In his Shaar Cheshbon Hanefesh, the Chovos Halevavos speaks about the necessity for every person to consider what he calls tzuras omdo b’olam, the essential character of his existence in the world. It means that among all of the attitudes of the mind that every person must develop, he must also take time to think about this burning question: What does my state of existence in this world look like?
Now when a child is born he knows right away the state of his existence. He’s here to stay. If you tell him stories about people who die, he doesn’t really believe it, or at least it doesn’t apply to him. He thinks he knows tzuras omdo b’olam; he’s a permanent resident.
Actually, almost everybody retains this juvenile attitude all his life. Of course, he knows all about misah, but it’s very far from his mind. He has ten thousand years left, at least. That’s his recognition of tzuras omdo b’olam; he’s here and he’s here to stay.
And that’s why the Chovos Halevavos reminds us that it’s of the utmost importance to “recognize the actual form of our existence here,” that we’re only visitors. This is a hotel and we are orchim; we spend a little time here and then we move on.
A Temporary Dwelling
Now, one of the experiences that Hakodosh Boruch Hu presents to us for the purpose of acquiring this attitude is the sukkah. בַּסֻּכֹּת תֵּשְׁבוּ שִׁבְעַת יָמִים – For seven days go out from your home and live in the sukkah. It’s a mitzvah that if used the way Hakodosh Boruch Hu intended, will have the most far-reaching results in our lives; not only on Sukkos but in Cheshvan and Kislev and all the rest of the year. Sitting in the sukkah, if you learn how to do it, affects our entire attitude and our entire success in this world.
Let’s study that. First we note that one of the most important features of the sukkah is that it’s a diras arai. By its very nature, in its halacha requirements, it’s supposed to be a temporary dwelling. Why can’t you make a sukkah that’s higher than a certain height? Because סֻכָּה דִּירַת עֲרַאי בְּעֵינָן; it has to be a temporary dwelling and too high a wall around the sukkah gives the impression that it’s permanent; if it’s too high you’ll be forced to build very strong walls,
And so we see that a fundamental requirement of a kosher sukkah is that it should be a temporary dwelling.
Now it’s not merely for convenience, so that we shouldn’t have to spend too much money in building permanent sukkos. No, it’s much more than that. The purpose is to tell us צֵא מִדִּירַת קְבַע וְשֵׁב בְּדִירַת עֲרַאי; for this certain amount of time, for these seven days, Hashem wants you to move out of your permanent residence, and go into a temporary dwelling. And in that little hut, in that flimsy home, you will be encouraged to reflect on the temporary nature of your existence in this world, on your actual tzuras omdo b’olam.
Remember Those Days
Of course, we shouldn’t forget to keep in mind what Hakodosh Boruch Hu told us befeirush, that we are sitting in the sukkah לְמַעַן יֵדְעוּ דֹרֹתֵיכֶם כִּי בַסֻּכּוֹת הוֹשַׁבְתִּי אֶת בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל בְּהוֹצִיאִי אוֹתָם מֵאֶרֶץ מִצְרָיִם – in order to remember how we sat in huts for forty years when Hashem took us out of Mitzrayim (Vayikra 23:43).
That’s another reason why the schach can’t be too high. When the schach is too high, לֹא שָׁלְטָא בָּהּ עֵינָא, the eye ordinarily doesn’t look up that high and you’ll miss the point. We want the schach to be within your normal eyesight so that even without craning your neck you’ll see what’s overhead and you’ll be reminded about that miraculous period in our history. It was miraculous when the entire nation dwelt only in sukkos, in little flimsy dwellings. and still we were more secure in the midbar than at any other time in our history. And it’s only because Hakodosh Boruch Hu was our sukkah. He was protecting us.
So when you go into the sukkah and you’re thinking, “Is it kosher schach? Are the dimensions good? Is it big enough? Is it under a tree?” The ones who know more are thinking about lavud and dofen akumah, other dinim. Very good! It’s wonderful if they have all these things in mind, but you have to add on something more. You have to spend some time thinking about the forty years that we lived in the Midbar under the protection of Hashem. How can you neglect such a thing when Hakodosh Boruch Hu says openly, לְמַעַן – it’s for this purpose that I commanded you to live in sukkos.
