One Sukkah, One Nation: Crown

One of the messages of Sukkot is that the sukkah is a sukkah of peace. This is also connected to healing. In order to draw down healing for the entire Jewish people, we must create a vessel (as is the case with all blessings). That vessel is peace. “The Holy Blessed One did not find a vessel to contain blessing for Israel more than peace.”[1]  In the Tanya it is written that the vessel for all blessings is unity, brotherhood and peace between Jews.

One Sukkah

There is a wondrous statement by the sages on the verse, “…all the residents in Israel shall dwell in sukkot.”[2] The sages say, “To teach us that all of Israel are worthy of sitting in one sukkah.”[3] The sukkah is a mitzvah that encompasses a person’s entire reality. In Kabbalah and Chassidut this is called, “surrounding light.” The sukkah’s surrounding light encompasses and includes the entire people of Israel.  Thus, the entire Jewish people are worthy to sit in one sukkah.

What is it that the sages are telling us with this teaching? Are we supposed to build an immense sukkah and seat millions of people under it? The simple explanation is that this teaches us that a person can fulfill the mitzvah of sitting in a sukkah, even if he is sitting in a sukkah that is not his own. According to this explanation, there cannot be a sukkah large enough for the entire people in reality. Rashi explains that even though the sukkah does not belong to a specific person,  it is possible for every Jewish male to sit in the sukkah for a short time and fulfill the mitzvah, and then leave to make room for others.

Some commentators ask why the sages worded their statement in this way. The expression, “to teach us that all Israel are worthy to sit in one sukkah” immediately conjures up the image of all the Jews sitting together in love and brotherhood in one huge sukkah. If the simple explanation is that it is possible to fulfill the mitzvah by rotating the people sitting in the sukkah, why did the sages word their statement in this way? We will be looking at many different answers to this question (some of these answers will appear in separate articles) and ordering these answers according to the sefirot.

Keter: Faith is Equal in all Israel

One explanation is that the sages wanted to say that there is a great equalizer of all Jews: simple faith in God. Faith in God is planted deep in our hearts. We are not always conscious of it, but it is there.

Chassidut explains that when a person encounters a trial, it is mainly so that he will manifest his faith. This faith is already planted inside us. All that we need to do is to reveal it. If a person does not face trials in his life, he can live for decades and never discover the hidden treasure of faith in his heart. This storehouse of faith is what makes him a Jew and the trial or hardships helps him to make use of it.

The Shadow of Faith

It is written in the holy Zohar that the thatched roof of the sukkah, called s’chach, is “the shadow of faith.” According to Jewish law, the sukkah has to have more shade than sunlight. The main reason for the schach, according to the simple explanation, is the shade that it provides.

The Zohar writes that the shade of the sukkah is faith. Why is faith shade? Because we are not always conscious of it, just as we are not always conscious of shadows. Shadows are  supernal darkness. When we sit in the sukkah, we sit in the shadow of our faith. “The shadow of faith” is the shadow of my own faith in God. It could be, however, that this faith is surrounding light of which I am not conscious.

This is why according to the first mishnah in the tractate of Sukkah, the s’chach cannot be more than twenty cubits high (about 10 meters). We have to be able to be conscious of it. There is an opinion in the Talmud that the reason for this is so that we can see the s’chach and know that we are sitting in a sukkah. Another opinion in the Talmud is that the limit on the height of the sukkah is so that we will be sitting in the shade of the s’chach and not the shade cast by the walls of the sukkah.  If the sukkah is higher than twenty cubits, the shade in its interior will be from its walls and not from its roof.

Binding Faith

This faith in God is what unites all Israel so that they are “worthy to sit in one sukkah.” All Jews have a common denominator: simple faith, the shadow of faith. It is by virtue of that faith that we successfully navigate all the trials and hardships of life and ultimately merit da’at (knowledge), as is written about the redemption, “For the world will be filled with knowledge of God, like the waters cover the ocean.”[4]

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[1] Mishnah Oktzin 3:12

[2] Leviticus 23:42

[3] Sukkah 27b.

[4] Isaiah 11:9

Image Attribution © Simon Mannweiler / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 4.0

 

 

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