Archive for October 2014

Would you be able to withstand the influence of others?

This article was constructed with the help of either writings, lectures or shiurim of Rabbi’s Yonnasan Zweig, Yissachar Frand,Baruch Doppelt, Yossi Bilus and Dr. Abba Goldman

How true are you to yourself? When a decision is made, is it decided fairly? Would it be possible that outside forces influence the choices that one makes?  An important question has to be asked: How reliable are these outside forces? Do we have the power, the choice to avoid  them, to block them out if we determine a no good decision will result if these outside sources are factored in?


There was a motion picture, many years ago, based on a true story called “Donny Brosko.” The film depicts an undercover police officer who infiltrates the mob. In the beginning of his assignment, the officer wore his badge while not undercover with pride; “I’m doing the right thing” was the impression he conveyed.  There was a clear distinction between Right and Wrong – Good Guy versus Bad Guy. Dr. Goldman, the psychologist at Yeshiva Chofetz Chaim, says that even when there is a clear cut Right and Wrong, people are very sensitive and are affected by the social influences surrounding them! The spy is a lone believer in his values surrounded by those with diametrically opposed views. His only venue of expression is internal, given his hostile surroundings. This presents a major problem according to Dr. Goldman. While pretending to be somebody else with polar opposite values, often times the spy himself can wind up inevitably questioning his original set of values and ideologies. It takes a very high level of conviction and devotion to one’s own values to maintain such pretence over a period of time. “Frankly,” Dr. Goldman says, “it is almost impossible.” On a subconscious level, intellectual dishonesty does not sit well with human nature.
The police officer in the film did in fact begin to sympathize with some of the mob members. At a startling moment in the film, he smacks his wife which was tremendously out of character for his regular self. Was it possible that his true self was being sucked into his fictitious persona? Perhaps his intellectual armor was cracking and as with many, he begins to think and act like those around him. Perhaps he, like others, begins to actually embrace his new identity. After all, that’s the reason his superiors selected him in the first place, because they felt he would be “perfect” for the part.
At the conclusion of the film when the officer received his medal of citation for a successful mission by sending those mob members to prison, he conveyed an expression of uneasiness and a sense of guilt. What happened to his strong ideology? One has to realize the enormous difficulty of a spy’s mission. How difficult it is to maintain one’s beliefs and ideology in such an atmosphere!


It’s a scary thought to see one degenerate and act like the low life criminal which is quite contrary to one’s ideology. We often take pride in the hard work we have done to maintain a sophisticated, well mannered, educated and emphasizing strong Torah values. We like to label ourselves as Glatt-kosher because this is a value system we inherited from our parents or were taught by our Rabbis, teachers, society leaders. Can those ideologies change? Hey, we’re grown ups; we’re able to make our own rational decisions. Perhaps, that’s not so simple as it seams.


This is a testimony to that which the Rambam says [Hilchot Deos 6:1] (and that which is a sociological fact), namely “a person’s nature is to be drawn in his opinions and his actions after his friends and companions.” Man is the only creature who speaks. Man is a social animal who must interact, and in order to interact it is necessary for him to communicate. In order to communicate, man was given a form of intelligent speech. The downside of this trait is that man is greatly influenced by the speech and communication he receives from others. “Therefore,” the Rambam continues, “man must dwell amongst righteous and wise individuals so that he may learn from their actions and distance himself from the wicked who walk in the ways of darkness so that he not learn from their ways…” In short, the Rambam teaches that a person must be exceedingly careful regarding the company he keeps. Ultimately, a person will become who his neighbors and friends are. If the friends and neighbors are looking out for spiritual growth, then he too will grow spiritually. If the reverse is true, then the outcome will be reversed as well.


