Rabbi Dovid Saks
Succos 5772 Message and Tribute
When the Torah commands us to take and wave the four special species on the Holiday of Succos, the Torah states, “You shall take on the first day, a beautiful fruit – Esrog etc.”
The Talmud wonders, why does the Torah refer to the beginning of Succos as the first day, which seems to mean the first day of the month of Tishrei? After all, Succos is observed on the 15th day of the month.
The Talmud gives the following enigmatic answer, “The first day” does not refer to the day of the month, rather, it refers to, “The first day of the reckoning of sins.”
The question is quite obvious, isn’t it most likely that one tripped up and transgressed during the days between Yom Kippur and the Holiday of Succos, so why is Succos, which is observed five days after Yom Kippur, considered the first day of reckoning of sin?
There is an absolute depth and intelligibility to all statements of our Sages. Our commentators with their keen and sagacious wisdom, illuminate and unearth the meaning of our Sage’s concise cryptic statements.
I came across the following interesting explanation: When the Torah finishes describing the first day of creation, it states, “It was evening and it was day – Yom Echad - day one.” The Medrash teaches us that the Torah did not say “the first day” rather, it said “day one” hinting at a very special and holy day of the year, Yom Kippur.
If the first day creation is connected to Yom Kippur, it follows that five days later refers to the sixth day of creation when Adam and Eve were created and on which day they sinned by eating from the forbidden Tree of Knowledge.
The upcoming Holiday of Succos begins five days after Yom Kippur, thus the first day of Succos aligns itself to the day that Adam and Eve sinned by eating its forbidden fruit.
We now have a clue why the Talmud refers to Succos as the ‘first day of the reckoning of sin.’
The reckoning of sin does not necessarily refer to the sins we commit. Rather, it reflects and reverts back to the first sin that was committed by mankind – Adam and Eve eating from the forbidden Tree of knowledge.
The Talmud teaches us that there is an opinion that fruit of the forbidden Tree of Knowledge was an Esrog!
The Torah instructs us to take and wave an Esrog on the ‘first day,’ so that the Mitzvah we perform with the Esrog will rectify and repair the damage caused to mankind by the original first sin of eating from the Esrog.
The Torah relates that the first sin of mankind introduced death to the world; this also allowed an ability and capability for future sins to transpire.
G-d gave us a Torah, which contains 613 Mitzvos. When broken down, there are 365 don’ts and 248 do’s. Interestingly, the don’ts correspond to the 365 sinews in one’s body and the do’s correspond to the 248 limbs in one’s body.
When one observes the Torah and its Mitzvos it serves to strengthen that particular limb or sinew of the body.
Each of the four species that we are commanded to wave on Succos, has a shape of a particular vital and crucial organ of our body. The Aravah – willow – is contoured like a mouth. The Hadas – myrtle – has the outline of an eye. The Lulav – central palm branch – is formed like a spine. The Esrog – citron – is shaped like a heart.
By combining these species together and fulfilling the Mitzvah of Lulav, these particular organs of our body are physically or metaphysically strengthened, boosted and enhanced by its performance!
Wishing you a most joyous Succos!
Rabbi Dovid and Malki Saks and family