And yet included in that thought, the sukkah reminds us of how temporary was our existence in the midbar. Every day they had to be on the alert, maybe they’ll hear the blast of the chatzotzros summoning them to pull up the stakes of their tents and start moving. And so they never felt settled; they were like visitors, like people who are just passing through.
And it was intended by Hashem to be that way. The forty year journey through the Midbar was meant to teach them that lesson. vayisu Bnei Yisrael, we’re traveling all the time, never resting for too long in one place – that’s a symbol of our existence in this world, we’re just passing through.
We see it today too. When the immigrants came to this country, when they arrived in New York, first they lived on the East Side and then Brownsville and then Crown Heights, then they moved some place else. That’s Hashem’s plan. Vayisu Bnei Yisrael, we’re always on the move, traveling throughout our history. We went to Bavel. From Bavel we went to Spain and North Africa. Then we went to Europe. Then from Italy and France we went to Germany, from Germany to Russia; and then to America and Australia. And so we’re always traveling; vayisu.
And what’s one of the purposes? It’s not the only reason but one of the purposes is so we should always feel we’re not permanent residents anyplace because the whole olam hazeh is temporary.
Traveling in Greatness
Now it doesn’t mean they didn’t succeed in Spain. Traveling doesn’t mean failure. So many of our rishonim were there. Without Spain we wouldn’t have the Rambam and the Rashba and the Ritva and the Ran and all the other gedolei Yisroel. The Kuzari and Chovos Halevavos were all from Spain.
It wasn’t a failure; just the opposite – they succeeded more because they had in mind that they came from someplace and they’re going someplace else; they won’t be here forever.
They weren’t deceived like American Jews who think זֹאת מְנוּחָתִי עֲדֵי עַד פֹּה אֵשֵׁב – we’ll be here forever and ever. Like Alabama means in the Indian language, “Here we rest forever.” Oh no, it’s no Alabama for us. Don’t make any mistake about it; we won’t rest here forever. The German Jews thought so too. Don’t make that same mistake.
Now, this understanding of our tzuras omdo b’olam will have the most far-reaching results. It affects our entire attitude and our entire success in this world. Even in gashmiyus, even in the way we enjoy this world, it will make a tremendous difference. I’ll prove it to you. Because don’t you enjoy yourself in the temporary sukkah? You sing zemiros in the sukkah, and you can eat good seudos in the sukkah with your family. You enjoy yourself very much!
In fact, you enjoy it more. It’s like an outing. You know, melamdim many times go to the country for the summer. Now when you come to the bungalow for two months, you know you have plenty of time and so you’re not in a hurry to enjoy it and it becomes boring too after a while. But while you’re in the country you notice there are people who are coming for a two week vacation, some for a one-week vacation.
Now, these one-weekers, they come along with fishing rods. They come along with hiking boots. They come with plans how they’re going to do everything during that week; they’ll go here and they’ll go there. Because they know they’re only here for one week, they come with the intention of getting the most they can out of it. And so they go swimming all the time and fishing and hiking and looking and jumping. They’re busy all the time because they know time is short and they want to get the most out of this one week.
It’s A Fun World
So when you know Olam Hazeh is only for a short time, you will enjoy it more. It’s not a silly idea I’m telling you. When a man knows – like all of us know – that he’s in this world for the next 65 million years, it’s boring. The whole world is boring, not interesting when you still have 65 million years ahead of you! But when you know it’s a little less than 65 million years then you think, “Maybe I should enjoy it.”
Why not? Why shouldn’t you enjoy the world? It’s a mitzvah to look at the world and say מָה רַבּוּ מַעֲשֶׂיךָ הַשֵּׁם. We have to thank Hashem for everything. And how can you thank Him if you don’t enjoy? If you don’t like it, you can’t thank Him. So you have to enjoy the sun. You have to enjoy the blue skies. You have to enjoy the fresh air. You have to enjoy the glass of water. There are wonderful things to enjoy, and you’ll enjoy it much more because you know you’re only here a short time.