Sociological studies have been done where 20 people are in a room and 19 of the participants are “in” on the study and they are told to answer a question in a patently false way (e.g. – the orange is blue). Invariably, the 20th person, who is the actual subject of the study, when asked to answer the same question, answers it in a way that is absurd, just to make his answer correspond with that of everyone else in the room. So profound is the influence of society that something can be black and white and a person will change his response just to conform to everyone else!
Avery difficult to understand dialogue occurred between Avraham and Sarah in this week’s parsha.
“And it occurred, as he was about to enter Egypt, he said to his wife Sarai…”(12:11) As they approached Mitzrayim, Avraham asked Sarah to claim that she was his sister. This was to protect him from the Egyptians who might lust after Sarah, and kill him if they were to know that he was her husband.              Why is it necessary for us to know that this discussion transpired as Avraham and Sarah drew close to their destination? Why, in fact, was an issue of such gravity not discussed prior to their departure from Eretz Canaan? The Midrash explains that as they neared their destination, Avraham became aware of Sarah’s exceptional beauty. Why is this the juncture where Avraham becomes aware of his wife’s beauty? Mitzrayim was a country notorious for the immoral and lascivious behavior of its inhabitants.3 Generally, an individual living in such a society would be affected, even if he himself would not indulge in any perverse behavior. Perhaps the Torah is teaching us that although a tzaddik of Avraham’s caliber would not be dragged down by the immorality of the society where he lives, the influence of the society does have a subtle effect on him. In Avraham’s case, this manifested itself in his becoming aware of his wife’s beauty.

1.12:11 2.Tanchuma 5 3.20:15

What is mindboggling; what is the nuance is Avraham and Sarah have not entered Egypt yet!!!  They have not set foot on the degenerate soil. How then can the environment have influenced them? We can understand, perhaps, if they stayed just one night, there would be the air of contamination, however, they not only didn’t enter the ring, they didn’t enter the building.
Doctor Goldman is making us aware of a tremendous insight of human psychology. It seems like Avraham’s imagination ran ahead of him in anticipation of the kind of society they were about to embark. There were preconceptions going ahead on this difficult journey. It’s important to map out what we might expect as we embark on our trips. Similarly, when one is about to enter the aircraft taking him to the hot fun sun of Miami Beach; he will be wearing his Bermuda shorts and carry a beach ball under his coat; there will be constant thought of the warm sunny weather. His mindset is his spot on the beach. The cold weather of New York doesn’t bother him anymore. The snow outside the airport terminal is a non- factor. So we see: influence can occur before arriving.

We learn a very alarming aspect of our psychological make up. It seams like society has an impact on our decisions. Even more so, one is influenced just by the anticipation of entering that society and people!!
In the situation in our parsha,  Avraham was correct in his assessment of the Egyptian society. His intuitive perception saved their lives.
It’s important that one always have ready trustworthy advisers that perhaps might put the situation in the proper perspective and it’s also important that one anticipates future destinations and is well prepared for the next journey.

The world is build on kindness

This article was constructed with the help of either writings, lectures or shiurim
Baruch Doppelt,  Paysach Krohn

The world is built on kindness. This Shabbat we are honored to be part of history as the Jewish world is taking part in the Shabbat Project. Our fellow brethren will extend themselves spiritually by observing Shabbat as it was meant to be. It will be a day of commitment; it will be a day of unity; it will be a day of kindness. One of my favorite and memorable stories on kindness, which I often repeat whenever I get the opportunity to speak is one which I read from one of Rabbi Paysach Krohn’s books. The prime character in the story happens to be none other than Rabbi Krohn’s uncle –  Rabbi Yehuda Ackerman.


A Dance for the Ages’ 

