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Sukah 50

SUKAH 50 (1st day of Shavuos) dedicated by Mrs. Bekelnitzky on the occasion of the 34th Yahrzeit of her late husband's father, Shraga Feivish ben Nosson Yakov (and Sima Gitle) Bikelnitzky.


QUESTION: The Mishnah states that if the water that was set aside before Shabbos to be used for the Nisuch ha'Mayim on Shabbos was left uncovered, it may not be used on the Mizbe'ach. Instead, water from the Kiyor is used. The Gemara asks that the water that was left uncovered should still be able to be used by being strained, at least according to Rebbi Nechemyah who holds that straining the water is effective in separating the venom of the snake from the water. The Gemara answers that even Rebbi Nechemyah would not permit straining in order to use it on the Mizbe'ach, because it is still disrespectful to use such water.

How could the Gemara suggest that the water be strained and then used for Nisuch ha'Mayim? The Mishnah is discussing water which was left uncovered on *Shabbos*, and straining with a strainer is prohibited mid'Oraisa on Shabbos because of "Borer" (Shabbos 138b)! (CHAZON ISH 150:23)

Furthermore, even if, for some reason, there is no Isur d'Oraisa of Borer, it should at least be prohibited mid'Rabanan because of Tikun Kli, since one is making the water fit for use for the Mitzvah (as in Sukah 33b)!


(a) RAV Y. S. ELYASHEV (quoted in He'aros b'Maseches Sukah) answers that the Gemara is not saying that the water should be strained in order to separate the water from the venom. Rather, the Gemara is suggesting that the water be strained to ensure that there never was venom in the water (i.e. that no snake drank from it), and then the water may be used, and it will not be necessary to use water from the Kiyor. Using a strainer to determine that there is no venom in the water is not Borer, since the act of straining is not being done for the purpose of separating. Rather, it is merely a way of determining ("Giluy Milsa") what the state of this water is. If the strainer shows that there actually is venom in the water, then the water is, in fact, unfit for use on the Mizbe'ach, and thus the act of straining is not Borer, because both items are unusable. (Borer applies only when one separates Pesoles from Ochel, but not when one separates Pesoles from Pesoles.)

However, according to this explanation, when the Gemara asked that they should just strain the water with a strainer, the Gemara should have answered that they *do* use a strainer in order to determine that there is nothing in the water. When the Mishnah says that they must use the water from the Kiyor, it means that when the strainer showed that there *was* venom in the water, then the water must be taken from the Kiyor! (M. Kornfeld)

(b) Perhaps an alternative approach may be proposed. RASHI in the Mishnah (48b) explains that the problem of using uncovered water for Nisuch ha'Mayim is that some venom might be taking the place of what should be water, and therefore the necessary amount of water is no longer present (see Insights to 48:1). According to Rashi, it is clear why straining the water presents no problem of Borer or Tikun Kli; the whole purpose of straining the water is not to remove the venom. Rather, the straining is done merely to find out *how much* of the mixture is venom and how much is water. Afterwards we determine how much water is left, more water may be added as necessary. The act of straining is not done in order to separate something that is Pasul (since Rashi holds that there is nothing inherently wrong with mixing venom into the Shi'ur of water necessary for Nisuch ha'Mayim), but it is merely measuring how much water there is. "Medidah Shel Mitzvah" -- "measuring for the sake of a Mitzvah," is permitted on Shabbos (Shabbos 157a).

It could be that this question -- how could the Gemara permit straining on Shabbos -- is what forced Rashi on the Mishnah to explain that the Gemara is assuming that the reason water that was left uncovered may not be used is because it is not known how much is really water, and not because that water is forbidden to be consumed. (M. Kornfeld)


QUESTION: According to one opinion, the celebration of the Nisuch ha'Mayim was not called "Simchas Beis ha'Sho'evah," but rather "Simchas Beis ha'Chashuvah." The Gemara explains, according to this opinion, that the celebration is called "Simchas Beis ha'Chashuvah" because it has been distinguished ("Chashuvah") since the six days of Creation. In what way has the Nisuch ha'Mayim been distinguished since Creation? RASHI explains that during the six days of Creation, Hashem formed the Shisin (the ducts underneath the Mizbe'ach) into which the Nesachim flow when they are poured upon the Mizbe'ach.

