1. Just as Simchas Bais Hashoevah on the second night of Sukkos must be celebrated with greater joy than the first night, so too the third night’s celebration must be greater than the second. Without a continual increase, pleasure and joy is not at the peak of its perfection, especially since one must always “increase in holiness,” particularly in matters of joy.1

The extra emphasis on joy is alluded to in the daily portion of the weekly parshah. The Alter Rebbe2 said that we must ‘live with the times,’ meaning to live according to the lessons derived from the weekly parshah. Every day we must live according to the lessons derived from the daily portion of the weekly parshah [each parshah divided up into seven portions]; and since right now is the very beginning of the day, to draw a lesson from the beginning of the daily portion. This week’s parshah is Zos Haberachah, and the beginning words of the fifth portion, corresponding to Thursday, are Moshe’s blessings to the tribe of Don (Devorim 33:22): “of Don he said: Don is a young lion.” On this Rashi comments “He too was near the border-district, and consequently he compares him with lionesses.” Similar to the tribe of Gad, the tribe of Don lived next to the border, and “all those who are near the border-district must be strong.” Don’s task, living as he was next to the border, is to guard and protect Eretz Yisroel from those outside its borders, and therefore he had to be strong.

In spiritual terms, this type of service (living next to the border and protecting the land), produces extra joy in the celebration of Simchas Bais Hashoevah. Simchas Bais Hashoevah is associated with the general service of fulfilling Torah and mitzvos, whose purpose is to make the world a fit dwelling place for G‑d.3 There are differing ways of service in making a dwelling place for G‑d in the world, depending on the material from which the ‘dwelling’ is made. The highest rung is the fulfillment of Torah and mitzvos, holy matters. Then there is the type of service of “You shall know Him in all your ways,” which is the service dealing with non-holy matters (“your ways” — not Torah and mitzvos). Lower still is “all your deeds should be for the sake of heaven,” where the service is not in the mode of “Know Him,” but only for the “sake of Heaven,” the preparation to Heavenly matters themselves.

These different types of service are all within the realm of holiness; and there is a boundary (“border”) that separates the holy from the opposite. The tribe of Don “lived next to the border,” and his task is to guard and protect the holy (similar to Eretz Yisroel, the Holy Land) from the opposing forces (similar to outside Eretz Yisroel).

This service is in two ways: 1) To “turn away from evil” — to deter and destroy the evil, and 2) to convert the darkness to light — the service of ba’alei teshuvah (repentants) whose “(former) transgressions are converted into merits (when they repent).” Both these ways require strength and stamina to withstand all difficulties encountered in the battle against the Evil Inclination — to conquer one’s desires, until actually converting the bad to good. This is the service of Don — “Don is a young lion:” because he is next to the border (the service of conquering evil) he needs the strength of a lion.

This is the lesson for each and every Jew in his G‑dly service: The manner of his service must be, as stated in the very beginning of the Shulchan Aruch (Jewish Code of Law), “Be strong as a lion.” This service of converting prior darkness into light produces greater joy than that associated with service within the realm of holiness. And since today’s portion of the weekly parshah emphasizes this type of service (that of Don), it follows that there is a joy over and above that of the preceding days of Sukkos.

2. This concept is also connected with the “Guest” of today (B), Ya’akov. The difference between Yitzchok and Ya’akov is that Yitzchok never left the Holy Land, whereas Ya’akov’s service was outside the Land. Scripture states (Bereishis 28:10): “Ya’akov went out... and went to Charon,” and even in Charon (the home of the evil Lavan), his service was complete and perfect. His service there was to make a dwelling place for G‑d specifically in this corporeal world. In other words, Ya’akov’s service was to spread the holiness of Eretz Yisroel to outside the Holy Land. The letters of the word ‘Ya’akov’ form also the word ‘Yiboka,’ meaning to ‘burst forth.’ Holiness does not remain within the boundaries of the Holy Land, but it bursts the boundaries and spills forth outside.4

There is also a connection between the above concept of Don and the ‘Chassidic Guest’ of today, the Alter Rebbe. In general, the innovation of the Alter Rebbe was the revelation of Chassidus Chabad, which aimed to provide an intellectual framework for the study of the esoteric — the study of the esoteric with comprehension and understanding. Intellect is intrinsically cold, devoid of warmth and emotion. Chassidus Chabad brought ‘life’ to the intellect through the warmth and vitality of the revelation of the esoteric. The permeation of the intellect by the revelation of the esoteric is similar to the service of the tribe of Don, which caused the other side of the border (of holiness) to also be made into a dwelling place for G‑d. This is the connection between today’s portion of the weekly parshah and the Alter Rebbe, the “Chassidic Guest” of today.

