Sukkot: Lessons of the Ushpizin

The patriarch Isaac cannot come.

Aloh Naaleh,

Arutz 7
The Zohar (5:103b) teaches: "When a person is seated in his sukkah, Abraham and six distinguished visitors partake of his company." This lesson lies at the base of what is commonly known as the Ushpizin.

As the Jew enters his sukkah, he recites the Ushpizin formula.

During Sukkot, the souls of the seven shepherds of Israel - Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, Aaron, Joseph and King David - actually leave Gan Eden to partake in the Divine light of the earthly Sukkot. As the Jew enters his sukkah, he recites the Ushpizin formula that, in fact, constitutes an invitation to these Heavenly guests to join him and his family.

However, outside Israel, no matter how beautiful our sukkah, how sincere our invitation, one guest will never appear. The patriarch Isaac cannot come.

In Bereisheet 26, we read: "And there was a famine in the Land.... And Isaac went to Gerar, to Avimelech, king of the Philistines. And God appeared to him (Isaac) and said, 'Do not descend unto Egypt.... Dwell in this Land....'"

Rabbenu Behayei in quoting Midrash Rabbah, writes, "God commanded him not to travel beyond the borders of Israel, the reason being that he had been sanctified on Mount Moriah, thereby becoming a sacred and perfect Olah offering. This was a Divine warning that at no time must he ever leave the Holy Land, lest he become contaminated by the lands of the heathen." Thus, of the three Patriarchs, he is the only one to have lived out his entire life in Eretz Yisrael, without crossing its borders.

There is a second message in Isaac's refusal to grace our sukkah in the Diaspora.

Jewish mystical texts explain that each of the seven Ushpizin correspond to a fundamental spiritual pathway (Sefirah) through which the world is metaphysically nourished and perfected. Abraham represents Hessed, love and kindness. Jacob represents beauty and truth and so on. Isaac represents Gevurah, heroism and personal strength.

It is only in the Land of Israel that the Jewish nation can aspire to that Divine Sefirah.
Rabbi Sender Shizgal writes from Jerusalem.

The foregoing commentary was distributed by the Aloh Naaleh organization.