The Festival of Sukkos you should make for yourself when you gather in your grain and your wine. (Devarim 16:13)
Why does the Holiday of Sukkos come so closely after Yom Kippur? We have a custom to doing something towards the construction of the Sukkah immediately after Yom Kippur. What’s the reason for that?
It’s not for no reason that for a bride and groom, after the dating period has ended and they are already heading to the wedding, there is a volley of gift giving; a ring, a Tallis, a bracelet, a set of Talmud.
So too we find that with Avraham Avinu when he was informed about HASHEM’s desire for him to deliver his son at the Akeida, Avraham Avinu chopped wood and loaded a donkey even though he had servants prepared to do these things and it was way below his dignity as a “Prince of G-d”. Rashi explains that “love upsets the order of things”, in other words love, overpowering love will do that to you.
In a cryptic verse in Shir HaShirim, Shlomo HaMelech offers some very practical advice, “I adjure you, O daughters of Jerusalem, by the gazelles or by the hinds of the field, that you neither awaken nor arouse the love while it is desirous. (Shir HaShirim 2:7)
It’s hard to translate these words without losing most of the message. The word for desire is “ShTechPatz” – from the Hebrew root, “CHOFETZ”, which means desire. All during the Ten Days of Tesvhuvah we inserted the words and referred to HASHEM as a “Melech Chofetz B’CHaim, a King Who desires life!”
The Ramban learns an important lesson from this expression, which is mentioned three times in Shir HaShirim. There are times when we are gifted with inspiration. Inspiration is like a suntan. After a while it fades. How does one lock in those feelings of spiritual elevation? The word Chofetz – desire, is comprised of the same letters and is intimately related to the Hebrew word, “CHAIFETZ” – object. When feelings of love are present, when there is a desire to come closer to the Beloved, produce a present. Take that Chofetz and turn it into a Chaifetz!
Concretize, anchor, realize, demonstrate, and memorialize that feeling by putting it into an action. Write a check, Write a letter. Compose a song. Bake a cake. Build a Sukkah, a dwelling place and meeting place for you and HASHEM.
Therefore it’s no mistake that at this time of the year Jewish men all over the planet and for many thousands of years shed their white angelic garb of Yom Kippur and changed overnight into lumberjacks and amateur carpenters for a few days. It’s because we stood like angel for a whole day and were treated to even a momentary taste of holiness, which aroused a burning desire for even more, because we experienced spiritual heights that now we seek to land our dreams.
It’s with a Lulov and Esrog in hand, surrounded by and immersed in the holy environs of a Sukkah, that we honor those newly discovered feelings of love and devotion to the Creator of the Universe in concrete terms, taking moments of inspiration and expressing them. Like that Challah that’s baked with love! The love is so real you can smell it and you can taste it. That’s all the holy business of making it real!