In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight. Prov.3;6 ב”ה
“Let’s make the next few minutes last forever….”
Sukkot- Spirituality With ALL Physicality 5778
Yeshayahu 30; 18Therefore the LORD longs to be gracious (חָנַן chanan) to you, and therefore He waits on high to have compassion (רָחַם racham) on you. For the LORD is a God of justice; How blessed are all those who long for Him. 10 O people in Zion, inhabitant in Yerushalayim, you will weep no longer. He will surely be gracious to you at the sound of your cry; when He hears it, He will answer you. 20 Although the Lord has given you bread of privation and water of oppression, He, your Teacher will no longer hide Himself, but your eyes will behold (ra’ah רָאָה ) your Teacher. 21Your ears will hear (shama שָׁמַע) a word behind you, “This is the way, walk in it,” whenever you turn to the right or to the left. 22And you will defile your graven images overlaid with silver, and your molten images plated with gold. You will scatter them as an impure thing, and say to them, “Be gone!” 23 Then He will give you rain for the seed which you will sow in the ground, and bread from the yield of the ground, and it will be rich and plenteous; on that day your livestock will graze in a roomy pasture. 24Also the oxen and the donkeys which work the ground will eat salted fodder, which has been winnowed with shovel and fork. 25 On every lofty mountain and on every high hill there will be streams running with water on the day of the great slaughter, when the towers fall. 26 The light of the moon will be as the light of the sun, and the light of the sun will be seven times brighter, like the light of seven days, on the day the LORD binds up the fracture of His people and heals the bruise He has inflicted.
On the day when the towers fall. When all that man has built up for himself comes crashing down. Not so that devastation be rampant, not so that woe and sorrow can ensue…but so that mankind can remember that in the garden there were no towers. In Eden, no houses, no need for toil and produce of thorns…just us and Hashem in a perfectly calibrated, pure and Holy “house” He built for us to walk with one another in the cool of the day. This is what we do on Sukkot. We leave all that which we have built and remember. Remember the garden when we hold the four species in our hands ( ארבעת המינים arba’at ha-minim), remember that stroll together when the rain would fall and all the plants would grow without sweat or plow (Hoshana Rabah הוֹשַׁעְנָא רַבָּא,) remember that He always has and always will provide for our every need.
How awesome it is that we see ties binding us to our line of study (re’eh, shema, avodah). This has been a season of what I pray has become an intensified LONGING for Hashem. A desire to come closer to Him. Let us continue to focus in on the racham (רָחַם mercy), and chanan (חָנַן- graciousness). Sukkot is a season for praying for rain, we have come through the time of Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur – A time when we faced the reality of sin as separation from God, the difference between Life and Death (choices).
Devarim 30;11“For this commandment which I command you today is not too difficult for you, nor is it out of reach. 12“It is not in heaven, that you should say, ‘Who will go up to heaven for us to get it for us and make us hear it, that we may observe it?’ 13“Nor is it beyond the sea, that you should say, ‘Who will cross the sea for us to get it for us and make us hear it, that we may observe it?’ 14“But the word is very near you, in your mouth and in your heart, that you may observe it. 15“See (ra’ah), I have set before you today life and prosperity, and death and adversity; 16 in that I command you today to love the LORD your God, to walk in His ways and to keep His commandments and His statutes and His judgments, that you may live and multiply, and that the LORD your God may bless you in the land where you are entering to possess it. 17“But if your heart turns away and you will not obey, but are drawn away and worship other gods and serve them, 18I declare to you today that you shall surely perish.
You will not prolong your days in the land where you are crossing the Jordan to enter and possess it. 19 “I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse. So choose life in order that you may live….
The Mishkan (Tabernacle) and later the Beit HaMikdash (Holy Temple) were designed as ongoing, permanent expressions of the unique bond between God and Israel. We remind ourselves of the events leading up to the construction of the Mishkan: At the climactic moment of our spiritual redemption, as Moshe receives the Torah from God, the Jewish People commit an unthinkable transgression against God. The Tablets of the Covenant are smashed at the foot of Mount Sinai, and it appears that all is lost. Yet God invites Moshe to ascend the mountain again, on the 1st of Elul. Forty days later, on a day of forgiveness, a day of love, the people are given a new set of Tablets. This day would come to be known throughout history as Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, for on that particular day the Jews were forgiven for their outrageous sin – the Golden Calf. And immediately after Moshe descends with the Second Tablets, the Jewish People are given the commandment to build the Mishkan – a physical manifestation of the unique, eternal relationship, an apparatus to facilitate closeness with God.- Ari Kahn
Now we come to Sukkot and we are praying for rain- physicality, food, and quality of life. But at the same time we leave all that we once found security in, construct a tabernacle for Him (both physically and spiritually) and we meet our groom under that Chuppah of Shalom.
