When we begin our quest to find the Creator, He plays “hide and seek” with us. He “hides” and at the same time directs us forward. In this search, the holiday of Sukkot carries a certain sensation of warmth. It’s as if somebody tells us: “warmer, warmer, hot…!” Something unusual emerges, something in the mist, the contours of a new step that lies between the Creator and us appear.
Let’s talk about the symbols of Sukkot and their meaning in our quest.
First of all, we have to know the system we are in. Any measurements we make are done in accordance with certain standards similar to the measurements of the parameters of any physical system. For example, one liter of water weighs one kilogram. This measurement allows us to weigh various objects by placing a load equal to one kilogram on one of the pan of the scales. One way or the other, we always compare our actions with some standard that is based on well-known parameters.
However, our spiritual path begins with emptiness, a state of unawareness. While we head towards the Creator, we should turn the darkness into the Light, concealment into revelation, insensibility into sensitivity. At first, we don’t know what is missing. Later, we feel the deficiency as if we “taste” this insufficiency.
Let’s say, I am full, I don’t want to eat, I don’t even think about food. A little while later, I feel that I wouldn’t mind having a snack. The desire grows in me. To put it metaphorically, I would say that some time ago my life was easy and serene, but at some point there appeared a curtain, a veil.
In Kabbalah, the absence of hunger is called a “double concealment” since not only the object of my desire (food) is out of my attention, but even the hunger itself is unnoticeable. Then, when I feel the first signs of hunger, a deficiency, I begin searching for the ways to fulfill it.
On our spiritual path, we have to feel the concealment, the “hunger.” That’s why our work at the very beginning of the autumn holidays that begin in the month of Elul and continue further on during the New Year (Rosh Hashanah), throughout the first ten days of atonement, on the judgment day, is to reveal the deficiency, to sense a need for the Creator.
Then, the holiday of Sukkot comes, a festival of “huts.” A hut symbolizes the dome of the world: above it, there is the Light. We are inside the “hut,” sitting in relative shade. It’s not the Creator who hides from us; it’s we who “obscure” Him in order to further reveal Him gradually, to the extent of our abilities. “Being in the hut,” means that we are approaching the revelation, even though we still are at the very first stage of it.
This state triggers the Surrounding Lights (Makifim): the Creator can be felt only from a distance. Our “hug” with Him is not yet obvious, not clarified or recognized. In Kabbalah, this state is also called the Light of Hassadim, the “embrace” of the right arm.” “His left arm is under my head, His right arm embraces me,” as it is written in the Song of Songs. On the left, is an embrace of the harsh properties of judgment (Gevurot), on the right, there are hugs of mercy (Hassadim).
Even though we are behind the curtain, we still make efforts to recognize the One who threw it on us. In other words, we diligently work to turn the concealment into revelation. The Creator approaches us accordingly, to the degree of our exertions.
This work starts with a “zero,” when we don’t even feel that there is somebody who hides from us. “Where is He? Is He inside me? Is He in my thoughts and desires?” All these questions require a meticulous search, profound understanding and deep penetration in the material. Then, He will appear.
From KabTV’s “A New Life” 10/5/14