torah, is also associated with the blessing “Shehecheyanu.” Thus, the knowledge that the present time, the middle of the “Season of our Rejoicings,” will conclude with a new joy (on which we recite the blessing Shehecheyanu) — adds to the joy. This is particularly so since the conclusion of “the Season of our Rejoicings” is “Simchas Torah;” and the Torah is the “instruction manual” of Tzivos Hashem. This infuses special feeling in the preparation to Simchas Torah, for “Simchas Torah” is the eighth and ninth days of that self-same festival — Sukkos.

The Yetzer cannot have any influence on a Jewish child when he is in a state of great joy. The child does not listen to the Yetzer for he approaches him at the incorrect time, when he is in a state of great joy together with G‑d and His Torah. Moreover, the child influences others (consonant with the mitzvah “you shall love your fellow as yourself”), telling them of this great joy, and the necessity to undertake good resolutions at such a time to-be a good soldier in Tzivos Hashem — and to rise higher and higher.

In a regular army, the Commander-In-Chief, when seeing that his soldiers are behaving properly, gives them citations and gifts, so that the soldiers will continue in the same way. So too with Tzivos Hashem: G‑d rewards them, eradicates the Yetzer — and the members go forth victorious from the joy of Sukkos, Simchas Torah and mitzvos — to further and greater joys. This hastens the greatest joy of all — when we leave the exile, and go to our Holy Land in the true and complete redemption through our righteous Moshiach.


2. The unique nature of the “Season of our Rejoicings” as the time of special joy for Tzivos Hashem is also expressed in the mitzvos of this time, which emphasize the idea of an “army” in service to G‑d. An army erects special accommodations for its soldiers in the field. The same thing happened when the Jewish people — “Tzivos Hashem” — left Egypt, as stated “I made the children of Israel dwell in Sukkos. “ As a result, Jews were commanded about the mitzvah of dwelling in Sukkos — and with joy, enthusiasm, and with the blessing of Shehecheyanu — “Blessed are You ... Who has granted us life, sustained us and enabled us to reach this occasion.” (It is a joy and pride for a Jew to belong to Tzivos Hashem.

More particularly, the above is expressed in the mitzvah of lulav and esrog. When an army is victorious in war, it demonstrates its might by showing off its weapons in parades. So too in our case: After the service of teshuvah in the Ten Days of Repentance and on Yom Kippur — which is the war against the Yetzer — Jews announce and demonstrate their victory by taking the lulav and esrog. In the words of the Midrash (Vayikra Rabba 30:2): “By reason of the fact that Israel goes forth ... bearing their lulavim and esrogim in their hands, we know that it is Israel who are victorious!”

Furthermore, just as a regular army has different types of weapons, so too does the spiritual army: they are the esrog — which is the bullet or cannon ball; the lulav — rifle; hadas — knife. Thus, since Jews are certain of their victory in battle — meaning they are sure that G‑d has forgiven them for everything through their service of teshuvah and confession on Yom Kippur, and says of every Jew that “Your people are all righteous, they shall inherit the land forever; they are the branch of My planting, the works of My hands in which I take pride” — they therefore go forth and joyfully show everyone their weapons, the four kinds.

This is why the mitzvah of the four kinds is performed in the Sukkah, which symbolizes an army tent. Through shaking the four kinds, we announce to the whole world that “Some [rely] upon chariots and some upon horses, but we [rely upon and] invoke the Name of the L‑rd our G‑d.”

There is, however, a difference between regular army weapons, and those used in the battle against the Yetzer. Regular weapons, “chariots” and “horses,” wound and kill; the weapons of a Jew do not. True victory in the battle against the Yetzer is when the Yetzer itself rejoices that a Jew did not listen to his enticements. The Yetzer’s mission is not to cause a Jew to sin, but only to test him, to reveal those hidden powers in every Jew — who belongs to the “wise and understanding people,” and is not swayed by the Yetzer’s enticements.

The victory procession with the four kinds, which announces that “we [rely upon and] invoke the Name of the L‑rd our G‑d” — with joy expressed by the recital of the blessing Shehecheyanu — causes it to be a blessed day, a blessed festival, and a joyous festival. This brings blessings, success and joy for the whole year — that the year be a blessed, healthy, and successful one for the child’s parents and relatives. This also brings success in the absolute eradication of the Yetzer; and even further, in causing the Yetzer to admit that they did not listen to him, and, seeing his task is hopeless, from now on he will desist from sowing confusion. Thus a Jew will have peace of soul, which allows for extra diligence in Torah study and fulfillment of mitzvos with joy.

There is yet another lesson to be derived from “the Season of our Rejoicings.” At times, the Yetzer, seeing that a Jew (child or adult) is in a state of joy, interferes and induces the Jew to change the joy to wildness and unruliness. The child loses self-control and becomes wild, contradicting the very meaning of Tzivos Hashem. The “Season of our Rejoicings” teaches that it is a time of joy of mitzvos and joy of the Torah. One must always remember that the joy is associated with Torah and mitzvos, and therefore it is prohibited to change its meaning. Indeed, at such a time, when a person is proud and happy that he belongs to Tzivos Hashem, one must be doubly careful to carry out G‑d’s mission properly.

As a result, he also fulfills the “great principle in the Torah” — “You shall love your fellow as yourself” — and influences other Jewish children to go in the same direction. When he comes home after the gathering, he tells his parents and other relatives how to rejoice on this “Season of our Rejoicings.” And, he concludes, through learning Torah and performing mitzvos, particularly the mitzvah of Sukkah at this time — which brings to mind the exodus from Egypt — G‑d will speedily bring out all the Jewish people from the present exile, and bring them to the “land which ... the eyes of the L‑rd your G‑d are upon it from the beginning of the year until the end of the year,” to Yerushalayim the holy city, to the Temple Mount, to the Bais Hamikdosh.

3. There is also a lesson to be derived from the portion of Torah learned today — the third section of parshas Berachah. It talks of the blessing given to Yosef (Devorim 33:13): “To Yosef he said: His land is a blessing of G‑d, with the sweetness of the heaven’s dew and the waters that lie below.” This blessing, as all the blessings of Moshe Rabbeinu to Israel, pass to all Jews, for they are written in the Torah, and “The Torah which Moshe commanded us is a heritage for the congregation of Ya’akov.” Thus, when a Jew conducts himself consonant to Moshe’s will — who delivered to Jews what G‑d’s desire is — he merits all the blessings given to Yosef: “the sweetness of the heaven’s dew and the waters that lie below.”

It is not difficult to receive these blessings; we need but toil in Torah study and the performance of mitzvos. This is particularly so when we follow in Yosef’s footsteps, who gave sustenance to whoever was hungry and help to all those in need. That is, when we, consonant to the great principal of “love your fellow as yourself,” give both spiritual tzedakah to those who are hungry spiritually, and material tzedakah to those who are in need of material help. This adds to G‑d’s blessings, extending to the principal blessing — the coming of our righteous Moshiach to take us all out from exile and bring us to our Holy Land.