1. Simchas Bais Hashoevah is the greatest of celebrations, for, in addition to the joy of a regular festival, it is specifically Sukkos, which is called “the season of our rejoicing;” and in Sukkos itself, the Sages said of Simchas Bais Hashoevah that “Whoever did not see the joy of Simchas Bais Hashoevah has not seen joy in his life.”

Simchas Bais Hashoevah begins on the 1st night of Sukkos, although in the times of the Bais Hamikdosh it started from Motzoei Yom Tov. Since this was explained at length last year, now we will concentrate on the special aspect of the 1st night of Sukkos this year — the day of the week it falls on (Shabbos), and the daily portion of Chumash (the seventh of parshas Berachah).

The connection between the daily portion and the 1st day of Sukkos is clearly obvious in the light of today’s “guests.” Every night of Sukkos, the Zohar tells us, a different “guest” visits, the first night being Avraham. In addition, there are seven “Chassidic guests,” the 1st night being the Baal Shem Tov. [The two quests are not separate concepts, but one entity.] And in today’s portion of Chumash the names of Avraham and the Baal Shem Tov (Yisroel) are explicitly mentioned: “This is the land which I promised to Avraham,” and the last words of the daily portion — “in the eyes of all Yisroel.”

2. The idea of “Yisroel” is also associated with today being Shabbos. On weekdays, Jews are called “Ya’akov,” whereas on Shabbos they are called “Yisroel,” each name reflecting on their respective type of service. In addition, “Yisroel” is an acrostic for “There are 600,000 letters in the Torah,” corresponding to the 600,000 all inclusive Jewish souls. In other words, “Yisroel” is associated with Torah. And since Torah and Shabbos are one and the same concept, Yisroel and Shabbos are connected — and therefore the Torah was given to Yisroel on Shabbos.

The lesson from this in our service to G‑d: Shabbos is the idea of ta’anug (delight) and joy. Thus, when the 1st day of Sukkos is Shabbos, special strength is given for the service of the entire year to be with delight and joy. That is, the 1st day of Sukkos is the same day of the week as Rosh Hashanah — Shabbos. Since Rosh Hashanah is the “head” of the year from which the entire year follows, its being on Shabbos gives the strength for the year’s service to be as Shabbos — with delight and joy.

However, this is emphasized even more on the 1st day of Sukkos than on Rosh Hashanah. The service on Rosh Hashanah is in the manner of “rejoice with trembling,” indicating that the rejoicing is somewhat concealed. When this hidden joy of Rosh Hashanah is revealed, on Sukkos, the joy associated with Rosh Hashanah being on Shabbos is then revealed — and gives strength for the entire year.

The lesson then from Rosh Hashanah and Sukkos falling out on Shabbos is that one’s service the entire year should be with joy and delight; and when it is so, the service transcends all limitations. Through this we merit G‑d’s blessings in all material needs.

3. The idea of service transcending limitations (through joy) and its effect on material things has a special connection to the “guests” of tonight, Avraham our father and the Baal Shem Tov; and is also alluded to in today’s portion of Chumash.

This is understood by reference to Simchas Bais Hashoevah, which is the idea of the drawing and pouring of water. Both Avraham and the Baal Shem Tov are connected to the idea of water, for of Avraham we say “Remember [Avraham our] father who followed You like water;” and the Baal Shem Tov was the one who initiated the wellsprings of Chassidus.

Now water, because it travels downwards, represents the drawing down of forces from the loftiest levels to the lowest — alluding to the descent of a soul (part of G‑d’s essence) to this lowest of all worlds. In terms of man’s service to G‑d, every Jew has, as an inheritance from Avraham, the essence of the soul. Likewise, the Baal Shem Tov emphasized that even the simplest Jew has this essence. And man’s service is such that the essence must spread to and permeate all one’s matters — even actual deed. This is alluded to in the idea of water (connected to Avraham and the Baal Shem Tov) which travels from a high place (the essence of the soul) to the lowest (having its effect on actual deed).

