This Shabbos as we commemorate the Rebbe’s 22nd Gimmel Tammuz Yartzeit, we happened to have a guest who got stranded here in the Albany airport and spent Shabbos with us, who is now in the midst of studying the first chapter of Talmud tractate Sukkah. I saw his Gemorah page open to Sukkah 7b and 8a, and I realized the connection of these two Gimmel Tammuz feelings to that very page of Talmud.
That page of Talmud has an unusual type of listing (usually this type of threading arguments together is something you see by later commentaries, not the Talmud itself). Abbaye – a famous Rabbi in the Talmud – lists 8 different Rabbis in various arguments about Sukkah who are all part of a trend to see a Sukkah as more of a permanent dwelling.
The issues range from the minimum Sukkah area or maximum Sukkah height, whether a lean-to or round Sukkah would be acceptable and if Sukkah walls also need to provide shade or if a mobile Sukkah could be Kosher. In all these arguments, Abbaye lines up the opinions that would trend towards more permanent and threads them together using this common denominator.
From Abbaye we learn that there are two Talmudic schools of thought regarding Sukkah. Should they trend more temporary or more permanent? Which is the preferred mode?
When it comes to commemorating the Rebbe’s yartzeit, “Gimmel Tammuz” (the 3rd of Tammuz) we Chassidim of are two hearts. On the one hand, we celebrate the Rebbe’s vision and teachings, and know well that the Rebbe continues to spiritually guide and encourage and inspire, and how his works continue on stronger than ever before. And yet, at the same time as we forge ahead and continue on, there’s a deep sense of loss and longing, we miss the Rebbe very much.
You can describe these two sides as temporary vs. permanent, that which is established or that which is missing. We feel both ways about the Sukkah, it is both permanent and temporary at the same time. And so it is with our feeling of connection to the Rebbe. I tried to share these paradoxical feelings using a moving Chassidic story in an article I wrote for Chabad.org titled “Find a Zalman Zlatapolsky Bench Near You.”