1. There are two facets to the joyful celebration of Sukkos. The first aspect is constant throughout the holiday, each day carrying on the joy of the days before. The second aspect, however, varies from one night to the other in consonance with the principle “in holy matters, always increase.” Therefore we must celebrate each additional day of Sukkos more joyfully, with a joy incomparably higher than previously experienced.

This constant increase has been evident among great Jewish leaders: even after “fully” celebrating Sukkos on one night, they were nevertheless able to increase on the following nights. Their accomplishment is not only a lesson in how to follow in their footsteps, but actually gives us the strength to do so. Here, in particular, we must learn from their behavior, since the joy of Sukkos is the source and basis for joy in Torah and mitzvos in general, and “one who never saw the joy of Sukkos never saw joy in his lifetime.” In addition, if even seeing the celebration of Sukkos implanted joy in the observer for a lifetime, certainly we can learn from, and follow the example of, these leaders.

We can understand that there are various levels in the joy of Sukkos by examining the verse that speaks of the Water-drawing: “You shall draw water joyfully from the wellsprings of deliverance.” The Talmud Yerushalmi relates that at the Water-drawing ceremony there was an infusion of divine inspiration, as evidenced by the inspiration of the prophet Yonah. In general a prophet doesn’t need “divine inspiration,” since his level of prophecy is superior to the normal level of such inspiration. Yonah, however, received a different level of divine inspiration, superior to prophecy. The Rebbe Maharash (the “guest” for this night, as will be discussed later) explains, therefore, that there are varying levels of divine inspiration, and accordingly various levels of “wellsprings of deliverance” from which the inspiration derives. Consequently, connection with a higher level in the “wellsprings” results in a higher level of joy, as the verse indicates, “... joyfully from the wellsprings ... “ Therefore we can rise to higher and higher levels of joy.

Although we no longer have the Water-drawing ceremony or the consequent divine inspiration, nevertheless, since we learn about them in the eternal Torah, they are still relevant today. Moreso, this relevance is hinted to in the fact that the celebration took place at the Water-drawing rather than at the pouring of the water on the altar. It would seem that since the unique quality of the water-offering is that water replaced wine on the altar, the joy should therefore be expressed on the altar, or at least on the Temple grounds. Instead we find the opposite, that the celebration was even outside the Temple Mount, at the drawing of the water.

All forms of the Temple service are now “replaced” by our prayers. Certainly the joy of Sukkos, which even then took place “outside” the Temple (in a spatial sense) can be replicated now, where we are “outside” the Temple (in the temporal sense) — even with the physical expression of clapping hands and dancing.

2. The Zohar states that “every day has its special way of serving Hashem.” Therefore, the ascent associated with the precept “in holy matters, always increase,” should be within the framework of the particular service associated with that day.

Each day of Sukkos is graced by one of the “guests” mentioned in the Zohar, as well as one of the “Chassidic guests” mentioned by the previous Rebbe. Although the “guests” of the other nights still exert their influence, one “guest” of the group dominates.

Today’s “guest” is Yosef Hatzaddik and the “Chassidic guest” is the Rebbe Maharash, whose presence is particularly stressed this year, the hundredth since his passing. Since, as mentioned in the previous nights, the “guests” mentioned in the Zohar and the “Chassidic guests” are similar in concept, there must be a common factor among them. Although it may seem inappropriate for us to categorize such Tzaddikim according to our understanding, but, since the purpose is to take a lesson from them and thereby improve ourselves, we are not only allowed, but required to do so. This is especially true in light of the Baal Shem Tov’s saying that everything a Jew sees or hears contains some indication of how he should serve Hashem.

The unique quality of Yosef can be best seen by comparing him to his forefathers. The Patriarchs were all shepherds and therefore able to concentrate on learning Torah and fulfilling Mitzvos without external distractions. Yosef, as second in command to Pharaoh, however, was constantly involved with physical matters such as providing food for all Egypt. The actual existence of every Egyptian was dependent upon Yosef, and consequently every aspect of their lives had to be approved by him, as the verse indicates, “Without your approval) no person shall raise his hand or foot.” Nevertheless, he was constantly united with Hashem. Unlike the Patriarchs, whose total and constant unity with Hashem was dependent on their personal isolation, Yosef attained this complete unity even while surrounded by physical concerns.

Certainly our behavior must also reflect that of the Patriarchs: we must have a certain time of the day when we are isolated from worldly concerns and devoted entirely to learning Torah. The presence of Yosef as tonight’s “guest” teaches us to be fully united with Hashem even when occupied in business and even when involved with the lowest of characters — similar to Yosef’s behavior in Egypt, the lowest and most immoral of all nations.

The Baal Shem Tov elaborated on this point in “Tzavo’as Rivosh;” that at times a person is unable to study or pray as he wishes due to his involvement with business and with other people. At such a time he should not be unhappy, because Hashem wants to be served in every possible manner — to cleave to Him even when involved in the mundane.

The Rebbe Maharash’s characteristic statement was that “People think that first you try to go under (an obstacle) and if that doesn’t work, go over. I say ‘Go straight over” (l’chatchilah ariber). Accordingly, we find that his behavior was similar to the Baal Shem Tov, who went beyond the boundaries of nature and frequently performed open miracles in the spirit of l’chatchilah ariber.

Another factor to be considered: the Nesi’im (leaders) after the Baal Shem Tov chose to act primarily within the bounds of nature. The Maharash chose to initiate a “new” way of serving Hashem, departing radically from the previous four generations. This departure itself was l’chatchilah ariber!

Similarly, Yosef’s transcendence above his mundane chores and remaining bound to Hashem is an expression of l’chatchilah ariber. This is in addition to the l’chatchilah ariber involved in beginning a new path of service alien to his forefathers.

