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Shabbat Chol HaMoed Sukkah Meditation:"Within the Glorious Clouds of Divine Embrace" Click here
The Sukkah – An Emunah Recharging Structure
In the Shade of Emunah
In the Divine Embrace
The Torah emphasizes the mitzvah to live in the Sukkah during the seven days of Sukkot in order to recall how Hashem protected the children of Israel in Sukkot when He delivered us from Egypt. The word for Sukkot is written three times in the following Torah verses. You may notice that twice the word Sukkah is lacking the vav, and once it is written with the vav.
בַּסֻּכֹּת תֵּשְׁבוּ שִׁבְעַת יָמִים כָּל הָאֶזְרָח בְּיִשְׂרָאֵל יֵשְׁבוּ בַּסֻּכֹּת: לְמַעַן יֵדְעוּ דֹרֹתֵיכֶם כִּי בַסֻּכּוֹת הוֹשַׁבְתִּי אֶת בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל בְּהוֹצִיאִי אוֹתָם מֵאֶרֶץ מִצְרָיִם אֲנִי הָשֵׁם אֱלֹהֵיכֶםYou shall dwell in the Sukkah for seven days, all the inhabitants of Israel shall dwell in Sukkot, in order that your generations shall know that I made the children of Israel dwell in Sukkot when I took them out of Egypt, I am Hashem your G-d (Vayikra 23:42-43).
The walls of the Sukkah representing the Clouds of Glory correspond to the Surrounding Lights (Ohr Makif). Our Surrounding Light effects our protection. Having powerful and high quality Surrounding Lights will assure us to always be in the right place at the right time. B’nai Yissaschar explains that according to Arizal there exist a Surrounding Light which only surrounds the influencer (masculine) and another kind of Surrounding Light which surrounds the receiver (feminine) alone. These two Surrounding Lights correspond to the two times Sukkot is spelled without the vav. Yet, there is also a Surrounding Light which surrounds both the masculine and feminine together, this is the secret of “His right hand embraces me” (Shir Hashirim 2:6), which corresponds to the one time when Sukkot is spelled complete with the vav. When the word סוכה/Sukkah is spelled with the vav, its gematria (numerical value) is 91, which correspond to the unification of the masculine name of Hashem (yud/kei/vav/kei) (26), and the feminine name of Hashem Adnut (alef/dalet/nun/yud) (65), (26+65=91). The unification of these two aspects of Hashem is the secret of the embrace. Following the Divine hug there is a cleaving of spirits one to the other. Therefore, establishing the mitzvah of Sukkah fully (with the vav) offers the ability to receive Ruach Hakodesh (Divine Inspiration). It is known that the spirit of prophesy comes only to someone who is filled with simchah (happiness) (Rambam, Hilchot Yesodei HaTorah 7:4). This fits in with the great happiness attributed to the holiday of Sukkot more than any other holiday, as there is no greater happiness than the unification of male and female.
The Third Eye of the Sukkah
Sukkot is the most spiritual healing holiday abundant with lights of emunah and Divine Inspiration. This is even alluded in the name for the Sukkah which means to see with Divine Inspiration.
ואמר ר' יצחק יסכה זו שרה ולמה נקרא שמה יסכה שסוכה ברוח הקדשRabbi Yitzchak said, Yiskah that is Sarah. Why was her name called Yiskah because she would see (סוכה/socha) with Divine Inspiration (Yalkut Shimoni Bereishit 11:62).
Also the Hebrew name of the roof of the Sukkah – which is not really a roof at all is סכך/sechach, from the same root of סוכה/socha – see with Divine Inspiration. When we remove the physical security of a solid roof over our head, we open ourselves to spiritual security and emunah in the One Above Who watches over us perpetually.
Whereas the Sukkah endow us with Surrounding Lights, we shake the Lulav with its bunch in order to imbue ourselves with Inner Light (Ohr Penimi). The Lulav transmits Inner Lights into our spine, the Etrog into our heart, the Aravot (willow branches) into our lips, this is why there are two Aravot. Likewise, the Hadassim (myrtle) conveys inner lights into our eyes. Rabbi Fanger asks, “Why are there three Hadassim? Do we have three eyes?” Yes, indeed during Sukkot we learn to see with our third eye of Divine Inspiration.
