This page presents insights by Rabbi Tuvia Bolton on the weekly Torah portion.
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The holiday of Succot is perhaps the most connected to Moshiach of all the Jewish holidays. The Haftorah read on that day (Zacharia chapt. 14) links them strongly; "And it will be on that day (Moshiach will cause) that G-d will be one and His name one....And all the remaining nations that come to Jerusalem to bow to G-d and celebrate the Holiday of Succot....This will be the sin (and punishment) of....all the nations that do not come to celebrate the holiday of Succot"
In the prayer after eating we insert, "May the Merciful one raise the fallen Succa of King David (i.e. Moshiach)"
In the days of the Temple, the seventy oxen slaughtered connected the 'seventy' nations to the G-d of Israel which will only occur in the days of Moshiach. And there is much more.
But after all, this is not so clear. There are many commandments in this holiday; taking Lulov and Esrog, being happy, in the time of the Temple there was the water pouring ceremony and more. But nevertheless the holiday is named after only one commandment; sitting in the foliage-covered booth called a Succa. And it is this commandment more than any other that is connected with Moshiach. Why?
To understand this here is a story I heard on a record from Rabbi Shlomo Zalman Hecht obm.
About two hundred years ago in a large Polish village there dwelled several hundred Chassidim with a very special Rebbe. He was a great miracle worker and fantastic Torah scholar. The Succa he had built for himself every yearfor the holiday of Succot was a sight to see; the walls were of the thickest and best polished wood and it was decorated with the most expensive and beautiful ornaments. Even the greenery (Schach) used for the ceiling seemed to glow and radiate joy and life.
One year, all his Chassidim decided that they would follow the custom of their Rebbe and each build a beautiful Succa for himself and family. They saved up enough money for the expensive materials, but the only problem was that most of them knew nothing about building. So someone came up with the idea that all the Chassidim who did know something about such things would form a group of ‘Succa-builders’ and would go from house to house building new Succas for everyone.
Needless to say, these builders had their hands full. They worked day and night going from yard to yard and made a lot of money. But, just a few hours before the holiday, as they finished their last Succa, they realized to their dismay that they had been so busy working for everyone else that they had forgotten about themselves!
They had no Succas for themselves and families!
What could they do? There wasn’t enough time for each one to go home and build his own Succa, so they decided that they had no other choice than to gather all the scraps and leftover wood from the Succas they had built and build one huge Succa near the outskirts of the town big enough for all of them.
They worked feverishly, gathered all the material, found a fitting place, and finished building their large rickety edifice with just enough time left to prepare for the holiday, and make it to the synagogue in time to usher in the holiday at sunset.
Everyone, including all the workers, were sitting in the Shul radiating holy joy, and the prayers began. They, sang, clapped their hands, and some even danced, Then, when the services were over, everyone shook hands and filed by the Rebbe to receive his blessings of ‘Good YomTov’ before heading home for the holiday meal. Someone opened the huge doors, but before the first person could put his foot on the road in front of the Synagogue, it began to rain.
It was only a drizzle; the skies had been clear before the prayers began and everyone was sure it wouldn’t last long. But disappointingly the rain got stronger and stronger. A powerful cold wind threw a chill down everyone's spine. Only with difficulty did they manage to close the Shul doors against the wind and rain and when they finally did. They just stood there silently waiting for the sound of the storm to stop. It took them by surprise.
After a half hour, the rain suddenly ceased, the Chassidim cautiously opened the Shul doors. Everyone remembered that it was a 'mitzva' to be happy and with hopeful spirits they began to venture into the muddy streets to go home to their families for the festive Succot meal!
But they were in for an unpleasant surprise: all their Succas had been destroyed in the storm!
It wasn't long before they were all standing in front of their houses talking to their neighbors not knowing what to do.
Then someone got an idea "Hey! Let’s go to the Rebbe! He is a Holy man, for sure his Succa is still standing!" "Good Idea!" They all shouted in unison and set out in the direction of their Rebbe’s home. But as they approached they heard the cries from his backyard; "OOOY MY SUCCA!! My BEAUTIFUL SUCCA!!!! OOOOOOY!!"
It seems that the Rebbe’s Succa was even more destroyed than everyone else’s! The ornaments were no where to be found, the walls lay shattered in the mud and parts of them had been lifted into a tree.
Then from far away, from the direction of the worker’s Succa they heard singing! Immediately the children ran in the direction of the music and in minutes they returned with the breathless good news, "The workers' Succa is still standing!!"
The Rebbe was the first break the astonished silence, "Nu, Kinderlach" he said with a smile to the crowd "Get your food! The Allmighty has provided us with a Succa!"
The entire night, twenty families at a time in shifts of fifteen minutes each, took turns crowding into the worker’s Succa, quickly eating their Holiday meals, singing a few songs, blessing and making room for the next group.
So they did the next morning and the evening and morning after that until the third evening when they were able to rebuild their Succas. (The first two of the seven days of Succot are the holiest and work is forbidden but the other five are only 'semi-holy').
But the next morning Chassidim began knocking at the Rebbe’s door with the same question, "Why were our Succas destroyed and the Succa of the workers wasn't?"
The Rebbe thought for a while and answered that it could be that the winds were weaker on the outskirts of town whereas the space between the houses in the village caused a hurricane effect. But someone pointed out that the winds were so strong near the workers' succa that it actually knocked down a few trees.
Then the Rebbe had another theory, he suggested that maybe the Succa of the workers was build more sturdily than everyone else’s. But someone else vetoed that idea as well. It so happened that many people noticed that whenever anyone touched the workers' succa, probably because it was built so hastily, it shook as though it was about to fall.
So the Rebbe put his head down in deep thought for a minute and then raised it with a serious look. "I know!" He declared, "I know why their Succa remained standing!
"Because when we built our Succas, we had them built each person for his own family. But when the workers built their Succa it was with unity, each one built for everyone else. And when there is unity between Jews, all the storms and the hurricanes in the world can’t break it!"
Now we can answer our question; why Succot is so connected with the Moshiach.
One of the main jobs of Moshiach is to unite all the Jews and thereby "Raise the fallen Succa of King David (the Moshiach)" And when he does so, just as the Succa encompasses everything in it, so this unity will encompass the entire world; Something like the peace and unity that reigned in Noah's ark.
Moshiach will teach the Jews to realize the goodness, closeness and ONEness of G-d; that He alone is creating everything constantly and that the Torah is the instruction book, the ONLY instruction book for creation. (In fact this has already begun in the teachings of 'Chassidut', especially Chassidut Chabad.)
That is the meaning of our Haftorah; that the nations who want to partake of this blessing and unity will come to celebrate Succot in Jerusalem where Moshiach will build the Third Holy Temple. But those who want no part of this unity, as the prophet explains, will suffer.
May this Succos see all the Jews (and together with them, the entire world) realize that G-d is protecting us and surrounding us with the Clouds of Glory just as when He took us out of Egypt. (Which according to Jewish law we must think when we sit in the Succa). And then we CERTAINLY will rejoice together will all mankind with the rebuilding of King David's Succa amidst great Miracles in the arrival of……
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