Sunday, October 12, 2008

Sukkah and Spirituality

The Sefas Emes zt”l explains that we must go out to the sukkah with our entire selves: heart, soul, and our possessions. Through the mitzvah of sukkah one can obtain a lofty knowledge of Hashem and experience the spiritual freedom that the Jewish people merited during the redemption from Mitzrayim. True freedom means not being tied to the material, and we follow in the ways of our forefathers by stepping out of our comfort zone completely, and by entering the apparently insecure space of the sukkah trusting in Hashem’s protection.
The halacha is that even if one’s head and most of his body is in the sukkah if his table is outside it is as if he ate outside the sukkah. This teaches a very important lesson: it is insufficient to have our head and most of our bodies in the sukkah— we must also take steps to ensure that we are not drawn after our “table” back into the material world. We must be ever vigilant to completely sever our ties of dependence on the apparent material security of this world represented by the table. While we may think that we have fully entered the holiness of the sukkah, that we are deeply connected to holiness, leaving our table in the house shows that we may still be very connected to the diras keva. The Chovos Halevavos zt”l writes that this world and the next are mutually exclusive, like fire and water that cannot exist together and maintain their integrity. We are absorbed with either the material or the spiritual; we cannot be totally immersed in both.
The Alter of Novhardok zt”l told the following parable:
“Sometimes you meet a person who is really enslaved to his desires in body and soul, but he believes that he is free of materialism. He is like a prisoner with a police escort. To all who see them walking arm in arm he says, ‘I am this man’s master. He does as I say since he is my servant.’ But if anyone wanted to learn the truth of their relationship, there is one sure test. Ask him to try to get away from the police officer. Let us see just how free he is then!”

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