1. Our Sages declared, “Whoever did not witness Simchas Bais Hashoevah never witnessed (true) Simchah in his days.” At the present time as well, the celebration of Simchas Bais Hashoeva must be accompanied by great joy. Furthermore, in accordance with the principle, “One always rises higher in holiness,” we must add to the Simchah of the previous night on each successive day of the holiday. This also applies to the present night, the fifth night of Sukkos.

The number five has a unique significance. Yom Kippur is set aside as a day of five prayers. This is related to Sukkos, for our Sages explained that the Schach (the covering in place of the roof) of the Sukkah is similar to the cloud formed by the incense offering of Yom Kippur. What was in a hidden manner on Yom Kippur comes out in open revelation on Sukkos. Even a non-Jew walking by a Sukkah can see that this is a structure meant to cover and protect a person. One might raise a question: “Why not make Sukkos in the beginning of the summer in warm weather?” It seems strange that we put up our Sukkos just when the weather is beginning to turn cold.

The answer is that a Sukkah is holy. It is a remembrance of the clouds of glory with which G‑d protected our people in the desert. We do not dwell in them for relaxation, but “in order that your future generations shall know that I had the children of Yisroel dwell in Sukkos when I took them out of the land of Egypt.” Through the experience of living in a Sukkah, the above becomes more than an abstract principle of faith; it becomes knowledge, a powerful intellectual principle which will be further internalized and motivate the arousal of the emotions love and fear and eventually be extended to deed as well. When one dwells in the Sukkah, one’s entire body from head to feet is encompassed by the Mitzvah.

This will elicit an attitude of respect and honor from non-Jews. As the prophet declares, “Kings will become your servants and their queens your nursemaids.” They will fulfill their mission in the world and provide the Jews with all their needs. Even though “darkness will cover the earth,” a Jew can illuminate the world, through the “light of Torah and the candle of mitzvah,” allowing all to recognize that there is only one master, G‑d. This should be carried out in a most joyous manner.

This is accomplished by the complete fulfillment of Torah and mitzvos beginning with the mitzvah of Lulav. Four different types of Jews, symbolized by the four species of trees used in the Lulav, are unified in this mitzvah. They are shaken up, down, and in all four directions, emphasizing how through Torah and mitzvos a Jew becomes the master of all that is above, below, and in every direction. In this manner, he demonstrates that “all the nations of the world shall know that the L‑rd is G‑d, there is nothing else.” The gentiles will also be brought to this recognition as we recall in our Hallel prayers, “Praise the L‑rd, all you nations... for His kindness was mighty over us.” Even they will realize that there is nothing else in the world but the G‑dly life force which is constantly bringing the world into being at every moment.

In the Temple, the order of the mitzvos was Sukkah, Simchas Bais Hashoeva, Lulav, and then a celebration of Simchas Bais Hashoeva on a higher level each night. Hence, there is surely a lesson that we can learn from each of the elements.

The first lesson is from the Sukkah. In our prayers, we refer to the Sukkah as the “Sukkah of peace.” Furthermore, it is called “Your Sukkah of Peace,” emphasizing that the source of peace is G‑d. By following G‑d’s directives, one establishes true peace in the world.1 This is emphasized by the fact that one is willing to go against the pattern of nature and enter the Sukkah not in the spring, but in the fall, when the weather is becoming colder.

The mitzvah of Lulav also emphasizes the aspect of peace. For instance, one cannot use any of the species for the Lulav and Esrog if they were stolen. Since, Torah’s “ways are pleasant ways, and all its paths are peace;” anything which causes differences and bitterness among the Jews becomes the very opposite of Torah.

The aspect of peace and unity that relates to Sukkos is also emphasized by our Sages’ statement, “All Yisroel is fit to sit together in one Sukkah.” Since the other person is also a descendant of Avraham, Yitzchok, and Ya’akov, one should sit together with him in a manner of peace. One should not negate the importance of another Jew. That is the very opposite of the custom of Ushpizen, and particularly that of the present night, Aharon.

Everyday all of the seven Ushpizen come to visit our Sukkahs. However, each day, there is a particular Ushpizen, tonight Aharon, whose service is particularly emphasized. Aharon’s service was characterized by the quality of — in the words of the Mishnah — “loving peace and pursuing peace, loving your fellow creatures...” Though Aharon had attained the peak of holiness, entering the Holy of Holies on the holiest day of the year, his service was characterized “by loving creatures,” loving those who have, in the words of the Alter Rebbe, no other positive quality except that they are G‑d’s creations. Such a person is not only tolerated, but loved.2

Aharon’s service was not only of “loving peace,” but pursuing it. He would not rest until he had established peace among other Jews. This is also connected with the words of the Mishnah, “loving your fellow Jews and bringing them close to Torah.” The only way to establish peace amongst Jews (and likewise between Jews and non-Jews) is through Torah.

