A Perfect Cycle
Sukkot comes at the exact right time of the year, psychologically and
emotionally speaking. If it were not for the advent of Sukkot and all of
the preparations involved regarding this festival of joy and happiness, we
would all be very depressed at having to climb down from the pinnacle of
Yom Kippur to everyday mundane existence.
The Torah allows us to contemplate our future year with a sense of
happiness and satisfaction. The sukkah signifies the protection that the
Lord will provide us with for the whole coming year. Though the actual
sukkah may be small and relatively flimsy as compared to our homes, it
nevertheless symbolizes faith, serenity and confidence in the eternity of
Israel and its Torah.
The four species of vegetation that are an integral part of Sukkot
reinforce our appreciation of the beauty of God’s world. It reminds us
that the world can be a Garden of Eden and we should endeavor not to
destroy it or be expelled from it.
The different species represent the harmony of nature, the flash of its
color and its built in symbiotic nature. Whereas pagans worshipped nature,
Judaism stressed its role as being one of the great wonders of God’s
Abraham had it right when he stated that people wonder at the magnificence
of a beautiful building but ignore the genius of the architect that
designed it. Judaism, while always impressed by the wonder of the building
itself, always looks intently to recognize and acknowledge the architect
Sukkot helps remind us of the necessity to always search for that
architect in all of the facets of our lives and world.
Sukkot also reveals clearly our dependence upon Heaven for rain – for
water. Without water in abundance, life cannot function and grow. The
Torah tells us that the Lord sent us purposely into a land where water is
a precious commodity. There are no great rivers or giant lakes that appear
on the landscape of the Land of Israel. We are therefore dependent on the
winter season’s rains.
We pray on Sukkot for those rains to be abundant, gentle and saturating.
Rain has a cleansing effect not only on the air we breathe but on the life
spirit that exists within us. Hence its deep association with the joy of
Rain and water also symbolize Torah and purification. Moshe, in his final
oration to Israel, states that his words of Torah should be felt as gentle
rain and dew descending on the Holy Land. The prophet Yeshayahu compares
Torah to water as does King David in Tehillim.
The holiday of Sukkot reinforces this connection with its own link to
Simchat Torah, the day that marks the conclusion of this great and noble
holiday period. For as obvious as it is that the Land of Israel cannot
survive and prosper without water, so too the people of Israel will be
unable to prosper and survive without an attachment to Torah, its
commandments and values. The message of Sukkot is the perfect conclusion
to the spirituality of Yom Kippur.
Rabbi Berel Wein
Rabbi Berel Wein- Jewish historian, author and international lecturer offers a complete selection of CDs, audio tapes, video tapes, DVDs, and books on Jewish history at www.rabbiwein.com