Why, though, does that make the Nisuch ha'Mayim and its celebration so distinguished, so "Chashuv?" The Shisin were not only used for the Nisuch ha'Mayim, but the wine of the Nisuch ha'Yayin -- which was performed every day -- also flowed into the Shisin!


(a) TOSFOS cites the Yerushalmi which says that the verse "u'She'avtem Mayim b'Sason" (see 48b) refers to the Nisuch ha'Mayim because it was at that time that Ru'ach ha'Kodesh was drawn ("Sho'evah") upon the people, because it is through immense joy that people are able to experience Ru'ach ha'Kodesh. The joy that they experienced at the time of Simchas Beis ha'Sho'evah caused them to have Ru'ach ha'Kodesh.

According to the Yerushalmi, we can explain the Gemara here as follows. It is true that the Shisin served the wine of the Nisuch ha'Yayin the same way it served the water of the Nisuch ha'Mayim. However, the Nisuch ha'Mayim is performed at a time of great joy when the Shechinah dwells amidst the people. Since much greater spiritual heights are attained at the time of Nisuch ha'Mayim, it must be that Hashem prepared the Shisin "from the days of Creation" primarily for the Nisuch ha'Mayim.

(b) The MAHARSHA explains that during the six days of Creation, the Shisin were formed so that they reached all the way to the Tehom, the subterranean depths underneath the earth's surface. If the Shisin were only necessary for the wine of Nisuch ha'Yayin, then it would not have been necessary for them to descend down to the Tehom. It must be that they were formed for the Nisuch ha'Mayim, in order for the water that we pour onto the Mizbe'ach to descend to the depths of the earth, because it is through the Nisuch ha'Mayim that ask Hashem to send us water "from the heavens and the depths," at the time that we are being judged for water (Rosh Hashanah 16a).

(c) The SEFAS EMES explains the Gemara differently than Rashi. RASHI on the Torah (Vayikra 2:13) writes that at Creation, when the upper waters were separated from the lower waters, Hashem promised the lower waters that they, too, would be used for a sanctified purpose -- they would be offered upon the Mizbe'ach on Sukos as the Nisuch ha'Mayim. This is where we find that specifically Nisuch *ha'Mayim* was distinguished from the time of the six days of Creation!

AGADAH: TOSFOS cites the Yerushalmi which says that the Simchas Beis ha'Sho'evah is called "Sho'evah" not only because they drew the water from the spring at that time, but because they drew Ru'ach ha'Kodesh upon themselves from the great joy of the Mitzvah. The Yerushalmi gives Yonah the Prophet as an example. Yonah was a simple Jew who had never experienced prophecy. As a result of the great joy that he experienced one year as a result of being Oleh l'Regel, he reached the state of Nevu'ah.

Why was Yonah singled out, from all of the people of Israel, to receive Nevu'ah as a result of the joy he experienced when he was Oleh l'Regel? The simple reason is because he was especially fervent about the Mitzvah of Aliyah l'Regel (as the Gemara in Eruvin (96a) states, that even his wife was Olah l'Regel, even though most women did not go). Let us attempt to suggest a deeper reason why Yonah was granted prophecy while being Oleh l'Regel.