You’re The Winner
Not only enjoyment. You’ll accomplish more too when you know that you’re not here forever. I once gave a mashal like this. There was once a contest, and the winner of the contest was given the privilege of going into Tiffany’s jewelry safe for five seconds and grabbing whatever he could.
So one man wins and the big day comes. He’s escorted up to the safe, a big safe that opens with a clock. Everyone is waiting until the bell rings and the door to the safe swings open. So let’s say you’re the winner and the chairman of the company says to you, “Hurry up, my friend,” and he pushes you into the safe.
You’re so astonished by what you see inside. On all sides are glittering stones. You don’t know where to start. But before you know it, the five seconds are over already and he’s pulling you out with your feet. You say, “Wait a second! I didn’t take anything yet! Wait!” But he’s already pulling you out.
Grab The Diamonds
And that’s this world. The Malach Hamaves is going to be pulling you out by the feet and you’ll be crying, “Already?!” You didn’t use your five seconds in this world. But when you know it’s only five seconds, you’re prepared and so you’ll grab all you can as soon as you can.
This world is full of diamonds. On every side there are diamonds, so many things you can enjoy and accomplish in this world, and therefore when a man knows that it’s only a very short time that he’s here, he’s going to enjoy it more than anybody else and he’ll also achieve more than anybody who didn’t learn this lesson of the sukkah. The one who never recognized tzuras omdo b’olam and thinks that the world is a permanent residence for him loses out in the end.
Part II. The Guest
The Year-Round Sukkah
Now, once a person gets used to this idea – once he understands that he’s only a guest here, that he’s just passing through – so his entire attitude changes. A man who knows he’s living in an olam she’eina shelo (Sanhedrin 100b) lives an entirely different life.
But the mitzvah of sukkah is not enough. It’s very important and a person who is ambitious can gather a great wealth of the mind during the seven days of Yom Tov but this attitude is too important to be relegated to one week of the year. Hakodosh Boruch Hu expects us to take the lessons of the sukkah back into the house at the end of the Yom Tov and live with this reminder all year long.
Now I’m going to enumerate some of the means of reminding ourselves that we are only visitors here. There are more; I’m just going to choose a few at random. They’re good for practicing up in the sukkah and for all year long.
One is not to waste materials. Let’s say you’re a visitor in somebody’s home. You sit down at his table for Shabbos and there are napkins. You want to take one napkin? All right. Another napkin? You should think about it before you take a second napkin.
Suppose you’re taking two napkins, three napkins, four napkins. The ba’al habayis begins to look at you. “What kind of business is that? You’re only a visitor here. Napkins don’t grow on trees.”
But we’re learning now that even your own napkins you shouldn’t waste. Even when you’re in your own home you have to know: it’s not your own napkins. You’re a visitor here, and you shouldn’t waste materials. That’s something! Even your own napkins aren’t yours. You’re a guest in this world and you have to behave like a guest.
The Giving Tree
There was once a very great man, in the times of the Gemara. He had a son named Shivchas who died young. So the father said, “I know why my son died young. לָא שָׁכִיב שִׁבְחַת בְּרִי אֶלָּא דְּקַץ תְּאֵנְתָּא בְּלָא זִמְנַהּ, he chopped down a fig tree before its time.” (Bava Kamma 91b).
When a fig tree gets so old that it produces almost no figs anymore then you can use it for wood. Otherwise you have no business chopping down a fig tree. It’s not yours.
But Shivchas needed wood for some purpose and he forgot this lesson; he chopped down the fig tree while it was still producing figs. So Hashem said, “What’s going on here? You’re chopping down My good fig tree?!” It was Shivchas’s fig tree but it wasn’t his. “You’re a visitor in My house,” Hashem said, “and you’re chopping down My good fig tree? And since you chopped it before the time, therefore I’m going to take you out of the world before your time.” And so Shivchas passed away, a young man.
“If you don’t recognize your tzuras omdo ba’olam, your state of existence in this world,” Hashem says, “then you’re missing the fundamental understanding of your purpose here and you don’t belong.” When you have a visitor who doesn’t recognize his place in the home so sometimes he’s booted out.
