Shabbat Sukkot | 5765
The Holiday of Double JoyHarav Moshe Ehrenreich
The mishna (Sukkah 51a) states, “Mi sheloh ra’ah Simchat Beit Hashoevah loh ra’ah simcha miyamav” (he who did not see the rejoicing at the place of the water-drawing has never seen rejoicing in his life). And afterwards the mishna describes the nightlong simcha that began at nightfall and continued until the morning daily sacrifice accompanied by the nisuch hamayim, the water libation. This rejoicing occurred every night of Chol Hamoed, the days in between the first and eighth day of Sukkot.
The gemara (Sukkah 50b) brings down a discussion of Ammoraim about what to call this special simcha. One opinion says it should be called “shoevah” (drawing) because of the joy of drawing the water. Rashi (Sukkah 50b) elaborates that this simcha is specifically because of nisuch hamayim. The second name given is “chashuva” (important). Rashi (ibid.) explains that this name is also related to nisuch hamayim. The shitin, the channel reaching down from the altar to the depths of the earth, where the libations were poured, was so important that it was created during the six days of creation. According to this opinion, every day year-round there was joy and singing during the time of the morning wine libations, but on Sukkot there was an extra mitzva of nisuch hamayim, which added another level of joy.
The Rambam (HilchotLulav 8: 5,12), however, holds that on Sukkot, as compared to other festivals, there is an extra level of joy in the mikdash, independent of nisuch hamayim, as it says “you shall rejoice before Hashem your G-d” (Vayikra 23:40). The Rambam then continues to describe the simcha based on the mishna cited above. However, this connection needs to be understood better. The obligation of simcha on Sukkot appears a different mishnah (48a). There it states that the simcha should be eight days. During the time of the Beit Hamikdash, it was accompanied by the eating of the peace offerings of joy (shalmei simcha). In contrast, Simchat Beit Hashoeva was for five or six days, and it could not be done on Shabbat or Yom Tov.
We see from the words of the Rambam that the Simchat Beit Hashoeva is not connected to nisuch hamayim. Rather, there are two different obligations of rejoicing during the festival of Sukkot. Firstly, there is the general mitzva of rejoicing on the holiday (Devarim 16:14-15). All segments of society were involved, and it was fulfilled mainly by eating the shalmei simcha, which could be done anywhere in Yerushalayim. The second type of simcha (from Vayikra 23:40) was only in the Temple through song and praises, and only great sages and the righteous were active participants in the dancing, singing and merriment (Rambam ibid.: 14).
From here we see a more spiritually lofty and public level of simcha on Sukkot. It is no wonder that the Yerushalmi explains that the word “shoeva” refers to the drawing of ruach hakodesh (Divine spirit) that was made possible through the simcha, which enables the Divine Presence to dwell among us. Let us pray that the Beit Hamikdash will be rebuilt, and we will merit to fulfill the extra level of joy of the Simchat Beit Hashoeva.
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