Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility Skip to content

Simchat Beit HaShoeivah – Sukkah – Gefet 7

Gefet: Gemara Rashi and Tosafot.

Delve into commentaries on the daf in this advanced level shiur with Rabbanit Yael Shimoni.

Disclaimer: you do not have to be a daf learner to study Gefet.

The texts are in Hebrew, the class teaching is in English. Gefet is a collaboration with Drisha Institute.

Simchat Beit Hashoโ€™eva



The fifth perek of Masechet Sukkah opens with a code, which is deciphered by the mishna: “ื”ื—ืœื™ืœ ื—ืžื™ืฉื” ื•ืฉื™ืฉื””. The mishna explains:ย 

ื”ื—ืœื™ืœ ื—ืžืฉื” ื•ืฉืฉื”, ื–ื”ื• ื”ื—ืœื™ืœ ืฉืœ ื‘ื™ืช ื”ืฉื•ืื‘ื” ืฉืื™ื ื• ื“ื•ื—ื” ืœื ืืช ื”ืฉื‘ืช ื•ืœื ืืช ื™ื•ื ื˜ื•ื‘. (ืกื•ื›ื” ื  ืข”ื)

The mishna explains that the fluteย  that is mentioned, is the one that is played at the simchat beit hashoโ€™eva, and this does not override shabbat. Therefore sometimes the simchat beit hashoโ€™eva lasts for six days and sometimes for five. The gemara brings a surprising argument on this mishna:ย 

ืื™ืชืžืจ, ืจื‘ ื™ื”ื•ื“ื” ื•ืจื‘ ืขื™ื ื. ื—ื“ ืชื ื™: ืฉื•ืื‘ื”, ื•ื—ื“ ืชื ื™: ื—ืฉื•ื‘ื”.ย 

The gemara reports that the formulation of the mishna is the subject of an amoraic argument: is the correct wording โ€œื—ืœื™ืœ ืฉืœ ื‘ื™ืช ื”ืฉื•ืื‘ื”โ€ or โ€œื—ืœื™ืœ ืฉืœ ื‘ื™ืช ื—ืฉื•ื‘ื”โ€? The continuation of the sugiya clarifies that this argument actually reflects an argument as to the source and meaning of this simcha, and introduces two different sources and meanings for this simcha on Sukkot. We will look at the continuation of the gemara:

ืืžืจ ืžืจ ื–ื•ื˜ืจื: ืžืืŸ ื“ืชื ื™ ืฉื•ืื‘ื” ืœื ืžืฉืชื‘ืฉ, ื•ืžืืŸ ื“ืชื ื™ ื—ืฉื•ื‘ื” ืœื ืžืฉืชื‘ืฉ. ืžืืŸ ื“ืชื ื™ ืฉื•ืื‘ื” ืœื ืžืฉืชื‘ืฉ – ื“ื›ืชื™ื‘ ื•ืฉืื‘ืชื ืžื™ื ื‘ืฉืฉื•ืŸ. ื•ืžืืŸ ื“ืชื ื™ ื—ืฉื•ื‘ื” ืœื ืžืฉืชื‘ืฉ – ื“ืืžืจ ืจื‘ ื ื—ืžืŸ: ืžืฆื•ื” ื—ืฉื•ื‘ื” ื”ื™ื, ื•ื‘ืื” ืžืฉืฉืช ื™ืžื™ ื‘ืจืืฉื™ืช.

Mar Zutra brings the sources of these different names, and determines that both are actually correct: the name โ€œืฉืžื—ืช ื‘ื™ืช ื”ืฉื•ืื‘ื”โ€ comes from a pasuk in Yeshayahu: ื•ึผืฉืึฐืึทื‘ึฐืชึผึถืึพืžึทึ–ื™ึดื ื‘ึผึฐืฉื‚ึธืฉื‚ึ‘ื•ึนืŸ ืžึดืžึผึทืขึทื™ึฐื ึตึ–ื™ ื”ึทื™ึฐืฉืื•ึผืขึธึฝื”. The name โ€œืฉืžื—ื” ื—ืฉื•ื‘ื”โ€ comes from the statement of Rav Nachman who says that this simcha is significant since it is connected to the six days of creation.ย 

These two sources seem to be riddles themselves: what do they mean? What is the connection between Yeshayahu and Sukkot? What is the connection between the simcha of the holiday of Sukkot and the six days of creation? Rashi approaches these questions and adds another layer of understanding. We will examine his words:

ื‘ื™ืช ื”ืฉื•ืื‘ื” – ื›ืœ ืฉืžื—ื” ื–ื• ืื™ื ื” ืืœื ื‘ืฉื‘ื™ืœ ื ื™ืกื•ืš ื”ืžื™ื, ื›ื“ืžืคืจืฉ “ื•ืฉืื‘ืชื ืžื™ื ื‘ืฉืฉื•ืŸ”.

