The Zohar (3:104) teaches that every night of Sukos we must have two kinds of guests. First one of our great ancestors join us in the sukkah. The Ushpizin. On the first night Avrohom comes to our sukkah, on the second night Yitzchak and so on. As we entertain these giants of history we elevate the holiness of our sukkah. We must also be sure to invite and entertain our brothers and sisters that are hungry, lonely and cold. According to the Zohar before the esteemed guests enter the sukkah they look inside. If they see a poor person sitting there they enter, if there is no poor person there they look for a different sukkah in which to spend their time.
I’m not sure what it means to have Ushpizin in our sukkah. I do know that all of the Ushpizin are not just great historical figures but Tazadikim that have made a major contribution to what it means to be Jewish. Avrohom taught us about opening our homes, Yitzchak taught us about sacrifice, Yaacov taught us about truth etc. On Sukos we invite into our homes and into our lives the contributions that they made. We agree to live as Jews. They agree to join us and give us the energy that it takes to live as they taught us. But if they come into our sukkah and mir machen Shabbos far zich they walk away because we are missing the most fundamental part of being Jewish.
In today’s society it is not always practical to actually have an oni at the table. We can’t always open up our homes. But, we can always open up our hearts. The Jewish way, the way of our parents and grandparents is to share the good fortune we have with others that are less fortunate than we are.
Here at Bais Torah I have been working very hard to be in touch with those men women and families that legitimately needs our help. I have put together a committee that makes policy decisions as to where our Tzedaka dollars go. Besides the very wonderful organizations that we have in our community such as Kupas Ezra and Tomchei Shabbos that we contribute to, Included in this are people that couldn’t afford to pay for the educational needs of their children.
As you all know Jewish education is very expensive. We demand the best from our schools and they try to deliver but top education costs top dollar. A number of families, honest hard working people, have asked me for help in this area. In some cases I negotiated with the schools, in some cases we made the difference in getting the student into the school and in most cases I pledged that I would try to help. So here I am. We need to make sure that our children become everything they can become, that our schools have enough money to operate and that families on a limited income have enough money to live. Invite them all into your Sukah and heart.
As we stand before Yizkor, perhaps our parents and grandparents become Ushpizin. If we want them to come in and be part of our lives, if we accept their values, if we want them to stand before Hashem and daven for us and our children, give some tzedaka. Veseitiv lanu Hachasima, may you all be blessed with a year of nachas and plenty.