Question: Your explanation of the essence of Sukkot is that it is a correction of desires by the Surrounding Light. Why is it different from what we were taught at school? We were told that Sukkot reminds the Jews of their escape from Egyptian slavery and of their life in tents in the desert.
Answer: Do these explanations really contradict each other? “Egypt” (Mitzrayim) symbolizes staying inside one’s evil nature (Yetzer-Ra), being in exile, consenting to obey Pharaoh’s authority that rules over our egoistic desires. It was the Creator who made egoism. That’s why He keeps saying: “I hardened the Pharaoh’s heart!”
Later, we go out of Pharaoh’s “jurisdiction” by initiating the process of self-correction. The holiday of Sukkot is a symbol. The only thing the Torah describes are methods of self-improvement in the heart; it is not about historic events. Today, we should implement this story.
Each Jewish holiday, as well as any event mentioned in the Torah, denotes ascents and descents of the power of bestowal and love, or various deviations from observing the instructions given in the Torah. The entire Torah is based on the law of “loving our neighbors as ourselves.” Reaching this kind of love is feasible solely by correcting our egos. It’s viable only with the help of the Torah, the Returning Light. That’s what we are trying to achieve.
Question: Why do people sit in a special “hut” called a Sukkah during this holiday?
Answer: The size of the Sukkah accurately corresponds to the dimensions of the soul. Only inside of the soul can desires and lights be calculated. In the Sukkah, we use “amas” (cubits, ells) as measurement units. This explains why there are rigid requirements for constructing a Sukkah. We should observe the rules of what the walls of a Sukkah should be like. We make the roof of the Sukkah from the “waste of barn and winery,” etc.
All these requirements stem from the spiritual roots. They are all about a special combination of receiving and bestowing forces that are essential for our soul (a desire to receive) in its pursuit to become similar with the Creator. The soul works in both receiving and giving desires just as hearts and lungs constantly contract and expand.
The Sukkah should be built in accurate correspondence with the parts of the soul: ten Sefirot of the Direct Light and ten Sefirot of the Reflected Light. That’s why it cannot be higher than 20 amas. There are firm rules that regulate the time when a Sukkah should be built and what materials are suitable for it, i.e., “pure” enough (oriented to bestowal) to construct it.
A soul is a desire that is fully focused on bestowal to our neighbors, that is; it’s a structure that is totally opposite to the evil inclination, to our genuine nature. Unless we start self-correction, we have no soul.
The Sukkah symbolizes the soul, meaning the corrected desire. It is aimed at loving our neighbors. That’s why while building a Sukkah we have to take into consideration very many conditions. There are 613 desires in the soul: 248 bestowing desires and 365 desires to receive for the sake of giving. All these desires are inside us and we must start correcting them.
From KabTV’s “A New Life” 9/30/14