Sukkos — Revealing the Concealed

Our Sages inform us1 that those spiritual matters that are in a state of concealment during Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kippur are revealed during the festival of Sukkos.

Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kippur each possess three distinct aspects, one greater than the other:2

a) The unique mitzvos of those days — on Rosh HaShanah the sounding of the shofar and on Yom Kippur the mitzvos of fasting, repentance and confession.

b) The fact that both Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kippur are part of the “Ten Days of Penitence ,” with penitence transcending mitzvos.

c) The essential quality of those days — on Rosh HaShanah the aspect of accepting G‑d as King, and Yom Kippur the fact that “The very day [of Yom Kippur] brings atonement”3 — a degree of atonement that far surpasses that achieved through Teshuvah , repentance.

Although these three aspects are part of both Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kippur, in a more general sense each aspect is tied to one of the three festivals of the month of Tishrei: Rosh HaShanah, Yom Kippur and Sukkos.

Rosh HaShanah clearly manifests its role as “head” of the year; it is the time when G‑d is crowned King. This ability to crown G‑d as King also indicates the Jews’ absolute unity with Him, a union which makes it possible to bring about a desire to reign within G‑d.

Yom Kippur, the “Day of Forgiveness ,” when “The very day brings atonement,” plainly displays that it is the day on which forgiveness is granted for transgressing the King’s decrees. This too is indicative of an essential union between G‑d and the Jewish people.

The festival of Sukkos is the time when Jews are immersed in and unite with G‑d through the performance of mitzvosSukkah, Esrog and Lulav, etc. Indeed, the performance of mitzvos is indicated by the name of the holiday itself — Sukkos.

As mentioned above, all aspects that are concealed on Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kippur are revealed during Sukkos. Therefore, although the main feature of Sukkos is the performance of mitzvos , the festival also reveals the themes of Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kippur.

In describing the Sukkos festival, the Torah states: “On the fifteenth day of this seventh month is the Festival of Sukkos…..”4 So, too, with regard to dwelling in the sukkah the verse states: “You shall dwell in sukkos for seven days.”5 As nothing else is cited as a reason for the festival, clearly the essential feature is the sukkah itself.

With regard to the mitzvah of Esrog and Lulav, the verse states:6 “You shall take for yourselves on the first day ,” thereby indicating that the mitzvah of Esrog and Lulav is not the essential aspect of the first day of Sukkos , i.e., it is not intrinsic to the holiday itself.

Only after the Torah commands Esrog and Lulav does it go on to say:7 “and you shall rejoice before the L-rd your G‑d for seven days” — the commandment of rejoicing during Sukkos being the third aspect of the festival.

The essential connection between Jews and G‑d — a relationship wherein all Jews are equal, and which is expressed in accepting G‑d’s Kingship on Rosh HaShanah — is revealed within the essential aspect of Sukkos: a unity that finds expression in the fact “All Jews are fit to dwell in the selfsame sukkah.”8

Every Jew’s bond with G‑d is expressed through Teshuvah — the main aspect of Yom Kippur — and manifests itself through the command of Esrog and Lulav, the Lulav serving as a symbol that Jews were victorious in atonement on Yom Kippur.9

Finally, the connection of the Jew to G‑d through the performance of mitzvos is revealed in the mitzvah of rejoicing on Sukkos — the privilege of performing G‑d’s commands being the cause of their rejoicing.

Based on Likkutei Sichos Vol. XIX, pp. 350-354.