Rabbi Ephraim Sprecher, Dean of Students and Senior Lecturer at Diaspora Yeshiva, is not only a popular speaker and teacher, but also a dynamic thinker and writer. A student of Harav Yaakov Kamenetsky and Harav Gedalia Schorr, Rabbi Sprecher was granted smicha (rabbinical ordination) by Torah Vodaath Yeshiva. Prior to his current position, Rabbi Sprecher was a professor of Judaic studies at Touro College in New York. In addition to his duties at Diaspora Yeshiva, Rabbi Sprecher writes a regular column on various Judaic topics in the Jewish Press, and lectures regularly at the OU Israel Center in Jerusalem.
The Suka – Hugged by the One Above
Published: Monday, October 7, 2019 05:54:56 PM
Number of views: 1437

There is a strange and perplexing Midrash, "When Iyov (Job) complained about his unbearable suffering, G-d showed him a Suka of 3 walls." What could be the meaning of this perplexing Midrash?

A Sukkah by definition is a temporary residence. The Halachic rule is that it must have at least three walls or even two walls and a Tefach (a hands breath) that comprises a third wall. (Shulchan Aruch:O.C. 630)

However, even though the Suka must have a temporary status, it must be fit to be lived in as the Talmud in Suka 26a states, "TESHVU K'EIN TADURU", ("You shall dwell [in the Suka] as if it is your permanent residence"). This is the reason that should one have discomfort in dwelling in the Suka, he is not required to stay there. (Shulchan Aruch: O.C. 640).

The obvious question is how can a Suka of three walls be called a comfortable dwelling? Would one live in a house with three walls? The answer is that if a person is truly a believer in the Torah, then to him, even a Sukkah with three walls becomes a comfortable residence, because the Torah considers it to be a dwelling. Because living in the Suka is a Mitzvah, one enjoys living in it as much as he enjoys living in his own permanent and beautiful home. It is all a matter of a state of mind.

When G-d showed Iyov (Job) a Suka of three walls, G‑d meant to say, "Life in this world includes pain and suffering. Never the less accept the life that I have given you and grin and bear it, because I (G‑d) meant it to be this way. Then you will enjoy being close to Me for eternity in Olam Haba." The lesson of the three walled Sukkah is that a person should accept and enjoy his life as G‑d sends it even if one experiences pain and suffering.

It is in human nature to become accustomed to and not to appreciate what we have until we are deprived of it. We become entitled and begin to expect that we deserve what we have been given. Iyov (Job) had it all – wealth, a beautiful and large family and many friends and admirers. Rambam in Moreh Nevuchim states that Iyov (Job) the person NEVER existed! Rambam explains that he is only a parable and metaphor for the Nation of Israel.

Such has been the experience of the Jewish People throughout our tragic history. The Tanach is replete with stories of our nation becoming complacent, sinning, being punished, doing Teshuva and receiving prosperity and success only to return to complacency and sinning once again. We keep forgetting the debt that we owe to G-d and continue the vicious cycle.

Sukot is a time when we can break out of this vicious cycle, and the Suka represents this opportunity. On Sukot we leave the comfort and stability of our homes and the roofs over our heads that conceal us from the outside world, obscuring our recognition of G-d's gifts.

We enter a structure that is temporary and unstable, leaving ourselves vulnerable and exposed to the elements. We construct the Sukah in such a way that we are bound to notice our own deficiencies and our reliance on G‑d's protection. The SCHACH, which must come from a natural source and can't be artificially made, represents G‑d's eternal, continuous protection of us.

Judaism teaches that G‑d maintains the world constantly and that nothing exists without Him. Yet all too often, we find ourselves assuming credit for what we have accomplished and assign blame for the errors and failings of others, while forgetting G‑d's role in our lives. When we pray to be inscribed in the Book of Life and Blessings on the High Holy Days that precede Sukot, we emphasize that everything stems from G‑d.

Sukot brings the message of the High Holy Days to a tangible, perceptible level as we leave the comfort of our permanent homes and enter a temporary and fragile Sukah. In the Sukah we are confronted with the realization that we are indebted to G‑d for our very existence.

After a week of living in the Sukah, we can return to our homes, re‑JEWvenated with the idea that our permanent dwellings and our daily routines are also under G‑d's protection, but in a more mundane and concealed fashion.

The Sukah offers us the opportunity to re‑connect with G‑d and to re‑evaluate our relationship with Him, by removing the spiritual barriers that obstruct our day to day lives.

Kabala teaches that when we enter the Suka, we are being Hugged by the One Above!

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