This following story is one of the most remarkable I have ever heard. It was told to me by one of the central characters in the episode, my uncle, Rabbi Yehuda Ackerman, a Stoliner chassid now living in the city of Bnei Brak, Israel. The love and concern for a fellow Jew portrayed here are so genuinely touching that the story inspires all who hear it.
A number of years ago a wealthy individual came to Israel with his family for a few weeks’ vacation. He was just staying in the famous Central Hotel on Rechov Pines in Jerusalem, and that is where he had most of his meals.
One Friday night, after the seudas Shabbos, the gentleman was strolling back and forth outside the hotel where he noticed two chassidic boys rushing somewhere. “Where are you boys off to?” he asked, as they sped by.
“We’re on our way to the Stoliner Rebbe’s tish.” (The word “tish,” literally translated as “table,” is a term used for a gathering of chassidim around their Rebbe’s table.) The gentleman thought that it might be interesting to observe a tish and so he asked, as he hurried to catch up with them, “Do you mind if I come along?”
“No, of course not. But you must walk quickly,” they added, “because it is starting soon.”
The three of them rushed down Rechov Pines, made a right turn on Rechov Malchei Yisrael, and headed into the tiny streets of Meah Shearim toward the Stoliner shul.
The shul  was packed with hundreds of people who had already gathered to sing and bask in the Rebbe’s presence. The gentleman now detached himself from the two boys, shouldered his way through the crowd, found some room for himself in the back of the synagogue and stood there unobtrusively observing the scene.
My uncle, a fervent Stoliner chassid for decades, had come that week to Jerusalem to be with his Rebbe. He, too, was at the tish and was sitting close to the front. As he looked around the synagogue he searched for faces that were not among the “regulars.” It was then that he noticed the wealthy man in the back.
My uncle, aside from being a devout chassid of the Rebbe, is the founder and fundraiser of the Stoliner Yeshivah in Bnei Brak. Before Shabbos the Rebbe had told him that he must not leave Jerusalem before raising twenty-five thousand dollars for the benefit of the yeshivah, because the melamdim (teachers) were owed a great deal of back pay. Therefore, when my uncle saw the wealthy gentleman, he figured that he might be a good man to talk to.
Throughout the evening my uncle kept an eye on the man in the back of the shul. When he realized that the tish was about to end, he made his way towards him. My uncle, a jovial and robust individual, extended his hand and, with the broadest of smiles, said, “Gut Shabbos, Reb Yid. Welcome to Stolin. I believe I recognize you.”
My uncle knew quite well that this man had a reputation of being a philanthropist who supported many Jewish causes. He was hoping he could get him involved with his own cause.

The man looked at my uncle and replied, “Gut Shabbos. I believe I recognize you too.”
The two men spoke for a while and then my uncle asked, “Where are you staying, and how long will you be here in town?”
I’m staying at the Central and I’m leaving on Tuesday,” came the reply.
“May I bring some of my friends to you tomorrow night at the Central, and we will make a little Melaveh Malkah (festive meal held Saturday night)? We’ll sing a little, dance a little, tell some stories, have some good food. It will be beautiful.”
The philanthropist understood quite well what my uncle’s intention was, but still he smiled and said, “Fine. Come with your friends tomorrow night.”

The next evening, a little while after Shabbos ended, my uncle and three of his friends went to the Central Hotel and up to the gentleman’s room. They knocked on the door and waited, pacing back and forth as they worried that perhaps the gentleman had forgotten about the Melaveh Malkah or that something else had came up. After a few moments, however, the gentleman came to the door and invited them in.

For more than two hours they sang, told stories and relished the ambience of the evening. Finally the gentleman turned to my uncle and said, “Ackerman, what do you want from me? I know you didn’t just come here to sing and dance.”

My uncle smiled sheepishly and said, “You know something? You are so right. I didn’t just come to sing and dance. I came for a very important reason.” He then went on to explain the financial plight of the Stoliner Yeshivah and how, because of the economic hardships in Israel, the yeshivah was almost totally dependent on support from friends in America. “I need your help,” my uncle said seriously. “The Rebbe told me that I must raise twenty-five thousand dollars.”

Everyone in the room was quiet. The gentleman was deep in thought, his eyes closed as he reflected on the words my uncle had just spoken. “I’ll tell you what, Ackerman,” he said. “I’ll give you a donation now, and if you raise ten thousand dollars by tomorrow night, I will match it and give you another ten!”

My uncle and his friends could not believe their ears. It had never occurred to them that the gentleman would make such a gracious offer. They shook hands on the “deal” and a few moments later my uncle left the hotel to begin his efforts to raise the ten thousand dollars.

For much of the night and all of the next day my uncle ran from person to person, telling them that he had a golden opportunity to relieve Stoliner Yeshivah of a good deal of its financial burden if only they would help him. He collected cash, personal checks, money orders and traveler’s checks. He hardly rested for a moment, and by Sunday evening he was close to his goal.

