"The Way of G-d"
Part 4: "Divine Service"
Ch. 8: "Seasonal Mitzvot"
When our ancestors left Egypt G-d provided them with a miraculous "pillar
cloud by day to guide them along the way, and a pillar of fire by night to
give them light" (Exodus 13:21) which have come to be known as The Clouds
Glory. As Ramchal explains it, the sukkah we sit in on Sukkot alludes to
Now, there are certain undeniable metaphysical implications to The Clouds
Glory as well (as we'll soon see), but on a human-level they exemplify G-
loving comfort and guidance. After all, G-d does indeed love us; and
escorting us throughout the day and night, His presence likewise hovers
lovingly and bounteously like a rain cloud on a dry summer day. And that's
important point to recall after concentrating so intently on the notion of
as Judge throughout Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur.
But what The Clouds of Glory managed to achieve on another, deeper level
to set our people apart from their surroundings. For aside from sparing
from the harsh desert winds and sands, they also separated them from the
nations they passed through -- both physically and spiritually, acting as
sort of otherworldly shield and sheath. And they also provided the venue
unique illumination from Above that elevated our people and nourished
Ramchal's point is that that same dynamic is in effect each year, on
The sukkah we sit in all week long serves to bear us much the way The
of Glory bore our ancestors. And it too allows for a certain inchoate
illumination that sets the righteous among us apart from others (as well
as our more
righteous side from the rest of our own beings).
The lulav (palm frond) along with its myrtle- and willow-branches, and the
etrog (citon) allows for that same illumination and distinction. But it
acts as a Divine emblem or weapon of sorts to daunt and disquiet our
while the geulah ("redemption") from oppression that's sure to come could
come about right *now*, were it not for our failings, it will eventually
thanks to the illumination allowed by the mitzvah of lulav.
In fact, we act out that scenario the whole week long, when we shake the
lulav and etrog, and march around the synagogue with them, as if
world with a sort of "sukkah" of our own presence; and as if defeating the
enemies of holiness. We also set the way for the great and ultimate
G-d's presence throughout the world by doing that, and ready everything
everyone for the geulah and for the service of G-d only possible then.
Text Copyright © 2004 by Rabbi Yaakov Feldman and Torah.org.