Halacha for Friday 14 Tishrei 5781 October 2 2020

The Clouds of Glory

The Gemara (Sukkah 11b) explains that the Mitzvah of Sukkah is in commemoration of the clouds of glory that surrounded our ancestors when they left Egypt.

The Gemara (Ta’anit 9a) states: “Three great leaders arose for the Jewish nation: Moshe, Aharon, and Miriam. Hashem gave the Jewish nation three gifts through them which were: The well, the clouds of glory, and the Manna. The well was in the merit of Miriam, the clouds of glory in the merit of Aharon, and the Manna in the merit of Moshe.”

Maran Rabbeinu Ovadia Yosef zt”l asks: Why is it that during the Sukkot holiday we only commemorate the miracle of the clouds of glory and not the other miracles of the well and the Manna?

Maran zt”l answers in the name of Hagaon Harav Chaim Chafussi zt”l, head of the rabbinical court in Egypt, who writes that there is a clear distinction between the miracles of the well and the Manna and the miracle of the clouds of glory, for Hashem was required to give the Jewish nation water and bread (the Manna), for Hashem could not command the Jewish nation to leave Egypt to go to the desert only to die there of hunger and thirst. On the other hand, the clouds of glory were a special protection from Hashem which the Jewish nation did not necessarily require and was merely a sign of Hashem’s boundless love for the Jewish nation and was done beyond the letter of the law. Thus, we must especially thank and praise Hashem for this miracle and commemorate it through the Mitzvah of Sukkah.

Maran zt”l adds that before the miracle of the falling of the Manna, the Jewish nation complained, as the verse states, “The entire congregation of the children of Israel complained against Moshe and Aharon in the desert. And they said, ‘Would that we have died by the hand of Hashem in the land of Egypt when we sat by the pots of meat and when eat bread to the full, for you have brought us out to this desert to kill this whole assembly with hunger.’” Only then did Hashem reply to the Jewish nation and say, “Hashem said to Moshe, ‘Behold, I will cause bread to rain down upon you from Heaven and the nation shall go out and gather a day’s portion every day.’” Similarly, before being supplied with water from Miriam’s well, the verse states: “The nation fought with Moshe and said: ‘Give us water that we may drink.’ And the people complained against Moshe and said: ‘Why have you brought us up out of Egypt to kill us and our children and our cattle with thirst?’” Only afterwards does the verse state: “Hashem said to Moshe, ‘Pass before the nation etc. and you shall hit the rock and water shall come out of it that the nation may drink.’”

On the other hand, the clouds of glory were given to the Jewish nation without requests or complaints and we have therefore been commanded to commemorate only the clouds of glory which were given by Hashem as a gift to the Jewish nation in his great kindness and goodness. (Ma’or Yisrael-Derashot, page 73)

May the merit of the Mitzvah of Sukkah which envelops us protect us from any harm and may we merit going from strength to strength from the joy of the holiday of Sukkot throughout the rest of the year basking in the shade of Hashem’s divine protection and mercy upon us, Amen.

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