Succos Dvar Torah

The following is based, in large part on a Dvar Torah found in the sefer Pa'amei Moed (as told by R' Gershon Singer). It is offered for a Refuah Shelayma for Moshe Yehuda b' Bailah and Devorah bas Chana Tziviah.

"You will make known to me the path of life, the fullness of joys in Your Presence, the delights in Your right hand for eternity." (Tehillim 16:11)

Z'man Simchasenu
Sukkos is called the "Season of Our Rejoicing." It is a Festival designed to provide our souls with nourishment through joy. We receive this sustenance once we are content in the knowledge that we have been cleansed of our sins. On Yom Kippur, we are purified "before Hashem" ("Lifnei Hashem Titharu") and while in this purified state we are given the opportunity to experience Sukkos. Having arrived before Hashem, we are invited to stay forever, as in the end of the above-quoted pasuk, "Neh'Imos bi'minecha Netzach" ("in Your right hand, bliss for evermore").

The concentrated joy of Sukkos can sustain us permanently, if we are properly attuned to the holiday's character. The Torah tells us to be joyous on Yom Tov - "Vi'Hayisa ach Sameach" ("And you will be only joyous") (Devarim 16:15). The Sfas Emes relates that the word "ach" exhorts us to ensure that we maintain the joy of the holiday even after it ends. This is because "simcha" is so essential to one's well-being.

Simcha Sustains Us
We need inner joy for our emotional, physical and spiritual health. We are charged "Ivdu es Hashem bi'Simcha," to serve Hashem with joy. We are warned that exile results (G-d forbid) "because you did not serve Hashem with joy and gladness of heart." (The Holy Kotzker takes a unique approach to that pasuk: the deficient conduct referred to is that we affirmatively acted against the will of Hashem - we sinned - and did so with joy. The sin is not the lack of joy but the misuse of joy while sinning.) In order to enable us to receive the entirety of Hashem's blessings, we are provided a prescription - be happy. We are then provided opportunities throughout the year, but particularly during this holiday, to achieve happiness.

The mitzvos of Sukkos are the source of its ability to imbue us with happiness. In particular, we know that the Four Species represent four different types of Jews, or Jews of different levels of observance. For example, the Esrog has a good taste and a good fragrance and it represents a person with both wisdom (Torah learning) and good deeds. In contrast, the Aravah (willow) has neither taste nor smell and represents a person with neither good deeds nor Torah learning. The Hadas (myrtle) has a good fragrance, but is inedible and the Lulav (date palm) is edible, but has no smell. These represent one with good deeds but who lacks wisdom and a person with wisdom but without good deeds, respectively. It is finding our place in that scheme that helps us reach happiness.

Finding Oneself
It is difficult to achieve true happiness when one is without a sense of one's spiritual place or identity. When one discovers that identity, one is empowered to find happiness. If one finds that his place is akin to the Hadas, for example (and can then work to change that status), then one is on the path to inner peace. When we have not achieved our potential for spiritual growth, then we will find it difficult to achieve true simcha. However, once we move towards fulfilling our potential we can find simcha. That is what is meant by "U'likachtem Li'Chem" (literally "take for yourself") - Take Yourself, find YOUR inner self and purpose. Each individual is unique with a distinct mission on this earth. Finding one's own purpose is central to true happiness and is critical to one's Avodas Hashem.

When we take the Arbah Minim, the Four Species, we are granted special Siyatah Dishmaya, Divine Inspiration, to find our individual place and purpose in this World. This mitzvah of Z'man Simchasenu empowers us to find our individual level of spirituality in order to find inner peace and joy. Hashem's love for Klal Yisrael is like the love a father for his children - a parent loves each child equally regardless of the individual child's gifts or abilities. So too, Hashem loves each Jew regardless of ability, though we do need to utilize those gifts He has given us to its fullest potential in His service. Finally, the Sukkah itself is compared to a Chupah, representing the pinnacle of love between Hashem and Klal Yisrael. When we enter we are reminded of Hashem's love for us, we are gladdened by that love and inspired to reach greater spiritual heights.

May our performance of the mitzvos of Sukkos this year bring with them all of Hashem's blessings, may we reach new levels of simcha and may we merit the coming of Moshiach.

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