SUKKOS: Following G-d into the Wilderness
'Thus said G-d: 'I recall...the kindness of your youth, the love of your nuptials,
your following Me into the Wilderness, into an unsown land. Israel is holy to
G-d...' (Jeremiah: 2, 2-3)
Tishrei - the Ladder Up
The month of Tishrei is filled with holidays, and each provides a gateway to a unique spiritual potential. As we progress through
the month, we are also moving step by step up the ladder of rebirth, renewal and redemption.
The month begins with Rosh Hashana, when we choose G-d as our King. Through this
act of choosing, we bring an entirely new level of divine energy into the world and take another
giant step toward our common destiny.
Then comes Yom Kippur. where we are given the opportunity to choose ourselves. In
admitting and regretting our shortcomings, we wipe away the failures of the past and make way
for a new, more purposeful and authentic future - one that is a truer expression of who
we really are.
Yom Kippur frees us to connect with our essence. Through acknowledging that our all-too-human
struggles have stood in the way of our larger potential, we automatically reconnect with that
potential. We create a clear uncluttered space that allows us to live into a future unencumbered
by the failures, regrets and the drama of the past.
And now we are ready for Sukkos
The Power of the Sukkah
A couple of months ago I took a tour of a historic manor, beautifully situated in the middle of
a vast estate. As I looked admiringly at the gilt furniture, the stately, gracious proportions,
the sheer luxury of it all, it occurred to me that the owner of the house was no longer enjoying
it. She had passed on years before, and all that was left of her life of luxury was empty rooms.
The sukkah is not luxurious. Its walls are flimsy. Its roof is made from leaves and branches
that do nothing to keep out the rain or snow. But the sukkah is never empty. It is a space of
profound and personal union with the Creator.
The sukkah turns things around. It tells us that true security does not come from walls of brick
and stone, from our job, our status or our bank account. True security - that which lasts
forever - comes from beyond the walls and above the roof. In the sukkah we can have a tangible
taste of that security. Inside the Sukkah, we are being embraced by G-d.
Love in the Wilderness
When the Jews left Egypt, they were not on a high spiritual level. Beaten down by centuries of
suffering and slavery, they had fallen low. Nevertheless, from that lowly place, they chose to
follow G-d unconditionally into the wilderness. This act of trust and devotion was
infinitely precious to G-d. It came from deep inside each and every Jew, from
beyond his external, limited nature. In return, G-d nurtured and protected the Jews
in a way that was beyond nature as well.
When you sit in the Sukkah, you sit in that magical space of the wilderness - the
place where everything is nothing, nothing is everything and all that exists is you and your
Creator. Inside the insubstantial walls of the Sukkah, if you tune in, you can start to
perceive the infinite space outside the finite lines, the quiet stillness within the constantly
moving whirlwind of time and space.
As G-d embraced us once in the desert, He embraces us now in the Sukkah. This time
of deep intimacy is called zman simchaseinu - the time of our joy. During Sukkos, the innate,
infinite pleasure that the soul experiences in its oneness with G-d, normally
covered over by the challenges and illusions of the physical world, permeates us in a tangible
way. It nourishes us, sustains us, prepares us to carry out our mission to the fullest extent in
the coming year, to move back into the world of 'doing' while remembering who we really are.
**Since the Torah forbids the erasing of G-d's name, it's customary to avoid
writing it out in full