A good guest is stingy with Hashem’s property. Not because you’re stingy. We’re talking about something else altogether. You’re always reminding yourself that it’s not yours anyhow – you’re only a guest in Olam Hazeh and a good guest doesn’t waste in the home of his host.
Don’t Waste Time
There are other things too, other things that a guest in this world is careful with. If you’re here only temporarily so you don’t waste time. Time doesn’t belong to you – it’s borrowed time and you can’t afford to waste any of it.
Sometimes on motzaei shabbos people might go over to their mechutanim or the cousins just to shoot the breeze, to sit for hours talking. A waste! But not only a waste of your life but you’re showing that you don’t recognize your place in this world. Someone who knows he’s a guest in this world doesn’t shoot the breeze for no reason.
And so we see now how important it is for us to remember that we are only guests here. When people go back and forth to Eretz Yisroel for nothing, back and forth, back and forth, it’s a waste. They want to visit their child. It’s a terutz. It’s the same as a Caribbean cruise only that the hechsher is ‘it’s Eretz Yisroel’. That covers it up. You’re wasting time and wasting money.
There are plenty of things to do with your money and plenty of things to do with your time and the more careful you are, the more you remind yourself that this is an olam she’eino shelcha.
Watch Your Words
The Rambam tells us another chiddush about our status as visitors in this world. In Avos the Rambam says that Hakodosh Boruch Hu gives us only so many words to speak in our lives. You hear this? It’s a big chiddush. You were invited into this world as a guest and you were given only a certain amount of words to speak. And therefore you’re always careful; always on guard that you shouldn’t use your words up too quickly.
מִי הָאִישׁ הֶחָפֵץ חַיִּים? You want to stay longer in this world? Talk less. If you use up the amount of words in a short time then you have no right to keep on living.
You hear that pshat? You have to spare your words because it’s not given to you to waste. Words are money. Milah b’sela, each word is worth a dollar; more than a dollar (Megillah 18a). Even if you’re rich, you can’t just take dollars and throw them out of the window. Same thing, you can’t take words and use throw them out of your mouth.
Even in divrei Torah the Rambam says. If you can say a halachah in five words, don’t say it in ten words because five words are wasted. לְעוֹלָם יִשְׁנֶה אָדָם לְתַלְמִידוֹ דֶּרֶךְ קְצָרָה, a man should teach Torah in the briefest, most short possible manner (Pesachim 3b), the Rambam says it’s for the purpose of saving words. Of course it helps also to make it clearer to understand. When you talk a lot, he gets confused. But besides that. The Rambam says because it’s a waste of words. We can’t afford to waste words. Words are our life.
A guest understands that. A good guest tiptoes around the house. He doesn’t open up his big mouth and let loose. He understands that in front of the host he’s as quiet as possible.
Watch Your Tears
Now, the next thing is a big chiddush to most people and therefore I want you to understand it. Among the things we have to keep in mind is that we can’t waste emotions. Even emotions are given only for a purpose and someone who knows he’s passing through understands that emotions are like napkins – they’re meant to be used only as needed, only as the Host expects.
When people weep, they have a responsibility. What are you weeping for? If it’s בְּכִיָּה שֶׁל חִנָּם, if you’re weeping for nothing, so Hashem says “You’re wasting tears. You’re wasting sadness.”
He weeps because he didn’t get a good aliyah in the beis haknesses. He weeps because he put money on the wrong horse. He invested in stocks and the stocks lost. He weeps. His whole life he was weeping but so much of it was wasted tears. Hashem says, “Weep only when I tell you to weep.”
There are things you can weep for. Weep for the churban Beis Hamikdash. Kumi roni balaylah, wake up and cry out at night. Yes, why not? There’s no harm. Even young people once in a while, tikun chatzos. Everybody’s asleep. You get up, sit down on the floor. Nobody has to know. You’re in your own room. And weep for the churban Beis Hamikdash. That’s something to weep for. But don’t waste emotion.
Happiness With Reason
Also happiness, excitement, is not yours to waste. Some people sit at a café on New Year’s night and they make revelry. Wooh ahh! Simchah shel chinam. Being happy over nothing is a cheit. You’re utilizing emotions for nothing. You say, “What’s wrong?” What’s wrong?! It’s wrong that you’re wasting emotions.
