Tuesday, October 18, 2011

A Succot Thought - Emotional Packaging

We are now in the midst of the Holiday of Succot. Mystically speaking, the buoyantly vibrant celebration of Succot is seen as an extension of  Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. It's all just one long Holiday, divided into segments. Somehow, during the happiness of Succot we are further processing the blessings for a sweet year we had received during the more solemn Holidays of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. 

I think of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur as setting out the blueprint for our year. As with all blueprints, it's intellectual. As an architect lays out the plans of a building, so too the Creator has laid out the plans for our year. However, Succot is different is one very important way. It's primarily emotional. We’re praying for those blessings charted with the Creator's intellectual care to be also given personality and character. Specifically, we want those blessings granted with a happy and shining Divine Face. We're not only interested in what's given to us, but also in how it's given to us. That sweet emotional packaging is very important.

The same planned blessings will reach us very differently if the Creator wraps them in His emotions and presents them to us with a heart over brimming with joy. It's our hopes that our joyous celebration, will warm up His heart and signal our readiness to receive His gifts for a new year in a joyous relationship with Him. We hope that with our joyous attitudes during Succot He will be aroused to grant us our new year with a happy and shining Face. 

Imagine a King who has dedicated an annual allowance for each of his two sons.  One son, he’s feeling emotionally distant from. To this son he sends a messenger with the allowance. It will be appropriate, but, limited to what he decided from the distance should be objectively sufficient. However, to the son he feels emotionally close to, the story is entirely different. He meets this son personally. During the meeting, he inquires about his welfare. If his son needs something more, it’s readily arranged. In the joy of the discussion the allowance easily grows to really suit his every need and whim, even exceeding them to allow for luxuries. 

Similarly, by our Succot celebrations we are now going through a period of warming up the Divine Heart.  We don’t simply want His gifts. We want His gifts given to us happily. While music, dancing, food, are all part of this celebration, there’s nothing that arouses His warmth for us like our unity. To symbolize how deeply we identify being unified, we take a date palm frond, a citron, three myrtle branches and two willow branches and unite them together. Each of these four kinds of plant growth represent a different kind of Jew: The Torah scholar, the one who thrives on doing good deeds, those who are a balanced combination of both Torah and good deeds, and those whose deeds and learning are poor. We proclaim that all four kinds of Jews are one. By waving these four plant products in all six directions in space, we show that we’re one beating heart pulsating in all directions together. 

The Torah scholar is represented by the date palm frond because dates taste yummy like Torah knowledge. The one who thrives on good deeds is represented by the myrtle because it's leave exude a fragrant aroma - like good deeds. Those who combine both focuses, Torah and good deeds, are represented by the citron because the citron exudes fragrance and also, offers taste. Those whose deeds and learning are poor are represented by the willow which has neither fragrance nor taste. This bond of unity among all four kinds of Jews coming together, arouses the Creator's happiness for us like nothing else and brings Him to us along with His planned blessings.