Sh’mot 25;8 “Let them construct a sanctuary for Me, that I may dwell among them. 9″According to all that I am going to show you, as the pattern of the tabernacle and the pattern of all its furniture, just so you shall construct it.…
Joel 2;15 Blow a trumpet in Zion, Consecrate a fast, proclaim a solemn assembly, 16 Gather the people, sanctify the congregation, Assemble the elders, Gather the children and the nursing infants. Let the bridegroom come out of his chamber and the bride out of her chuppah.
Devarim 31; 9So Moses wrote this Torah and gave it to the priests, the sons of Levi who carried the ark of the covenant of the LORD, and to all the elders of Israel. 10Then Moses commanded them, saying, “At the end of every seven years, at the time of the year of remission of debts, at the Feast of Booths, 11when all Israel comes to appear before the LORD your God at the place which He will choose, you shall read this Torah in front of all Israel in their hearing. 12“Assemble the people, the men and the women and children and the alien who is in your town, so that they may hear (shema) and learn and fear the LORD your God, and be careful to observe all the words of this Torah. 13“Their children, who have not known, will hear and learn to fear the LORD your God, as long as you live on the land which you are about to cross the Jordan to possess.”
John 1; 6There came a man who was sent from God. His name was John. 7He came as a witness to testify about the Light, so that through him everyone might believe. 8He himself was not the Light, but he came to testify about the Light. 9The true Light who gives light to every man was coming into the world. 10He was in the world, and though the world was made through Him, the world did not recognize Him. 11He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him. 12 But to all who did receive Him, to those who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God— 13children born not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but born of God.14 The Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us. We have seen His glory, the glory of the one and only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.
Each one of us daily wars with the good Godly self which is attached to God and the ruddy worldly, superficial, immediate gratification seeking side…inside of us. Before Ya’acov has his face to face with the man whom he battled with from the womb, he comes to a point in his life where he has to step away from his “self preservation”. In Laban’s house Ya’acov amassed wives, children, and wealth. He took the leap of faith out into the unknown in order to take up his destiny (Israel’s destiny), but first he had to wrestle with the question: Who am I really? What is my Name?
B’reshit 32; 24 Then Jacob was left alone, and a man wrestled with him until daybreak. 25 When he saw that he had not prevailed against him, he touched the socket of his thigh; so the socket of Jacob’s thigh was dislocated while he wrestled with him. 26Then he said, “Let me go, for the dawn is breaking.” But he said, “I will not let you go unless you bless me.” 27 So he said to him, “What is your name?” And he said, “Jacob.” 28 He said, “Your name shall no longer be Jacob, but Israel; for you have striven with God and with men and have prevailed.” 29 Then Jacob asked him and said, “Please tell me your name.” But he said, “Why is it that you ask my name?” And he blessed him there. 30So Jacob named the place Peniel, for he said, “I have seen God face to face, yet my life has been preserved.”
Israel faces what he has been running from for so long. This is a picture of each one of us during Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur. Taking responsibility for our part in “wronging” others and for not fervently taking up the way of righteousness, in the Torah walk Hashem has designed for us. Ya’acov explains that although Esav see’s his life as full of plenty, God has blessed him with KOL- everything. Even so, headed toward Sukkot he realizes that all the wealth, and honor, and “stuff” we have amassed in this world…it slows us down.
We let go of all of these things
and arrive at Sukkot,
in order to experience Hashem.