“What are you happy about?” Hashem says, “I invited you into My house as a guest and you’re going meshuga, rejoicing in nothing.”
Yes, happiness is important. Be happy on Yom Tov. Sukkos, zman simchaseinu. It’s a mitzvah then. Be happy Hakodosh Boruch Hu gave you good health. Say “Boruch atah Hashem that I moved my bowels today.” Ahh! That’s a simchah. You’re happy because you have two good kidneys. Ay yah yay! Be happy that you have a pi hatabaas instead of having a hole in the side, a colostomy. You can dance and sing for that. “Ah, boruch Hashem. I’m so full of joy.” Nobody’s doing it but that’s what happiness is for.
If you’re grateful to Hashem, you’re utilizing your happiness properly. Otherwise Hashem says, “What are you’re wasting what I gave you? I gave you emotions for certain things. You can’t waste them. If you want to be a good guest in this world, you have to save your emotions.
Excitement In The World
Excitement too. You want to be excited? Be excited about Me only. Like Dovid Hamelech said, Halleli nafshi es Hashem. Halleli means to be excited. It means, “My soul, you want to be excited? Es Hashem! Only about Hashem.” Don’t be excited about anything else.
Some people get excited about music. They go into music stores and you see inside they’re jumping up and down to the tune of the music. What are you so excited about?!
Music is a meshugas unless you use the music in avodas Hashem. Then yes. And people learn mussar from music. Oy yoy yoy yoy yoy! Music from mussar. Wonderful. I heard in Slabodka learning mussar there were some specialists who used to have special nigunim for mussar. It was a pleasure to hear it. Music of the Levi’im in the Beis Hamikdash. Oh yes! It could induce ruach hakodesh. It brought ruach hakodesh to the listeners when they heard that music. But stam you’re excited about music? It’s so silly. It’s a waste of emotions.
The Natural World
Even to be excited about nature. What is nature that you have to be excited? If you look at nature to see the yad Hashem, if you get excited about seeds, that’s something. Every seed, it’s known today, has millions of bits of wisdom. Get excited about a seed. Ever eat an apple and as you’re eating the seeds fall into your beard, what’s the purpose? You’ll take a walk later, and you’ll be thinking some divrei Torah and you’ll stroke your beard, the seeds will fall out and remind you to get excited about the seeds.
Yes. But stam to be excited about nature like the meshugaim and atheists are excited? It’s a waste of energy. Hakadosh Baruch Hu didn’t give you excitement to be wasted on nothing at all. And it’s serious business; you have to know that asid liten es hadin because it means you think you’re the boss here. You’re the host and you’ll decide what yes, what no.
And so there’s so much to practice up with as we pass through this world as guests. And the more a person uses these opportunities to remind himself of his tzuras omdo b’olam, that he’s here as a visitor. He’s always careful with his time and money and words and emotions; and he’s enjoying the world the Host expects him to enjoy, and accomplishing in this world the way the Host expects him to accomplish.
Part III. The Exporter
The New King
And now we’re coming to the most important phase of tonight’s words. Everything we said is a hakdamah to what we’re going to learn now. The Chovos Halevavos gives a very important mashal. He tells us about a man who was traveling on a ship, and the ship was shipwrecked. He fell into the water and the waves carried him up on the shore of a foreign country. He was lying on the shore naked now, he had lost everything in the water.
As he lay there on the shore of that new country he saw people approaching him, a whole committee of people. And when they reached him they said, “Welcome our king!” and they dressed him in royal garments and placed a golden crown on his head. And then they took him to the palace and sat him on a throne. He was a king.
Now this man didn’t ask too many questions, but he was enjoying himself. All the trappings of royalty, the good times. But something was gnawing at him. He wanted to find out what’s this all about. And so he was biding his time, looking around among the courtiers in the palace, until finally, he saw one man who looked like someone whom he could trust.
So he made himself close to him; he became friendly with him and one day he called him in and said, “Tell me, what’s this all about? What’s the whole story here?”