3. This common denominator between Yosef and the Maharash is also expressed in the daily Torah portion. At the end of the portion the Chumash relates, “Yeshurun, there is none like G‑d, Who rides through the heavens (shamayim) to your aid, through the skies (sh’chakim) in His grandeur.”

A Jew finds himself in this physical world, the lowest of all worlds, and might think that Hashem’s influence and assistance comes to him only in the diminished measure befitting the humility of his dwelling. The verse tells him that Hashem’s help comes from the loftiness of the heavens, and even greater, as He rides over the heavens — higher than the heavens. Moreso, the word “shamayim” implies the 7 general levels of the heavens, while “sh’chakim” (“skies”) implies the lofty level where manna is prepared for the righteous. Hashem’s aid comes from the level where He “rides” even above such a level of “sh’chakim.”

This flow from Hashem assists a Jew in attaining the name “Yeshurun” mentioned in the Scripture. Among the names by which the Jewish people is called, we find the name “Ya’akov,” and higher, “Yisroel.” “Yeshurun” is a name representing the Jewish people at their highest level, surpassing both of the other names.

This spectacular assistance from Hashem mentioned in the Torah portion and the subsequent attainment of the level Yeshurun are further expressions of l’chatchilah ariber.

The above is also associated with the beginning of today’s Torah portion (Devorim 33:22): “And of Don he said: Don is a lion cub that leaps forth from Bashan.” Rashi explains that Don “was also situated close to the border, and therefore he compared him to lions.” The “also” in Rashi’s comment refers to an earlier verse (33:20), which state: “Blessed is He Who enlarges Gad, he lies like a lion ...” Rashi comments that Gad was compared to a lion “because he was situated close to the border, and therefore was compared to lions; for all those next to the border must be mighty ones.”

This parallels a further verse in today’s Torah portion, which states (33:25): “Iron and copper shall be your bars,” on which Rashi comments: “Now he speaks correspondingly to all Israel, that their mighty ones dwell in the border cities and lock it up so that enemies cannot enter — as if it were closed with locks and bars of iron and copper.”

Today’s Torah portion, then, talks of guarding Eretz Yisroel, both the physical Eretz Yisroel, and the spiritual Eretz Yisroel — as the Tzemach Tzedek noted — “Make here Eretz Yisroel,” meaning that through his service to G‑d, a Jew can transform his surrounding into “Eretz Yisroel.”

These verses teach that a Jew receives G‑d’s assistance in this task: “G‑d Who rides through the heavens to your aid, through the skies in His grandeur.” A Jew thereby becomes one of the “mighty ones” — “those mighty in strength fulfill His word;” and “he lies like a lion” on the border to keep Eretz Yisroel (literal and spiritual) secure in the manner of “iron and copper shall be your bars.”

Jews therefore need fear no one, and can conduct themselves in the manner of “lechat’chilah ariber” — the darkness of exile doesn’t affect them at all.

4. The above provides a lesson for man’s service to G‑d, in regard to his spiritual “Eretz Yisroel.” “Eretz Yisroel” represents all that is pure and holy; countries outside Eretz Yisroel represent impurity. And then are things which are on the “border,” about which one must be on special guard.

Obviously holy things, such as Torah study and mitzvos, are far removed from impurity. When a Jew is engaged in these things, he need not be especially alert against sinning.

But when a Jew is engaged, in his mundane affairs, extra vigilance is necessary to ensure he does not stray off the right path. He must establish a border, clearly differentiating between the pure and the impure. He must be as strong as a “lion” on that border, allowing no enemies to enter the sacred domain.

Why is this vigilance so necessary? Some Jews live “close to the border,” referring to those who are in the category of Zevulun, businessmen. Because G‑d, in His Divine Providence, has ordained that he engage in business (i.e. outside Eretz Yisroel, outside exclusively holy matters), he may think he should behave as does the rest of the world.

Such a Jew must stand on guard at the border, to ensure that the line between holy and impure remains inviolate. The Talmudic ruling that “the law of the land is law” does not apply when it impinges on Judaism, Torah and mitzvos — “Eretz Yisroel.” The Rebbe Rashab said that the soul never went into exile, and no one can tell a Jew what to do or how to conduct himself. A Jew obeys the “law of the land” because Torah says that it is the law — and therefore in regard to Torah matters, he must of course conduct himself only in consonance with Torah’s directives.

One step over the border has critical repercussions for, although still near the border, he has passed from the domain of sanctity into the domain of impurity. One therefore must be mighty as a lion to ensure that no enemies enter Eretz Yisroel.

The same applies to the physical Eretz Yisroel. Jews have been commanded to guard its borders, to lock it with bars of brass and iron, thus keeping out enemies. It is therefore obvious that it is prohibited to surrender one inch of territory belonging to Eretz Yisroel.

The argument that because we live in exile and need the aid of the nations of the world — and therefore must heed their demands to surrender territory — is refuted by today’s Torah portion which states (33:25) that when a Jew follows G‑d’s will, “as the number of your days, so will be your flowing.” Rashi interprets this to mean that “all the days that you perform G‑d’s will, so shall be your ‘flowing’ — i.e. all the lands shall cause silver and gold to flow to Eretz Yisroel ... the silver and gold will cease from them, for they cause it to flow to your land.” Hence we see that as long as we fulfill G‑d’s will, “all the lands will cause silver and gold to flow to Eretz Yisroel.

May it be G‑d’s will that the promise given in the Haftorah of Sukkos be fulfilled — “it shall be that all who survive from all the nations who came up against Yerushalayim will go up, year after year, to bow down to the king, the L‑rd of hosts, and to celebrate the festival of Sukkos.”