B’reshit 33;1Then Jacob lifted his eyes and looked, and behold, Esau was coming, and four hundred men with him. So he divided the children among Leah and Rachel and the two maids… he himself passed on ahead of them and bowed down to the ground seven times, until he came near to his brother. 4Then Esau ran to meet him and embraced him, and fell on his neck and kissed him, and they wept. 5 He lifted his eyes and saw the women and the children, and said, “Who are these with you?” So he said, “The children whom God has graciously given your servant.”… 8 And he said, “What do you mean by all this company which I have met?” And he said, “To find favor in the sight of my lord.” 9 But Esau said, “I have plenty, my brother; let what you have be your own.” 10 Jacob said, “No, please, if now I have found favor in your sight, then take my present from my hand, for I see your face as one sees the face of God, and you have received me favorably. 11“Please take my gift which has been brought to you, because God has dealt graciously with me and because I have plenty (kol- ALL).” Thus he urged him and he took it. 12 Then Esau said, “Let us take our journey and go, and I will go before you.” 13 But he said to him, “My lord knows that the children are frail and that the flocks and herds which are nursing are a care to me. And if they are driven hard one day, all the flocks will die. 14“Please let my lord pass on before his servant, and I will proceed at my leisure, according to the pace of the cattle that are before me and according to the pace of the children, until I come to my lord at Seir.”…16 So Esau returned that day on his way to Seir. 17Jacob journeyed to Succoth, and built for himself a house and made booths for his livestock; therefore the place is named Succoth.
#5526 (v) sakak סָכַךְ – to weave, interweave, hedge or fence; to protect or cover over; to arm.
- Sh’mot 25:20 “The cherubim shall have their wings spread upward, covering the mercy seat with their wings and facing one another; the faces of the cherubim are to be turned toward the mercy seat.
- Sh’mot 40:3 “You shall place the ark of the testimony there, and you shall screen the ark with the veil.
- Sh’mot 40:21He brought the ark into the tabernacle, and set up a veil for the screen, and screened off the ark of the testimony, just as the LORD had commanded Moses.
- Tehillim 5:11 But let all who take refuge in You be glad, Let them ever sing for joy; And may You shelter them, that those who love Your name may exult in You.
- Tehillim 91:4 He will cover you with His pinions, and under His wings you may seek refuge; His faithfulness is a shield and bulwark.
- Tehillim 139:13 For You formed my inward parts; You wove me in my mother’s womb.
- Tehillim 140:7 “O GOD the Lord, the strength of my salvation, You have covered my head in the day of battle.
#5520 (masc n) sok סֹךְ – hut,booth,cottage,thicket,lair.
- Tehillim 27; 4 One thing I have asked from the LORD, that I shall seek: That I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, To behold the beauty of the LORD And to meditate in His temple. 5 For in the day of trouble He will conceal me in His tabernacle; In the secret place of His tent He will hide me; He will lift me up on a rock.
#5521 (fem n) sukkah סֻכָּה – a hut or lair; cot (made of leaves or branches interwoven); booth, cottage, covert, pavilion, tabernacle, tent.
(The following are all the occurrences of Sukkah in the Torah)
- B’reshit 33:17 Jacob journeyed to Succoth, and built for himself a house and made booths for his livestock; therefore the place is named Succoth.
- Vayikra 23:34 “Speak to the sons of Israel, saying, ‘On the fifteenth of this seventh month is the Feast of Booths for seven days to the LORD. (see also verse 35-41 1st day: you shall do no laborious work of any kind; the eighth day you shall have a holy convocation and present an offering by fire to the LORD; it is an assembly. You shall do no laborious work; These are the appointed times of the LORD;on the first day you shall take for yourselves the foliage of beautiful trees, palm branches and boughs of leafy trees and willows of the brook, and you shall rejoice before the LORD your God for seven days.;a perpetual statute throughout your generations.)
- Vayikra 23:42 ‘You shall live in booths for seven days; all the native-born in Israel shall live in booths, 43 so that your generations may know that I had the sons of Israel live in booths when I brought them out from the land of Egypt. I am the LORD your God.’”
- Devarim 16:13 “You shall celebrate the Feast of Booths seven days after you have gathered in from your threshing floor and your wine vat; 14 and you shall rejoice in your feast, you and your son and your daughter and your male and female servants and the Levite and the stranger and the orphan and the widow who are in your towns.15 “Seven days you shall celebrate a feast to the LORD your God in the place which the LORD chooses, because the LORD your God will bless you in all your produce and in all the work of your hands, so that you will be altogether joyful. 16 “Three times in a year all your males shall appear before the LORD your God in the place which He chooses, at the Feast of Unleavened Bread and at the Feast of Weeks and at the Feast of Booths, and they shall not appear before the LORD empty-handed. 17 “Every man shall give as he is able, according to the blessing of the LORD your God which He has given you.