The Old Kings
So the man said, “I’ll tell you. Every year it happens that there are shipwrecks around here because there are sharp rocks underneath the water near our island. And every year we take the first man who washes up on our shore and we make him king. We don’t tell him, but it’s only for one year. And during the year we treat him like a king; we feed him like a king and everything else.
“At the end of the year, we take all his clothes off of him – just like he came to us – and we put him into a wooden box, a boat, and we shove him out to sea. Goodbye! He flows out to the ocean.”
Now, this man, this king, said to himself, “All the fools who washed up and thought they were going to be kings forever, that this is their Alabama, they were all in error. They didn’t ask any questions, ‘What’s doing here on this island? Am I really a king here? Nobody asked.
So what did they do? If they had any property outside of the island in other countries, they sent messengers to bring their property to the island. Whatever property they could import, they imported. All their jewelry and cash they brought to the island. And whatever land or homes they had back home, they sold it all and converted it into money to bring to the island. And they brought their wives and their children to the island too.
And at the end of the year when they were shoved out in a boat all by themselves, they had to leave everything over. Their wives they left over and their children and their money; everything was left on the island and they went out all alone in a little boat into the ocean.
The King of Export
So this man said, “I can’t do that. I won’t be so foolish.” And so he started exporting.
Now listen to this word. Exporting. He started exporting from the island. As much as he could he was sneaking merchandise out of the island. He sold as much as he could of the jewelry they gave him. He made it into cash, and he sent it out stealthily to other places, other countries. The whole year that’s all he focused on.
Finally the end of the year came. The island nobles came to him and in one fell swoop they took off his royal clothing, put him into a box and pushed him out in the boat.
But he went with confidence. He’ll paddle. He’ll paddle his way someplace, and he’ll hail a passing ship, and he’ll tell them, “Take me to this and this place. I’ll give you a big reward.”
And that’s what happened. The man who understood that he was’t really a king, that it was only a diras arai that island, he went to his big reward that he had piled up in the place that really mattered.
Munbaz Is Attacked
So now we understand the mashal of the Chovos Halevavos about this world. That’s this world. A child is born and he thinks he’s a king. It’s his world and there’s nothing to talk about. But it’s not so. We’re only visiting; one year or seventy years, whatever it is, it’s only a visit.
And that’s why it’s so necessary to obey the Chovos Halevavos and to get busy exporting things out of this world like the visitor to the island. Instead of being the fool who’s importing fancy carpets and expensive toys and new cars and big bank accounts into this world, we have to get busy exporting from this world all we can.
We have to do what Munbaz did. You know there was once a ger named Munbaz. Munbaz was a king of Chadayav, a gentile country, and he became a ger. And so he began to spend money on tzedakah; he gave tzedakah to the Jewish people, poor Jews.
חָבְרוּ עָלָיו אֶחָיו וּבֵית אָבִיו – all his brothers and his father’s family came together to protest. What are you doing? Your fathers were busy saving money in the royal treasury and now you’re depleting the royal treasury. You’re spending it all. That’s the claim they had against him. You’re giving away the money to tzedakah.
The Heavenly Account
So he said אֲבוֹתַי גָּנְזוּ לְמַטָּה, my forefathers saved money down below, וַאֲנִי גָּנַזְתִּי לְמַעְלָה, I’m exporting money to a different place. I’m sending money to the bank above (Bava Basra 11a). This world is a place where we have to export as much as possible and deposit in the bank above.
It’s like being inside a yeshivah. You’re not in the yeshivah forever and therefore the purpose of being inside of the yeshivah is not merely to be inside. It’s to take something out of the yeshivah with you so that when you leave you’ll be a different person.
Of course you have to export the Torah that’s in the seforim, not the seforim themselves. I once had in my old mesivta forty years ago a half retarded young man. So he probably heard somebody say you should take out from the yeshivah all you can. One day somebody called me from the East Side and he tells me that this fellow is selling our seforim. He’s on the street with a little table and he’s selling the yeshivah’s seforim.
He got the wrong idea. He didn’t take anything out of the seforim – he exported the seforim themselves. But we have to get busy exporting the real merchandise. We have to get into our heads that the sukkah is telling us, “Become an exporter in this temporary world!”
