Contact Us

5 Powerful Insights From the Rebbe - Sukkot

5 Powerful Insights From the Rebbe - Sukkot

 Email

Enjoy four short thoughts and a video adapted from the teachings of the Lubavitcher Rebbe on the holiday of Sukkot

A Sukkah of Unity

In sukkot (huts) you shall dwell for seven days; all citizens of Israel shall dwell in sukkot.

Leviticus 23:42

The sukkah is defined as a temporary dwelling which, for the duration of the seven-day festival of Sukkot, becomes the home of the Jew. The sukkah must be “temporary” but it also must be a “dwelling,” therefore the sukkah has a minimum height, length and width, a maximum height, and many other detailed laws defining its building.

All these specifications have one exception: there is no limit to a sukkah's length and breadth. You can build a sukkah the size of a city, or the size of a continent -- it'll still be a kosher sukkah. The Talmud derives from the verse above that "all citizens of Israel shall dwell in the sukkah." The Torah wishes to imply that "it is fitting that the entire people of Israel dwell in a single sukkah."

The quality imparted by Sukkot is unity. Our interdependence and oneness as a people are expressed by the four kinds taken on Sukkot, and by the sukkah's embrace of every Jew -- every type of Jew, and every individual Jew -- within its walls.

Thus it is indeed most "fitting that the entire people of Israel dwell in a single sukkah." The big sukkah -- the sukkah large enough to house all Jews together -- cannot be a violation of the definition of "sukkah", since it is actually its most fitting expression. Whatever size sukkah we build, we must ensure that it should be a "big sukkah" in essence -- a welcome home to each and every one of our brethren.
Read more

The all Encompassing Sukkah

Mitzvah,” the Torah’s word for the divine precepts which guide and govern every aspect of our daily lives has a dual meaning: the word means both “commandment” and “connection.”

In commanding us the mitzvot, G‑d created the means through which we may establish a connection with Him. The hand that distributes charity, the mind that ponders the wisdom of Torah, the heart that soars in prayer -- all become instruments of the divine will. There are mitzvot for each limb, organ and faculty of man, and mitzvot governing every area of life, so that no part of us remains uninvolved in our relationship with the Creator.

Therein lies the uniqueness of the mitzvah of sukkah. While other mitzvot each address a certain aspect of our persona, the mitzvah of sukkah provides a medium by which the totality of man is engaged in the fulfillment of G‑d’s will. All of the person enters into and lives in the sukkah. “sukkah is the only mitzvah into which a person enters with his muddy boots,” goes the Chassidic saying. For the seven days of Sukkot, the sukkah is our home--the environment for our every endeavor and activity.
Read more

It Takes All Kinds

The saying goes that "it takes all kinds". That, essentially is the message of the mitzvah of the "Four Kinds" -- the etrog (citron), lulav (palm frond), hadas (myrtle) and aravah (willow) -- over which we recite a blessing on the festival of Sukkot. In the words of the Midrash:

The etrog has both a taste and an aroma; so, too, do the people of Israel include individuals who have both Torah learning and good deeds... The date (the fruit of the lulav) has a taste but does not have an aroma; so, too, do the people of Israel include individuals who have Torah but do not have good deeds... The hadas has an aroma but not a taste; so, too, do the people of Israel include individuals who have good deeds but do not have Torah.... The aravah has no taste and no aroma; so, too, do the people of Israel include individuals who do not have Torah and do not have good deeds.... Says G‑d: "Let them all bond together in one bundle and atone for each other."

The Lubavitcher Rebbe points out that the Midrash is not just saying that "all are part of the Jewish people" or "all are precious in the eyes of G‑d" or even that "all are necessary"; it says that they "all atone for each other." This implies that each of the Four Kinds possesses something that the other three do not, and thus "atones" and compensates for that quality's absence in the other three.
Read more

The Climax of Tishrei

The climax of the month of Tishrei--the point at which our celebration of our bond with G‑d attains the very pinnacle of joy--is during the hakafot of Simchat Torah, when we take the Torah scrolls in our arms and dance with them around the reading table in the synagogue--a practice that is neither a biblical nor a rabbinical precept, but merely a custom.

For it is with our observance of the customs that we express the depth of our love for G‑d. The biblical commandments might be compared to the explicitly expressed desires between two people bound in marriage. The rabbinic mitzvot, on which G‑d did not directly instruct us but which nevertheless constitute expressions of the divine will, resemble the implied requests between spouses. But the customs represent those areas in which we intuitively sense how we might cause G‑d pleasure. And in these lie our greatest joy.
Read more

One Sukkah, One Lulav, One People

The two central mitzvot of Sukkot, the sukkah and the Four Kinds, have at their core the theme of Jewish unity. A sukkah is most beautiful when one fulfills the dictum of the Talmud, “All Israel is worthy to sit in one sukkah.” Of the Four Kinds, the Midrash relates that they represent every single Jew without exception. Each of the four are indispensable, and when gathered together they further underscore the interdependence of the Jewish people, “one nation in the land:”

© Copyright, all rights reserved. If you enjoyed this article, we encourage you to distribute it further, provided that you comply with Chabad.org's copyright policy.
 Email
Start a Discussion
1000 characters remaining
More in this section
Related Topics
Kids Zone
Find Services
Videos
Audio Classes
Recipes