Why do we read Koheles on Sukkos?
Why do we read Koheles on Sukkos? The answer is — one answer, I mean – is that because Sukkos is the Chag Ha’asif, it’s a time of affluence. We just took in our crops and we’re successful and happy, so hishamru lachem – watch out! Veachalta vesavata, hishamru lachem! When you eat and you’re full, you have to be careful,
And therefore Koheles is the hishamru lachem. It teaches you that hakol hevel, it’s all nothing. The only thing that matters is sof davar hakol nishma; which means that if you’ll utilize your wealth and your happiness, your affluence, for service of Hashem, yes, then it has a place. Otherwise, all the happiness of life is meaningless. It has no purpose at all! Because Hakodosh Boruch Hu bestows happiness for the purpose. U’lesimcha mah zu oseh. Simcha has to accomplish something. It has to accomplish gratitude and love of Hashem. If simcha doesn’t cause you to love Hashem more, then simchah mah zu oseh – what good is simcha?
And therefore when people are celebrating the harvest, they’re so full of joy; the granaries are full, they’re bursting with grain. Everybody is happy. It was a very good year! Veachalta vesavata! Oh, watch out now! Hishamru lachem; make sure you don’t misuse that happiness.
That’s why you need Koheles. Koheles is a very valuable study. Of course, it’s not easy, but he’s teaching you the principle that you have to analyze everything and see what’s the purpose; and everything is worthless unless you understand the sof davar. Sof davar hakol nishma; if you understand the sof davar then everything gains meaning. We look back and the things that we said were hevel, now are no longer hevel. If you understand that the sof davar is es Elokim yira ve’es mitzvosav shemor, ki zeh kol ha’adam, and you’re utilizing your happiness for that purpose, then it’s not hevel anymore.
The what the medrash says. The medrash asks, how could Koheles say hakol hevel, thateverything is nothing, when Hashem says it’s all tov me’od? Vayar Elokim es kol asher asah vehinei tov meod – Hashem saw everything that He made, and He said it’s very good. Borei meshabcha u’mi meganum – the Creator is praising them; how could anybody belittle them? Hashem says it’s tov meod and Koheles says hakol hevel?!
The answer is it depends what you’re looking for. If you’re looking for the things themselves, just to enjoy them by themselves, then hakol hevel. You eat up the food. It turns into manure that’s all. But if you’re eating the food for the purpose of kedushah, to be able to thank Hashem for it and to see His chessed and the wonders, the niflaos ha’Borei, then it’s tov me’od. Nobody could make food. Only Hakadosh Baruch Hu has the mafteach of food. Nobody could make food. To this day, in spite all our scientific progress nobody could make food. Only Hashem gives food. Food is a miracle. It’s miracles of miracles.
If that’s how you eat, then it’s tov me’od. It’s not hevel anymore. When you utilize the food for the service of Hashem then vayar Elokim es kol asher asah vehineh tov. Not only tov; it’s tov me’od. Hashem is the Gomel chasadim tovim; Hashem gives chessed not only a chessed, but it’s chasodim tovim. That’s because the chassodim cause you, if you utilize them properly, they cause you to become greater and greater in coming closer to Hashem.
TAPE # E-160