Rashi explains that the pasuk in Yeshayahu reveals that the heart of the simcha is dependent on the water libation. The drawing of the water and pouring it onto the mizbeach is what determines this special simcha. Rashiโ€™s interpretation adds a layer of understanding, but we are still left with half of our questions. He did not explain why the drawing and pouring of the water on the mizbeach causes such great happiness. The alternate version: “ื—ืฉื•ื‘ื”” whichย  is explained in the gemara as connected to the six days of creation, is explained by Rashi in his commentary on the sugiya. He writes:

ืžืฉืฉืช ื™ืžื™ ื‘ืจืืฉื™ืช – ื“ืืžืจืŸ ืœืขื™ืœ: ืฉื™ืชื™ืŸ ื ื‘ืจืื• ืžืฉืฉืช ื™ืžื™ ื‘ืจืืฉื™ืช ืœืงื‘ืœ ื”ื ืกื›ื™ื.

Rashi sends us backwards to daf 49a where there is an argument regarding the ืฉื™ืชื™ืŸ. The ืฉื™ืชื™ืŸ are two holes in the mizbeach where the wine libations were poured throughout the year, and wine and water libations were poured on Sukkot. It seems that there is an argument regarding their depth and the way they were created:

ืืžืจ ืจื‘ื” ื‘ืจ ื‘ืจ ื—ื ื” ืืžืจ ืจื‘ื™ ื™ื•ื—ื ืŸ: ืฉื™ืชื™ืŸ ืžืฉืฉืช ื™ืžื™ ื‘ืจืืฉื™ืช ื ื‘ืจืื•, ืฉื ืืžืจ ื—ืžื•ืงื™ ื™ืจื›ื™ืš ื›ืžื• ื—ืœืื™ื ืžืขืฉื” ื™ื“ื™ ืืžืŸ. ื—ืžื•ืงื™ ื™ืจื›ื™ืš – ืืœื• ื”ืฉื™ืชื™ืŸ, ื›ืžื• ื—ืœืื™ื – ืฉืžื—ื•ืœืœื™ืŸ ื•ื™ื•ืจื“ื™ืŸ ืขื“ ื”ืชื”ื•ื, ืžืขืฉื” ื™ื“ื™ ืืžืŸ – ื–ื• ืžืขืฉื” ื™ื“ื™ ืื•ืžื ื•ืชื• ืฉืœ ื”ืงื“ื•ืฉ ื‘ืจื•ืš ื”ื•ื. ืชื ื ื“ื‘ื™ ืจื‘ื™ ื™ืฉืžืขืืœ: ื‘ืจืืฉื™ืช, ืืœ ืชื™ืงืจื™ ื‘ืจืืฉื™ืช ืืœื ื‘ืจื ืฉื™ืช. ืชื ื™ื, ืจื‘ื™ ื™ื•ืกื™ ืื•ืžืจ: ืฉื™ืชื™ืŸ ืžื—ื•ืœืœื™ืŸ ื•ื™ื•ืจื“ื™ืŸ ืขื“ ืชื”ื•ื, ืฉื ืืžืจ ืืฉื™ืจื” ื ื ืœื™ื“ื™ื“ื™ ืฉื™ืจืช ื“ื•ื“ื™ ืœื›ืจืžื• ื›ืจื ื”ื™ื” ืœื™ื“ื™ื“ื™ ื‘ืงืจืŸ ื‘ืŸ ืฉืžืŸ. ื•ื™ืขื–ืงื”ื• ื•ื™ืกืงืœื”ื• ื•ื™ื˜ืขื”ื• ืฉืจืง ื•ื™ื‘ืŸ ืžื’ื“ืœ ื‘ืชื•ื›ื• ื•ื’ื ื™ืงื‘ ื—ืฆื‘ ื‘ื•. ื•ื™ื˜ืขื”ื• ืฉืจืง – ื–ื” ื‘ื™ืช ื”ืžืงื“ืฉ, ื•ื™ื‘ืŸ ืžื’ื“ืœ ื‘ืชื•ื›ื• – ื–ื” ืžื–ื‘ื—, ื•ื’ื ื™ืงื‘ ื—ืฆื‘ ื‘ื• – ืืœื• ื”ืฉื™ืชื™ืŸ.ย 