Goods To Export
You should export tefillah from this world. Tefillah is a very big accomplishment. The more tefillos we send to Hakodosh Boruch Hu and the better your tefillos are, the more you accomplish in your exporting business. That’s a very big achievement when people spend their lives accomplishing in tefillah.
Now, I can’t resist reminding you about one of the most important of goods you have to export – it’s the necessity to export thank-yous. As many thank-yous as we can, we have to export out of this world and send it to Hashem.
אוֹרֵחַ טוֹב מַהוּ אוֹמֵר, What does a good guest say? A good guest says כָל מַה שֶּׁטָּרַח בַּעַל הַבַּיִת לֹא טָרַח אֶלָּא בִּשְׁבִילִי – everything that the host prepared, he prepared for me (Brachos 58a). So we see a function of the good guest is to generate gratitude to his host. And so make up your mind, you’re going to be a good guest.
Thank Your In-Laws
Let’s say, you’re going to be in your father-in-law’s sukkah now; so you go with the idea of being grateful. You’re going to be grateful to him because he gave you a wife. And now he’s giving you a place to eat on Yom Tov and your mother-in-law is bringing into the sukkah all types of good food. So make sure to have that in mind – it doesn’t hurt to say it too. You should have that in mind. While you’re in the sukkah you’re constantly saying thank you to your host.
And that’s a symbol of the gratitude we have to feel to the real Host. We’re grateful to the great Host who took us into this world and we have to send Him our thanks constantly for everything. That’s one of the achievements in Olam Hazeh, to export from this world our gratitude.
Every day you should say brachos and you should be grateful to Hashem because that’s your achievement in this world, to export brachos. The more gratitude you feel, the more times you say thank you to Hashem while you’re still in this world, that’s going to be your deposit in that bank that belongs to you forever and ever.
You know what you’re sending to the bank of the next world? Ahavas Hashem. Saying thank You is the best way to export ahavas Hashem from this world. Whatever you get in this world should be translated in terms of love.
If Hashem gives you food, love Hashem for your food. Love Him for breakfast. You ever thought about that, to love Hashem because of breakfast? I’m very serious. It’s the best merchandise. Whatever He gives you in this world, you should export ahavas Hashem, as much ahavas Hashem as you can generate.
Now don’t underestimate it. Don’t think it’s a small thing. It’s our major achievement in this world. And now to sum up what we spoke about tonight. This world is a sukkah. It’s a temporary dwelling, and we’re passing through for a purpose – to be exporters. We’re expected to be busy exporting out of the sukkah of this world all the good things that we can accomplish.
But because Olam Hazeh gives us the appearance of being permanent – it’s always fooling us – so we need to find ways of reminding ourselves that we’re only here for a short time; constantly we have to remember that we’re only visitors here. That’s why as much as possible we practice up acting like guests by not wasting our money and our time and our words and emotions.
And yet, even though this attitude of Olam Hazeh being a diras arai is something we can practice up year-round, Sukkos is the best time to learn this lesson. That’s what it’s made for. When you sit in the temporary dwelling for seven days, it’s a very good opportunity to utilize this great lesson and think, ”This whole world is one big diras arai. And therefore when I get back into my house, I’m going to remember that even my brick home is a diras arai and I’ll get busy exporting to Olam Habo as much Torah, mitzvos, yiras shamayim, chesed and tzedakah as possible.
“And not only from my house. Once I learn the lesson of the sukkah, then wherever I go in this temporary world I’m going to be busy exporting avodas Hashem. And when it finally comes time to leave this Sukkah World after 120 years, I’ll be going to the real world where everything I exported will be waiting for me.
Have A Wonderful Shabbos
Let’s Get Practical
Utilizing the Sukkah
This Yom Tov, whenever I enter the Sukkah I will remember that it commemorates the temporary huts our forefathers lived in, and that this is Hashem’s Plan for us, to remind us that we’re visitors here. As a temporary guest, I will be careful not to waste the resources of this world. This will remind me to get busy exporting Torah and Mitzvos from this world.
