of the Torah Reading
To be read on First Day of Sukkot 15 Tishrei 5784 /Sept. 30,
Sukkot 1 - Shabbat: Leviticus 22:26 - 23:44
Sukkot 1 - Shabbat: Numbers 29:12-16
Rabbi Shaul Yosef Leiter, Director of Ascent
(for a free weekly email subscription, click
This coming Shabbat begins the holiday of Sukkot. On Sukkot,
we have two specific, different commandments: 1) dwelling in a sukka
(hut), and 2) taking of the four species (palm frond - lulav, citron
- esrog, myrtle branch - hadas, and willow branch - arava).
Nevertheless, the holiday is named Sukkot, and not "the holiday of
the four species" or some other general name.
The reason is the special characteristics of the sukka, which
the mitzva of the four species does not have. First, the mitzva
of sukka begins as soon as the holiday begins, whereas we perform
the mitzva of the four species only the following morning (and
this year, as we are forbidden to perform it on Shabbat, and must wait
until Sunday morning). Secondly, the sukka itself must be built
before the holiday begins, while the four species can be tied together
on the holiday itself. Thirdly, each time we eat in the sukka we
make the blessing, "
You have sanctified us with Your commandments,
and commanded us to sit in the sukka." If we leave the sukka
for anything other than a short time, and we want to eat there, we are
obligated to make the blessing again. We fulfill the commandment of sitting
in the sukka many times a day, yet having performed the mitzva
of the four species once, we cannot do so again until the next day. Last
but not least, we fulfill the commandment of sukka with our entire
body being located in the sukka, as opposed to the four species
which we hold only with our hands.
The Lubavitcher Rebbe writes that from the commandment of sukka,
we learn that everything a Jewish person does (not just learning Torah
or fulfilling the commandments), 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".
This is the same word used to describe the daily work that each of us
does to make a living: avoda. 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. Everything, even answering a phone call, in the
sukka becomes part of the mitzva! The mundane reaches its
potential in becoming holy!
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. People wear jewelry, a tie, etc. on the
front side of their body, because the front 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.
Sukkot follows Rosh Hashanah, the Ten Days of Repentance, and Yom Kippur.
During these preceding days we are not just being judged for our actions
of the past year, we are also checking to see if we have met our expectations
for the new year. It is appropriate that immediately following the High
Holidays should come the holiday of Sukkot, when we dedicate all of our
actions, unconditionally and without exception, to the Holy One Blessed
Be He for the entire coming year.
When we sit in a sukka, our entire body and all of its actions
become sanctified. When we make every mundane action in our lives into
an act of holiness, we are making the entire world into a sukka,
a dwelling place for the Almighty, uniting every part of the creation
in the service of G-d. It is easy to be happy while fulfilling a mitzva
when you know even your small individual action is accomplishing something
very, very big.
Chag Sameach and Shabbat Shalom, Shaul!
THE SAGES OF KABBALAH ON KabbalaOnline.org
an overview of the recommended articles in the columns:
Holy Zohar, Holy Ari, Mystic Classics, Chasidic Masters, Contemporary
Kabbalists, and more,
click to Sukkot
The Holy Ari
By Rabbi Yitzchak Luria
(from the Writings of the Ari as recorded by Rabbi Chaim Vital); translated
and edited by Baruch Emanuel Erdstein
While the explicit
reason for dwelling in a sukkah during the holiday of Sukkot is to commemorate
the miraculous exodus from Egypt and G-d's shelter as we traveled through
the 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.
To continue, click
For a free email subscription to our weekly anthology,
For another taste of recommended Kabbalah articles on a variety of subjects,
click to the
weekly Kabbalah magazine
Back to Top