ืชื ื™ื, ืืžืจ ืจื‘ื™ ืืœืขื–ืจ ื‘ืจ ืฆื“ื•ืง: ืœื•ืœ ืงื˜ืŸ ื”ื™ื” ื‘ื™ืŸ ื›ื‘ืฉ ืœืžื–ื‘ื— ื‘ืžืขืจื‘ื• ืฉืœ ื›ื‘ืฉ, ื•ืื—ืช ืœืฉื‘ืขื™ื ืฉื ื” ืคืจื—ื™ ื›ื”ื•ื ื” ื™ื•ืจื“ื™ืŸ ืœืฉื ื•ืžืœืงื˜ื™ืŸ ืžืฉื ื™ื™ืŸ ืงืจื•ืฉ ืฉื“ื•ืžื” ืœืขื™ื’ื•ืœื™ ื“ื‘ื™ืœื”, ื•ื‘ืื™ืŸ ื•ืฉื•ืจืคื™ืŸ ืื•ืชื• ื‘ืงื“ื•ืฉื”, ืฉื ืืžืจ ื‘ืงื“ืฉ ื”ืกืš ื ืกืš ืฉื›ืจ ืœื”’

Rashi connects the opinion of Rabbi Yochanan which is brought by Raba bar bar Chana to the opinion which says that the water libation is an important mitzvah as it is connected to the six days of creation. If we try to understand Rashiโ€™s words, we will suggest the following: According to Rabbi Yochananโ€™s opinion, and the opinion of the beit midrash of Rabbi Yishmael and Rabbi Yossi, the ืฉื™ืชื™ืŸ connect the mizbeach to the abyss, meaning they create a connection between the waters that are under the earth, the ancient waters of creation, to the waters which are poured onto the mizbeach. In light of this, the water libation on Sukkot is connecting water to water, new water to ancient water – water of creation and the abyss, and this connection has a special significance.

Until now we have seen Rashiโ€™s commentary which revealed deep layers in understanding the water libation. The first opinion: ื‘ื™ืช ื”ืฉื•ืื‘ื” describes a simple simcha – this is a once a year libation of water and that warrants a special celebration. The second opinion deals with an important simcha which is connected to a deep secret which connects us to the waters of the abyss, the waters ofย  creation which crawl under the beit hamikdash. We will move on to Tosfot and will see that they add meaning to the first opinion as well:ย 

ื—ื“ ืชื ื™ ืฉื•ืื‘ื” – ื‘ื™ืจื•ืฉืœืžื™ ืžืคืจืฉ ืฉืžืฉื ืฉื•ืื‘ื™ื ืจื•ื— ื”ืงื•ื“ืฉ ืฉื”ืฉื›ื™ื ื” ืฉื•ืจื” ืžืชื•ืš ืฉืžื—ื” ื“ื›ืชื™ื‘ ื•ื™ื”ื™ ื›ื ื’ืŸ ื”ืžื ื’ืŸ ื•ืชื”ื™ ืขืœื™ื• ืจื•ื— ื”’ ื•ืžื™ื™ืชื™ ืขื•ื‘ื“ื ื“ื™ื•ื ื” ื‘ืŸ ืืžื™ืชื™ ืฉื”ื™ื” ืžืขื•ืœื™ ืจื’ืœื™ื ื•ื‘ืฉืžื—ืช ื‘ื™ืช ื”ืฉื•ืื‘ื” ืฉืจืชื” ืขืœื™ื• ืฉื›ื™ื ื”.

