Today is the eve of 𝑆𝑢𝑘𝑘𝑜𝑡 (Hebrew: Huts), a Jewish festival where the custom is to build huts and dwell in them for seven days. The traditional explanation to this custom is that it is to remind us that our ancestors were wanderers in the Sinai desert and lived in huts, without a permanent residence. But in Jewish spirituality, namely the wisdom of Kabbalah, there is an additional, and very different explanation to this custom, which has to do with improving our connections, and nothing at all to do with where we eat or sleep.
The wisdom of Kabbalah is a method for bringing people closer, for uniting them. Its goal is to bring people to the same level of connection that existed among the people of Israel at the inception of their nationhood, when they were connected as one man with one heart.
All of the Jewish festivals have two levels of explanation. The superficial level usually pertains to an event in the chronicles of the Jewish people. The deeper level pertains to discernments concerning the level of unity or division among Jews, and their mission to be a model of unity, a light to the nations.
Jewish festivals mark particular stages in the process of establishing permanent unity and achieving the final correction in a process called 𝑇𝑖𝑘𝑘𝑢𝑛 𝑂𝑙𝑎𝑚 (correction of the world). In this process, the world transits from division and hatred into unity and love.
Normally, we live in a permanent residence. This represents a well-established level of connection between us. At such a level, people feel connected to a certain extent, they know what points to touch and what points to avoid, and feel complacent in the level of bonding and care among them. However, their complacency prevents them from touching on points of division that can lift them to higher levels of connection if they rise above them.
At that point, we must relinquish the comfort of our permanent residence and venture into a temporary one, where matters are not so clear and the bonding not yet solidified. However, if we want to become a model nation, we must show the world how to rise above adversities, and division is precisely the adversity to overcome.
Once we are in a temporary residence, and the connection between us is shaky, we must raise unity above our heads, meaning make it the most important, superior value. If we do this together, unity becomes our shield, our 𝑠𝑒𝑐ℎ𝑎𝑐ℎ (canopy), which covers and protects us from the elements, namely from division.
The unity that is revealed under the canopy is called 𝑢𝑠ℎ𝑝𝑖𝑧𝑖𝑛 (guests), whom we welcome into our hut. Once we have completed seven manifestations of division and unity that we have built above it, and have hosted seven “guests,” it is considered that we have established and solidified a new degree of unity.
In such a state, it is considered that we return to our permanent residence with the new level of unity we have acquired. This marks the end of the festival of Sukkot, when we return to our homes. May we always strive to foster deeper and deeper connections among all Jews, above all differences, so we may be a model nation that brings peace to the world.
RonAlmog, (Flickr page), CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons
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