Let us all dwell in one Sukkah!

Why can one eat in a communal Sukkah and fulfill the mitzvah, while one needs one's own Four Species on the first day of the holiday?

Danny Ginsbourg, | updated: 09:21

Judaism Danny Ginsbourg
Danny Ginsbourg
Our sages (Succah 27b) say:

The lulav has to be ‘yours’ on the first day of Chag, to be יוצא, that is, to fulfill the Mitzvah of the Four Species, the Arba Minim (as the Torah says:’You shall take for yourselves’- that which is ‘yours’).

However, although the Torah also says that ‘Chag Succot you shall make FOR YOU’,  you are  יוצא, you fulfill the Mitzvah of Succah, in a communal Succah.

Why? Explain the sages:Because the Torah says:כל אזרח בישראל ישבו בסכת:’Every native of Israel shall dwell in sukkahs, סכת’, teaching that ‘All Bnei Israel are ראוים:‘fit’ to dwell in one Succah’.

Why did our sages here use the word ‘ראוי׳, fit, instead of the word ‘יוצא’, have fulfilled a mitzva, if their sole intent was to tell us how to fulfill the Mitzvah?

The answer might be that the primary meaning of the word ראוי is worthy- rather than ‘fit’- as, when praising someone, we say: הוא ראוי לשבח: he is worthy of praise.

The Lelover Rebbe explains: The Torah’s choice of this word, teaches a unique ‘aspect’ of Succot: it is a festival which ‘enables’ אחדות: unity among the Jewish people, עם ישראל.

Adds the Rebbe:This too is the ‘message’ of the Arba Minim. The midrash relates that each of the four minim ‘represents’ one of the ‘groups’ which comprise עם ישראל, starting from the Etrog, of the sweet smell and taste, which  alludes to Jews replete in both Torah and good deeds, and finishing with the Arava, which has neither taste nor smell, alluding to those Jews who have neither Torah nor good deeds; and, with them, we take the other two minim, one of which has a redolent smell, but no taste, and the other, taste but no smell.

‘Asks’ Hashem rhetorically: ‘What shall I do with these [types of people]? I don’t want to לאבד אותם:‘lose’ them, rather, bind them all together, and they will atone for one another’. Therefore, Moshe Rabenu warns Bnei Israel: ‘Take the arba minim’ together ‘on the first day’.

The Be’er Heitev adds a beautiful insight, noting that the גמטריא: numerical value of אתרוג, the most ‘righteous’ of the Jews in the symbolism of the Arba Minim, is 610, 3 ‘short’ of the total number of Mitzvot- 613; this, he says, comes to teach that to reach שלימות: ‘completeness’, the ‘etrog Jew’, too, needs to combine with the other three, ‘less complete’ Jews.

Why are we able to attain unity, אחדות, on Succot, more than at other times?

To answer this, we need to ask, and answer, another question: Why did the Torah command that we dwell in Succot in Tishrei, and not in Nisan, which was the month in which Bnei Israel left Egypt, and which we are commanded to remember, when we dwell in the Succah?

Answer the parshanim: Because Succot, in Tishrei, follows Yom Kippur!

And on Yom Kippur we ‘eliminate’ the major cause of divisiveness, and separation between Jews.

Our sages teach that, whilst Yom Kippur atones for our transgressions against Hashem, transgressions against our fellow men are not forgiven, until we appease those we have offended. Therefore, only after we have made our peace with our fellow man, on Yom Kippur, has the major reason for division been removed; and only then, can we have true אחדות: unity- and be worthy to all sit in one Succah, which can rightly be called ‘the Succah of Peace’!

The Alshich Hakadosh sweetens this message, asking:Why, in the Torah, does the commandment to take the Arba Minim (Emor 33:40) precede the Mitzvah of sitting in the Succah (33:42)? In practice, we sit in the succah on the first night, and only take the arba minim on the following morning!

Might not the Torah by this ‘change of order’ come to teach us that we first need אחדות: unity, to be worthy- להיות ראוים- to sit in the holy Succah?!

And, if we are truly united, surely Hashem will fulfill the prophecy of Amos (9:11):’On that day, Hashem will raise up the fallen Succah of David’ Hamelech.

לרפואת נועם בת זהבה רבקה ונחום אלימלך רפאל בן זהבה רבקה, בתוך שאר חולי עמנו