I ran into a Talmid this morning during my morning commute to the Yeshiva, following Shachris, Daf Yoimi, a three course breakfast, and a quick mitzvah with my Bashert, Feigeh Breinah, if you know what I mean. He told me that he recently met another Talmid, who said that while he is appreciative of my "special brand" of Toirah, he felt that I sometimes "cross the line".
Rabboisai -- It is written in the Toirah that we should not engage in Gilui Arayois with our sisters, our aunts or our father's wife. We are directed by the Toirah not to be Mezaneh with animals. We are commanded to commit Cheirem upon certain towns during the initial Keebbush of Eretz Yisroel. We are told that Duvid HaMelech, THE GREAT Duvid Hamelech, viewed Bass-Shevah bathing naked on her roof, committed Gilui Arayois with her, and sent her husband, a great and loyal soldier, to his death in order to get him "out of the way". And, of course, the Toirah details how Shloimoi HaMelech embraced idol worship towards the end of his life.
So, in other words, while Toirah is timeless and beautiful, it is not always pretty.
So if you are looking for a life philosophy that is always pretty, is always inoffensive, is never challenging, and never makes you feel uncomfortable, then I suggest you become a Buddhist. Or a Bresslover Chassid. Or move to
Ah Gutten Yuntif.
On this holiday, the yuntif of Sukkois, we wave fresh fruit at the sky for seven days, and eat in an open air beehive. We cap it off by dancing cheek to cheek with a bunch of bearded men. (I have a date with a talmid named Yerachmiel; I hope I get lucky!)
According to Chazzal, Sukkois is the time when Moshiach will come. And according to Reb Hai Goyn, it is the holiday when you are supposed to separate yourself from the secular world. He cites as proof the fact that you are forced to take off so many work days right before end of year reviews, you might as well start polishing up your resume.
The RI holds that Sukkois is actually a celebration of homosexuality. When Klal Yisroel were preparing for the long winter, planting in the fields by day and sleeping in huts at night, at the end of a long day they would sit down bichavrusa (in pairs) and study a little Talmud. One minute they are on daf yud baiz, amud alef, and the next minute they are on the floor, committing Mishkav Zachor. And who can blame them? I get excited by a gevaldik Toisfois myself!
The RI cites various Sukkois practices as proof for his position:
- We wave our phallic lulavim on the faces of all the other men, boasting about how ours is the biggest in the shul;
- Alongside our lulav is our esroig, where the gemarrah tells us that the more bulbous and full of veins, the better;
- We commit a sadomasochistic act with a handful of willow branches;
- We dance around the Toirah with other men, our fingers firmly entwined with others' hot, sweaty, hairy hands.
However, most Rishoinim disagree with the RI, referring to his rather abrupt departure from his position as director of the all boys Orthodox summer camp in
The Sukkah offers many opportunities to be Hiddur Mitzvah, to go above and beyond the letter of the commandment. It is customary to decorate the Sukkah with pictures and other decorations. (Vooz iz givehn plastic fruit, anyway? I understand the Reform decorate their Sukkahs with shrimp.)
According to Rabbeinu Tam, it is actually a Mitzvah Dioraisa to buy Christmas decorations in January at fifty percent off, to be used in decorating the Sukkah the following year: Flashing lights. Ornaments. Candy canes. Indeed, one year the Vilna Goyn decorated his Sukkah with a nativity scene he bought for six dollars.
There are other things that one can do with a Sukkah. A Braisah brings down a story of Rabbi Elazar Ben Azariah, who, as a teenager, had the roof removed from his family's minivan and replaced with schach, so that he could drive down to the beach and be mekayaim the mitzvois of pleasuring his girlfriend and eating in the sukkah at the same time. What a tzaddik!
Yet the most beautiful element of Sukkois, and the aspect most shrouded in mystery, is the mitzvah of esroig. I still can't figure it out. It looks like a lemon. It smells like a lemon. It even tastes like a lemon. But it costs as much as heroin. How come it is easier to buy fresh peaches from
And how many times in your life have you heard of esroig jelly. I bet you have heard of it all your life, but have NEVER seen it. You know why? Imagine this boast to your friends and neighbors: "I took 100 esroigim that last week retailed for a total of $5,000, mixed them up with a little sugar and pectin, and now it's worth about $1.50." Really impressive.
For this reason, I have a personal minhag. Two days before Sukkois, I buy 5 pounds of lemons in the supermarket, take them home, and then take a baseball bat to them. After about ten minutes of beating the crap out of them, I have plenty esroigim for myself and the kinderlach, and sell the remainder in the shul. With the extra money I buy some cologne, so I can smell nice for my dancing partner on Simchas Toirah night.
Ah Gutten Yuntif You Minuval