The following drasha was given by Rabbi Akiva Teichtal on Leil Shabbos, Chol Hamoed Sukkos, 10-Oct-14.
Good Shabbos, good Succos and good Shmita! So many sevens…
Two questions come to mind regarding Sukkah and Shabbos:
- We celebrate Shabbos in order to show our emunah in the creation of the world ex-nihilo. The one who keeps Shabbos, even if he worships idols, his sins are forgiven (under certain conditions) because his faith in Hashem is being expressed through his Shabbos observance . The Steipler ZTL advised people whose emunah was a bit shaky to keep Shabbos in the strictest form possible. It seems that the formula is – Shabbos equals emunah in Hashem as a Creator. But if Shabbos is about believing in creating yesh meayin, then why don’t we celebrate Sunday, when things really started to get rolling? (And believe me, I am no Christian…)
- Like all evenings of Succos, tonight once again we will all IYH cite the bracha “Leyshev baSucah”. Why sitting? Why not eating or sleeping? The text of the bracha follows the one of the Pasuk: “You shall sit in the sukkah for seven days”. But than again, why? The mitzvah is not just about sitting down, but about living there, being there , so why doesn’t the Torah use a more general term such as taguru or tihyiu? Is there indeed an intrinsic connection between the position of sitting and the sukkah?
The answer is simple and connects all the dots. It contains two letters שב
בשנת היובל הזו תשובו איש אל אחוזתו
In the Yovel year, the ultimate shmita, all people, slaves and lands return to their starting point, to where they came from. Hopefully, they come back as better people. They return- improved. They have learnt their lesson, they were educated, and they were treated like kings, and now can come back to where they belong. They have done their tikun.
When do the slaves actually return? On Yom Kippur. Yes, the day of teshuva, return.
The fascinating story of Yona, read on Yom Kippur, is about having to reach your tikun in this world; you cannot run away from Hashem. You will be thrown into the raging sea, eaten by a fish, you name it…but eventually you will make it to Nineveh and beyond . This is the day of teshuva. It is called that way for a reason. When I was teaching Hebrew to kids in chutz la’aretz, they were asking me why baaley teshuva are called that way. After all, they are not returning home, it is all new for them?! The answer is that they have been there. Even if Mr. Jewish Yid was born in a far off village in northern Japan, inside his heart it is already there. He was already taught by the malach. Rav Tatz says that this is why we sometimes hear ideas and they click with us. We heard them once before. When he lands in Ohr Somayach or Shapel or Aish at the age of thirty two he is returning to his real self. We enter the Holy of Holiest on Yom Kippur because after travelling too far, this is where we really belong. And we return as better people- we have gained one more mitzvah in the process- a mitzvah called teshuva.
What about Shabbos? What Hashem created in six days was the physical world. The world as we, mortals, see it. From His point of view he was only constricting. The Eternity, this Endless Being is now, seemingly, constricted or hidden behind physicality. From day one of creation, a journey of tzimtzum began. There was a lot of spiritualty created as well (such as light or angels) yet in relation to Hashemo it is all more limited. That’s why in the story of creation He is referred to as Elokim, the attribute of din, judgment and constriction.
And then came the Sabbath.
The world has returned to its point of origin, its source, collecting all the good that there is in physicality, and bringing it home to the spiritual. שבת. שבע. שובה.
When we realize this, we too come back home to Hashem. We realize that all physicality has to be collected and be brought back home into Shabbos, to be elevated.
Succos is the Yom Tov of the heart. The Esrog symbolizes the heart (clean, after Yom Kippur), the word lulav is the acronym of וטהר ליבנו לעבדך באמת and the gimatria of the names of all four species makes 1024.
This is 32X32. לב X לב .
Full heart. Full circle.
It is a time of complete and internal teshuva והשבות אל לבבך.
So why sitting?
We are yoshev in the sukkah, rather than dance or even learn, because we are not just living there, we are returning there, to the place where we belong.
Come and sit with Hashem. Sitting means you feel comfortable, at home with HIm. After a year of traveling too far, after the Yomim Noraim cleansing process, you have finally arrived.