Tosfot send us to the Yerushalmi and say that the drawing of the water is not really drawing water, rather drawing ruach hakodesh. We will examine this source on its own before we analyze its content and the significance of bringing it, in light of Rashiโ€™s interpretation:

ื”ืจ ื™ื”ื•ืฉืข ื‘ืŸ ืœื•ื™ ืœืžื” ื ืงืจื ืฉืžื” ื‘ื™ืช ืฉื•ืื‘ื” ืฉืžืฉื ืฉื•ืื‘ื™ื ืจื•ื— ื”ืงื•ื“ืฉ ืขืœ ืฉื [ืฉื ื™ื‘ ื’] ื•ืฉืื‘ืชื ืžื™ื ื‘ืฉืฉื•ืŸ ืžืžืขื™ื ื™ ื”ื™ืฉื•ืขื”….. ื”ืจ ื™ื•ื ื” ื™ื•ื ื” ื‘ืŸ ืืžื™ืชื™ ืžืขื•ืœื™ ืจื’ืœื™ื ื”ื™ื” ื•ื ื›ื ืก ืœืฉืžื—ืช ื‘ื™ืช ื”ืฉื•ืื‘ื” ื•ืฉืจืช ืขืœื™ื• ืจื•ื— ื”ืงื•ื“ืฉ ืœืœืžื“ืš ืฉืื™ืŸ ืจื•ื— ื”ืงื“ืฉ ืฉื•ืจื” ืืœื ืขืœ ืœื‘ ืฉืžื— ืž”ื˜ [ืžืœื›ื™ื ื‘ ื’ ื˜ื•] ื•ื”ื™ื” ื›ื ื’ืŸ ื”ืžื ื’ืŸ ื•ืชื”ื™ ืขืœื™ื• ืจื•ื— ืืœื”ื™ื. ื”ืจ ื‘ื ื™ืžื™ืŸ ื‘ืจ ืœื•ื™ ื•ื”ื™ื” [ื“ืฃ ื›ื’ ืขืžื•ื“ ื] ื›ื ื’ืŸ ื‘ืžื ื’ืŸ ืื™ืŸ ื›ืชื™ื‘ ื›ืืŸ ืืœื ื•ื”ื™ื” ื›ื ื’ืŸ ื”ืžื ื’ืŸ ื•ืชื”ื™ ืขืœื™ื• ืจื•ื— ืืœื”ื™ื.

In the Yerushalmi we see that the chiddush which understands that the drawing done at the simchat beit hashoโ€™eva is not physical but rather spiritual is the opinion of Rabbi Yehoshua ben Levi. This is how he interprets the pasuk in Yeshayahu. It seems that this interpretation fits with the pshat of the pasuk. The springs from which water is drawn in this prophecy of nechama are springs of salvation. Salvation is spiritual rather than physical, and this means that the drawing is not really of water, rather of ruach hakodesh. The Yerushalmi continues and brings a statement of Rabbi Yonah, about the prophet who shares his name – Yonah. Yonah the prophet is a figure who accompanies us on Yom Kippur, and Rabbi Yonah says that Yonaโ€™s root is in Sukkot. The moment that Yonah became a prophet was the simchat beit hashoโ€™eva, where ruach hakodesh rested upon him. The statement of Rabbi Yonah takes us a step further – why are we happy at the simchat beit hashoโ€™eva? According to the interpretation that this is an important simcha, they understand that the mitzvah of the water libation arouses happiness in us. However, according to the statement of Rabbi Yonah, happiness is the tool with which we draw the ruach hakodesh. There is a switch here between cause and effect. The flute plays in order for there to be simcha – the simcha is the tool for drawing the ruach hakodesh since ruach hakodesh only rests upon a happy soul.ย 

After we have examined the Yerushalmi, we will go back and sharpen the chiddush of the Tosfot in their bringing the Yerushalmi.ย 

Rashi explains that “ืฉืžื—ืช ื‘ื™ืช ื”ืฉื•ืื‘ื”” in an almost technical interpretation – the special mitzvah of the water libation is the reason for the special simcha that we have on Sukkot. The more mysterious interpretation is “ืฉืžื—ื” ื—ืฉื•ื‘ื””, as it hints to the opinion that the ืฉื™ืชื™ืŸ of the mizbeach reach the abyss – the waters of creation which crawl under the beit hamikdash, and on Sukkot, we connect water to water.ย 

Tosfot take the technical interpretation and turn it into an interpretation of mystery, ruach hakodesh, and prophecy as well. By examining the Yerushalmi, we see an additional chiddush: here the simcha is not a result, rather is the cause. We are happy in order to draw the ruach hakodesh on Sukkot.

