Below are three Dubno Maggid teachings relating to Sukkos: one about the four species, one about a verse in Koheles, and one about parashas V’Zos HaBrachah. (I will not be posting next week.) Chag Sameach!
The Mitzvah of the Four Species – Insurance for a Good Year
In Vayikra Rabbah 30:3, it is written (paraphrased):
David HaMelech taught the People of Israel: “If you have fulfilled the mitzvah of lulav, which is called “pleasant” (naim) [alluding to the beauty of the four species, or to how they move when we wave them (the verb “na” means “move”), or to the beautiful praise of Hallel that we sing to Hashem while holding them], then you can be assured that you have prevailed (nitzachta) …. Thus, he wrote (Tehillim 16:11): “Pleasantness is at your right hand for eternity (netzach).” For it is written (Shmuel Alef 15:29): “The Eternal One of Israel (Netzach Yisrael)neither speaks falsely nor retracts.” Hence, Moshe exhorts the People of Israel (Vayikra 23:40): “You shall take for yourselves on the first day [the four species].”
The Maggid explains this Midrash with a parable. A poor man bought an item from a rich man at a low price, letting the seller hold onto the item until he received payment. On his way home, the poor man met one of his friends and told him the story. He then added: “I am worried, though, that the seller will change his mind.” The friend replied: “You fool! The rich man certainly will not renege. It is you who must make sure not to renege and fail to pay, for then the deal definitely will fall through.”
The message is as follows. We can surely trust Hashem’s promise to grant us blessing, for He neither speaks falsely or reneges. What we should concern ourselves with is making sure we are trustworthy in following His directives. How do we go about this? By training ourselves in mitzvah observance at the very beginning of the year, through the mitzvah of the four species (along with the other mitzvos associated with this time of the year). If we train ourselves well, we will have the Torah’s pleasant ways at our right hand perpetually thoughout the entire year. And then we can be certain that Hashem will follow through with His end of the bargain.   
Megillas Koheles
Shlomo HaMelech teaches (Koheles 2:24): “It is not good for man to eat and drink, and show his soul satisfaction in his labor. For that, too, I saw, is from the hand of God.” The Maggid notes that Shlomo repeatedly decries investing excessive exertion in worldly affairs. Shlomo advances several arguments for this view. One argument is that such exertion simply does not pay. It is a mistake for a person to think that he will reap all the fruits of his labors; in actuality, he will reap only a small fraction, and others will reap the rest. Another argument is that toiling constantly for worldly benefits leaves a person little time to enjoy them.
Then there is a third argument, which the Maggid brings out with a parable. A pauper visited a village where there were two inns. The owner of one inn was honorable and good, while the owner of the other was wicked and stingy. The pauper happened to go to the inn with the wicked owner. He asked for a bit of food. The owner replied: “If you want to indulge yourself this evening with food and drink, I will give you a job to do, and then I will arrange a meal for you in which you can eat your fill of fine food.” The pauper agreed, and he did the work the innkeeper gave him, with great exertion. When he had finished, the innkeeper told him: “Go now to the other inn. I have told the servants there to give you a fine meal.” The pauper made his way to the other inn. When he arrived, he received a cordial welcome, was served a fine meal, ate his fill, and had a very comfortable overnight stay. He imagined that all the fine treatment he had received was in compensation for the work he had done at the first inn. Later, he told his friends the story. They responded: “You have it all wrong. Had you gone to the second inn to begin with, you would have gotten the same fine treatment without doing any work. You sweated for nothing, and got your nice meal for free.”
The message of this parable is as follows. It is true that we must work for a living; indeed, Hashem decreed that we do so. Ultimately, however, everything we acquire comes from the hand of Hashem, and not from our own efforts. Hence, we ought not pat ourselves on the back in self-satisfaction over what we have acquired. Moreover, Hashem has the power to provide a person’s needs regardless of whether he works a lot or a little. Therefore, while working for a living is necessary, strenuous labor is needless and out of place.
Parashas V’zos HaBrachah
It is written (Devarim 33:2): “Hashem came from Sinai – having shone forth to them from Seir, having appeared from Mount Paran – and approached with a contingent of His holy myriads. From His right hand, He laid out for them [the Jewish People] the fiery Torah.” The Midrash remarks (Yalkut Shimoni I:951, slightly paraphrased): “When the word came out of the Holy One’s mouth, it went forth from His right, opposite the Jewish People’s left. It made a circuit around the Jewish People’s camp, …, and came back again, from the Jewish People’s right, opposite the All-Present One’s left.” The Maggid discusses the meaning of “right” and “left” here.
In general, “right” symbolizes the primary concern, while “left” symbolizes the subsidiary. Thus, in regard to the Torah, Shlomo HaMelech says (Mishlei 3:16), “Length of days is at its right; at its left, wealth and honor.” Length of days, i.e., life itself, is the primary concern, whereas wealth and honor play a supporting role, helping our lives run smoothly.
Now, when Hashem gave us the Torah, He did so for our benefit, not for His. When we do mitzvos, we are not helping Him or giving Him a gift, for He needs no help or gifts. Rather, the mitzvos are meant to bring us good. Yet, in doing mitzvos, we are supposed to focus on the goal of serving Hashem, not on what we ourselves gain through these deeds. As the Mishnah says (Avos 1:3): “Do not be like servants who serve their master for the purpose of receiving a reward, but rather be like servants who serve their master not for the purpose of receiving a reward.” Why are we supposed to take this attitude, when the mitzvos are in truth solely for our benefit? The answer is that the mitzvos yield us benefit only if, when doing them, we connect ourselves to Hashem, the ultimate source. (Indeed, the main purpose of mitzvos is to make us firmly bonded to Hashem.) We establish a connection with Hashem by focusing ourselves on serving Him.
Thus, there are two sides to Torah: what we gain, and our striving to serve Hashem. From Hashem’s standpoint, the former is primary and the latter is secondary. We, however, are supposed to view the latter as primary and the former as secondary. Hence, the benefit the Torah brings us is set at Hashem’s right and at our left, while the goal of serving Hashem is set at Hashem’s left and our right.
David Zucker, Site Administrator

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