Ripple Effects!

One can never know how far reaching a simple deed can go. But every once in a while an unexpected ‘feedback’ makes you realize the power every action holds.

An example: For the past many years we sponsor a breakfast in the Shul Succah on the first day of Chol Hamoed Succos, as a merit to my dear mother on the day of her Yahrtzait.

We place a printed placard with my mother’s name on the table.

Last year, on the day of her Yahrtzait, my sister in law called me and related the following. “The children of my sister, who recently passed away, were traveling home to Canada and stopped in Scranton to Daven in Shul. After the service they went into the Succah to eat. They noticed that breakfast was sponsored in memory of your mother, and you have no idea how much comfort you gave them.” She continued, “Here they just suffered the loss of their young mother and they were grappling in their minds how they will keep her memory going. But when they saw the familiar Saks name and realized that after over 30 years you keep her memory alive with the breakfast it consoled them a great deal.”

I got off the phone astounded that a small gesture in my mother’s memory would have such an impact in a way I never dreamt. I may have never known about it had they not shared this with their aunt, my sister in law.

Just as we understand that a deed has ripple effects, so too, when we perform a Mitzvah it has spiritual impact.

The Torah tells us that after our forefather Yaacov met with his hateful brother Aisav, he traveled to a place he called Succos. There he built homes for his family and built Succos – temporary huts – for his flock.

Ohr Hachaim Hakodosh explains that Yaacov called the name of the place Succos because he was the first to ever build such structures for the protection of animals.

Our Sages also point out that everything that our forefather Yaacov did was with great intention and had an impact upon the future. It is no coincidence that the Mitzvah and holiday that we will be observing is called Succos – temporary huts.

The Torah tells us that we sit in Succos so that we should remember that when our forefathers left Egypt and traveled in the desert, G-d provided the nation with clouds of glory that surrounded them from all directions. These clouds provided them not only with protection from the elements, it also enveloped them in an extremely high spiritual atmosphere.

Our Sages tell us that when we enter the Succah, whose shade roof may only be made of simple cut branches, we also become enveloped by a high level of spiritual energy. The Zohar calls it – basking in the shade of the Almighy.

A less common name the Torah uses for our matriarch Sarah, is Yiska. The root of Yiska has to do with Succah, and it reflects upon the fact that Sarah was enveloped with Divine Spirit.

We recite a blessing for sitting in the Succah before we eat a meal. The Succah, made of rather simple materials, becomes uplifted at the onset of the holiday and lasts throughout the holiday!

If one takes a stroll through any Jewish neighborhood one will see a variety of Succos.  Rabbi Yaacov Schnaidman ― during a celebration of the students completing the Talmudic Tractate of Succos which discusses the laws that pertain to all aspects of the holiday of Succos – pointed out, that seventy years ago in America there were very few Succos to be found in Jewish neighborhoods. In densely populated areas there may have been a lack of space or the inability to do so. The attitude certainly changed over time, as we see.

He then shared the following: The Talmud tells us that women are not obligated in the Mitzvah to sit in a Succah. Although they have an exemption, they certainly and eagerly participate.  Rabbi Schnaidman, reflecting on this, said something astounding, “Had women been obligated in the Mitzvah of Succah – during those early years in America, the women would have turned things upside down in order that the Mitzvah would have been fulfilled, because women are devoted, determined, and tenacious in fulfilling the Mitzvos they are responsible for even under the most challenging circumstances!