Rabbi Rich Wolpoe and I have been having a long offline exchange about my difficulties understanding his position on Sukkot as Zman Simchateinu (the Season of Our Happiness). To recap: in the amidah and Kiddush of the three pilgrimage festivals, the day is commemorated as Zman X, where X is taken to correspond to the historical event commemorated by the holiday. Pesach and Shavuot are obvious – “season of our freedom” is the Exodus, and “season of the giving of our Torah” is the Stand at Sinai, which occurred within a day or two of Shavuot. But Sukkot is “season of our happiness”, which the Talmud links to the Clouds of Glory, which are exegetically linked to the Sukkah, called the Sukkah of God, in Psalms and other places.
The problem: Clouds of Glory doesn’t correspond to a specific date.
R’ Wolpoe’s solution: it’s not Clouds of Glory, it’s the
a) if Tisha B’Av is the epitome of sadness, the
b) the haftarah of the day is all about the
c) parallelism must be maintained – each holiday must correspond with a specific date, as the other two do.
a) it contradicts the Talmud;
b) unlike the others, which occurred before or during the giving of the Torah, it occurs almost 500 years later;
d) must parallelism be that literal?
R’ Wolpoe doesn’t like my objections, doesn’t think they’re dispositive, which they’re not.
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I think I’ve come up with a way to reconcile our positions, based on the Haggadah and the Bikkurim. (You can probably see where I’m going).
When one brings the Bikkurim, the first fruits, one recites a little script for the priest, recapping the entire enslavement and exodus experience, culminating in one’s ability to bring one’s first fruits from this land flowing in milk and honey. That is taken to imply, by the author of the Haggadah (a Tannaitic midrash, hence an early source) that the culmination of the Exodus was the construction of the Temple where we could fully observe the Torah – without the Temple, more than half the mitzvoth are in abeyance. That’s why Dayeinu ends with the construction of the
Further, the verse at the end of the passage notes that bringing Bikkurim involves a mitzvah to be happy with everyone in your domain. Rashi interprets that to mean, inter alia, based on the Gemara in Bikkurim 83, that one rejoices in one’s harvest, which culminates in the Harvest Festival of Sukkot.
I gather, from one of his notes, that one of his correspondents may have picked up on this Rashi, and took Zman Simchaseinu to refer to the harvest season, rather than a historical event – but that much non-parallelism is not necessary either.
The verse at the beginning of the Bikkurim passage refers to Nachalah – heritage – as a prerequisite for bringing Bikkurim. The Gemara in Megillah reads that as “when the
Under that reading, clearly the passage in the Torah, as the Haggadah indicates, leads us straight to R’ Wolpoe’s idea. Bikkurim
a) depends on Nachalah – the
b) describes itself as the consequence and culmination of the Exodus experience;
c) is linked to Simcha, through the last verse.
I could almost say it looks chiastic, but that would be putting the cart before the horse. However, it does link Nachalah, the inheritance, with Simcha, through the Exodus. So the simcha of constructing the
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One could also give a mathematical allegory: what is the order of the Festivals, as given in the Torah? Pesach, Shavuot, Sukkot, in the old calendar which began with Nissan. One occurred at the beginning of the Exodus, one occurred during the Exodus, one is the culmination of the Exodus: a progression upwards from minimal mitzvah observance (we only had Pesach and Milah in
Another bolster to the idea of the
Thus we can preserve the phenomena: Clouds of Glory in the Talmud as the historic event commemorated by Sukkot; the Bikkurim passage; and the parallelism of specific dates even if the event being specifically commemorated was not actually accomplished until 487 years later.