On Sukkot We Reach the Pinnacle of Joy

20 09 2010

Sukkot – Service of the Heart
Based on a Naaleh.com shiur by Rabbi Hershel Reichman

Sukkot- Service of the Heart

In Shir Hashirim, King Shlomo movingly depicts Hashem’s profound love for the Jewish people. “B’tzilo chimaditi v’yashavti…. I have desired his shade and I have dwelt there, his fruits are sweet to my palate.” Midrashicly, this refers to the mitzvot of sukka and lulav, which are our central medium of connection to Hashem on Sukkot.  Why did Hashem need to give us two mitzvot, why was one not adequate?

The Shem MiShmuel explains that man is a dual combination of mind and heart. This is reflected in the ten sefirot, which are expressed on intellectual and emotional levels. Moshe, the paragon of intellect, and Aharon, the embodiment of emotion, were the founding fathers of the Jewish nation. Moshe’s role was primarily moach – intellect, bringing Torah to Jewry, Aharon’s purpose was lev­ – emotion, achieving harmony between man and Hashem. His prayers and service in the mishkan were the focal point of Yom Kippur. Additionally, he pursued peace and mended troubled relationships between people.

The Torah emphasizes, “Hu Aharon U’Moshe,” the role of Aharon was equal to Moshe’s. The Shem MiShmuel notes that perfection of intellect is intertwined with perfection of emotion. Both are needed to attain sheleimut. Indeed, when we examine the lives of our Torah giants we see this combination of wisdom of mind and heart.

The Gemara writes that the mitzva of sukkah serves as a remembrance to the Clouds of Glory, which were given in the merit of Aharon. The sukkah signifies the life and essence of Aharon. Aharon personified peace, fulfillment, humility, and total subservience to Hashem. This is the sukkah – modesty, harmony and completion. The lulav represents the teachings of Moshe. It is a straight line that corresponds to the direct intellectual logic of Torah. Both mitzvot help us tap into the dual essence of the holiday.

Rosh Hashana is the head of the year. It signifies a new beginning and corresponds to the soul of Moshe, who personified intellect. It is a day to think about our past deeds, make a personal reckoning, and plan for the future. Yom Kippur is lev – emotion. It symbolizes Aharon Hakohein. The Torah writes, “B’zot yavo Aharon el hakodesh.” It links Aharon specifically with the service in the Mishkan. Rav Soloveitchik notes that the essence of Yom Kippur is not so much the avodah of the kohein gadol but the avodah of Aharon who was the paragon of ahavat Hashem and ahavat Yisrael.

On Rosh Hashana we rededicate our intellect to Hashem. On Yom Kippur we reignite our souls to ahavat Hashem. All this culminates with Sukkot. Then we reach the pinnacle of joy and completion as we celebrate the melding of intellectual, emotional, and spiritual purification.

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