Erev Shabbos-Sukkos 5781

A gitten erev Shabbos v’Yom Tov! We’re getting closer to Sukkos as the clock ticks by, to the time known as “Z’man Simchoseinu,” the Time of our Joy. It would be easy to ask why we should be happy to leave our houses and go live in a (likely poorly constructed) hut for a week.

One understanding of this mitzvah to rejoice in Sukkos is in regards to the idea of rejoicing with the Shechinah. We remember what a wonderful thing it was to live between the Aneinei HaKovod (Clouds of Honor/Glory) and to be in a state of constant revelation and Daas of the Shechinah, as it was until the Cheit HaEigel (Golden Calf Sin) and we lost this, as described in Maseches Sotah. The remembrance of this through the sukkah itself is expressed by the Arizal in Shaar HaKavannos, in which he describes how the sukkah in itself is a structure which draws down the Ohr Makif (Surrounding Light) of the Zair Anpin and Nukvah, Nukvah is the Shechina Tata’a (Lower Shechinah aka Malchus) which is crowned by the s’chach, which corresponds to the Keser of Zair Anpin. It is brought in the name of the Baal Shem Tov in Tzavaas HaRivash that when davening the best thing to do is to “imagine” that the Shechinah is directly in front of you, and this will help bring you to great d’vekus. So for living in a structure which is completely surrounded by the Light of the Shechinah it shouldn’t be even more of this aspect? What greater joy could there be than to be surrounded by the Shechinah HaKedosha, which is exactly what we are when sitting in the sukkah?!

From there we take our Arba Minim and shake them in the six directions in order to draw down the benevolent forces of Chesed into our personal sphere and the entire world; projecting them forth when shaking the Minim outward, and drawing them back in when bringing these species back to our chest. When doing this mitzvah in the sukkah, we essentially exist in a microcosmic expression of the entire Malchus, seeing that a sukkah ideally should have at least three walls, three being the basic number of dimensions necessary for physical existence, along with the number of legs needed for a table or chair to stand. That we have a fourth wall (ideally) shows the extra spiritual dimension that is lacking for plain Creations, but is present for humans.

One aspect of considering the sukkah as representing Malchus is the fact that physical existence is very difficult. There are different opinions as to how we view Malchus, whether it is the Shechinah as manifested in our lower world, or the manifested world in and of itself. They are not mutually exclusive, but for our purposes, we shall approach Malchus in its lowest aspect as the manifested world.

Living in corporeal reality is difficult much of the time. It says in Maseches Chagigah that if someone doesn’t experience Hester Ponim (Concealment of Hashem’s Face) that is a sign their yichus (lineage) could be wrong and they’re not really part of Klal Yisroel. However, we know from the Toras HaBaal Shem as explained according to all rebbeim following this mesorah, that the main thing is to be b’simcha, to rejoice in serving Hashem and to serve Hashem through our experience in this world, whether good or “bad,” just like it says in Maseches Brochos that we have to bless Hashem for the bad just as the good. This idea can be understood through what R’ Nachman says that the purpose of everything is ultimately good. When we do any action in this world it causes great impact in Shomayim, as said in the name of the Baal Shem Tov, that if every Yid knew what a great impact every action has Above, Moshiach would come already. This impact is greater magnified when done with consciousness, having the general knowledge that our actions impact Heaven and how that occurs, along with declaring our actions, thoughts, words, and feelings to the Yichud Kudsha B’rich Hu U’Sh’chintei (Unification of the Holy Blessed One and His Shechinah).

So dwelling in a Sukkah for seven days and doing the mitzvah of taking Arba Minim, which draws down the Chasodim (benevolent forces) of each of the seven lower Sefiros, and reflects different phases of the relation between Hashem and His Shechinah according to the Arizal, teaches us wonderful things about our avodah in daily life. Rather than thinking that reality is just plain difficult and there’s no point to it, every action we do is intrinsically powerful and holy, it simply takes the awareness of this to make it something real and observable. Even amidst the troubles of corporeal life we must remember that ultimately even Malchus is crowned with Keser, the highest Sefirah, which should help us attain great joy and realization that ultimately everything is from and for Hashem Yisborach. We must rejoice with everything He gives us wherever we are in life, and accompany this with yearning for d’veikus with Him, just like the Shechinah.

A git kvittel, a frailichen Shabbos and a lechtige Yom Tov!

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