This does not mean that if you are not a great Torah student, you are beyond the scope of Ahavas Yisroel. On the contrary, even one who is only a creation of G‑d — who knows nothing of Torah — must be drawn close.3

Afterwards, one proceeds to the service of Simchas Bais Hashoeva which begins directly after entering the Sukkah. There were a number of different categories of people participating in the celebration; there were some who watched, some who sang, some who danced, some who juggled torches. However despite these differences, they were joined together in the celebration. This is similar to the approach of Aharon who recognized the differences between Jews, some who were only “creatures,” and yet “loved” those “creatures” and drew them close to Torah. He was willing to distort the truth for the sake of peace. When he saw two people quarreling, he would tell one how his colleague really sought peace. Aharon did this because in truth, each Jew loves his fellow with an essential love and the differences between them are only superficial.4 The Tanya explains that it is actually possible to “love a fellow Jew as oneself” for “all are of one kind and have one father.” The Talmud Yerushalmi compares the relationship between two Jews to the interrelationship of the body’s two hands. Likewise, in Chassidus, the entire Jewish people are compared to a complete body.

No matter what a Jew’s situation, his true desire is to carry out all of G‑d’s commandments including the command, “love your fellow as yourself.” Temporarily, it is possible that his Yetzer Horah will prevent him from carrying out this desire. But when the Yetzer Horah is overcome, the true and genuine feelings of love surface.

Even during the Simchas Bais Hashoeva celebration, when the differences between Jews are evident, they are still joined together in true rejoicing. Furthermore, the Simchah would reach such a peak that “whoever did not witness Simchas Bais Hashoeva did not witness true Simchah in his life.”

This concept is particularly related to the water offering. Wine (which was offered on the altar everyday of the year) is of many different tastes and types. Furthermore, it costs money. Water is simple, without differentiation. In fact, it is a unique phenomenon that although water is such a necessary factor for human life — more important than a house, clothing, and food — it is available cheaply or totally free. Hence, the water which is free for each and everyone becomes the basis for Jewish rejoicing. From a secular perspective, celebration is connected with wine or with meat. However, when G‑d tells a Jew to draw water — to take from the fountain of living water of Judaism — then they will draw water with joy. Furthermore, this joy will unite the different categories of Jews (in contrast to wine, which reinforces their differences).

There is another aspect of water. Its tendency is to descend from a high place to a lower one. In this context, it is used as a metaphor for Torah. Here, too, water implies the tendency of the Jew on a high level to descend and relate to those on the lowest level, “the creatures.”

This same concept is paralleled in the four species. As mentioned above, the four species used in the Lulav each represent a category of Jews. The tallest among them, the lulav, symbolizing one who is given over entirely to Torah study, is incomplete unless it is joined with the willow, someone who is lacking both Torah and mitzvos.5 When the four types of the lulav are joined together, the particular qualities which each represents become submerged in the greater whole — the fulfillment of the mitzvah.

The concept of oneness and unity is further emphasized by the four species themselves.6 Each of them brings out these qualities. For example, the esrog grows on a tree for an entire year. Thus, it grows from all the different climactic changes that happen in the year to come. Symbolically, this implies an ability to relate to every Jew. Similarly, the very name esrog is an acronym for the Hebrew words that mean “Let not the foot of pride come against me.” It implies that even one’s foot will not be tinged by a touch of pride.

The above is further emphasized this year, a Hakhel year, when men, women, and children gather together to listen to the king read the Torah.7 The Talmud declares that even those who could not understand what the king was reading were obligated to attend. Likewise, even little children, even infants had to be brought. Even one who is a child in regard to Judaism (though advanced in years) is brought together with the entire Jewish people in a holy place, the Temple, and thus brought close to Torah. Trumpets were sounded to gather all the Jews together in a holy place, and the king read the Torah, not as an expression of his own knowledge, but rather as an emissary from G‑d.

This has an effect on the nations of the world as well. The power of Torah is the master of the entire world and all its inhabitants.8 Indeed, the entire creation was designed only for the purpose that the Jews carry out the Torah.9

This, in turn, will hasten the Messianic redemption. Our Sages declared, “All the appointed times for Moshiach’s coming have passed and the matter is only dependent on teshuvah.” Teshuvah can be accomplished in one moment and with one thought, and then we will proceed to the Messianic redemption.

This will be hastened by the Ten Mivtzoyim and also the Mivtza of, “Be fruitful and multiply, fill up the earth and subdue it.” And then we will go with true joy to greet Moshiach speedily in our days.