Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Succos 5634 Fourth Ma'amar

The water libation that was poured in the Beis HaMikdash only on Succos, was drawn each day of the holiday amid great fanfare and festivities from the Mei HaShiloach. The Talmud describes the drawing of the water, the dancing, juggling and music which continued throughout each night of Succos until the sacrifice in the morning. The festivities were referred to as Simchas Beis HaSho’eiva/The Rejoicing of the House of the Drawing. The Gemara, in describing the festivities says that the people did not sleep during Succos. During the day they witnessed the special sacrifices and studied Torah. At night they watched and participated in the Simchas Beis HaSho’eiva. Festivities of this sort accompanied no other event in the Beis HaMikdash. What was the significance of these festivities? Why were they associated specifically with the drawing of the water libation? Why did the people not sleep?

Chazal say that the festivities were called Simchas Beis HaSho’eiva/The Rejoicing of the House of the Drawing because from there they drew Ruach HaKodesh. Chazal find a hint to this in a pasuk in Yeshaya, “וּשְׁאַבְתֶּם מַיִם בְּשָׂשׂוֹן מִמַּעַיְנֵי הַיְשׁוּעָה/You will draw water with joy from the fountains of salvation.” The Sfas Emes says, too, that water is life and implies Ruach HaKodesh which is also life as the pasuk says when God created man, “וַיִפַּח בְּאַפָּיו נִשְׁמַת חַיִים/He blew into his nostrils the soul of life,” a reference to the holy spirit which is Ruach HaKodesh.

What was the significance of this Ruach HaKodesh and what is its connection to the Simchas Beis HaSho’eiva? The Sfas Emes explains that enlightenment, blessing, for the entire year was dependent upon the enlightenment received during the seven days of Succos. This is why regarding Succos the pasuk states, “וְחַגֹּתֶם אֹתוֹ חַג לַה' שִׁבְעַת יָמִים בַּשָּׁנָה .../You will celebrate it, a holiday for God, seven days during the year.” Succos is the only holiday where the Torah relates the days of the holiday to the year. Regarding Pesach, for example, the Torah does not mention the word shana/year. The enlightenment came from the level of Ruach HaKodesh the people reached during the festivities. The Ruach HaKodesh the people attained on Succos was crucial to assure a good coming year. This is the reason that they did not sleep during the entire festivities. They did not want to lose a moment.

Chazal mention the idea of not sleeping in order to take advantage of every moment regarding Moshe Rabbeinu’s ascent to Mount Sinai. Moshe Rabbeinu knew that he had forty days during which to receive. He understood that there was no way to even measure the amount he could receive every moment. He, therefore, did not sleep so as not to lose even a second.

This is why the people did not sleep, but what compelled the Midrash to associate water drawing with drawing Ruach HaKodesh? The Sfas Emes explains that the key was the rejoicing. The joy was the tool the people used to draw Ruach HaKodesh upon themselves and receive abundance and enlightenment.

This, then answers our questions. The water of the water libation symbolized the true spiritual life, the enlightenment which the people received through Ruach HaKodesh. The festivities enabled the people to reach a level of Ruach HaKodesh. And, finally, because they understood the ramifications the enlightenment they received had for the entire year, they dared not lose a moment. They did not sleep throughout the festivities. Ultimately, the Simchas Beis HaSho'eiva is a tool, a tool we unfortunately do not have today, to bring God's enlightenment and abundance into our lives. May we merit once more to participate in the great rejoicing of the Simchas Beis HaSho’eiva. Amen.

1 comment:

herskovicmd said...

Moshe David,

Here's your enlightenment: it will be the other way around. As since the sacrifices, and therefore, the never extinguishing fire on the mizbeach, were an allocation that HaShem granted us, temporarily, until we reached the level of not needing animal sacrifice in order to atone for sin (and indeed not sin at all)instead the mizbeach will be water. And isn't the Torah water? The divine spring that leads to life and peace? So learning and living by the precepts, parables, and lessons of the Torah is the Drawing of the Ruach into life. HaShem has given us the tools to do this, and it's something we should be celebrating, indeed, rejoicing b'simcha!

Moshe David Herskovic