Monday, 8 October 2012

The Succah - Trust in God

                                                                                     
‘You shall dwell in booths for seven days… So that your generations will know that I caused the children of Israel to dwell in booths when I took them out of the land of Egypt…’  Leviticus 23:42-43

Why do we sit in the succah for seven days?

Does the succah remind us of the simple desert huts within which the Hebrews lived during their various desert encampments, primitive dwelling places that did not always protect from the torrid heat by day and the freezing cold by night?

Or rather, is the succah a symbol of the clouds of glory, the rays of splendour by which the Divine Presence encompassed the Hebrew nomads?     
                                                                                                                     
                                                                    
The answer is in Genesis 2.7, which describes the Creation of the first human being, which occurred on Rosh HaShanah:
‘And the LORD God formed the human being of dust from the earth and He breathed into his nostrils the breath of life and the human being became a living creature.’ Genesis 2.7

Therefore, that part of God within each of us is the Breath of God which He exhaled.

Genesis 2.7 concludes with the words ‘and the human being became a living creature’. Onkeles commentates that this means ‘a communicating spirit.’

Therefore, each human being has the potential:
1.      to be a carrier of the very Breath of the Divine, and
2.      he has the ability to transcend himself and his generation by means of the spoken and written word, and
3.      he can influence God by his prayers and his actions.

The succah appears to be a flimsy structure that hardly protects against oppressive heat, and is not at all impervious to rains and winds.

But…
1.      when we bring into the succah the Special Guests; ushpizin, our Patriarchs, Moses, Aaron, Joseph and King David, and
2.   when we sanctify the succah with blessings over the four species, kiddush wine, songs of praise, and words of Torah which accompany our Succot meals, and most of all   
3.   when we pour the water around the succah, we remember when Jesus cried out, ‘He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’…and we realise that Jesus was quoting and fulfilling Isaiah 12.6, that: The Holy One of Israel in your midst…then
4.      we can embark on a new year with confidence: 'I said the the man who stood at the gate of the year, 'Give me a light that I may tread safely into the unknown. And he replied, Go out into the darkness, and put your hand into the Hand of God. That shall be to you better than light and safer than a known way.'.....because
5.   Jesus said, 'I AM the Light of the world. He who follows me shall not walk in darkness, but have the Light of Life.'

So, at the end if this season of the High Holy Days I pray that:
The LORD will bless you and keep you in this new year;
The LORD will make His face shine upon you, and be gracious to you;
The LORD will lift up the Light of His countenance upon you, and give you His peace, in the Name of our Saviour, Redeemer, and Deliverer, Jesus our Messiah. Amen                                      

Note: I  have quoted from some of Rabbi Shlomo Riskin’s comments on Succot, that he wrote in an article for the Jerusalem Post....but my comments are my responsibility!

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