Tapes: 136 – Alone With Him | 245 – Citizens of Olam Habo | 271 – Tenants In This World | 614 – The Sukkah | 756 – The World and The Sukkah | E-250 – In His Eternal Sukkah
Taking Yom Tov With You
Chol Hamoed Sukkos in Yerushalayim was beautiful, as always. The weather was gorgeous, and everywhere you looked, in gardens, balconies, and even on the sidewalks, sukkos were filled with Yidden celebrating the Yom Tov. Walking down the streets of the Ir Hakodesh, one could hear people eating in their sukkos and singing songs.
Even the Jerusalem Prison had a large sukkah in the courtyard, where the frum prisoners ate and slept. The prison warden had canceled the prisoners’ chores for the entire Yom Tov so that they could properly celebrate Sukkos. Today, Rav Volender had arranged a daytime Simchas Beis Hashoeiva for all of the prisoners. Delicious food and drinks covered the tables and the prisoners all sat in sukkah, eating and drinking.
“Vehayisa ach someiach!” the prisoners sang. It wasn’t pleasant to be in prison, but it was hard not to be happy as they enjoyed eating and singing in the beautifully decorated sukkah.
As the song ended, Rav Volender stood up to speak.
“Rabbosai,” he began. “Look around. Everyone is sitting and having a good time. But where are we? We’re not in a beautiful ballroom or a fancy manor. We’re sitting in a flimsy hut that Hashem commanded us to build and live in for seven days. And why are we here? One of the reasons is because Hashem wants us to remember that this world, even with all of its wonderful pleasures, is a temporary place.
“In a few days we will be leaving this sukkah and returning to normal life, just like after 120 years we will be leaving this world and going to Olam Haba. The only things that are important in this world are the Torah and Mitzvos that we accomplish – what we take with us at the end!
“It will be very easy, once everyone goes back to their daily chores and routine, to forget this week here in the sukkah. And therefore, it is super important that we ‘take the sukkah with us’. We must remember the songs, the good food that Hashem gave us, and the divrei Torah that we heard, and install them permanently in our minds.
“I asked the warden to give you this week off to make it easier for you to take advantage of enjoying the Mitzvah of sukkah to grow closer to Hashem. But when it’s all over, we need to make sure we don’t forget it. And the same goes for your stay here in prison.”
“Why would we want to remember our time in prison?” asked one of the inmates.
“Because, Kobi, many of you have gained a lot from your time here. First of all, I hope you have learned your lessons about not repeating the crimes that got you sent here. But in addition, you also got to attend many shiurim and learned a lot of Torah. Soon, b’ezras Hashem, you will be released and head back out into the world. But you must make sure to take with you all of the important lessons that you learned here. Take the divrei torah that you heard with you! Don’t forget about all the seforim that you learned here! Don’t leave it behind! Take it with you!”
As Rav Volender was speaking, a prison guard appeared at the entrance to the sukkah.
“Tzadok!” he called, and Tzadok “Hatzadik” quickly stood up.
“I didn’t do it!” Tzadok said nervously.
“Tzadok, we have just received a message from the judge in your case where you were charged with trying to build the Beis Hamikdash in the middle of Rechov Shmuel Hanavi. The judge has said that if you promise not to do it again, he will drop all charges against you and release you.”
Tzadok’s face broke into a smile. “Of course, I promise not to build the Beis Hamikdash again on Rechov Shmuel Hanavi,” he said.
“Well then,” said the guard. “Come with me. You’ll change out of your prison uniform and be released immediately.”
Tzadok hurried after the guard and Rav Volender continued speaking.
A few minutes later, the prisoners saw Tzadok outside of the prison fence walking away with what looked like a huge stack of seforim that he had taken from the prison beis midrash.
“Halt!” called a guard, running after Tzadok. “What do you think you are doing? You are under arrest for stealing prison property!”
“Rav Volender told me to do this!” Tzadok protested, as the guard slapped handcuffs on Tzadok once again. “The Rav said I should take the seforim out of the prison!”
To be continued…
Have A Wonderful Yom Tov!
Takeaway: When we’re in a place for a short time, we try to get the most out of it. Let us take inspiration out of Sukkos for all year round.