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Neither Day nor Night

Tishrei 14, 5766/October 17, 2005
2005 The Temple Institute, Rabbi Chaim Richman - All Rights Reserved

"Go, eat your bread with joy and drink your wine with a glad heart, for G-d has already approved your deeds." (Ecc. 9:7).

Our sages of blessed memory apply these words of King Solomon to the transition between the Days of Awe which crescendo with the overwhelming Yom Kippur, and the joyous Festival of Sukkot - regarding which the Torah instructs us " ...and you shall be only joyous on your Festival" (Deut. 17:15) - which we begin to observe tonight.

So many questions go through an individual's mind as Yom Kippur draws to its conclusion. Was my repentance really sincere? Was it accepted? Was I sealed for a favorable decree? What will the coming year bring for me, and my loved ones? It is natural for a person to entertain thoughts of inadequacy and vulnerability. It is precisely this feeling that the wise King Solomon addressed in the verse quoted above. We are assured of G-d's compassion and mercy, and rather than indulge in those feelings of inadequacy, we are given "bundles of commandments" as our rabbis quip, to keep us occupied with fulfilling G-d's will during the four days between Yom Kippur and Sukkot. Indeed, these days are somehow above time; days that are amongst the busiest of the entire year, as we prepare the sukkah booth which will become our temporary dwelling place for the coming week, and procure the "four species" which G-d commands us to take up during the Festival in order to give Him thanks (Lev. 23:40).

Tonight the festival of Sukkot begins. We will enter into the booths that are a reminder of the clouds of glory which enveloped Israel at the time of the Exodus from Egypt. As we dwell in the sukkah during the coming days, we will literally be wrapped in the loving embrace of the Divine Presence. Is there a greater assurance of G-d's constant love than this? This is His own response to our post-Yom Kippur syndrome: He instructs us to flee not away from Him, but directly into His arms... into the loving embrace of the sukkah.

Sukkot has a more direct connection to the nations of the world than any other festival. A total of seventy bulls are offered in the Holy Temple, symbolizing all the nations of the world united together in Jerusalem. This offering was intended to bring Heavenly blessing upon all the nations.

The haftorah, prophetic reading which is read on the first day of the Festival is from Zechariah 14. The prophet foretold that this holiday will be the occasion for all the nations of the world to make the pilgrimage to Jerusalem: "And all of the nations will go up to Jerusalem every year to bow before the King, the L-rd of Hosts."

But this is only after the war that will be waged by all those nations who gather together against Jerusalem. Whose side will you be on? That will be "a unique day, it will be known as G-d's day, neither day nor night, but it will happen towards evening that there will be light... in summer and in winter it will be... G-d will be King over all the land; on that day G-d will be One and His name will be One."

Just as many are confused today, and cannot distinguish between day and night, between light and darkness, and are hesitant to stand up and be counted for the side of right, the side of the G-d of Israel, so too, that will be a day that is neither day nor night. But that time is drawing near, and each of us must make the most important decisions of our lives. Will we stand up and be counted on the side of right?

May G-d give us the strength and fortitude to make our decisions for His honor alone.

Rabbi Chaim Richman

PO Box 31876 Jerusalem, Israel 97500



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