This innovation of the Alter Rebbe (revelation of the esoteric in intellectual comprehension) parallels the tribe of Don. The Talmud states (Pesachim 4a): “A certain man used to say, ‘Judge my case’ (i.e. in every business dealing he would insist on going to court, and would not listen to any type of arguments, but only to judicial rulings). They (the Sages) said, this shows he is descended from the tribe of Don, as it is written ‘Don will judge his people, as one of the tribes of Israel.’“ In other words, this person would always demand intellectual comprehension (‘Judge my case’), and this was proof he was descended from the tribe of Don.

This can be interpreted in terms of a person’s G‑dly service. The general service of the tribe of Don, as explained above, is ‘Don is a young lion” — strength when battling with evil (“close to the border”). This can only be accomplished when one has complete acceptance of the yoke of Heaven and self-sacrifice, for then nothing can affect him, and he performs his service of making a dwelling place for G‑d even from things that were (formerly) opposing holiness.

The idea of ‘Judge my case’ as part of the service of Don is that the service is such that simple faith and self-sacrifice permeates one’s intellect — causing the service to be performed with intellectual comprehension.

This then is the lesson in man’s G‑dly service. Although in general intellect lies outside the realm of belief, one’s service must nevertheless be such that even his intellect is permeated with faith. One must first accept the yoke of Heaven, the idea of faith. This is then followed by one’s service in which all one’s faculties, including the intellect, is immersed in and filled by that faith.

3. All of the above may be connected with the Baal Shem Tov’s interpretation of the saying of our Sages that “Reish Lakesh said: Sometimes the cessation of Torah study is its fulfillment.” Rabbeinu Gershom explains that we must desist from Torah study in order to fulfill the mitzvah of escorting the dead and dowering the bride. Since Torah itself requires us to stop studying to perform these mitzvos, it follows that through “the cessation of Torah study” we fulfill the mitzvos of the Torah. Likewise, Rashi explains that when one desists from Torah study to fulfill these mitzvos, he receives a reward as if he sat and studied.

However, all is not clear. Rabbeinu Gershom explains that through the cessation of Torah study we fulfill the mitzvos of the Torah (dowering the bride and escorting the dead). But this is not the same thing as the fulfillment of Torah study; it is the fulfillment of mitzvos. How then can Reish Lakesh say the cessation of Torah study is its fulfillment (and basis)? Likewise, the receiving of reward (as Rashi explains), is not the actual study of Torah — study and its reward are two separate things.5

The Baal Shem Tov explained this in the following manner. Everything desires to return to its source. When this desire is interrupted for a while, its return to this longing is stronger than before. Through eating, drinking and engaging in business, people interrupt their Torah study and G‑dly service, and their souls’ longing to return to their source is stilled. Because of this interruption, a person’s soul will then desire to return to its source with greater longing than before. This is the meaning of “sometimes the cessation of Torah study is its fulfillment and basis.” The fulfillment of Torah study is through its cessation, for then the soul desires to return to its source with greater longing than before — and this longing expresses itself in greater and more fervent Torah study.

This is the connection to the above explanation of the service of the tribe of Don. Just as the ‘cessation of Torah study’ effects an elevation and increase in Torah study, so too the descent into the realm outside holiness to make there a dwelling place for G‑d also produces a greater elevation — the conversion of darkness into light.

Likewise with the revelation of Chassidus Chabad by the Alter Rebbe. The intellectual faculties of man are ‘outside’ compared to faith and self-sacrifice. Nevertheless, it is precisely through the descent of the esoteric into this ‘outside’ (the esoteric in a framework of intellectual comprehension), that a greater elevation is effected in the ‘wellsprings’ of the esoteric.

The lesson for all Jews is that (after first accepting the yoke of Heaven), all aspects of Torah, including the esoteric, should be intellectually comprehended. It will not suffice to understand it vaguely, but one must try to understand it properly and concretely (through physical examples etc.).

4. The above is associated with today being the third day of Sukkos. On the third day(of creation) G‑d said “it is good” twice — “good for heaven and good for creatures.” ‘Good for creatures’ is similar to the idea of elevating even those things outside the realm of holiness (“creatures” compared to “heaven”).

In addition, “it is good” said a second time on the third day refers to the completion of the second day’s work. It was not said on the second day, for then G‑d divided the waters. Division, separation, is the source of evil, the opposite of Ahavas Yisroel (love of a fellow Jew). This indicates the greatness of the third day, when ‘it is good’ was said a second time for the second day; the third day converted the undesirable things of the second day (the division) into good. This is similar to the concept of the tribe of Don, who worked to elevate even those things outside the realm of holiness.

The idea of ‘separation’ is associated with Motzoei Yom Tov (tonight), for then it is the separation between the holy (Yom Tov) and the mundane (weekday). The purpose of the separation is to convert the mundane to holy, and darkness of light — to make a dwelling place for G‑d in this world.