- Devarim 31:10 Then Moses commanded them, saying, “At the end of every seven years, at the time of the year of remission of debts, at the Feast of Booths, 11 when all Israel comes to appear before the LORD your God at the place which He will choose, you shall read this Torah in front of all Israel in their hearing.12 “Assemble the people, the men and the women and children and the alien who is in your town, so that they may hear and learn and fear the LORD your God, and be careful to observe all the words of this Torah. 13 “Their children, who have not known, will hear and learn to fear the LORD your God, as long as you live on the land which you are about to cross the Jordan to possess.”
When does Israel head to Sukkot? After Yom Kippur: meeting Esav (the enemy- mySELF), introspection, Who am I really? Yaakov, Israel? Who have I become? After praying about life and death…now we talk about quality of life. Before we come back into the House we want to make this year with Hashem, we need first to be tuned in to the slippery slope of ‘comfort’.
We can relate Sukkot to Israel and his (our) struggle with all this physicality- working, slaving, striving…. his Yom Kippur resolution? Go to Sukkot.
“All this stuff I have…it slows me down.”
All (kol) is part of this temporary in my life…
but all (kol) comes secondary to me meeting God at Sukkot.
שכינה Shekhinah – from the root shakan שכן- “to settle, inhabit, or dwell”. The word for the Tabernacle, mishkan, is built upon the same root and is used in the sense of dwelling-place: “How beautiful are your tents, Jacob, your dwelling places, Israel!” Shekhinah refers to the dwelling or settling of divine presence, to the effect that,
while in proximity to the Shekhinah, the connection to God is more readily perceivable.
The Sukkah represents the Shkinah- the “unknown”… Marriage- the unknown
Two people in love go off not knowing what will be…
The commands of Sukkot relate us back to the time when we were willing to follow God into the wilderness where there is nothing, because we were in love…
God protected them. He will do the same for us.
Yirmeyahu 2;2 Speaks of the High degree of faith and love Israel showed Hashem, they trusted so much…
Thus God’s presence will protect them, and the Shkinah would go within them. Before the land was sown and producing they believed in His provision into the unknown. Wherever we are asked to enter a desert place, or uncharted territory…let us learn from the fact that God always remembered this trust, and weighed it against their faults.
At Sukkot God calls upon us to do two opposite things, we’re praying for rain (which represents quality of life. geshem גשם – rain; source of life, food for all living creatures, compare to: gashmius גשמיות- materialism, in contrast with spiritual concerns; “indulgence in earthly pleasures”. At the same time we are commemorating revelation (The Sukkah calls to mind and may represent the Glory Clouds Hashem provided which shielded them from the natural ‘enemies’- heat, cold. And the physical enemies- Egypt’s army.) Clouds-> spirit-> ethereal
When we walk outside of our homes to sit in the temporary abode we are testifying that
comfort is important but don’t take it to seriously;
Its necessary but it can’t be the goal in life.
At the same time we’re praying for rain we find the Torah telling us leave your comfort leave your home and the ultimately important concept is to go and hang out with God.
Ultimately this whole world is a temporary existence.
Yes we want the physical, we pray for comfort but we are not going to get carried away.
- Zechariyah 14:16 Then it will come about that any who are left of all the nations that went against Jerusalem will go up from year to year to worship the King, the LORD of hosts, and to celebrate the Feast of Booths (Sukkot).17 And it will be that whichever of the families of the earth does not go up to Jerusalem to worship the King, the LORD of hosts, there will be no rain (geshem) on them.18 If the family of Egypt does not go up or enter, then no rain (geshem) will fall on them; it will be the plague with which the LORD smites the nations who do not go up to celebrate the Feast of Booths (Sukkot).19 This will be the punishment (consequence) of Egypt, and the punishment (consequence) of all the nations who do not go up to celebrate the Feast of Booths (Sukkot).
Yom Teruah (the Feast of Trumpets) was about Past- commemorating the sacrifice of Avraham which pictured what Messiah did for us, the Shofar sound called us back to Sinai and the Gifting of the Torah, it taught us about how to fight the defeats of the past and move on. Yom Kippur (The Day of Covering- Atonement) was about Present- we looked at ourselves deeply and confessed our sins, we learned how to believe in the Mercy we have been given through the work of our Kohen Gadol (High Priest) Yeshua on our behalf.
