Sukkos 2018: Leaving Your Comfort Zone
After the high holidays of Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kippur we have the holiday of Sukkos.
Sukkos in the Torah is called “zman simchaseinu”, a time of happiness, as there is an extra special mitzvah to be joyous on these days. On Sukkos we construct temporary huts called “sukkahs” with four walls and a roof typically made of tree branches or even wood or bamboo. We are required to dwell in the sukkah for the term of the holiday. The sukkahs are to remind us how Hashem protected the people while they travelled for forty years in the desert (either in actual makeshift huts, or with the Clouds of Glory).
The sequence of sukkos is set up as follows. There are two days of yom tov in which we are required to dwell in our sukkahs and take the four species (lulav, esrog, hadasim, and aravos) while still observing the laws similar to that of Shabbos. Then there are intermediate days called “chol hamoed” where one is permitted to “work” under certain circumstances. Then the festivals are ramped up right at the end with the last three days of Hoshana Rabah, Shemini Atzeres, and Simchas Torah. At the end of all seven/eight days we will have hopefully reached colossal levels of spirituality. Not only have our personal slates been wiped clean on Yom Kippur but we have also performed so many mitzvos in such a short amount of time.
Rabbi Ephraim Wachsman (Rosh Yeshiva in Monsey, NY) says, on Yom Kippur we dress in all white kittels (robes) to emulate the angels in Heaven. Yet after the holidays we take them off. Why? Because at that point, after all our work davening, our transcendence lifts us to a plato where the angels try to be like us. Incredible!
However, this level of purity doesn't come overnight.
There is a classic question asked by the great Rabbis; Why do we build sukkahs in month of Tishrei instead of in the month of Nissan when the Jews left Egypt, travelled in the desert, and lived sukkahs?? Wouldn’t it make more sense for us to celebrate and commemorate Sukkos then? Especially because Pesach is in the spring and we celebrate Sukkos at the end of the summer, a time when it starts getting cold again?
The reason is because the mitzvah of Sukkos is purely for Hashem. We leave the comfort of our homes to live in these someone decrepit, rickety, artificial homes. We eat and even sleep in them solely for the purpose of the mitzvah. We do it because Hashem said so. While the rest of the world around us is packing up their beach chairs, tents, and outdoor furniture for the season, we build sukkahs and move outside.
It is this very act of leaving our homes that adds an additional boost of holiness to our already climbing status. When we take ourselves out of our nice comfortable homes to experience the joy of the sukkah we show Hashem that we understand He always has been and always will be our only source of protection.
It is said, even if a person was completely lackadaisical in his efforts on Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kippur, the judgement is not issued and filed until after Sukkos. The letter may have been written and even sealed, but it isn't delivered yet. Sometimes all it takes is a little push outside of one’s comfort zone to really find that inner inspiration you were looking for.
May we all merit to finish out this holiday season with strength and joy and merit to have an incredible upcoming year filled with only spiritual growth and simcha! -Amen!
Have a wonderful and inspirational Yom Tov!
Maverick V. Peters