A Short Sukkot Meditation

Sukkah

Sukkah

After having heard the solemn sound of the Shofar on Rosh HaShanah, calling us to repentance, and having prepared ourselves for the glorious future of meeting our Messiah at his return in majesty and judgment (Yom Kippur), we are now called to dwell in his presence when we receive him in our booths at Sukkot. Naturally thus the celebration of Sukkot includes a reference to the birth of Messiah, his first coming among us.

Since Messiah communicates to us the presence of HaShem, his Father, the Sukkah in a certain way mirrors the presence of HaShem in His own Sukkah, the Tabernacle.

It is clear that the Sukkah is invested with a degree of holiness. This is because it is a religious item made according to the instructions of the Torah, like the Tzitzit and the Tefillin.

The Sukkah should be built within the confines of the surroundings belonging our home, so that we don’t have to pass through a public domain when we transport items (such as dishes and food) to and from it on Shabbat. In comparison to the Sukkah our home and its surroundings are less holy. Yet they are not entirely secular, however, since they are a sanctified domain for the people of HaShem, a sanctity symbolized by the Mezuzah. On the level of the Tabernacle we can compare them to the court of the Israelites. For that reason the Sukkah itself can be compared to the Sanctuary proper.

This tentative comparison leads to the question what should be compared — on the level of the Sukkah — to the inner Sanctuary of the Tabernacle, the Holiest of Holies. For there is no special compartment to be found within the Sukkah which has a distinct sacred status. I think here the answer must be found by considering the special part by which the Sukkah is defined and on which its halachic validity depends, the S’chach or roof-covering. In the halachic discussions about the demand that the S’chach should give more shade than sunlight, an analogy is made between the S’chach and the curtain before the Ark in the Tabernacle, of which it is said (in Ex. 40:3): “And [thou shalt] cover the Ark with a vail”.

The covering of the Sukkah separates it from Heaven itself, the dwelling place of HaShem. And thus on the level of the Sukkah the Holiest of Holies of the Tabernacle is reflected in that which is behind the S’chach. Behind the S’shach of the Sukkah dwells G-d Himself, who visits us during Sukkot in and through the mediation of Messiah Yeshua, of whom the S’chach is a symbol (cf. Hebr. 10:20).

This arrangement of things perfectly prefigures the situation of the Kingdom Age, during which Messiah will be King and High Priest, dwelling in the innermost Sanctuary of the Millennial Temple. May that time, which we anticipate in our celebration of Sukkot,  arrive speedily, in our days.

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