Tel Aviv, Israel (PRWEB) October 2, 2003 -
Why do we sit in the Succah (Tabernacles Feast Booth)? What do the four varieties mean? What is the connection between Yom Kippur (the Day of Atonement) and Simchat Torah (Rejoicing of the Torah)? The wisdom of Kabbalah describes the sequence of situations we experience in the intricate relationship between ourselves and our Maker. These situations evolve one after the other because they lead us from one degree to the next, just like a chemical or a physical process that must evolve gradually, step by step.
This complex relationship is experienced by us in a very tangible manner, no less than the reality we live in. It is not about fantasy or delusions, but about the discovery of a beautiful world where changes that occur follow strict and well-defined laws. These laws are discovered by anyone who climbs the spiritual ladder, and arrives at the same places that Kabbalists describe in the holy books.
There is nothing new under the sun. Each of us is different and unique, but we all comply with the same rules, and advance from darkness and confusion to clarity and vision through the same degrees. These degrees are described by the great Kabbalists in the holy books, and it is by them that we set the sequence of holidays in our world.
We must point out that the names of all the holidays mentioned here describe internal situations that a person undergoes in the process of correction, and that the holidays we celebrate simply mark the sequence of corrections. This means that a Kabbalist can experience the holidays internally on a regular day as well.
Let us remember the sequence of the holidays: the Jewish New Year starts the holidays of Israel. After ten days we come to Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement) and after that we celebrate Succoth for seven days. Finally we come to Simchat Torah.
If you ask yourself what the meaning of these holidays is, Kabbalah explains that they describe the sequence of revelation and correction of one complete degree.
At the beginning of the spiritual revelation we feel that the Creator is giving us perfect bliss, but that we are incapable of giving anything back. More than anything, we want to overcome the shame that we feel toward the Creator, and bring Him some sort of pleasure.
It is like a person who is suffering from an illness. First we must discover how ill we are and that we cannot heal ourselves without turning to a physician. Once we have done that, we are given medicine and begin to heal, until we attain health and happiness. Only then can we appreciate the greatness and the kindness of the physician.
On the Jewish New Year we begin to understand our situation as opposed to the Creator. Over the course of the next ten days, until the Day of Atonement we realize more and more how incapable we are of equalizing with His degree and bringing Him delight (that is our illness).
The process lasts ten days because each spiritual vessel is revealed in ten degrees called Sefirot.
On the Day of Atonement, which is the tenth day of the inquiries, when it is clear to us that we havenÂt any power of bestowal toward the Creator, we can pray, fast and ask from the bottom of our heart to be endowed with life. The meaning of spiritual life is the ability to resemble the Creator and delight Him, but in order to receive that life we need to be corrected.
At that point we begin to receive the lights that are called the Âsurrounding lightsÂ. These lights enable us to gradually correct ourselves and acquire the ability to bestow. During the four days between the Day of Atonement and Succoth we get a chance to begin the correction.
The building of the Succah is a crucial stage in the correction because the Succah symbolizes oneÂs faith. Its thatch defends from the heat of the sun, but it is made of waste, of leaves and stalks that have no other use to man. The meaning is that precisely those desires that we have decided are superfluous and useless now form a shield from the intensity of the pleasure that comes to us. By giving up those wishes we defend ourselves from excessive greed for self-indulgence. After we have discovered our inability to bestow, we now receive the strength to protect ourselves from our egoistical desires. The danger is that if we are enslaved by those desires, we will forget who provides them and will take the pleasure for ourselves. The defense that we get renders us the strength to believe in the Creator and see His greatness, despite the tempting pleasures we are faced with. For that reason we try to spend as much time as possible inside the Succah during the holiday and even sleep in it.
The fact that we build and decorate the Succah by ourselves gives us the confidence that we can protect ourselves from our excessive desires. That defense is the light of faith that fills us with endless bliss.
But that defense is not enough to bring contentment to our Maker. We must not forget that the Creator loves us and wants to render us with pleasure and not prevent it from us. Therefore we need to learn how to receive pleasure, in order to please the Creator. Now we need a means by which we can receive the pleasure. That means is the connection that we make between the citron, the palm branch, the myrtle and the willow.
The four varieties mark the four degrees of the will that one discovers in the course of our spiritual work. Sometimes we find in it a good taste and a good scent, and we call it a citron; sometimes it has taste, but no scent, so we call it a palm branch; sometimes it is fragrant but tasteless and is thus called myrtle, and when it has no taste and no scent we call it willow.
The ability to join all types of work in one direction, in order to delight the Creator, gives us the ability to receive genuine delight under any condition and under any circumstances, because under any situation we remember what we live and who we work for. It is marked in Succoth by rocking the palm branch and the encircling of the altar.
The seven days of Succoth mark the correction of our seven lower sefirot, which must be unified and connected, until on the eighth day the corrections are finished. That is why that day is called Shmini Atzeret (the stopping eighth).
On that day, after we have completed the corrections, we get to unite with our Creator and receive from Him the true pleasure called Torah. The Torah is a means that gives us the ability to bring endless delight to our Maker, just as our Maker delights us, and unite with Him in everlasting love.
World Center For Kabbalah Studies