Late Sunday night he made his way to the Central Hotel, went directly to the gentleman’s room and began piling all the money he raised on the table. They counted it, and sure enough – my uncle had met the goal! He had raised ten thousand dollars! The philanthropist promptly took out his checkbook and wrote a check to the Stoliner Yeshivah for ten thousand dollars. My uncle simply could not believe what was happening. For the first time in many years he was speechless.

As he began to thank the gentleman profusely for what he had just done, the gentleman said, “Aren’t you wondering why I did this?”

“Wondering?” my uncle blurted out. “To me this is a miracle. It’s like man min hashamayim (the food that fell miraculously from Heaven for the Jews in the desert.)”

“Sit down,” the gentleman said. “Let me tell you a story and then you will understand.”
“It was twenty-five years ago.” The gentleman began, “on the afternoon of my wedding day. I was so poor that my parents could not even afford to buy me a hat to wear to my chuppah. I lived in Williamsburg (an Orthdox neighborhood in Brooklyn, New York) at the time, so I walked to Broadway where there was a famous Jewish hat store. I went in and told the owner, “I’m getting married tonight, but my parents are poverty stricken and can’t afford to buy me a hat. Could you please do me a favor and give me a hat? I promise you that tomorrow morning I will come in and pay you with some of the money that I hope to get tonight as wedding presents.”

“The man behind the counter looked me over and then answered, ‘You look like an honest yeshivah bachur (student). I’ll give you the hat.’

“I was so happy and grateful to him, “continued the gentleman. “I walked outside and a few stores down was a liquor store, also owned by a Jewish man. I knew very well that my parents couldn’t afford any liquor for the wedding, so I went in and said to the man behind the counter, ‘I’m getting married tonight and my parents do not have money to buy any liquor. Would you be so kind as to give me a few bottles for the wedding? I promise that tomorrow morning I will come in and pay you from the money that I hope to get as wedding gifts.’
Here, too, the man looked me over and said the same thing the fellow in the hat store has said. ‘You look like an honest yeshivah bachur, I’ll give you the liquor.’
“He gave me the liquor and I walked out of the store with the hat in my right hand and the liquor in my left. I felt like a million dollars. I was ecstatic. I took just a few steps outside the store and there you were, Mr. Ackerman.
[My uncle, R’ Yehuda Ackerman, was known at the time as the most extraordinary dancer at Jewish weddings. Whenever he made his way into the middle of the circle where everyone was dancing, He became the focal point of frolic around which everything centered. Everyone in the hall would stop whatever they were doing just to watch him perform for the chassan and kallah. His body movements were elegant; his balancing acts; entertaining; his radiant smile ebullient, and his body’s comical coordination with the music the band was playing was incredible and legendary. Somehow he managed to become the physical embodiment of the musical notes emanating from the violin, clarinet and cordovox, which were popular at the time.]
“I saw,” the gentleman said, “that Hashem was so good to me in helping me get the hat and the liquor, so I figured that I would take my chances just one more time. I walked over to you and said, ‘Mr. Ackerman, I know you don’t know who I am, but I am getting married tonight. Would you mind coming to dance at my wedding?’

“You said that you couldn’t promise anything, but you took down my name and the name and address of the wedding hall. And that night, right in the middle of the wedding, you came running into the center of the circle where everyone was dancing and you danced so magnificently. The people loved it! You made everyone so happy and you helped make it the greatest night of my life. When it was over that evening, I swore to myself that someday I would repay you.”

Now, transversing all the years in between, the gentleman concluded. “Last night, when I saw you at the Stoliner Rebbe’s tish, I suddenly remembered what I had said to myself back then on my wedding night. I realized that now was the time to pay you back. That’s why I gave you the money.”
My uncle sat there astounded. He hasn’t remembered the wedding. He hadn’t remembered the wedding from so long ago, but he would never forget this Shabbos night in Jerusalem.