We will note that the statement of the Yerushalmi leaves us with a problem. In our time, there is no longer prophecy, and if the main significance of simchat beit hashoโ€™eva is to draw ruach hakodesh and prophecy, how is this relevant to us? Perhaps we stand opposite it in longing and pain, just like the longing for the avodah of the cohen gadol on Yom Kippur?

The ืขืœื™ ืชืžืจ on the Yerushalmi words this question more sharply:

ื•ืœื›ืื•ืจื” ืงืฉื”, ื”ืจื™ ืืžืจื• ื‘ืกื•ืฃ ืกื•ื˜ื” ืžืฉืžืชื• ื ื‘ื™ืื™ื ื”ืื—ืจื•ื ื™ื ื ืกืชืœืงื” ืจื•ื””ืง ืžื™ืฉืจืืœ, ื•ื‘ืจื•ืจ ืฉื›ื•ื•ื ืช ื”ืžืืžืจ ื”ื•ื ืืฃ ื‘ืชืงื•ืคืช ื‘ื™ืช ืฉื ื™

The ืขืœื™ ืชืžืจ asks in light of the wording of the mishna and the sugiya in Masechet Sotah: the mishna speaks about the days of the second temple, and in Masechet Sotah, it says that with the death of the last prophets, ruach hakodesh left Yisrael. Could it be that we are describing the simcha of something that no longer exists? We will examine his answer:

ืื•ืœื ืขื™ื™ืŸ ืž”ืฉ ื‘ื–ื” ื‘ืกื•ื˜ื” ืค”ื˜ ื”ื™”ื’, ืฉื”ืฉื ืจื•ื””ืง ื”ื•ื ืฉื ืžืฉื•ืชืฃ ืœืฉืœืฉ ื“ืจื’ื•ืช ืฉืœ ืจื•ื””ืง ื) ืจื•ื””ืง ื ื‘ื•ืื™, ื‘) ืจื•ื””ืง ืฉืœ ื‘ืช ืงื•ืœ, ื’) ืจื•ื””ืง ืฉืœ ืืฆื™ืœื•ืช ืขืœื™ื•ืŸ ืฉืœ ืจื•ื— ืืœื•ืงื™ ืขืœ ืื ืฉื™ ืกื’ื•ืœื” ืฉืœื ืคืกืงื” ื‘ืฉื•ื ื“ื•ืจ, ื•ืืฃ ื‘ื“ื•ืจื•ืช ื”ืื—ืจื•ื ื™ื ื‘ื‘ื—ื™ื ืช ืจื•ื— ืืœื•ืงื™ื ื“ื‘ืจ ื‘ื™ ื•ืžืœืชื• ืขืœ ืœืฉื•ื ื™. ื•ืจื•ื””ืง ืžื”ืกื•ื’ ื”ืื—ืจื•ืŸ ืฉืื‘ื• ื‘ืฉืžื—ืช ื‘ื™ืช ื”ืฉื•ืื‘ื” ื‘ืชืงื•ืคืช ื‘ื™ืช ืฉื ื™ ืขืž”ืฉ ืฉื ื‘ืืจื™ื›ื•ืช.

The ืขืœื™ ืชืžืจ answers that there are three levels of ruach hakodesh: a. prophecy b. bat kol c. Godly spirit on worthy people.

It is true that the first two ruchot have disappeared for now, however, the last ruach never disappears, and this is what we are drawing at the simchat beit hashoโ€™eva. Bโ€™ezrat Hashem we should be worthy of it.ย ย 

(Translated by Daphna Ansel-Nizan)


Rabbanit Yael Shimoni

Rabbanit Yael Shimoni is the Ramit and Deputy Rosh Yeshiva at Yeshivat Drisha in Kfar Etzion. Rabbanit Shimoni has learned at Migdal Oz, Matan, and the Susi Bradfield Womenโ€™s Institute for Halakhic Leadership at Midreshet Lindenbaum. She holds a BFA from Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design and a BEd in Torah Shebeโ€™al Peh and Jewish Thought from Herzog College. She is currently studying towards an MA in Jewish Thought Education at Herzog College. Rabbanit Shimoni taught gemara and halakha at Pelech High School and served as a ramit for shana bet at Migdal Oz. She directs Meshivat Nefesh, the online responsa program of the rabbaniyot of Beit Hillel. She is also a plastic artist and member of โ€œA Studio of Her Own.
Scroll To Top