Question: What is the inner meaning of the Sukkot holiday?
Answer: Sukkot is a very important holiday because it celebrates a spiritual ascent. At the end of the year, we reflect on the results of our critical self-analysis.
If we’ve worked well over the course of the year, searching for ways to correct ourselves so as to return to the Creator, then we’ve discovered our guilt in a multitude of transgressions.
And this is precisely the result of our good work, scrutiny of ourselves, and our attitude toward the friends, which showed how full we still are of the evil inclination, hatred toward others, rejection, and egoistic calculations.
After sitting in judgment over ourselves, we deliver a sentence called the start of the new year—Rosh HaShana (head of the year). We want for the Creator, the force of love and bestowal, to be our head, our king.
Rosh HaShana is the coronation of the King as the greatest of all, embodying bestowal, love, warmth, and fulfillment. We value these qualities highly, which is why we extoll this force of nature and wish to become like it, up to total adhesion with it. This is the decision to make on Rosh HaShana, to continue to follow through on it.
Hence, there are two judgments on Rosh HaShana: one severe and one gentle, which precedes the ten days of repentance. During this time we must check our work on our unification and clarify how to achieve unity. After all, the more we correct ourselves uniting as one man with one heart, the more we resemble the one and singular Creator.
With this decision we draw the Surrounding Light, a special luminescence, and see which desires in us are not subject to correction since they cannot be corrected for the sake of bestowal and used to unite with the friends. The other desires, however, can be corrected and used to bring goodness, love, connection, and unity to the friends.
The ten days of repentance separate in all my desires the part that is not yet correctable from that which can be corrected. This separation is called “His left hand over my head”—a left embrace that leaves outside those desires that cannot be embraced.
And then begins the holiday of Sukkot, when “His right hand will embrace me.” During Sukkot, a special luminescence shines on those who wish to unite with all the creatures and cleave to the Creator, to the upper qualities of bestowal and universal love.
The holiday of Sukkot lasts seven days, in accordance with the lights that we need to obtain: Hessed, Gevurah, Tifferet, Netzah, Hod, Yessod, and Malchut, or the guests that take turns visiting the daily holiday feasts: Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, Aaron, Joseph, and David.
It is written, “I have created the evil inclination, and the Torah whose Light returns to the source.” The Creator has made bad qualities, rather than good: the evil inclination, our ego, which prevents us from uniting, treating each other well, and bestowing to others.
Love of others is the great rule of the Torah, but we don’t want to observe it. The evil in us is everything that opposes our unification with others. This is the meaning of the excerpt, “I have created the evil inclination, and the Torah as a spice.” The Torah is not the physical book resting on the shelf, but a special method of utilizing the force of nature called “Light.” If I make use of this Light, putting myself under its influence, I convert all the evil, intentionally made by the Creator, into good.
From an egoist who rejects and detests others without any reason, I turn into someone loving, until I unify with everybody as one man with one heart.
Until Sukkot we engaged in judgment over ourselves, clarifying what can and cannot be corrected. And it turned out that we are full of evil, like a pomegranate that’s filled with seeds but is rotten through and through.
On Rosh Hashana we’ve decided that we want to become bestowing and raise the Creator, the force of love, to reign over us. Over the subsequent ten days of repentance we check the ten Sefirot of our soul, the ten parts of our desire, clarifying what can and cannot be corrected. For we contain impure desire (Klipot) that aren’t subject to correction, which we therefore simply restrict, separate, or freeze.
And the correctable desires become corrected in the days of Sukkot. This is the first correction of the desire, and it is done by virtue of the surrounding Light that shines on us. The symbol of the surrounding Light is the Sukkah, a special tabernacle or canopy.
We make a shade because we don’t want to receive the Light for ourselves, for our own benefit; rather, we desire change, connection with the Creator, the Light, for the sole reason of giving it to others. That is what a righteous person is—one who takes only what’s necessary for his sustenance, and gives away the rest. Such is the corrected reception symbolized by the Sukkah.
From a KabTV’s “A New Life” No. 439, 9/30/2014