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Friday, September 25

The Weekly Shtikle - Sukkos

In reviewing my archives on Sukkos, I came across an observation from a number of years ago for which I have not received an explanation. There is an interesting discrepancy in the mitzvos we perform as part of the holidays of this month. First, we have the shofar on Rosh HaShanah. The Torah does not ever identify the shofar by name when talking about Rosh HaShanah. We are simply told it is a "yom teruah." However, in other contexts (matan Torah, yovel), the shofar is mentioned by name with no explanation as to what exactly it is. We are not told to blow the horn of a ram – except perhaps in Shemos 19:13, "bimshoch hayovel." But then it is not referred to as a shofar.

Conversely, when we are taught of the four species to be brought on Sukkos, the traditional names we use for them are not mentioned at all (with the exception of aravos.) We are not told to take an esrog, a lulav, hadassim, etc. Rather, we are told to take a pri eitz hadar, a palm branch, etc. The focus is placed on the actual source of the species as opposed to simply naming them. 

So we have a disparity in the focus of the various mitzvah objects we use during this month. This is contrasted with the laws of Pesach which are quite explicit in the Torah. I don't really have a definite direction on these thoughts – just want to put it out there for discussion. Perhaps the essence of the shofar is not necessarily its source (despite the ties to akeidas Yitzchak) but the sound it produces. With the four species, however, the source of the actual species is of great significance and defines their very essence as is somewhat evident from last year's Sukkos shtikle.


It's looking like the first night of Sukkos might provide some very clear skies for much of North America which is always a welcome treat. This year, however, those open skies will provide a spectacular view of a complete lunar eclipse. This particular occurrence is also known as a supermoon eclipse, taking place when the moon is closest to the earth. It should be easily viewable for just about all of North America. Those in Europe might be able to catch some of it at the end of the night and in Eretz Yisrael, the beginning of it might be visible more towards the morning. Please see my essay on Eclipses in Machshavah and Halachah.

Have a good Shabbos and Chag Samei'ach!

Eliezer Bulka

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