Sukkot 5771 Anthology

Posted by Aryeh ben Avraham | Labels: , , , , , , , , , , , , | Posted On Sunday, 19 September 2010 at 15:57

Anthology of the Torah Reading, Sukkot 5771


The Zohar

Teachings from the primary text of Kabbala, "The Book of Shining Light".

From the teachings of Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai; translation & commentary by Shmuel Simcha Treister.

Nesting Time

"If a bird's nest chances to be before you in any tree or on the ground as you travel, whether there are chicks or eggs"

Those Neshamot which emanate from the aspect of the higher Shechina are called "chicks". Those whose Nefesh emanates from the lower Shechina are called "eggs". This is the secret of the verse we read on Friday night as we are about to receive the extra Neshama: "Who spreads his tabernacle [in Hebrew, "sukkat"] of peace over us." This is the Higher Mother [Imma Ilaah, related to bina, associated with the Shechina], which is the sukka of peace, a protective covering above us.

It is also possible to interpret the verse "If a bird's nest chances to be before you" as referring to the sukka, which is Higher Mother [Imma Ilaah]. This is the surrounding light represented by the branches of the sukka's roof. "In any tree" relates to the 4 species as is written, "And you shall take on the first day, the fruit of a citrus tree, branches of palm trees, etc."

The Holy Ari

Outstanding Kabbalist of the last 1800 years; Leader of the Safed circle of mystics.

Translated and edited from the Writings of the Ari as recorded by Rabbi Chaim Vital by Baruch Emanuel Erdstein.

Ceilings of Consciousness

Perhaps the most conspicuous of the many mitzvot connected to the holiday of Sukkot is the sukkah (booth) in which we dwell for the entire holiday and for which the festival itself is named. While the explicit reason for constructing the sukkah is to recall the miraculous exodus from Egypt and G-d's shelter as we traveled through the Sinai Desert, the Ari explains that the sukkah serves as a model of the spiritual worlds and conduit for expanded consciousness, channeling divine benevolence into the Lower Realms.

One of the elements necessary for a valid sukkah is the "schach", the roof of the sukkah, made of organic natural materials resting upon the walls. Chassidic literature teaches that the words "sukkah", as well as "schach", hint at the phrase "perceiving with divine inspiration", used to describe our matriarch Sarah, also known as "Isca" (from the same root letters). The Ari teaches that the schach of a kosher sukkah serves as the medium through which we absorb supernal wisdom and understanding.

Mystical Classics

From the teachings of Rabbi Moshe Alshich; adapted from Torat Moshe by Eliyahu Munk.

A Holiday for G-d

There is a basic difference between Sukkot and Passover and Shavuot. The latter two denote historic events which had already taken place and had been experienced by the people whom Moses addressed. At the time of the first Sukkot festival, the events being celebrated had not taken place yet.

Both Passover and Shavuot represent a reward to Israel, who had displayed dedication at the Exodus, and who had accepted the yoke of the Torah. These festivals are "for G-d", in that they represent justification for G-d who had argued that man was worth creating because Israel would display such a lofty moral level.

The Sukkot festival is a celebration for G-d, then also of G-d's greatest victory, the fact that Israel had recovered from the stain on its soul due to the Golden Calf episode. We rejoice that G-d is happy and has seen His judgment proven right.

Chasidic Masters

By Binyomin Adilman.

The High Humble Willow

What is the nature of the aravot (willow branches) that are taken together with the other species during the first 6 days of Sukkot and on the last day taken by itself, meriting a holiday of its own - Hoshana Rabba?

The sages explained that the four species represent four different types of Jews: The etrog (citron) which has both a good taste and fragrance, represents one who possesses both Torah learning and mitzvot. The lulav (palm branch) which has a good taste (i.e. dates) but no fragrance, represents one who possesses Torah learning but has no mitzvot to his credit. The hadassim (myrtle twigs), which have fragrance but not a good taste, represent one who has mitzvot but no Torah learning. The aravot, which have neither taste nor fragrance, represent the one who lacks both Torah and mitzvot.

