Happy Days are Here Again

Rav Nachman Breslover coined the phrase “It is a great Mitzvah to be joyous constantly”. We know that, in particular, there is a Mitzvah of Simchas HaChag (being cheerful during a Holiday). Still Sukkos is known as THE Time of Our Joy. I’d like to share two thoughts that lend insight into why Sukkos is identified with joy and that also speak to Ba’alei T’shuva in particular.


The S’fas Emes explains that the Sukkah, as a Diras Arai (an insubstantial non-permanent dwelling place) is a home that is not a home, a place that is not a place. A sincere Ba’al T’shuva often feels so devastated by his sin that he feel as though he have no place in the world. The more homeless and misfit-ed a Ba’al T’shuva feels the more Divine Compassion is aroused and the more G-d creates an abode for the emotionally/spiritually homeless. Immediately after Yom Kippur the entire Jewish People are Ba’alei T’shuva. The Sukkah is G-d’s “homeless shelter” for all of K’lal Yisrael. The holy ambience of the Sukkah is that of a place that is in this world but not of it, an abode and a welcoming sanctuary for those who despaired of ever finding a place in their world again. If it had a sense of permanence about it then the Sukkah could never be a comfortable place – a natural habitat for the relentlessly ill at ease Ba’al T’shuva. But, insubstantial as a cloud, it restores to the Ba’al T’shuva his lost glory. Having “come home” after despairing of ever finding a home again we are ecstatic.


It’s been said that the opposite of love is not hate but apathy. Most of us have had emotional “absolute value” moments when our feelings turned on a dime from one extreme to another. e.g. (to borrow a sports clich) going from the agony of defeat to the ecstasy of victory or, G-d forbid, vice versa.

If we find a hole in our pockets and discover that we’ve lost a five dollar bill most of us will be upset for a few moments and then move on. But if we discover that a 20 million dollar winning lottery ticket slipped out through the same pocket hole we will be devastated. If, miraculously, a serendipitous win blows our lost ticket back into our hands then our joy will be indescribable.

Rabenu Yonah says that our festive feasting on Yom Kippur Eve prior to the actual Yom Kippur fast is a litmus test for the sincerity and depth of our T’shuva. Much like the hole-in-the-pocket lotto winner perceiving that the scrap of paper flying back towards him is his lost and deeply lamented ticket, the Ba’al T’shuva is elated to see his/her winning ticket i.e. recovering their ruptured relationship with G-d, about to be restored. The truest testimony to a Ba’alei T’shuva’s remorse and sense of loss of a relationship with the Divine is the joy with which he anticipates its imminent restoration.

Rav Hutner z”l concludes that the unique joy of Sukkos is the realization of the dream of Erev Yom Kippur. After all… as happy as the lotto winner is as he sees the winning ticket floating back to within his grasp, he is even happier when he, once again, grasps it in his hand.

Originally Posted on Oct 5, 2006

10 comments on “Happy Days are Here Again

  1. We feel adrift in the sukkah because it lacks the material protection of home, and we rely on Hashem for our security while dwelling in the sukkah. We also feel adrift after having sinned, but we gain security from the knowledge that Hashem will protect us on our route to recovery.

    In honesty, I had to try very hard, and it was only with the help of the comments, that I could see how this post CAN be applied on a nationwide (FFB, BT, less-affiliated/not yet frum) basis. My initial reading of this post was an individual who had not yet analyzed it or reviewed the comments. Delivery is important. In many cases problems result not from what was done, or even from what was said, but the way in which it was said.

  2. Here is another aspect of simcha-On YK, we received the Luchos Shniyos, which included both the Torah SBicsav and Torah She Baal peh ( TSBP). The Beis HaLevi points out that our simcha on YK is at least partially based on that Kabbalas HaTorah which was far more complete than which occured on Shavuos. Without the TSBP, we would simply be lost in understanding how to define many Torah laws and how to apply them throughout the generations.That is why we sound all variations of a Teruah on RH and the Avodah on YK follows the order of the Talmud as opposed to the pshat in the Chumash. Here is another example that ties YK and Sukkos together-look at both Hilcos Sukkah and Arbaah Minim. Many of the halachos there and elsewhere ( Tefillinm Tzitzis) have no other definition or source than a Halacha LMoshe MiSinai or thru development in the Talmud. Perhaps, the power of TSBP can best be illustrated in this very simple halacha, Someone whose table, body and head were always in their house even if they have built a kosher sukkah is considered as if they failed to ever properly keep Sukkah because they failed to observe a Torah law in the manner understood by the Baalei Mesorah. IOW, once we see that the TSBP and its proper interpretation by the Baalei Mesorah enable us to live according to the Torah in every generation, we indeed have a lot to celebrate about.

  3. Ed,
    “A sincere Ba’al T’shuva often feels so devastated by his sin that he feel as though he have no place in the world. The more homeless and misfit-ed a Ba’al T’shuva feels the more Divine Compassion is aroused and the more G-d creates an abode for the emotionally/spiritually homeless.”

