14 October 2016
STAY IN THE SUKKAH
By Roy S. Neuberger
“Achas shoalti … one thing I asked of Hashem, that shall I seek: to dwell in the House of Hashem all the days of my life, to behold the sweetness of Hashem and to contemplate in His Sanctuary.” (Tehillim 27)
In this world, are we really able to dwell in His Sanctuary? I believe the answer is “yes,” especially during this season. When we sit in the sukkah, we are enveloped by His Presence.
I could never understand why, during Chol Hamoed, people pile in their cars and suffer endless traffic jams to stand on line at crowded “attractions” when they could be sitting in peace in the House of Hashem … which is anyway what we are supposed to do during Sukkos!
Don’t think I’m so naïve. I understand why families do this. I understand that the children are restless and cannot sit in the sukkah the entire day. But, my friends, I am sorry. In my humble opinion there is something wrong here. Despite all the understandable reasons, the fact is that, when we flee the sukkah for the amusement park or a chol ha moed “event,” we are missing the main point of the mitzvah of Sukkos. And this is not theoretical. We need this sukkah! We need to dwell in the House of Hashem!
Have you contemplated the Haftaras of Sukkos? Have you contemplated today’s world?
Sukkos is standing at the end of a year and the beginning of a new year.
Sukkos is standing at the end of Golus and the beginning of the Geulah Shelemah.
Sukkos is standing at the end of one world and the beginning of another.
This is a very dangerous moment in history, my friends, probably the most dangerous ever. When Dovid Hamelech says “achas shoalti … one thing I asked,” I do not think that I am being unrealistic to suggest that he is also referring to the end of history and the final destruction of those who have sought our demise since the days of Avraham Avinu. We must remember that Dovid Hamelech is also the father of Moshiach ben Dovid. (See Berachos 4a, where Chazal state that Dovid Hamelech is referring to Olam Haba)
Just as we needed protection when the Malach Hamovess raged across Mitzraim – and we were commanded to stay within our houses – so now, when the malach is preparing to rage across the entire world, how much more so must we seek refuge in the House of Hashem, the sukkah which He has commanded us to prepare for our safety and protection.
“Indeed, He will hide me in His shelter on the day of evil …” Dovid Hamelech chooses the word “sukkah” to describe the shelter which will protect us on the day of evil. And what “day of evil” is this? I believe it refers to the day, “burning like an oven, when all the evildoers will be like straw and that coming day will burn them up.” (Malachi 3:19)
We read these words on the First Day of Sukkos: “Behold, G-d’s awaited day is coming … I shall gather all the nations to Jerusalem to wage war… Then Hashem shall wage war against those nations.” (Zecharia 14:1ff) This is the Final Battle of history, during which Hashem will “stand astride Har Hazaisim,” and the “awaited” Redemption will come to the world.
On Shabbos Chol Hamoed we read, “It shall be on that day [when] Gog comes on the soil of Israel … My raging anger shall flare … I will dispatch a fire against Gog and those who dwell confidently in the islands, and they shall know that I am Hashem.” (Yechezkel 38:18ff)
Who is in danger here? Those who dwell “confidently,” those who say “My strength and the might of my hand made me all this wealth,” (Dvarim 8:17) No one can say that about the sukkah! It is the flimsiest of all structures. No man can pride himself on the strength of his sukkah. Great bridges and skyscrapers, perhaps. A castle surrounded by a moat, perhaps. A rocket to the moon, perhaps, but not – lehavdil – a sukkah, which offers only the protection which comes from Shomayim. In order to merit this protection, we must subordinate ourselves to the King of Kings. Those who dwell “confidently” are finished, and this includes entire civilizations which have ruled the world for millennia. Where is the Roman Empire today? Where is the “Thousand-Year Reich?” Gone! Buried in the dust pile of history.
“The Egyptians, the Babylonians and the Persians rose, filled the planet with sound and splendor, then faded to dream-stuff and passed away; the Greeks and the Romans followed and made a vast noise, and they are gone; other peoples have sprung up and held their torch high for a time, but it burned out, and they sit in twilight now, or have vanished. The Jew saw them all, survived them all, and is now what he always was, exhibiting no decadence, no infirmities of age, no weakening of his parts, no slowing of his energies, no dulling of his alert and aggressive mind… What is the secret of his immortality?” (Mark Twain, Harper’s Magazine, September 1899)
Indeed, what is the secret of our immortality?
My friends, when we dwell in the sukkah we dwell in the House of Hashem. This is our immortality. Today, when Hashem is preparing to destroy our worldwide enemies – His worldwide enemies! – on a scale which is beyond imagination, so today we must also stay “indoors.” When the Angel of Destruction passes through, we had better be in a secure place. This is a Day for which one can prepare only if he listens to the words of the One Who will bring it about. The sukkah, which is open to Shomayim, will protect us on That Day!
“Save now, please G-d! Please bring salvation now! Save now! Forgive now! Bring success now, and save us, G-d, our fortress!” (Hoshana Rabbah)
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Roy Neuberger, author and public speaker, can be reached at email@example.com.
© Copyright 2016 by Roy S. Neuberger