What does it mean that the Fallen Sukkah of David will rise again? And how is it connected to what is currently happening in the City of David?
Througout Sukkot we welcome seven honored guests (Ushpizin) into our Sukkah (booth). Every night an esteemed visitor enters, beginning with Avraham (Avinu). Ushpizin guests embody the pillars of the Jewish People, including Yitzchak, Yaakov, Moshe, Aharon and Yosef. On the seventh night we welcome David Hamelech (the king).
During Sukkot we also recite a strange blessing: "The Compassionate One, may He raise for us the Fallen Sukkah of David". This blessing is derived from Amos, the prophet, who speaks about the restoration of the Fallen Sukkah of David (ibid 9:11).
What is the Sukkah of David?
According to most commentators, raising up the Fallen Sukkah of David refers to the reestablishment of the Davidic monarchy.But let's break it down a bit more, because what goes up must come down. Or in our case, what falls down, must inevitably rise up again.
What is this treasured sukkah that we pride ourselves in decorating with twinkling lights, tinsel and freshly made "art projects" from school with the seven species of fruit, the Ushpizin and other pictures made by tiny hands and appreciated by mother hearts? It is a temporary dwelling, with shaky walls and a roof that by definition should be anything but waterproof. So every time the seasonal autumn winds pick up and all the tinsel and pictures flitter and flop, everybody holds their breath that the sukkah won't fly away tinsel and all. This, the Sages say, is the secret behind Jewish resilience!
You see, even when the sukkah falls down, it maintains its components and its character. So too, the Jewish People's legacy endured through a long dark history of exile and persecution and can be easily and naturally restored at any moment.
The Secret Behind the Rise of the Fallen Sukkah
It is no accident that it is called the Sukkah of David. In one of our previous articles (see article: The Making of a King) we discussed David's success in life – he had the highest favor, because he was a man after God's heart. Why?
David succeeded to unify two seemingly opposite character traits: "hitnasut" (exaltedness) and "shiflut" (humility), together making up what is called "malchut" or kingship. Before God, he moved with complete humility, before his enemies, he carried himself with fearless assertiveness.
The Method in the Madness - Living in Huts for a Whole Week!
Sukkot is the time of the gathering of produce. Jewish tradition explains that at a time like this any normal farmer might look upon his produce and think how much he achieved, gazing upon his riches, becoming haughty and forgetting God. It is at this very point in time that we intentionally move into frail huts, stating that our true security only lies under the protective wings of the Shechina (the Divine's Presence). Therefore the Sages call the Festival of Sukkot "the Shelter of Faith".
What is it that transforms a flimsy, exposed sukkah into a mighty stronghold?
Humility and the acknowledgment that our security and success comes from God. The beginning of a dynasty which overcame the greatest of giants, came from a king with a heart of shepherd boy, unflinching in his faith. By embracing the legacy of this monarch, we know that the fallen Sukkah of David will inevitably rise again.
The palace of the Davidic Dynasty has recently been discovered in the City of David, and is visited by thousands of tourists annually. The very place where the Davidic dynasty was established 3000 years ago is rising from the dust. So this year, like all others, we will build a big sukkah in the City of David, Ancient Jerusalem, at the location of the ancient palace. We will welcome everyone, the Ushpizin and all our precious guests coming from Israel and abroad. On the seventh day of Sukkot we will welcome and honor King David, and with strengthened resolve make the blessing: "The Compassionate One, may He raise for us the Fallen Sukkah of David". Soon, in our days.
Hope to see you there. Chag Sukkot Sameach!