At the beginning of the festival, the arava is taken each day, bound together with the other species. This way, the person "without taste or smell" might be influenced by those who are already on a higher spiritual level and thereby become elevated through contact with them. On the other hand, one who has "taste and smell", when he comes into contact with the willow (i.e. the one without "taste and smell") will be reminded of the inherent lowliness of man, and will be seized by waves of humility. He will take a good look at himself, be humbled, and deepen the teshuva he began in Elul.

As a person perfects his personal humility, G-d at the same time raises him up. This is Hoshana Rabba.

Contemporary Kabbalists

Adapted from the teachings of the Lubavitcher Rebbe by Yehoshua Metzinger.

A Crown of Supernal Joy

The main concept of Simchat Torah is simcha, or joy, as is indicated by the name of the holiday. It is from this special day that we derive all our happiness for the entire year as it is on this day that the Jewish People brings down a higher aspect of Torah within the Torah itself, a joy which crowns the Torah from the aspect of keter. Keter is an encompassing power which surrounds the Torah, and is on a higher level than learning, which penetrates the Torah and is associated with the concept of inwardness.

Keter is associated with closeness to G-d and closeness with higher levels, since, as it descends, each level settles closely, like a crown, on the "head" of the lower level. However, keter is higher relative to the lower levels only; within keter itself, there are no levels at all, since it is beyond levels and is associated with Ein Sof. It is from keter, beyond levels of nourishment, distance and connection, that we draw simcha on Simchat Torah, adding a new dimension to the Torah and providing supernal joy for the entire year.

Ascent Lights

By Rabbi Shaul Yosef Leiter.

An All-Encompassing Mitzva

The Lubavitcher Rebbe writes that from the commandment of sukka we learn that even our everyday, mundane affairs must be connected to G-d. Sukkot is soon after Yom Kippur. The word for the service of the High Priest in the Holy of Holies on Yom Kippur is "avoda", the same word used to describe daily work. We should regard our every day activities as potentially holy as the actions of the High Priest in the Holy of Holies.

The mitzvah of sukka embodies this concept. Whether sitting, eating, sleeping, etc., in a sukka, a Jew is entirely enveloped by the mitzva.

Another aspect of being surrounded by the mitzvah of sukka is that it is compared to being hugged by G-d. When hugging someone, you accept even the person's back. the front of the body is usually the focus of attention, not the back. The back is the part of themselves they do not usually share with others. But it is hugging, which also involves the back, that expresses a level of total and unconditional love. Through G-d accepting even all our seemingly insignificant and physical actions in the sukka, as most holy, He is a spiritually "hugging" us.

Mystic Story

Wonders and Inspiration from Kabbalists, Chasidic Rebbes, remarkable Jews.

By Yerachmiel Tilles

The Unpopular Rebbe

He trudged home alone, saddened and a bit shaken up at the realization that he might never have another guest, not even for the special festive meal of the First Night of Sukkot.

Laws and Customs

By By the Lubavitcher Rebbe; translated by Eliyahu Touger.

The Infinite and Unlimited Soul

The fulfillment of the mitzvah of the Four Species involves moving the bundle of four species to the six directions - left, right, front, above, below, and back - three times each. In addition, the lulav, the palm branch, is also shaken.

Souls in the spiritual realms are described as "standing", for they are rooted to a single level. By descending to the plane of the physical and devoting itself to the observance of the Torah and its mitzvot, a soul attains the potential for progress, and indeed, in an unlimited manner. This potential is demonstrated in a Jew's shaking back and forth during prayer and Torah study.

In fact, the Zohar states that a Jew shakes during prayer because "the soul of man is the candle of G-d". Just as a candle flickers back and forth because it is drawn to its source, so too the soul shakes during Torah study, for Torah study inspires a soul and connects it to its spiritual source.

Since the ultimate connection with G-d is achieved through Torah study, it is Torah study that generates the potential for unbounded progress. For this reason, the lulav, which is identified with the study of the Torah, is shaken.


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