When the Torah describes the blessings that Moshe Rabeinu gave to each tribe, the Torah states, "Rejoice, Zevulun, when you go out, and Yissachar in your tents. Nations will gather at the mountain; there they will slaughter offerings of righteousness" (Devarim 33:18-19). Rashi there comments that "nations will gather at the mountain" refer either to the Jewish people who would come to the Beis ha'Mikdash (at Har ha'Mori'ah) when the scholars of Yissachar, who had mastered the intricacies of the lunar calendar thanks to the support provided by Zevulun, told them that it was time to go, or it refers to foreign nations who would come to Yerushalayim on their business trips to trade with Zevulun. When they would come and see all of the Jewish people serving Hashem, they would be so overcome with awe that they would convert.

Yonah was from the tribe of Zevulun (Yerushalmi Sukah 5:1). The tribe of Zevulun had a pivotal role in the pilgrimages to Yerushalayim on the festivals and their associated festivities ("*Rejoice*, Zevulun, when you go out..."). The Aliyah l'Regel was "his" Mitzvah, so to speak. Yonah, therefore, was able to take full advantage of these Mitzvos and gain from them true spiritual growth -- and even to achieve prophesy. (See also Eruvin 96a, "Even Yonah's wife was Olah l'Regel....")

The prophetic message he was entrusted with, however, was not directed towards the Jewish people. Rather, his assignment was to go out to the nations of the world and bring them to repent and follow the just and moral ways of Hashem, just as Moshe Rabeinu expressed in his blessing to Zevulun!

The fact that Yonah, rather than any other Zevulunite, was chosen for this mission was not by chance. The Gemara in Berachos (7b) teaches that a person's name determines his role in life. We can understand Yonah's role in life by looking at a Midrash, which draws a fascinating analogy between the Jewish people and the bird known as the "Yonah" (pigeon dove). The Midrash (Midrash Rabah, Shir ha'Shirim, 1:15) states that the Jewish people are compared to a Yonah in a number of ways:

(1) Just as the Yonah's walk is a pleasure to behold, so, too, the Jewish people's walk is a pleasure to behold when they are Oleh l'Regel for the festivals.
(2) Just as the Yonah is modest, so, too, the Jewish people are modest.
(3) Just as the Yonah stretches its neck to be slaughtered, so, too, do the Jewish people, as it is stated, "For You [Hashem] we have been killed throughout the day."
(4) Just as the Yonah atones for sins (by being used as a Korban), so, too, the Jewish people atone for the nations. The seventy cows that they bring on Sukos as Korbanos are offered on behalf of the well-being of the seventy nations of the world.
(5) Just as we find with the Yonah that even if one takes its young from under it, it will never leave its nest, so, too, the Jewish people did not cease to make their festival trips to Yerushalayim even after the Beis ha'Mikdash was destroyed.
(6) Rebbi said, "There is one type of Yonah which, when fed, gives off a scent that attracts other pigeons to its nest. So, too, when the Chachamim expound on the Torah, they attract many foreigners who hear them and convert."
The prophet Yonah's destiny was almost entirely spelled out in his name! Using the numbers we assigned to the Derashos in the above Midrash, we can point out several important facts about Yonah:
- Just like the Yonah bird represents the Jewish people's fulfillment of the Mitzvah of Aliyah l'Regel, so, too, Yonah ben Amitai was outstanding in his observance of the festival pilgrimages (#1, #5).
- His prophecy was given to him on Sukos, when we bring Korbanos to atone for the nations, and his mission was indeed to save a foreign nation from destruction (#4).
- Modestly, he tried to hide his prophetic status and escape from his mission (#2).
- When confronted by the storm, he willingly offered his life, accepting it as Divine retribution (#3).
- Finally, Yonah made such a deep impression on the foreign passengers of the ship that they all chose to convert to Judaism (#6). According to the Midrash (Pirkei D'Rebbi Eliezer, ch. 10), representatives of each of the *seventy* nations of the world were on board Yonah's ship, all of whom left their idols behind and turned to the ways of Hashem after their experience with Yonah (#4, again). Yonah eventually proceeded to Ninveh, where he succeeded in turning an entire city of sinners to the ways of their Creator (#4, #6).
(M. Kornfeld)
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