"מי שלא ראה שמחת בית השואבה לא ראה שמחה מימיו"
“He who did not see the rejoicing of Beit Hasho’eivah, never saw rejoicing in his lifetime.” (Succah 51a)

QUESTION: What was so special about the rejoicing of Simchat Beit Hasho’eivah?

ANSWER: In describing the details of Simchat Beit Hasho’eivah the Gemara (Succah 51a) says that everyone — men and women — would gather in the Beit Hamikdash. “There were golden candelabras fifty cubits high with four golden bowls for oil on top of each and four ladders to each. Young Kohanim would climb up each ladder carrying a pitcher containing thirty lug of oil...and when they lit the lamps the entire city of Jerusalem became illuminated. Heads of yeshivot, members of the Sanhedrin, pious men, and men of good deeds would clap, sing, and act joyously and the general populace would come to watch and listen.”

Indeed there are many simchat in the Jewish community where the setting is exquisite, the palate is treated to the most sumptuous and exotic foods, the ears are regaled by the most lively music, but still thesimchah is incomplete. After careful analysis, one can see the fragmentation of the community. One cannot help but notice that not all segments of the community are participating, and still others are present as a result of coercion. The youth does not respect the elders and the elders do not have a common language with the youth. The “simchah” may evoke anxiety and apprehension rather than happiness and unity.

At Simchat Beit Hasho’eivah the people who set the mood were the rashei yeshiva, chassidim, and men of good deeds, and the young illuminated the area under their tutelage and guidance. Simchah in which unity and respect are evident is profound and true simchah.

(מצאתי בכתבי אבי הרב שמואל פסח ז"ל באגאמילסקי)


"ושאבתם מים בששון ממעיני הישועה"
“You shall draw water with joy from the wellsprings of deliverance.” (Isaiah 12:3)

QUESTION: Throughout the year there were nisuch hayayin — wine-libations — offered on the altar. On Succot there were also nisuch hamayim — water-libations. The Gemara (Succah 48b) relates that there was once a Sadducee(Tzedoki) Kohen who poured the water libations over his feet and all the people then pelted him to death with their etrogim.

[The Sadducees accept only the Torah Shebiketav — Written Torah — but deny the Torah Shebe’al Peh — Oral Torah. The principle of water-libation is not stated explicitly in the Torah, but only by allusion from which our sages (see Ta’anit 3a) derived the obligation.]

If the Sadducees deny the principle of water-libation, that particular kohen should not have poured at all; why then did he pour the water over his feet? Moreover, if someone alters the Temple-service he incurs “death by the hand of Heaven,” or he is subject to the rule that “the zealous may attack him.” Why, then, was he pelted by “all the people?”

ANSWER: There are two basic approaches to serving Hashem:

1) Ta’am vada’at — “reason (lit. “taste”) and understanding” — serving Hashem based upon rational apprehension of the significance of a mitzvah and the profundity of the Divine revelation achieved after performing it.

2) Kabalat ol — absolute submission to perform the will of Hashem regardless of whether the significance of the mitzvah is understood.

Wine has a flavor, while water on its own does not. Therefore, one must precede wine drinking with a berachah even if one is not thirsty, while over water a berachah is made only if one drinks to quench thirst (Orach Chaim 204:7), as only then will one find it tasty.

Wine and water are analogous to these two approaches to serving Hashem. Wine represents the approach of ta’am vada’at — comprehension — and water represents the approach of kabalot ol — absolute submission, without any rational, apprehension.

The Sadducee Kohen advocated serving Hashem based on understanding and rejected the approach of doing mitzvot when one has no idea what they accomplish. Consequently, this Kohen venerated the wine libation throughout the year, but scoffed at the water libation, pouring it over his feet instead of the altar.

The message he implied was that only the simple people, who are compared to feet and have no minds of their own, should serve Hashem based on kabalat ol, but intellectuals should serve Hashem based on their understanding.

Moreover, his attitude was that for himself, being a kohen in the Sanctuary and serving G‑d, he does not need kabalat ol. On the other hand, he poured the water over his feet to indicate that he is a source for instructions to be accepted by way of kabalat ol by the “six hundred thousand footmen of the people.”

For this reason “all the people pelted him,” i.e., the simple folks as opposed to the kohanim. Those blessed with intellectual capacities may base their avodah on kabalat ol. As they are intellectuals, however, they are not overly sensitive to the fact that reason by itself is insufficient, and thus they will have a problem in refuting the argument that there is no need for kabalat ol and that reason suffices by itself. The simple folks, however, when hearing the suggestion that there is no need for kabalat ol, they sensed immediately that this kind of attitude goes counter to the Divine Will and they pelted him to death, for his heretical philosophy.

(לקוטי שיחות ח"ב ע' 425)