By Rus Devorah Wallen
I’m Rus Devorah Wallen, and I’d like to share my T for 2, my Torah thought for two minutes, more or less.
This week is Sukkot, the festival of dwelling in booths, or as is often translated, Tabernacles. Beginning Sunday night, Jews around the world have been eating their meals in the sukkah, some even sleep there. The sukkah is a structure that surrounds us as a commemoration of the “clouds of glory” that followed us forty years, shielding us from desert dangers. Hashem commands us to build and dwell in Sukkahs for seven days. The halacha, or legal specifications for building a sukkah is to have at least two complete walls and one partial wall. According to the Ari Z’l, the Kabbalist from Tzfas, this represents the two sections of the arm and hand since when we are in the sukkah it is as if Hashem Himself is hugging us. There are many things we do during Sukkos that express the unity of the Jewish people. Since we sit, and eat, and live in the sukkah all together, this is one of the symbols. Another very visible unifying custom is the binding, blessing, and shaking of the four species – the lulav, Esrog, Hadassim and Arovos – the Palm branch, the citron, Myrtle, and Willow branches. Each of these items represents a different type of person. When the Congregation of Israel is together in the synagogue, this is called a Tzibbur, which includes all kinds of people. The hint of it is found in the word itself. Tzaddi, Beis, Vov, Reish which is an acronym for Tzaddikim, wholly righteous people, Beinonim – the intermediates, U – and Rashayim, meaning evil people. We can’t exclude anyone from the congregation. The symbolism of the four kinds. Is similar. The lulav is a frond from a date palm which has a fruit with taste, but no aroma. Whereas the esrog, the citron has both aroma and a taste. The Myrtle has aroma, but no taste. And the willow or arovos are without either taste or smell, and thus are bereft. Taste represents Torah learning, and smell represents the aroma of good deeds. Each person excels or is deficient these areas of serving Hashem. Nonetheless, on the holiday of Sukkot, all these kinds are not only used together, but the branches are tied together. The esrog which according to its dual qualities of taste and aroma could be in a class of its own and isolate itself. Nonetheless, it comes together and unites with the other kinds. Even the arava, the lowly willow branch, is the central focus on the last day of Sukkot, which is called Hoshana Rabba, the day of great hoshanos or praises.
May this holiday of Sukkot, and this Shabbat which culminates in the holiday, be a taste of the joy that we will soon feel. Together, united with all our people, in Jerusalem. May we celebrate the joy and unity of Sukkot the way it was in the times of the Holy Temple, soon in our days. And as my dear friend, YC says, “HUG Sameach”
Rus Devorah Wallen is an accomplished musician, performer, social worker, psychotherapist, and educator.