Once again we find ourselves standing at the entrance way to the season of Sukkos – The feast of tabernacles. Have we ever taken the occasion to consider the meaning of a mitzvah – proclamation – that we literally step into and dwell within for seven full days?
From Caterpillar to Butterfly
Just as we can observe dramatic changes within the creation, such as the transition of the relatively graceless dawdling caterpillar into a gracefully airborne butterfly, so also we at times observe quite dramatic changes in the course of our lives. Examples of these milestones our when we learned how to walk and talk, graduated, became engaged, began a new job or moved. However, when it comes to spiritual growth, unless we pay close attention to the subtle changes inside of ourselves, we can pass through the various stages of development and transformation without being fully aware of them.
The sukkah can serve as our spiritual cocoon
In order for us to begin dwelling in sukkah -dwelling for holiness and joy – consciousness we need to remove any “roofs” of perceptual limitation and replace them with the supernal lattice –s’chach -our spirtutal covering –which allows us to widen our spiritual horizons. By understanding the connection between the halachas – proper configuration – of the s’chach and ourselves , we can begin to peer through the gaps and gaze into the supernal realms of our lives.
The Sukkah can be seen as a form of concertized prayer which contains all the components necessary for our spiritual metamorphosis. The mitzvah of sukkah is one of those divinely constructed conduits that enables us to make that smooth transition to the next level of our clossness with our Creator – Hashem. This transformation is made available to us through the halachas of the sukkah.
The sukkah in a metaphysical sense is like a human being with a body and a soul, as it is composed of both earthly and heavenly components. This duality is reflected in the s’chach which originated from a natural substance that was attached to the ground and is now uprooted from its soil ( even as Avraham Aveinu uprooted himself from his cultural surroundings). The s’chack is then placed on high and becomes a supernal quintessential covering that offers us Divine protection and Heavenly insights. The mitzvah of sukkah aids us to detach from any materialistic excesses as well as guides us through the Uzpizin to nourish from the eternal values of the Torah as will been explained.
How many of us have thought about the following dichotomy? We all have seen how parents begin prodding their toddlers to walk and talk as rapidly as they are able, yet as soon as these same children get a little bigger their parents and educators are constantly telling and teaching these children, often in futility, to sit down and be quite. For the children this mixed message might be quiet confusing but there lies within this moshal a profound message for all of us.
Indeed, in the first phases of life, our task is to learn how to walk and talk and use all of our efforts to “get up” on our own two feet and succeed in the world, however, if a person does not learn how to “sit down” introspectively and become “quietly” contemplative they will find themselves spending their entire adulthood trying to conquer the world instead submitting to their own inner spiritual calling. Perhaps one of the many invaluable lessons within the mitzvah of (leishev) to sit in sukkah is to teach us how to “sit down” in contemplation with our neshomos under the guidance of each days Ushpizin – celebrations – the supernal sublime guests that grace our sukkah..
Just as the period between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur awakens within us our awe of the Creator – Hashem, the seven days of Sukkas has the power to draw from within us expressions of ahavas – love and closness with our Creator – Hashem.
To aid us in this transition Chazal – our sages – teach that on each of the seven days of Sukkos one of our forefathers is invited to join us in the sukkah. They are our honored guests who educate us in perceiving our true purpose and potential that we can strive to attain throughout the year when we return back into our homes. This transition is best facilitated by opening our hearts and minds to the divine attributes that the seven Uspizin symbolize as the infra-structure of our spiritual stature.
Under the influence of our forefather Avraham Avinu – our patriarch – we can reveal and refine the trait of – chesed – loving kindness – for the sake of Heaven. Under the guidance of our forefather Yitzchak Avinu we are aided in developing the attribute of discipline so that our chesed – Divine beneficence – can be constructively channeled. Under the influence of Yaakov Avinu we are shown how to harmonize these seemingly disparate attributes of chesed and gavurah – spiritual strengths.
Moshe Rabbeinu – our guide and teacher – awakens the netzach Israel within us that links us with the eternal message of the Torah. Under the tutelage of Aaron HaKohan we learn to offer ourselves for service to the Creator thereby engendering greater peace in the world.
Yosef HaTzadik inspires us in our strivings towards righteousness through acts of purity. Finally the attribute of malchus, which is expressed through the kingdom of David HaMelech, is the power within us to orchestrate and combine all of these attributes so as to harmonize our potential to reveal the will of the Creator in this world. This means that each day of Succos we each have been blessed with our own private supernal “tutors” who join us while we are enveloped within the mitzvah thereby aiding us to elicit from deep within us the seven divine attributes.
Through following this spiritual prescription may we see to take the inner message of the sukkah back into our homes the whole year, thereby meriting to dance (stand up) and sing (speak) words of praise and gratefulness for each moment throughout our lives thereby meriting to soon dwell in the long awaited Sukkos David.
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- A LINGUISTIC JOURNEY ON NOACH’S ARK