All Sukkos Articles
It is explained, that everything that Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur are about, Sukkos has as well. The difference between them, is that on the High Holidays, it is in a hidden way and on Sukkos, it is in a revealed way.
For example, the unity of the Jewish people. On Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, since we connect to the essence of our souls, we are essentially one. When it comes to the essence of our souls, there is no difference between the heads of the Jewish people, and the most unlettered of our folk, the essence is the same, it is actually one. Sukkos, on the other hand, the unity of the Jewish people is revealed. In this unity, the differences of the Jewish people are clearly recognizable, there are heads and common folk, but we are united and we can't do without one another.
This is seen in the mitzvah of taking of the four kinds, the lulav, esrog, Hadassim and aravos. The Midrash tells us, that they represent the four kinds of Jews. The esrog which has both taste and smell, represent those who learn Torah, which has flavor, and do mitzvahs, the aroma of Judaism. The lulov is a frond of the date palm, the date has good flavor, but it has no distinct aroma, it represents those who learn Torah, but are not so much involved in mitzvahs. The hadas is a myrtle, which has a nice fragrance, but not a pleasant taste. It represents those of us who do mitzvahs, but aren't so involved in Torah study. The Arava has no distinctive smell or taste, it represents those of us who are not so involved in Torah or mitzvahs.
The Midrash concludes, "Hashem says, 'let them all be bound together in a bundle and they will atone for each other.'"
One of the differences between the High Holidays and Sukkos, is that on Rosh Hashanah we have the shofar, and on Yom Kippur you have teshuva, and in both of them, you don't recognize the differences amongst the people, everyone is equal. However, on Sukkos the differences are clearly recognizable, yet we are together as one. And what more, we are not complete without all four kinds of Jews, just as in the mitzvah of lulav, you can have the most beautiful esrog, lulav and Hadassim, but if you are missing the aravos, you have nothing, you can't do the mitzvah.
If the esrog represents both Torah and mitzvahs, why do we say the blessing over the lulov? We say, "Al netilas lulav."
The simple reason, is because it is the tallest of the four kinds, so we say the blessing over it. But everything in Torah has layers of meaning to it, we must conclude that there is something about the lulov, that is greater than all of the other of the four. We also know that everything that is in the physical takes its form, because in its spiritual source it is that way. That means that the lulov is not only taller physically, but it has a spiritual advantage over the others as well. What does the lulov have over the rest?
Another question. All of the other items, have the smell or taste or the lack of, on their own, with the exception of the lulov, it is the date that has the flavor, not the frond. Why is the lulov different?
To understand this, we first have to understand the difference between the connection we make with Hashem through doing mitzvahs, and through Torah study. The Zohar calls the mitzvahs, "the limbs of the King," and he says about Torah, that "Torah and Hashem are entirely one."
In a body, the limbs receive life from the nefesh (the life force), and while they automatically respond to the will of the nefesh, you don't have to think "I want to move my hand," for it to move, rather, as soon as you want to move it, it moves, yet the nefesh only gives life to, and controls the limbs, but the limbs are not one with the nefesh.
The same is true about mitzvahs, they are the will of Hashem, and when we do them, we are accepting the yoke of Hashem and connecting to Him, yet by doing mitzvahs, we are not one with Hashem.
However, when one studies Torah with diligence, and grasps a Torah concept in its full length and breadth, since "The Torah and Hashem are entirely one," when you get the concept, you are understanding Hashem's wisdom, which is one with Him, so you are one with Him.
Now we can understand why we say the blessing over the lulov, because the lulov represents those of us who are Torah scholars, of course they also do the mitzvahs, that is an outcome of their Torah study, but their main focus is studying Torah, which makes them one with Hashem. So the lulov is greater than the esrog, and that is why we say the blessing over it.
This will help us understand another thing about the mitzvah of taking the four kinds. The law is that the lulov has to be at least four tefachim, one higher than the Hadassim and aravos, in order that you should be able to shake it.
When the neshama is in heaven, it is called "standing," because although it goes up level after level, it is all part of the program, and it can't leave it, it can't break free to attain a whole new level that is not part of the program. On the other hand, when the neshama is in the physical world, in the body, through doing Torah and mitzvahs, it can break free and attain infinite levels. And this yearning is expressed by the neshama in the physical, by the way we shake (shukkel) when we daven and learn Torah.
The Zohar explains why we shukkel. He says, that a neshama is like a flame of a candle. Just as the flame flickers constantly because it wants to leave the wick and connect to its source, so too, the neshama is constantly yearning to become one with its source, Hashem, and the physical expression of this, is that we shukkel.
And because, as mentioned earlier, the most intimate connection is through Torah study, we shukkel when we learn Torah. One would think that it would be the opposite, Torah study is an intellectual pursuit, it would make sense to be cold and intellectual, and that we would be completely still when studying it. However, since we are connecting with Hashem, Who is infinite, and when we do that, we are moving higher and higher, our neshamas are moved, and so, we shukkel.
This shukkeling, is not only the physical movement we do when studying, but it also the way the study of Torah works, it shukkels, there has to be constant unrest. first, he could never be happy with what he already knows. And if he is studying it correctly, he will always feel like he has only scratched the surface, and yearn to know more. Second, the way Torah is studied, is that when you first learn a part of it, you see it one way, and then when you think about it, you are filled with questions. So you learn it again, and you begin to see it from a different angle, and some of your questions are answered. Then you learn it again and again, every time gaining a new and deeper perspective, and hopefully new questions. When you learn Torah, you are constantly yearning for more.
And now we will understand why we take the lulav, which is the frond of the date palm, and not the date itself that has the flavor. Because, as mentioned above, taking the four kinds together, represents the unity of the Jewish people. In order to have unity, there is the prerequisite of humility and self nullification, if a person has a big ego or is arrogant, he will not be able to unify with others, because there is only him. The one who has to be most humble, is the one who has the highest status, the Torah scholar. The date, which has the flavor, represents the prize, the final product. The lulav is there to protect the fruit, so that it will be able to grow successfully. So the lulov is part of the means, to the date that is the end.
In Torah, having the date would mean that you already know it, that you already have it, that attitude can breed arrogance. On the other hand, the lulov represents working to get the prize, and that you you haven't reached it yet, and that breeds humility.
A Torah scholar has to be the unifier, and therefore, the most humble. He has to be a beacon of leadership, and a living example for the esrog, Hadassim and aravos Jews. And when he is, he will have a tremendous effect on them, and when he shukkels, when he goes the extra mile, he takes the others with him, just as when you shake the lulav, all the rest of the four kinds are shaken as well.
On a deeper level, at different times, we are all a lulav, an etrog, a hadas or an arava. At those special moments that we are at the level of the lulov, we should put in the effort so that it will raise the other parts of you. So when you are studying Torah, doing mitzvahs, and even when you are doing neither, meaning, when you are working, eating, exercising, etc., it is all for Hashem.
This Sukkos, when we shake the lulav, we should see the value of every Jew, but we should strive for those lulav moments, and raise the entirety of ourselves. If we do, we will be a living example for our brothers and sisters, raising them up as well. This way, we will surely merit to enter the ultimate Sukka, the Sukka of David, the Beis Hamikdash, with the coming of Moshiach. May he come soon.