Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Rabbi Meir Elkabas: Practical Pespectives on the Upcoming Festivals

Received from Meir Elkabas by e-mail:

Dearest friends and comrades. Shalom and Shana Tova. I hope that everyone had a powerful, meaningful and uplifting High Holiday experience.

As the upcoming Sukkot and Simchat Torah festivals approach, I thought that it would be helpful and meaningful to give some practical meaning and perspectives into the deeper meaning of the festivals based on the teachings of Rebbe Nachman of Breslov. It is my hope that they will enhance the Festival experience.

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  • The fact that the Festivals end with the joy of dancing with the holy Sefer Torah on Simchat Torah indicates that this is the culmination of the whole High Holiday experience - i.e. the joy and appreciation of connecting with the Torah.
  • Rebbe Nachman teaches (see Likutey Moharan lesson #56 for more details) that Torah study - especially when enunciated and articulated - is the most powerful force in reconnecting to Hashem. 
  • Even those who are "seemingly" totally detached from Hashem can be aroused to come back through the power of the Torah. Thus Torah study is of paramount importance when it comes to reviving the Jewish nation to wake up even from the deepest and darkest concealment.
  • Since everything must contain a trace of Godliness to exist, this must include situations, places and thoughts of even extreme impurity and sin.
  • And since Hashem is directly bound and connected to the Torah which is in essence His Name, thus when studying the Torah, this has the power to reveal the concealed Godliness in any situation, place, condition etc. and convert/reveal from it the "Hidden Torah"/Hashem's Name contained therein.
  • The deeper the concealment - the greater and more deeper is the Torah revelation when aroused through Torah study.


  • The blowing of the Shofar on Rosh Hashanah commemorates the receiving of the Torah on Mt. Sinai when the blast of the shofar was sounded (see Rosh Hashanah Mussaf prayer in the third section called "Shofarot"). Thus, in a sense, Rosh Hashanah is to reawaken the power and merit of the Torah to help us wake up from our spiritual slumber.
  • Yom Kippur - the day when the Second Tablets were given to Moshe at Mt. Sinai - is meant to tap into the deeper and more hidden Torah which is revealed from the darkest and most impure places which are coined as "the concealment-within-a-concealment".
  • This is so since the Second Tablets were revealed after the sin and atonement of the golden calf when Hashem revealed to Moshe the 13 Attributes of Mercy which were then incorporated into the Second Tablets. These 13 Attributes serve to reveal Hashem's mercy/Name/Torah from the deepest concealment possible.

  • In Kabbalistic terminology the Sukkah is called "Imma DiMesakhekha Al Benin" - The Mother That Covers Over Her Sons. Meaning, that the Sukkah corresponds to a very high level of Torah called Binah/Imma (mother) which serves to protect the Jewish Nation from even the lowest impurity/concealement.
  • That the roof/S'khakh of the Sukkah is made of "leftover" vegetation indicates that this Torah level of Binah/Imma is specifically hidden in the leftovers/concealment. Our entering into the sukkah to fulfill our mundane obligations of eating, drinking, sleeping etc. is meant to reveal the Hidden Torah found therein.

  • The Holy Zohar compares the Four Species to a quill (pen) with the hand holding it. This can be seen as follows: the lulav - the quill; the 3 myrtle branches - 3 fingers; the 2 willow branches - 2 fingers. The etrog can be seen as the ink-well (some view it as the palm of the hand).
  • The Rabbis teach that the Etrog is shaped like a heart - Lev in Hebrew. The Lev consists of 2 letters - Lamed and Bet which are the opening and closing letters of the Torah (Bet from 'B'ereishit and Lamed from Yisrae'L'). Thus the quill dipped in the ink-well of the holy Torah is meant to spread the message of the Torah.
  • By shaking the Four Species in all six directions we are trying to spread and disseminate the power of Torah study throughout the world, since this mainly involves the printing of Torah literature.
  • According to the holy Ari, it is preferable to recite the blessing over the Four Species in the Sukkah. In our context we try to connect this "holy quill" with the Hidden Torah/Binah/Imma/leftover vegetation in order to reveal the Hidden Torah from within the concealment-within-the-concealment.
  • This is also the idea of circling the Sefer Torah with the Four Species - that we are trying to spread and disseminate through this "holy quill" the message and light contained within the Torah scroll.

  • To finalize and seal the dissemination of the Torah, we stay up all night hoping and praying for our success in this matter.
  • We recite the entire book of Devarim which is called "Mishneh Torah" - the "doubled" Torah. In a sense it is a repetition of the Torah but also contains the morals and purpose of the Torah and of serving Hashem. Thus, Devarim corresponds to the Hidden Torah in contrast to the first 4 books which are a more revealed Torah.
  • We also recite the entire Book of Psalms which are 5 books corresponding to the 5 books of the Torah/Chumash. We pray that we should succeed in our Torah study to arouse and awaken all the concealed situations and conditions and be able to find Hashem everywhere and at all times.
  • In the morning prayers we circle the Sefer Torah seven times with the Four Species in order to arouse the merit of the Seven Shephards (Avraham, Yitzchak, Yaakov, Moshe, Aharon, Yosef and David) who were all involved in spreading and teaching Torah.

  • After all of this hard work we are finally able to dance and rejoice with the Torah, as if to say that now we are one with the Torah.
  • This oneness is meant to ensure us that no matter what we may go through during the entire year, no matter how low we may fall, if we maintain a solid connection to the holy Torah, we have major, major hope in reconnecting to Hashem, His Name and His True Compassion (i.e. the 13 Attributes of Mercy).
  • May we merit to truly connect to the holy Torah - both revealed and hidden - to the point where it truly and fully becomes our "life and length of days", Amen.

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Being right before the Yom Tov festivals and expenses, it is a special and propitious time for helping out poor and needy families, especially those residing in Eretz Yisrael, the Holy Land. 

Since Eretz Yisrael is one of three items which are acquired through suffering, it is only proper and fitting to help these families who have sacrificed so much to raise their families in the holy and special atmosphere of Eretz Yisrael.

To send immediate help through paypal:

To send by check or money order:
Meir Elkabas
11 Polansky St.
Jerusalem, Israel

For more details or other options please contact me at: 972-57-317-2332.

As a token of appreciation for your help and support, please send me your full Hebrew name and mother's name (if applicable) so that I can add you in my daily prayers here is Jerusalem (which will include sporadic prayers at the holy sites of Eretz Yisrael).

Thank you, Shana Tova and may we all be blessed with a good and sweet year completely sealed and inscribed in the books of good life and peace, Amen.


Meir Elkabas

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