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September 30, 2023: Parashat Torah Portion Sukkot

This week’s Parashah Torah Portion Sukkot is taken from Leviticus 22:26-23:44. Join Dr. Jeffery Myers, as he expounds on the Feast of Sukkot and the power behind it’s meaning of joy! A person on this journey of life, must consider his priorities, the true destination we are all headed to. There's so much more hidden underneath the surface!

Follow along in the AUDIO PODCAST, by clicking on the play button below, and reading along with the notes, as you listen to today's Parashah Torah Portion:

Lion of Judah Speaks: Parashah Torah Portion Sukkot - Leviticus 22:26-23:44

As we arrive at the Feast of Sukkot let us look at the power of it’s meaning. We find the Scripture for Sukkot in Lev. 22:26-23:44. Let me begin with a small story: A man arrived at a village in Poland after a

5-hour train ride and a two-hour horse and buggy excursion. He then walked around until he found its most famous resident, a rabbinic authority and author. So, with trepidation, the man knocked on the door and it was opened by an old, bent-over man who asked him to please come in. The man explained he was visiting from America and wanted to meet the world-famous authority. Looking around the room the man noticed that the house was bare of furniture as if it had been hit by a hurricane. There was just one table, two chairs, a bookcase, and a bed. “Rabbi, may I ask you a question?” “Certainly, my son.” “I don’t notice any furniture in your house.” “Where is all your furniture?” The rabbi unaffected by the guest’s chutzpah, asked in turn, “And may I ask you a question, young man?” Certainly, came the reply. “Where is all your furniture?” Taken aback by the response, the man cried out, “I have a custom kitchen, an oak dining room set, and a beautiful bedroom set all in my house in N.Y. Besides does a tourist generally take such possessions along in a moving van?” To which the rabbi replied, “And I also am only passing through.”

This world is only a temporary stop! A person on a journey must consider his priorities, the true destination, and not only his comfort during the short trip. So, what do we learn from Sukkot or from the Sukkah? It teaches us that life is temporary and we should not become too comfortable in this world. During the forty years in the wilderness, they were surrounded by “clouds of glory” in all 4 directions and above and below. The supernatural clouds protected them from the wind, rain, sun, snakes and scorpions. Sukkah represents the idea of exile (galut). Even our great forefathers of faith experienced exile in some form: Abraham was sent from his birthplace to a foreign land with no clan protection. Isaac wandered to the land of the Philistines where there was a famine and he was mistreated. Ya’akov, a “wandering Jew”, was running from Esau and Lavan and in his old age was forced to leave the land of Israel for Egypt. Joseph was sold as a slave. Moses fled the wrath of Pharaoh and Aaron wandered in the wilderness forty years with an entire nation. David had to flee King Saul and then his own son. However, in spite of this, these great men trusted in Elohim and that is the lesson of the Sukkah.

This is the Season of Joy, and we just reaped our harvest, and now we rejoice in the land’s bounty. In a deeper sense, the Joy of Sukkot is connected to Yom Kippur. The main cause of depression is the mistakes we make in life…We say, “I wish I could do it all over again.” Yom Kippur is the time of a clean slate! Isn’t that cause to celebrate!

During Sukkot we use “Four Species.” The Torah commands us to take 4 specific species on the 1st day of Sukkot; etrog, palm branch, myrtle branch, and a willow branch. We bind 3 myrtle branches and 2 willow branches to the palm branch. We take the lulav (palm) in the right hand, etrog in the left and recite the blessing and shake them together in all four directions up and down.

There are different explanations for this: 1. Reference to body parts: etrog is the shape of the heart; lulav is the backbone (spinal cord), the leaves of myrtle resemble eyes and the willow represent the mouth. These are the organs that can be misused for negative behavior. The eyes see, the heart desires, body reacts, and the mouth speaks…so we dedicate all our activities to serving the Almighty above and below and in all four directions! 2. It corresponds to various types of Jews: The etrog has a good smell and taste so it symbolizes the Jew with Torah knowledge and who performs good deeds. The palm tree grows dates and has a good taste but no smell, this is the one with Torah knowledge but lacking good deeds. The myrtle has a beautiful aroma but no taste which symbolizes one who always does good deeds but lacks Torah knowledge. Then the willow, has no taste and no smell and represents the Jew lacking both knowledge and deeds.

We put all types of Jews together and wave them in all directions because every Jew can relate to the Almighty no matter where he is coming from. The etrog rubs against the willow and some of its beautiful aroma is absorbed by the willow. This symbolizes the righteous, reaching out to spread Torah among the masses. The aroma rubs off and where you smell the willow, it smells like an etrog.

3rd explanation is that the etrog gives sustenance and has an aroma which symbolizes things in nature that require no finishing touches by man, such as, air, light, and beauty. The lulav is sustenance without aroma and the myrtle is aroma without sustenance which symbolizes that man must exercise mastery and skill - as nature supplies only the raw materials, such as dwelling, clothing and utensils.

We take all these resources before Elohim and acclaim that Elohim gives us all that is good in life! We cling to them as a means of living in the Presence of Elohim according to His Will. We rejoice in them before Elohim as a means of fulfilling your duty.

The Lulav and Sukkah contrast is powerful. The Sukkah negates the idea of material possession as an ultimate value. It teaches us not to appraise worldly goods too highly. The Lulav teaches us to raise our property to Elohim, to value them at their true worth. The Sukkah prevents us from becoming too earthly, from being debased by our wealth. The Lulav reminds us not to soar too highly above the earthly and to cherish our possessions and dedicate them to holy pursuits.

It makes no difference how much you attain, as long as you lived dutifully with your possessions and joyfully fulfilled Elohim’s will on earth. This is the ultimate happiness!

When we shake the lulav in all directions, we proclaim that “EVERYTHING IN THE UNIVERSE IS ELOHIM’S CREATION. We proclaim that “THE BLESSING OF ELOHIM IS EVERYWHERE AND AT ALL TIMES!”

Shabbat Shalom Mishpocha and Chag Sukkot Sameach.

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We have entered the season of joy! I pray that today begins a new day and hour for you and your family and ministry! May the joy of this season spill over in abundance. Let the joy of Adonai be your strength. As you dwell in your personal Sukkahs may you be reminded that Elohim is in control and supplies every need in your life. Your prosperity and success are only because of Him and Him alone. He is your protector and provider and for that we give Him praise. As you dwell in your tabernacle may His Shekinah glory fall fresh on you and your family. This is truly a brand-new season…someone give Elohim praise!

Shalom Aleichem

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