Shaking Us Back to Life
Emerging out of Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur alive and kicking, we shake the Lulav three times in each of the six directions, altogether 18 shakings according to the numerical value of חי/chai – life. The Lulav is the catalyst to actualize our Inner Light, which determines our sense of achievement, our financial state, our health and life-force for the year to come.
Actually, the לולב/Lulav itself has the numerical value of 68, which equals the gematria of חיים/chaim – life. Hashem is the source of our life, the more we cleave to Him, the more alive we will be. The Lulav with its bunch represents the Name of Hashem Havayah, which means existence. Each of the Four Species correspond to a letter in Hashem’s four lettered name and thus imbues us with His life energy. The yud corresponds to the myrtle branches of our eyes. The first hei corresponds to the willows of our lips. The vav corresponds the straight lulav spine, and the final hei to the etrog of our heart. As women, who are exempt from shaking the Lulav, we can enliven our spine in jubilant dance, open our third eye in contemplative meditation and break into joyful song with our lips, allowing the love to pour out of our heart. When we are in love and nurture our relationships with family and friends, we feel the most alive.
The Vapor of Shalom
And in the merit of Aharon I surrounded you within the Clouds of Glory as it says: “He spreads a cloud for a covering; and a fire to give light in the night” (Tehillim 105:39). There were seven clouds, above, below, at the four sides, and one before them which would kill snakes and scorpions, straighten the mountains and the valleys for them, and burn the thorns. They would bring up smoke and all the kings of the east and the west would see it, and the nations of the world would say “Who is this coming out of the wilderness like columns of smoke...” (Shir Hashirim 3:6), (Midrash Tanchuma, Bamidbar, Chapter 2).
What is the connection between Aharon and the Clouds of Glory, why are they in his Merit?
Aharon is known for his love of the Jewish people, he would love shalom and pursue shalom (Pirkei Avot 1:12). On Yom Kippur Aharon would enter the Holy of Holies and burn the incense. From this incense rose the Clouds of Glory that protected the children of Israel. In Siberia, tells the Rabbi of Ruszin, when two people hated one another the vapor from their mouth would never mix, each one would take off in a different direction. However, when two people love one another the vapor of their breath mix together to became one. When Aharon was alive, people loved each other so much and gave so much כבוד/kavod (respect) to one another, so that the vapor of their breath mixed together and becameענני כבוד /Ananei Kavod – Clouds of Glory. This is why there is so much love in the air on Sukkot (Rav Shlomo Carlibach, Lev Hashamayim pp. 278-279).
The Clouds of Emunah
In the wilderness Hashem bestowed us with three good gifts, the manna in the merit of Moshe, the well in the merit of Miriam and the Clouds of Glory in the merit of Aharon (Midrash Vayikra Rabbah 27:6). Why do we not have a holiday celebrating the manna or the well? Why do we only commemorate the Clouds of Glory during the Festival of Sukkot? Perhaps it is because the protecting Clouds of Glory, representing Hashem’s embrace express Hashem’s great love for us. The holiday of Sukkot thus celebrates tuning in to the perpetual steadfast love of Hashem. Being permeated with Hashem’s love in the Sukkah, strengthens our faith in ourselves, in other people and amplifies our emunah. The Clouds of Glory not only teach us to believe how we are always surrounded by Hashem’s love and protection, they moreover strengthen our emunah in the final redemption.
שמאלו תחת לראשי זו סוכה וימינו תחבקני זה ענן שכינה לעתיד לבא“His left hand below my head” (Shir Hashirim 2:6) –This is the Sukkah. “And his right hand embraces me.” This is the cloud of the Shechina in the future (Midrash Rabah Shir Hashirim 2:19).
May we merit to experience the Divine Embrace this Sukkot and during the Final Redemption!