Sukkoth is about the Future…
The nations will come to worship Hashem. The consequence of not coming for Sukkot is that God will withhold rain from his land, to remind him that there is no harvest without centering ourselves in front of our Source, our Provider. Sukkot is a picture of the end of days when the non believer realizes God is in control of everything…and he comes and prays lifney Hashem.
Sukkot is a mitzvah performed by the whole body. Walk into the sukkah, be embraced by the sukkah, be caressed by the sukkah, be surrounded by the closest experience we can have with the Shkinah in a time Hashem appointed to meet for All Time.
Once we get past the struggle between life and death (Yom Teruah/Yom Kippur)
we can come inside and find out who we really are…what we’re really all about.
What is the true goal of this life? Closeness with the Divine.
It would be nicer to be comfortable but I realize and You realize that You are the most important thing to me, in the end, all that matters and all that I have is my FAITH- the relationship with Hashem. We’re looking inside (the Sukkah) to figure out what we are really living for.
Sitting in the sukkah is the closest thing to being in the Beis Hamikdash…The Holy Temple. This is something we constructed with the intention of “meeting Hashem”, for making a place to ‘house’ His Presence. Whatever our efforts, like the first time we arrived at Sukkot in the wilderness. Hashem responds with His Glory Clouds and says, “You made the effort. I’ll do you one better.” The Tallit (prayer shawl) which represents the protective pinions (tsit tsit-commandments which we guard- shamar, but which also guard us), the wedding canopy (the Chuppah) is a larger version of this shawl, the Sukkah is like that Bridal Canopy, and the two come together to build a house together (The Holy Temple, the Mishkan). And from the House pours out the light harnessed through the depths of spiritual love and devotion, realized with all our senses and all our physicality at Sukkot.
He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty. (This Psalm speaks to us of Sukkot and the experience of it…)
I will say to the Lord, “My refuge and my fortress, My God, in whom I trust!” For it is He who delivers you from the snare of the trapper and from the deadly pestilence. He will cover you with His pinions, and under His wings you may seek refuge; His faithfulness is a shield and bulwark. You will not be afraid of the terror by night, Or of the arrow that flies by day; Of the pestilence that stalks in darkness, Or of the destruction that lays waste at noon. A thousand may fall at your side and ten thousand at your right hand, it shall not approach you. You will only look on with your eyes and see the recompense of the wicked. For you have made the Lord, my refuge, the Most High, your dwelling place. No evil will befall you, Nor will any plague come near your tent. For He will give His angels charge concerning you, to guard you in all your ways. They will bear you up in their hands, that you do not strike your foot against a stone. You will tread upon the lion and cobra, the young lion and the serpent you will trample down.“Because he has loved Me, therefore I will deliver him; I will set him on high, because he has known My name.“He will call upon Me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble; I will rescue him and honor him.“With a long life I will satisfy him and let him see My salvation.”
May you be increasingly inspired to learn the Torah of Hashem, for it was at this time of year He beckoned ALL people to learn and remember it. May you decipher by a richly indwelling Holy Spirit in your life and walk…His eternal words and how to apply them to loving Him and bringing light to the world with all your heart, soul and every physical thing you have been blessed with. May you be touched by the perfection of the still air at night, may you hear the voices of the Angels who once sang the refrain of the Sukkot commandment to rejoice and give “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among men with whom He is pleased.” At this time of year when Yeshua- the Word became flesh and Tabernacled among us. May God move into the beautifully prepared and decorated Sukkah of your heart, and may you be abundantly uplifted on your journey to discovering the real you, the contents of your heart, in trust, hope, faith and love…
Chag Sukkot Sameach!
This learning is dedicated in memory and honor of Mirjam. I took you into the Sukkah with me, and when I did…Hashem’s presence grew more evident. Thank you for continuing to bless our lives. You memory IS a blessing.
Resources: Much of this entry was learned from Rabbi Kahn, Rabbi Katz, Bill Cloud, Rabbi Sacks, and more. See Homepage and My Resources entry for a complete list of sources.
All images are property of J. Celeste Fiddes and Ariel Oliver, any copying, duplication or presentation of photos must be approved by owners. Thank you.