1. Today’s portion of this week’s parshah — Wednesday of Parshas Berachah, begins with the words: “And of Zevulun he said: Rejoice, Zevulun, in your going out [to trade], and Yissachar, in your tents [of Torah].” Although the joy of the second night of Sukkos is a continuation of the first night, it is nevertheless greater. As can indeed be seen from the portion of that day which stresses the idea of joy — “Rejoice Zevulun...” Since the Alter Rebbe taught that one must live with the times, meaning to live according to the lessons derived from the parshah read at the time, it is evident that the stress on joy in today’s portion (“Rejoice Zevulun”), and the absence of it in yesterday’s portion, shows that the joy of today is greater than that of yesterday.

In fact, the portion of yesterday, the first day of Sukkos, is also connected with great joy; and it is this which points up the greater joy of the second day, whose portion openly stresses joy — “Rejoice Zevulun.” For when comparing two things to show that the second is greater than the first, obviously, the greatness of the second is stressed more strongly when the first is also great (and not just average). So too in our case. When we meditate on the great joy of the first day, it gives us greater recognition of the joy of the second day which is greater still.

The great joy of the first day as evidenced by the daily portion of the parshah read then is seen from the beginning words “And of Yosef he said: His land shall be blessed by the L‑rd....”1 Rashi comments on this that: “There was no land in the inheritance of the tribes that was so full of everything good as the land of Yosef.” Eretz Yisroel is the most blessed of all the lands; and in Eretz Yisroel itself, Yosef’s was the one most full of all good things. The “inheritance of the tribes” indicates the peak of perfection in spiritual matters — that the physical is transformed into the spiritual, and the spiritual is connected to and affects the physical. And the greatest of this “inheritance of the tribes” was the land of Yosef. Such a wonderful blessing as this is clearly associated with great joy.

Yet, the following portion, that of Wednesday, stresses a joy still higher and loftier — “Rejoice Zevulun...” For then the idea of joy is expressed openly, while in the preceding portion (of Yosef) it is only inferred. Thus we can see how great the joy of the second day of Sukkos must be.

The lesson from this is clear. Although the Simchas Bais Hashoeva of the first night was complete and perfect, nevertheless, the daily portion teaches us that the second day must be even more joyous.

However, this itself begs a question. Why indeed is the joy of the second day greater than the first, that because of it the verse “Rejoice Zevulun ...” is specifically in the portion of the second day?

The reason is as follows: The Talmud states: “A person desires one measure of his own more than nine measures of his friend.” In other words, although his friend’s measure is nine times as great as his own, a person would rather have that in which he has invested his own toil and effort, rather than nine measures that come to him without any effort.

So too in our case. The blessing of Yosef “His land shall be blessed by the L‑rd” is truly a great one. Nevertheless, this blessing comes entirely from G‑d, and is similar to the “nine measures of his friend”2 which is given to a person without any effort or toil on the part of the recipient. As such, it does not produce quite the same happiness as when one has worked for something — for so is the nature of man to have more pleasure in something worked for than received as a gift.

It is precisely this which is present in the portion of the second day — “Rejoice Zevulun in your going out, and Yissachar in your tents.” Zevulun went out to trade — investing his toil and efforts in business (“your going out”); and Yissachar was in the tents of Torah, engaging in Torah study with his own efforts (“your tents”). This is similar to the idea of “one measure of his own,” which, since it is acquired through a person’s own efforts, produces greater happiness than an outright gift. Hence it is specifically in this case that the verse says “Rejoice Zevulun.”

The Baal Shem Tov (who was yesterday’s “Guest”) taught that everything encountered by a Jew can and should provide a lesson in his service to G‑d. Certainly then, Torah itself, which is a “Torah of light” and a “Torah of life” must provide a lesson. Specifically in our case, we must derive a lesson from today’s portion of the parshah. Simply put, it is that notwithstanding the great joy present on the first day of Sukkos, that of the second day must be greater and loftier still — “rejoice Zevulun” — a rejoicing that comes from one’s own efforts. Indeed, this joy is so great that it is openly stressed in Scripture — plainly revealed to all, including non-Jews.

2. The general concept of Simchas Bais Hashoeva is especially relevant to the quintessence of Zevulun, which is “Rejoice Zevulun in your going out — going out to trade.” Rashi explains that “Zevulun and Yissachar formed a partnership: Zevulun dwelt by the sea ports and went forth to trade in ships; and when he earned a profit, he provided food for Yissachar, while the latter sat and engaged in (the study of) Torah. For that reason it places Zevulun before Yissachar (in the order of the verse), because the Torah of Yissachar was made possible by Zevulun.”

Hence, the idea of Zevulun is to go forth from a person’s own private domain where he is engaged in Torah and prayer, and to engage in worldly matters — the intention being to “provide food for Yissachar” and thus “the Torah of Yissachar was made possible by Zevulun.”

The same applies to the concept of Simchas Bais Hashoeva. At the time of the Simchas Bais Hashoeva, the participants were engaged in singing and dancing, and not in Torah study — as is evident that both cannot be done at the same time. For there is a time for Torah study, a time for prayer, and a time for joy in a mitzvah; and the time of Simchas Bais Hashoeva is not the time for Torah study. Hence Simchas Bais Hashoeva is similar to the idea of Zevulun — to leave one’s personal Torah study to engage in the joy of a mitzvah.

