What’s in the Sukkah anyway?!

Shraga Simmons teaches that for seven days, during God’s appointed time of Sukkot, we symbolically move out of our wall-to-wall carpeted, air-conditioned house, into a little hut or booth called a Sukkah. But how is this supposed to make us happy?!… [and what’s in it?]

The lesson is that the physical objects with which we surround ourselves are not what make us happy. A person can live in a gorgeous home and be absolutely miserable. Or, he can live in a shabby hut and be ecstatically happy. The key to joy is success in our relationships. This includes our relationship with other people, with ourselves, and with God.

 Relationship With Others

Scholars say that the four species of the Lulav represent four different types of people, and is placed in the sukkah:

  1. The Esrog has a good taste and a good fragrance. It represents a person with both wisdom (Torah learning) and good deeds.
  2. The Hadas (myrtle) has a good fragrance, but is inedible. It represents a person who has good deeds, but lacks wisdom.
  3. The Lulav (date palm) is edible, but has no smell. This represents the person with wisdom, but without good deeds.
  4. The Aravah (willow) has neither taste nor smell. It represents a person with neither good deeds nor Torah learning.

On Sukkot, we gather these four species, bind them, and wave them all together.

Relationship With God 

The four species also represent the Name of God. Aravah (willow), Hadas (myrtle), Lulav (date palm) and Esrog represent the Yud and Heh and Vav and Heh of the four-letter Name of God.

Again, the key here is unity. As we say everyday in the Shema prayer: “God is One.” Whether things may appear to us as good or evil, we must realize that it all comes from God. One must deal with various pleasant or unpleasant circumstances ― ultimately for one’s maximal growth, but at the root everything comes from God.

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