Tuesday, October 07, 2014

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Jewish Meditations for Succos

by Reb Aharon Rubin, author of Eye to the Infinite

We are told that Sukkos is the greatest of all three Regolim.

What is Sukkos? What does it commemorate?

Pesach commemorates G-d taking us out from slavery in Egypt, Shovuos commemorates G-d giving us the Decalogue and His Law, Sukkos commemorates … our being enveloped in the Clouds of Glory ..?

Ask yourself which event appears the greater: surely the Exodus or the giving of the Torah? Why is Sukkos considered the climax of our Yomim Tovim?

The Zohar and Arizal explain that the period from Rosh HaShonoh till Simchas Torah is one long Divine embrace of G-d with His People. The embrace starts with G-d placing His left hand (the attribute of King-justice) under our head, as it were, that being the first ten days from Rosh HaShonnoh till Yom Kippur. It culminates with His embracing us with His Right Arm (the attribute of Father-love and compassion), from Yom Kippur till Simchas Torah.

The Sukkah is all about that embrace. The minimum requirement for a kosher Sukkoh is two walls and a handbreadth of a third wall; that, says the Ari, is reminiscent of the Divine Right-arm embrace, the two parts of the arm [forearm and lower arm] and the hand.

In fact, the Sukkoh is a chupoh – a wedding canopy. This is the culmination of the three festivals. First we need to go out of Egypt, to leave their ideologies and step into G-d’s Realm. He shows us His Presence; we reciprocate through the Paschal offering and the mesiras nefesh that entailed. Next is the giving of the Torah. We reciprocate by receiving it.

But that receiving wasn’t whole. There was a lot of fear. The element of love was missing. After picking up the pieces of a broken relationship through Rosh HaShonoh and Yom Kippur, crowning the Creator of the world ex nihilo King and Father over us, we now stand (once again) under the wedding-canopy with G-d, as it were. But this time the fear is mitigated with love. We dance in joy. The wedding is consummated on Shmini Atseres/SimchasTorah, when we dance with the Torah and G-d is alone with His People. This is why Sukkos is זמן שמחתינו – the Time of our Rejoicing.

Chazal tell us that G-d created this world with the letter heh, as it were, and the World-to-Come with the letter yud. The World-to-Come is the tsuroh – the inner soul and form, this world is the chomer – the outer material.

This is reflected in the first 15 days of Tishrei. The first ten days, Rosh HaShonoh, Ten Days of Tshuvoh, Yom Kippur, are the letter yud, the inner soul (yud is gematriah – numerical value – of ten). After Yom Kippur, we work on bringing down that inner soul and giving it a body, by being busy with Mitsvos in the material world - building a Sukkoh, attaining the four species and the necessities for Yom Tuv – till the fifteenth: the five days corresponding to the letter heh (gematrioh of). Then is the ultimate Yichud, unification, the letter yud coming together with the letter heh, G-d and His Presence (Shechinoh) on this earthly plane united, all barriers broken, symbolised by the Sukkoh. The two and a half walls (minimum requirement) is the shape of the letter heh. On top we have the see-through-the-lattices ‘roof’ of the schach symbolising the now permeable barrier between this world and the next; it is the yud on top of the heh, the זיו השכינה – Glory of G-d – over His People.

The ‘waiving’ of the Lulov [the four types] is similar: we recognise G-d’s Presence all around us and bring It close to our heart.

The four types correspond both to all Israel (4 types within them) and to G-d (4 letters of His Name)(source: Midrash). As we move the Lulov away from ourselves, we dance and reach out to G-d; as we bring it near, G-d, as it were, dances and comes close to us.

These Mitsvos express the ultimate unification of G-d with His People.

May we all merit to have a simchadige Yom Tov, to feel and rejoice in G-d’s Love and Presence.

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