By the Grace of G‑d
131–14th of Tishrei,
Erev Chag haSuccos,2 5737
Brooklyn, N.Y.

To the Sons and Daughters of
Our People Israel, Everywhere,
G‑d bless you all!

Greeting and Blessing:

As we are now coming from the Holy Day (Yom Kippur), which comes “once a year,”3 marking the conclusion and completion of the Ten Days of Teshuva; and on the threshold of the Festival of Succos, the Season of Our Rejoicing, which ushers in the second half of the month of Tishrei, and which is the conclusion and completion of all the festivals of chodesh hashvii,

The latter term, in addition to meaning simply the “seventh month,” also means the “sated month,”4 filled, as it is, with all good things, both materially and spiritually, as our Sages of blessed memory explain—

It is well to consider the significance of the coming days in relation to the first part of the month, and to draw the proper inference.

In general, the month of Tishrei is divided into two basic parts,5 which differ from one another, yet complete each other, and also make it into one integral month that serves as an introduction and start of the new year.

The first part of the month is permeated with the spirit of Teshuva. Jews experience an impulse to move away from their state and to uplift6 themselves towards (more) spirituality and G‑dliness.

This, in substance, is the general aspect7 of the Ten Days of Teshuva, in line with our Sages’ explanation8 that the admonition and plea, “Seek G‑d when He is found, call on Him when He is near,”9 refers to the Ten Days of Teshuva. Also the subsequent four days come under the impact10 of Teshuva; so that the 15th day of the month is designated as the “first day”—the first day of a new accounting.

The second part of the month of Tishrei stands under the influence of a movement which is directed towards bringing G‑dliness down to earth by means of making the material things of the world things of holiness and Mitzvos, and to such an extent as to call forth joy, singing, and dancing—which is the point of the festival of Succos, the Season of Our Rejoicing. The Mitzva consists in having one’s daily meals, etc. in the Succah. The eating becomes a Mitzva, a reminder11 of the miracles attending the Exodus from Egypt, etc.

This joy finds particular expression in the Four Kinds, which have to be taken together right from the first day of the festival (except on Shabbos), as the Torah says: “And you shall take unto yourselves on the first day a beautiful tree-fruit” ]with emphasis on the fruit’s beauty[—together with three other kinds, which are made into a Mitzva, with a Brochoh praising G‑d “Who has sanctified us with His commandments and commanded us”; and to do this with the kind of joy described by the words, “And12 you shall rejoice before G‑d, your G‑d.”

The said two aspects of the month of Tisrei, in the form of movements “from below—upwards” and “from above—downwards,” complete each other and create one integral whole, as stated earlier.

In addition, there is an essential point common to both parts of the month. It also serves as an introduction into the month and pervades all aspects of the month. It is the unity of the Jewish people.

Before the month begins,13 namely, on the Shabbos before Rosh Hashanah, the Torah reading for the assembled congregation is: “You14 are standing firmly this day, all of you, before G‑d, your G‑d.” Jews stand firmly all together before G‑d; “all of you”—“all individuals as one,”15 “as one complete unit”—like one body.

In like manner is the second part of the month ushered in with the Mitzva of Succah, which embraces16 and unifies all who are in it, regardless of station, from the highest to the most ordinary; indeed, it has been declared that “All Jews are worthy to dwell in one Succah.”17

Even more emphatically18 is the unity of the Jewish people expressed in the Mitzva of the Four Kinds—Esrog, Lulav, Myrtle, and Willow—which, as is well known reflect19 the four kinds of Jews, from those who have both “taste” and “fragrance” (Torah and Mitzvos) to those who (as yet) have neither taste nor fragrance. And only when all four kinds are united together20 it is possible to fulfill the Mitzva.

As in all matters of Torah, so also in the above-mentioned topics, are many pertinent instructions and inferences. A most simple and clear instruction, one that relates to actual deed, which is the essential thing, has to do with the Mitzva of Veohavto lre’acho komocho.21 As emphasized in many sources, this means to love a Jew, every Jew, however he is and wherever he is; and komocho—“like yourself,” as a part of yourself, as explained in Talmud Yerushalmi,22 the other Jew is to be regarded as “a bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh”—as part of the very same body.

Also komocho in this sense: Just as a person, while aware of his own failings, will disregard them, because ]by reason of self-love[ it is a case of “Love covers all sins,”23 and despite his failings he will strive with the utmost effort to provide all his needs, material and spiritual, and he does it with vitality—so must be his attitude towards another Jew.

Especially considering that in regard to one’s own failings one surely knows the truth, whereas in regard to somebody else’s, “no person knows what is in the heart of another person”;24 hence a person can easily err in his estimation and judgment of another individual.

May G‑d grant that it be the Season of Our Rejoicing in the fullest measure; and, in accordance with the purpose of every festival, which requires that the “content” of the festival should influence and vitalize25 the days that follow the festival, so be it also with the Season of Our Rejoicing: that the joy of the festival should inspire and animate all the days of the year, in keeping with the words in Tehillim: “And I will for ever declare (the wonders of G‑d); I will sing unto the G‑d of Jacob.”26

With esteem and blessing for
a Happy Yom Tov,
Signed: M e n a c h e m S c h n e e r s o n