Just as the aim in Zevulun’s going forth from Torah study to engage in worldly matters was to provide food for Yissachar, so too the cessation of Torah study at the time of Simchas Bais Hashoeva effects an elevation in Torah study itself. The Talmud states that: “Reish Lakish said: Sometimes the very cessation of Torah study is its existence.” The Baal Shem Tov explained the rationale behind this statement, noting that everything has a great desire to return to its source. When one interrupts from one’s Torah study, through eating, business etc., the soul rests from its burning desire to learn Torah. This temporary rest then causes the desire to burn even more strongly than before. Hence, “the very cessation of Torah study is its existence,” for then, after the cessation, the desire to study Torah is that much greater.

So too in our case. Not only is the interruption in Torah study unavoidable since one must participate in the Simchas Bais Hashoeva, but it provides a spur to greater involvement and enthusiasm when one returns to one’s Torah study.

The idea of Simchas Bais Hashoeva being applicable to all Jews is stressed in the Torah said by the Mezritcher Maggid, who is the “Chassidic Guest” of today. The Talmud (Sukkah 53a) states: “They said regarding Hillel the Elder, that when he rejoiced in Simchas Bais Hashoeva he would say: ‘If I am here, everyone is here; and if I am not here, who is here?’“ The Maggid questioned this, for Hillel was extremely modest, and if so, how could he say such a thing — that only if he is present , than everyone is present?! The Maggid explains that at the Simchas Bais Hashoeva (the Festival of the Water Drawing), the participants drew down upon themselves the Divine Spirit (and thus was called the Festival of the Water Drawing). And this is what Hillel meant by saying “If I am here, everyone is here — If I, who am so lowly, can come here to draw from the Divine Spirit, then certainly it is fitting that everyone be here, for they are all more worthy than me.” Likewise, “If I am not here, who is here — If I, who am not worthy for this, am not here, then who can be here, for everyone is as naught and equal before G‑d.” The revelations of the Simchas Bais Hashoeva come from a source so lofty that all are equal before it. [Therefore, if anyone was missing, even the most unworthy (as Hillel considered himself), it indicates that the Simchas Bais Hashoeva was lacking in perfection.] Hence we see that Simchas Bais Hashoeva is relevant to all Jews, regardless of their individual standing.

There is yet another thing that is stressed on the second night of Sukkos, following as it does after the first day. In addition to celebrating Simchas Bais Hashoeva at night, the celebration must also be during the day. As our Sages have said: “When we celebrated the Simchas Bais Hashoeva our eyes did not see any sleep” (Sukkos 53a). Thus, if even during the night they did not sleep, certainly during the day which is not the regular time for sleeping, they did not sleep — for they were busy celebrating even then. In the times that they were not busy praying (or in the Bais Hamikdosh, offering sacrifices), they were celebrating.

In concrete terms. Although Simchas Bais Hashoeva was celebrated with great joy on the first night of Sukkos, it must be celebrated even more so on the second night. Since it is “joy of a mitzvah,” and a mitzvah joins man with G‑d, then, since G‑d is Infinite, the mitzvah must also be performed in an infinite matter.

May it be G‑d’s will that all that has been said here be translated into action; and to extend this joy to the whole year.

Blessing of the Rebbe
To the Guests — In the Sukkah — 1st Night of Sukkos

3. All Yomim Tovim (festivals) are called “festivals for rejoicing.” Sukkos however, has the unique distinction of being “the season of our rejoicing,” for there is greater joy on Sukkos than on other festivals. The reason for this is that Sukkos is the festival that immediately follows Yom Kippur [the four intervening days being a time for preparation for Sukkos — to build a Sukkah, acquire a Lulav and Esrog etc.]. On Yom Kippur, Jews are sealed for a good and sweet year in both spiritual and physical matters. Sukkos, which follows immediately after, is the revelation and celebration of the blessings bestowed on us on Yom Kippur. The blessings for the entire year, including the other festivals, stem from Yom Kippur; and since Sukkos is the celebration and revelation of these blessings, it follows that the joy of the other festivals stems from the joy and celebration on Sukkos. This then is the reason why Sukkos alone among the festivals is called the “season of our rejoicing.”

When Jews gather together on Sukkos, especially when some, or most of them, are guests, additional blessings are bestowed upon them. For our Sages have said: “Hospitality to guests is greater than welcoming the Divine Presence” — hospitality has a loftier effect than welcoming G‑d Himself. For G‑d derives great joy from Jews uniting together and loving each other in consonance with the command “Love your fellow as yourself” — to the extent that it finds concrete expression in simple hospitality. This effects blessings (additional to that bestowed on Yom Kippur and revealed on Sukkos) for a good and sweet year in all things.

Just as a Jew, because of his love for a fellow, gives of his own to a fellow Jew on Sukkos, so too, he gives from the good and sweet things he has received to a fellow Jew the entire year. This then effects additional blessings from G‑d every day of the year, making it a good and sweet year, leading to the true good — the true and complete redemption through our righteous Moshiach.

The unity and peace between Jews even now, in exile, is the preparation to the coming of Moshiach, when he will take every Jew “with our youth, our elders, our sons and our daughters” to our Holy Land in the future redemption. Then, together with Moshiach, we will fulfill all the mitzvos, including those associated with Yom Tov — hospitality, and the dissemination of Judaism in general and Chassidus in particular. All these things however, we do even now, before the coming of our righteous Moshiach, with joy and a good heart.