The story, however, did not end there. The next time my uncle was in the city where this generous gentleman lived, he heard that the man’s son was getting married. He waited until the middle of the wedding and then as he had done so many years earlier, he ran into the center of the circle where everyone was dancing, and he danced as he had, all those years before.
And as he did, he turned and saw the gentleman standing off on the side with a great smile across his face, and tears rolling down his cheeks. He ran over to the man and, as they embraced, the man said to my uncle, “How can I ever thank you? You’ve made me relive the greatest night of my life.”
The Gemara (Yoma 9b) teaches that the Second Beis HaMikdash was destroyed because of sinas chinam, uncalled-for and unreasonable hatred. Here, though, was an instance of poignant ahavas chinam, a talented individual dancing at the wedding of a young man whom he didn’t even know and never thought he would see again only because there was love…love of one Jew for another with no motive or incentive other than that they were both Jewish. May we all learn from this incredible story and merit together to see the building of the Third Beis HaMikdash.
Reproduced from “Footsteps of the Maggid,” by Rabbi Paysach Krohn, with permission of the copyright holders, ArtScroll / Mesorah Publications, Ltd.

 Devastating! the destruction of the world occurred.  The water was chosen to be the weapon of mass destruction; it rose and wiped out civilization. The only survivors in this extinction was a mere wooden ark navigated by the lone tzadic of his generation, Noach. Many are puzzled by the story of Noach.  Strangely, Noach and his family – a mere crew of eight – spent virtually every hour of every day for over a year tending to the needs of tens of thousands of animals, each and every one according to its own schedule and diet. This unparalleled selfless kindness was the spiritual lifeblood of the ark. And if but once in the hundreds of thousands of feedings and cleanups, Noach would be tardy, the results could be devastating. Indeed, the lion lashed out when Noach was once late, rendering him maimed for life.
Why was Noach and his family subjugated to such abnormal servitude? Furthermore, why did the destruction have to come through water?  Also, why was the devastation so widespread, everything and everybody was wiped out? Strange, it seemed like nothing was spared but the ark and its inhabitants.
Rabbi Baruch Dopelt brings an interesting parallel from the commentary the Bet HaLevi:
 There was a king who decided to habitat the palace with commoners as a sign of kindness and good will. He gathered an assortment of deaf mutes and very low intelligent people to reside in his castle. After a short time, these individuals, in their own way,  showed a tremendous amount of gratitude to the King for the hospitality. At every opportunity they would screech or clap their hands awkwardly with a happy grin to show their appreciation.
 The King thought if these deaf mutes and assortments show such affection, I’m sure highly intelligent-cream of the crop would greatly show appreciation to the highest degree. So he replaced the commoners with smart people.
 As time passed, though, these smart people began to rebel against the King and forced him out of the palace.
 The smart society underestimated the power of the king. He easily regained power and kicked out all the intelligent derelicts and replaced them with the commoners.
  The waters occupied the world before the creation of man. We read in the Friday evening Shabbat prayers (MIZMOR SHIR LE’YOM HASHABBAT) MIKOLOT MAYIM RABIM-the voice, singing, praise of the waters is great. They exalted G-d in a tremendous way. G-d said if the waters can praise me and show such affection to such an extent, can one imagine what an intelligent being like man can do? So in essence the waters response initiated the creation of man.  The upper and lower waters that were united were then separated to inhabit man on dry land.
 However, man rebelled and sinned against G-d proclaiming “there is no room for G-d in our lives”. G-d then brought back the commoners – the waters. This was the entity that appreciated G-d the way it should have been. The waters went  back to their original territory which was encompassing the entire globe and destroyed mankind. What remained was Noach and the selected few.

Why destroy the world?
The Torah hints through the scriptures that man had such an influence on nature whether during Noach’s time or even now. We learn  that the animals, during that generation, behaved in a degenerate way like the humans. The animals were cross breeding with other animals similarly like man’ decadent lifestyle. For this reason the animals had to be destroyed along with mankind. So it seems man can influence in a drastic level; he can bring an abundance of goodness to the world as well as evil. Instead of emulating G-d and showing kindness to their fellow man, they did the opposite. Stealing and the anti-unity was the trend.
The ark was a place where the actions of mankind had to rectified. It was to show extreme behavior the other way.  The couples  in the ark had to abstain from physical contact in contrast to “everything permissible” attitude they had been accustomed to before.
 Man’s interpersonal relationships was deeply degenerated before the flood. Concerns for others was not tolerated; every man for himself. Life in the ark, though, was different; Noach and his children had to perform the ultimate kindness to the lower form of creation, the animals. This act was extreme!! nevertheless the cleansing process had to be performed.
“Olam chesed yibaneh”  – the world will be built upon chesed-kindness. There is no  reason why this had to be. G-d could have chosen one of His other characteristics, and spun a world revolving around it. He chose chesed because it is closest to His Will. Similarly, when we are instructed to imitate His character (as fulfillment of the imperative “You shall walk in His ways”), the Sages limit this obligation to the character of chesed, but none other. It is through chesed alone that we attach ourselves to Him.


