The seven-day festival of Sukkot is referred to in liturgy as "The time of our rejoicing". An obvious question arises: on Passover, Shavuot and Sukkot we recite in our prayers, "festivals for rejoicing"; if that's the case, why does liturgy especially call Sukkot "the time of our rejoicing"?

Chasidut provides a parable which sheds light on this matter. A king's son was separated from his father in some distant land. He eventually heads home, and when the lad draws within eyesight of his father, their joy explodes in leaps and bounds.

In a similar manner, we can understand the unique joy of "The time of our rejoicing". Previously, our transgressions caused us to be far away from G‑d, but following our repentance on Yom Kippur - where misdeeds are transformed into merits - our joy is enormous. Hence, Isaiah said, "Peace, peace, for the far and near" (Isaiah 57:19). Talmud interprets the verse as, "The distant which becomes close." Sukkot's exposed descending Infinity causes immeasurable joy…

What are the mechanics of the Yom Kippur-Sukkot interplay? At first, our Yom Kippur Divine service elicits the higher G‑d from our lowly position below. Subsequently, G‑d reveals His aspect of "My Holiness", which is beyond "your holiness." His Infinite Light rectifies all the blemishes and defects created by our sins. All of this transpires in the midst of our ascending spirituality.

On Sukkot the vector of spirituality reverses. Yom Kippur's incense cloud descends upon our sukkah roofs. The term "sukkah", itself, demonstrates this concept. It is derived from the Hebrew word for its thatched roof - "schach"; Sukkot's exposed descending Infinity causes immeasurable joy. For this reason Sukkot is called - exclusive of all other Festivals - "the time of our rejoicing".

Sukkah roofs embody the lowering of "my Holiness" down to the bottommost realms. G‑d's Absolute Essence comes to illuminate even the subterranean domain of transgressions. There, they are converted into merits. While this metamorphosis occurred on Yom Kippur, nonetheless at that time G‑d's atonement operated while our divine service was projected upward. Now, on Sukkot, G‑d's act is manifest inside a motion of descent.

What's the upshot of this U-turn of revelation? On Sukkot, G‑d's Holiness permeates physicality to a greater extent than through any other mitzvah. This, then, is the ultimate explanation why the very leaves of a sukkah roof and its walls possess sanctity of body.

The identical phenomenon occurs regarding the Four Species. Infinite Light enters their physicality to a greater degree than other ritual objects. As previously discussed, we rejoice on Sukkot since G‑d's Absolute Essence - attained on Yom Kippur - descends below. Its primary revelation takes places when we lift the Four Species in the execution of their mitzvah.

The Torah commands, "You shall take for yourselves on the first day the fruit of a beautiful tree, the branches of date palms, twigs of plaited tree and brook willows; and you shall rejoice before G‑d your L-rd, for a seven day period". (Lev.23:40) The verse conveys that a sukkah's divine revelation in physicality is also manifest in the Four Species. What's more, the Species exhibit this in a more pronounced fashion. While the holiness of a sukkah encompasses us from all sides, G‑d's Light via the Four Species is near to us. G‑d's Holiness is drawn into the physicality of the Four Species…

Every morning (except on Shabbat) during Sukkot, we enter our sukkah, take the Four Species in hand, and pronounce the blessing on them. The cluster is extended outwards in six directions and then drawn toward our hearts. What does that accomplish? The straight rod of the bound Four Species directs the sukkah's Encompassing Light down into inwardness. Infinity becomes grasped, contained and absorbed, i.e. G‑d's Holiness is drawn into the physicality of the Four Species.

What's intrinsic to the Four Species that prompted G‑d to choose them to download His Infinity? The answer is that each one openly displays unity. Unity connotes the opposite of division. An entity's sensation of self separates it from G‑d, but when it is egoless, its true reality - G‑d's Light - becomes apparent. The object and G‑d are one and the same: its state of unity with G‑d is revealed. Each one of the Four Species exhibits the concept of unity in an observable external manner. That's what empowers them to draw the sukkah's Encompassing Light down into internality. To dance with our feet
…expresses ultimate unity…

The Talmud teaches that the term in Scripture for "branches [of date palms]", in Hebrew, "kapot", read aloud with a different vowel ("kafut") can be understood as "bound together". While a single branch consists of multiple leaves, and each leaf can be split into two more, nonetheless, they are joined together to fashion what appears as a single unity.

A similar phenomenon is manifest in the myrtle branch, which the Torah calls "twigs of plaited tree". It has numerous sets of three leaves, and the Talmud informs, "Each set of three sprouts from a single branch."

So, too, with willow trees, for they grow together in groups. In fact, the Talmud notes their Aramaic term is "brotherhood".

The etrog fruit demonstrates unity in that it bears antithetical climatic conditions: cold, heat, summer, winter etc.; known as "a beautiful fruit", an etrog doesn't only survive varying climate, its growth is augmented by them, and that diversification doesn't merely help it develop - rather, it affects the etrog, making it "beautiful".

Yom Kippur's sublime revelation of G‑d's Essence, the metamorphosis of our misdeeds into merits, descends into the sukkah's roof. Its absorption into physicality is so comprehensive that the sukka's components acquire sanctity of body. This expresses the metaphysical metamorphosis of reality: the locale of darkness becomes light. And that's what produces the incredible joy of the Sukkot Festival.

The assimilation of Infinity culminates on Shemini Atzeret and Simchat Torah. That is why our divine service on Simchat Torah is to dance with our feet. This expresses ultimate unity, for, dancing together, all Jews are equal.

Adapted from a discourse, Shabbat Chol Hamoed Sukkot, 5734 (1973)

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