    I took this to mean that when we do an aveiroh, we are distancing ourselves from Hashem. It’s like tumah (the absense of holiness). When anyone ‘sins’ there is that feeling of loss, of being separate from our Father. I believe that was all the statement meant.

    Have a great Sukkos! :)

  4. Ed, I think the BT reference was for all of Klal Yisrael who do Teshuva on any sin they may have done- the classic BT, not the BT term as used today to refer to those who were not brought up observant. I may be wrong, but that is how I understood it.

    The “homeless misfit” terminology seems to be of a spiritual nature, not emotional. Again, perhaps I misread it, but that is how it seemed to me.

  5. The article is about ecstasy as the flip side or sequel to despair. While the article makes some good points, I don’t think previous despair is a necessary precondition for our BT-ness or for our Sukkot ecstasy. (But maybe the author didn’t mean to imply that).

    Anyway, sane people respond differently when they try to come to grips with their past behavior. Some are more future-action-oriented, some are more analytical about their past, some really feel shocked that they had done things against HaShem’s will or that their friends and neighbors are on the wrong track, and so on. Each type of response can be constructive, and some combination may be best. Having some feelings of out-of-placeness or alienation vis-a-vis one’s world doesn’t necessarily make one neurotic, psycho, etc. It’s a matter of degree.

  6. You think this posting’s so great, Neil? I don’t. Look what this individual is saying: “A sincere Ba’al T’shuva often feels so devastated by his sin that he feel as though he have no place in the world. The more homeless and misfited a Ba’al T’shuva feels the more Divine Compassion is aroused and the more G-d creates an abode for the emotionally/spiritually homeless.” I read yet another highly offensive stereotype of the maladjusted BT. We BTs “OFTEN” feel such devastation so as to feel no place in the world??? We feel “homeless and misfited”? Yet another characterization of becoming frum as a response to neurosis, or some other emotional imbalance. Who needs to read that? None of us.
    Of course, we may all feel a normal contrition for what we may have done in “prior lives.” But this is BEYOND BT – Not “BTs in the Psycho Ward.”

  7. Contemplating and experiencing a merry joyous Succos with plenty of cheer for all is easier said than done. Does cheerful = joy= happiness . Whats real happiness anyway. Is Cheer Bear happy ? Or just spreading good cheer . If you sing Succos carols all the way thru the night ….. will this make you happy .Not quite.What if you start singing right after Yom Kippur.

    I love the temporary abode spiritual homeless shelter imagery and metaphysical metaphors .(Don’t understand the part about sinning remorse though). I especially love the concept of the wandering /everywhere/searching soul looking for somewhere to belong & finding comfort and a sense of belonging in the temporary nebulous house of spiritual comfort …… sooooo profound on like sixty different levels. ( I even get to incorporate one of my favorite concepts (holiday lights) to help make the nebulous spiritual abode sparkle just a wee bit sparklier).Ok , so the concept of coming home to the temporary dwelling place with sparkling colorful holiday lights would bring feelings of ecstatic ecstasy,but definitely not longterm.Would probally be more like extreme short term manic highs mostly. And not enough of a high to last all the days especially considering the fact that the weather is usually cold and moody.Is that where the constant kiddushing comes into play to keep the highs from falling below ecstatic ecstasy .

    Regarding the lost lottery ticket and faith and believing that the scrap flying is in fact the lost lost lottery ticket.
    1) What if there is no scrap flying back in sight.
    2) What if apathy set up shop and completely overtook the spiritual situation. The spiritual forecast for the season would show no signs of apathy clearing and no remorse / teardrops or even just plain rain in sight.Quite the barren desertlike weather especially with the cold nights.
    3) You can purchase tears in Duane Reade, but they havent been selling remorse in a bottle yet .
    4) What if the scrap flying back is misread or misinterpereted.What if there are sixty nine different versions of the what the scrap is actually saying .
    5) What if the scrap flying back is dressed in chareidi clothing /no clothing/swimsuit/candy pink striped Gucci suit/denim overalls/black hat/pink fur hat ….. could get pretty technical . Parts of the scrap may even be banned or left un-promoted for fear of misinterpretation or excessive usage in the wrong context .And things could get tricky and everyone will start focusing on the banning and forget that there is a scrap that needs to be understood in its entirety , not in partial payments .

    Chaim G ; regarding your astoundingly astute spelling correction , I believe utlitilizing the mysterious powers of serendipity, ( I loved that movie) one would probally be able to get the lucky stars associated with “win” to blow their lucky charm magic right into the mega million tickets or sweepblow the magic right into the readers digest sweepstakes letters mailed religiously to households all across North America and thereby rendering the blown serendipitous “win” a serendipitous win by mere fact of it having been unexpected and having originiated from the serendipitous stars of lucky win charm, as no one actually expects to win on the congratulations you have been selected as a possible winner (torah) letters. (if there is a yeshiva involved dont forget to donate first might up chance of winning ).

  8. Dear Guest,
    Great posting. Rav Hutner as also been quoted as saying that just as the eye is attached to the sense of sight, the ear is attached to hearing, etc… the sense that is associates itself to the mind is happiness!

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