How are guests suppose to act?

This article was constructed with the help of either writings, lectures or shiurim of Rabbi’s Noach Isaac Oelbaum, Baruch Doppelt, Yossi Bilus

Competition in Humans is natural and beggars are no exception. There was a beggar who had his spot at a certain street corner. He set himself up with a table and sign and received on an average fifty cents from each patron who gave.
One day he decided to take the long way as he was walking to his spot. The beggar was baffled realizing that a fellow in his trait operating a different corner a few blocks away was receiving a dollar per person. He, then, asked the fellow ” I’m not your competition, since I’m a few blocks away, but I’m curious how are you able to receive 1 dollar? How do you do it?” The other beggar answered, “do you see my attire, I’m wearing a Chassidic outfit. Chassidim tend to get more money.”
So the next day the beggar trotted down to the clothing store and bought himself the right attire transforming himself, from head to toe, to a Chassid, “bekeshe” and all.
Low and be hold it worked; now the beggar also received $1.00.
A few months pass by and the beggar is visiting an old friend where he sees in the street a fellow in his profession receiving $5.00. He asked him as he was curious how he’s able to command such a price?
The fellow answered, “You see this sign, I tell them I’m from a long line of Chassidim whose genealogy stems from the great Rebbe the Ba’al Shem Tov”
So the next day the beggar hangs up a sign next to his table, “I come from a long line of Chassidim whose genealogy stems from the great rebbe the Ba’al Shem Tov.”
The sign worked!! People were placing $5.00 into his cup.
One day he sees a fellow beggar, a couple of miles away receiving $10.00 per person. WOW!! How is this guy able to get that amount?
The fellow reveals, I tell them “I’m a convert. They love converts.”
So the next day the beggar has a sign “I’m a convert and I come from the great Jewishlineage of the great Rabbi the Ba’al Shem Tov.”
He, then, recieved nothing. The people were ridiculing him. How can one be a convert and come from the great Jewish lineage? It’s contradicting!!

The story has a strong message as we just finished asking forgiveness from G-d, promised to improve ourselves and change our attitude toward life. Contradictions in our lives are tests we all have to encounter. This lesson is ever so the embodiment of the holiday of Sukkah.

I remember, as a child, while our fathers were in the middle of prayers, my friends and I would take aim trying to shoot down the fruits that were hung, decoratively in the Sukkah, at the Sephardic Synagogue in Forest Hills, Queens. They were real fruits and made a messy landing. A few years later the Board of Directors, to avoid the chaos, decided the real fruits would be replaced with fake ones. It wasn’t the same after that, since it wasn’t much fun to shoot the plastic ones down. The idea of fruits hanging from the shchach (ceiling of the Sukkah made of bamboos) was in keeping with the biblical theme of Sukkot as the harvest festival of the Jewish calendar year.
There are a number of definitions of the word Sukkah. One Hebrew word that Jewishtradition associates with the word sukkah – “socheh” – and its meaning is “to see” or “to perceive.” That association would seem to imply that a sukkah somehow provides some perspective. Which, in fact, it does. That perspective and strong emphasis of Sukkot is it should be a temporary dwelling. Many laws are sensitive to this issue. One of which is: a Sukkah can not exceed 20 ammot (25-30 Ft.), by exceeding the twenty ammot that would constitutes a permanent structure.
Why should a Sukkah be a temporary dwelling?