This then is the connection of Avraham and the Baal Shem Tov to the above concept of service transcending all limits: when the essence of the soul affects even actual deed, the deed transcends all limits (just as the essence of the soul is above limits).

In greater clarification: Scripture states “Because Avraham listened to My voice and kept My trust, My mitzvos, My statutes, and My teachings.” This includes all aspects of Torah — the Written Law, Oral Law, and extending to the most minor inference of the Sages. This was then passed on to Jews in all generations — that in addition to every Jew inheriting the essence of the soul from Avraham, he also inherits the strength to actually fulfill Torah and mitzvos — “Because Avraham listened to My voice ...”

This is alluded to in today’s portion of Chumash — “the land which I swore to Avraham ... to your seed I will give it.” Service of Jews is to make “Eretz Yisroel” out of worldly matters, the strength for which comes from Avraham — “the land which I swore to Avraham ... to your seed I will give it.” Even the method of service (transcending limits) is alluded to in the words “which I swore:” An oath gives a person strength for his service to be above all limits. And when the Yetzer Horah (Evil Inclination) sees that a person’s service is in this fashion (of an oath — “which I swore”), he knows he will not succeed in preventing him from carrying out his service.

Likewise with the Baal Shem Tov: In addition to emphasizing that every Jew has the essence of the soul, it is also through the Baal Shem Tov that we have strength to actually carry out service. Such service, says the Baal Shem Tov, is when Torah and mitzvos permeate bodily, physical matters. That is, one does not suppress and break the body (with fasts etc) but works together with the body, by elevating it — and thereby also elevating the soul. And, as above, this is the concept of “water” in service to G‑d — drawing down from the essence of the soul until actual deed.

In similar fashion, the method of this drawing down — transcending limits — was emphasized by the Baal Shem Tov’s conduct. He was renowned for his miracles and wonders, transcending the limits of nature. This too is alluded to in the daily portion, which states at its conclusion “all the signs and wonders ... in the eyes of all Yisroel,” Yisroel alluding to the Baal Shem Tov.

4. Since the idea of Avraham and the Baal Shem Tov is “water,” which flows down to the lowest places, it follows that it reaches even the nations of the world. Scripture tells us that although Avraham needed the help of non-Jews, they still said to him “You are a prince of G‑d in our midst.” Likewise, many stories concerning the Baal Shem Tov testify to the awe and respect non-Jews had for him. And this is given over from Avraham and the Baal Shem Tov to all generations, especially in regard to Jews in Eretz Yisroel. Although in exile we need the help of the gentile nations (for so is G‑d’s will), they nevertheless know (for their “mazal” sees it) that every Jew is a “prince of G‑d” in the midst. This then affects their conduct making them eager to help Jews in all matters.

Non-Jews’ attitude to Jews is emphasized by the verse “The land which I swore to Avraham ... to your seed I will give it.” Since the nations of the world know that Eretz Yisroel belongs to Jews (“to your seed I will give it”), they help them in all aspects of the entire land. As stated in this weeks’ parshah: “Iron and brass are your locks,” which Rashi explains refers to Eretz Yisroel, which is locked against any enemies. In addition, the verse continues “as your days, will be your flowing,” which Rashi explains to mean that “all the lands will cause silver and gold to flow to Eretz Yisroel, which will be blessed with fruits, and all the lands will be sustained from it and will bring it their silver and gold.”

Influence of Jews on non-Jews (that they know a Jew is a “prince of G‑d” and therefore act accordingly) is stressed particularly on Sukkos. The Haftorah of the 1st day of Sukkos states: “And it will be that all who survive from all the nations ... will go up, year after year, to bow down to the King, the L‑rd of hosts, and to celebrate the festival of Sukkos.”

According to all the above, we see that Simchas Bais Hashoeva must be celebrated such that its effect reaches outside, to the entire world — similar to water which reaches to the lowest places.