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Rabbinical HOMEiletics: Part 2

Updated: Oct 20, 2022

In the Shadow of the Succah

While the holiday of Succos may be in our rearview mirrors, we are still within the shadow of the Yom Tov. Much of the Torah world does not say Tachanun until after Rosh Chodesh Cheshvan, many have not yet had a chance to take down their Succahs, and so many of us will be enjoying Yom Tov leftovers for days to come.

So, before we pack up the most joyous Yom Tov of Sukkos until next year, let’s explore and embrace a parting thought as a souvenir to bring with us into the winter months ahead.

The Vilna Gaon writes that the only two Mitzvos that are performed with one’s entire body are Dwelling in the Sukkah and Dwelling in the land of Israel. We also find in our weekly Erev Shabbos Tefillah a reference to both Succah and Yerushalayim, "Ufros Aleynu Sukkas Shlomecha…..Ve- al Yerushalayim."

There is a lot that these two Mitzvos share in common:

  • In both domains, we can fulfill specific Mitzvos.

  • In both domains, Hashem’s Shechinah is present.

  • Both domains are fragile and must be attended to with sanctity.

At the conclusion of the holiday, we recite a fascinating request as we leave the Succah, "Kesheym shekiyamti Veyashavti Besukkah Zu, Keyn Ezkeh Leshana Haboah Leysheyv Besukkat Oro Shel Levyatan"- "Just as I have dwelled in this Succah, so may I merit to dwell in the coming year in the Succah made of the skin of the Levyatan. Next Year in Jerusalem!"

What is this?!

The Mishnah Tractate Succah lists a myriad of cases of Succahs with which one can fulfill the Mitzvah: A Sukkah on a boat, on a camel, in a tree… but nowhere does it say a Succah made of the Levyatan fish?! So, what is this referring to?

The commentators explain that it refers to the times of Moshiach when Hashem will protect us amid the final wars in a shelter made from the skins of the famed Levyatan from Creation.

This prayer cries out to Hashem that in the merit of our dwelling faithfully in the fragile Succah, may Hashem bring the final redemption and protect us with His shelter that has been around since the Creation of the world. Dwelling in our Succahs serves both as a prerequisite and precursor for our national return HOME to dwell in Hashem’s Succah in Yerushalayim. It will be constructed out of the Levyatan, and then we will understand all the mysteries of the exile we have endured throughout the millennia.

It is reported that over one hundred thousand pilgrims came to visit Yerushalayim this Succos. There was the semi-annual Birkas Kohanim /Priestly Blessings at the Kosel. There were ceremonies modeled after the Biblical Hakhel as well as Water Drawing Processions similar to what took place in the times of the Beit Hamikdash. We live in momentous times!

Although the celebration of Succos has concluded, our hopes, prayers, and aspirations to return to Hashem’s Succah in Yerushalayim reverberate in our souls continuously all year long.

L’Shana Haba'ah B'Yerushalayim! May we merit to sit in the Succah of the Levyatan together soon in our days!

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