It’s a custom in many communities to read Kohelet which was written by King Solomon. The work consists of personal or autobiographic matter, with reflections on the purpose of life and the best method of conducting it. Far from being a depressing book, Kohelet is there to add to the simcha. It’s infused with a spirit of joy and optimism, and gives Sukkot a special flavor. But the question is why was Sukkot chosen for its recitation and not any other holiday? Pesach, we became a nation and Shevuot we received the Torah. Those holidays are joyous as well why isn’t Kohelet recited then?
Another question about the holiday of Sukkot which we are mystified by are the seven supernal guests who come to visit us in the sukkah, one for each of the seven days of the festival. Ushpizin is an Aramaic word that means “guests”. The seven “founding fathers” of the Jewish people: Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, Aaron, Joseph and David. While all seven ushpizin visit our sukkah on each of the seven nights and days of Sukkot, each supernal “guest” is specifically associated with one of the festival’s seven days, and is the “leading” or dominant ushpiza for that night and day.
After reading this next story many of the questions above will be answered and the message of Sukkot will be understood giving a new perspective of life.

When the Russian Army conquered Lithuania, they sent many of the prisoners of war to, where else, Siberia. As one has realized through the experience of current events and history, war is cruel. The Russians forced the most high in command in the Lithuania military to perform the lowest task in prison. The more prominent position, the more embarrassing the job would be. They would make high ranking Generals clean toilets. This is how they would destroy the moral of the enemy.
One Jew who happened to be in Siberia at the time, victim of other crimes against the Republic, noticed something strange one night in the barracks while everyone was asleep.
One of the high ranking Generals awoke in the middle of the night apparently thinking all were sleeping and not aware this Jew was awake, pulled out from a duffle bag his officers uniform and dressed himself.
He then went in front of the mirror and saluted. Then he motioned his hand to the left then to the right as if he was giving orders. After approximately fifteen minutes he undressed placing the uniform back in the duffle bag and went back to sleep.
The next day the Jew trying to find a few minutes alone with the ex-General to ask him what the incident meant, finally was able to talk to him while outside doing drills in the snow.
The General indicated “What I’m currently doing now is not my true essence, I am a soldier here. But I am a General, this is my true calling in life. This prison is not the true reality.”
The essence of our existence is not the material, it’s the spiritual world. It’s hard to make both a priority. Therefore, one has to chose. The Sukkah is designed to be temporary. The lifeblood is not found in the short term world, with all the luxuries that we are accustomed to. As the Mesilat Yesharim says, and I paraphrase” it’s impossible to believe, one can really enjoy this world with all it’s disappointments that usually get latched on to whatever we do and accomplish. There is always something that will prevent us from the optimal enjoyment. And even if everything is perfect, which is hard to believe, one does not have time to enjoy it because he’s here only temporary!”
Kohelet starts off “Vanity of vanities”, said Koheleth; “vanity of vanities, all is vanity-all is worthless!!!”. This is a message from an individual, the wise King Solomon who overindulged in many of the worlds, finest physical pleasures. We leave those physical pleasures behind, the confines of our homes, our palaces and live in the Sukkah-little huts for seven days. Sukkah is trying to teach us that’s the true essence! By leaving our home we symbolize: life is temporary!. It’s not the physical world that’s the reality “it’s the uniform, as the general wholeheartedly believes”, it’s what one accomplishes through the Torah, through the mitzvoth.

The Sukkah makes one retap into this reality. We have to recharge the true reality in these seven days. King Solomon teaches us: physical world is not worth anything and there is a true existence!!! For this reason, we read Kohelet on Sukkot it’s the second verse that provides us with the Sukkah message.
And what gives this temporary time in the Sukkah staying power? The Ushpizin, our Avot-forefathers! One connects to his heritage. It gives the temporary state permanence! Because the link to our fathers is eternal! The Zohar is hinting that the Ushpizin are guests, just like us and we have to seize the moment in our lives. The opportunity to re-connect to them and to G-d is momentary! Life is short!
The fruits that are hung up in the Sukkah represent the harvest season. Farmers are especially happy at this time. These farmers, who are owners, know that field cannot be sold permantly. Eventually they have to give it back to the ancestral families. G-d informs us “you are wonderers and guests. I own the land. You are my guests in the land. You are guests in this world…make the best of it”