Sukkot’s universal message shines a light on the coming era of Moshiach. * The sukkah is more than a temporary structure; it's a model for a transformed world.
As humanity stands at the crossroads, navigating an ever-shifting maze of belief systems, cultures, and geopolitics, the festival of Sukkot offers a spiritual compass. With its simple yet profound rituals, this ancient celebration becomes an inclusive embrace, linking humanity in a common purpose.
In Salvador Litvak’s “Table for Five: Sukkot Edition,” multiple Jewish scholars unpack the layered meanings of Sukkot, portraying it as a festival with messages that resonate far beyond the Jewish community. Far from a singular interpretation, the article serves as a lens through which one can see the universalistic aspirations of this deeply Jewish festival.
The core idea here is that Sukkot carries a message for all of humanity. Rabbi Aryeh Markman advises us to focus on our heritage and our future, while Rabbi Shlomo Yaffe extends this notion, asserting that Sukkot “represents Judaism turned outward sharing its values.” Both positions elegantly converge on the theme that Sukkot’s universal message is not a dilution but an elevation of its specific Jewish meaning.
This narrative is beautifully aligned with the prophecy of Zechariah 14:16, elaborated by Rashi, stating that in the time of Moshiach, all nations will join the Jews in celebrating Sukkot. This prophecy, also examined in chassidic literature, highlights Sukkot's role as a forerunner for a future world where all will acknowledge the Divine presence.
The verse from Zechariah 14:16 warrants close attention: "And it will come to pass that everyone left of all the nations who came up against Jerusalem will go up from year to year to prostrate himself to the King, the Lord of Hosts, and to celebrate the Festival of Sukkot." This is a striking prophecy that paints a picture of a world so radically changed that even the nations who once fought against Jerusalem will come yearly to honor the divine.
Rashi, the preeminent medieval commentator, elaborates on this verse, explaining that the nations will come to Jerusalem to celebrate Sukkot as a recognition of God's sovereignty. They will bow down to God, acknowledging the defeat of their erstwhile ideologies and the triumph of divine wisdom and justice. Rashi’s commentary tells us that this prophecy is not merely about nations paying homage to God, but also about acknowledging the correctness and divine origin of the Torah and its festivals.
In Chassidic literature, the emphasis on this future celebration of Sukkot by the nations illuminates the festival’s universal appeal. The Lubavitcher Rebbe, for example, teaches that Sukkot signifies the "ushpizin" or the welcoming of all seven emotional attributes represented by our Patriarchs. This welcoming is not just an internal Jewish process but a global one, where each attribute invites a corresponding rectification in the world at large. The Rebbe's teaching is that the sukkah, a simple and humble dwelling, is symbolic of God's all-encompassing love—a love that in the era of Moshiach will be fully revealed and shared universally.
This coming together under the sukkah's simple roof signifies the ultimate unity we hope to achieve in the era of Moshiach—a time where the world is not only at peace but is actively recognizing and celebrating the Divine presence among us. It offers a glimmer of a time when the entire world joins together in common cause, elevating Sukkot from a Jewish observance to a global celebration of divine unity.
The rabbis in the article, with their differing but complementary perspectives, seem to be shining spotlights on different facets of a gem that is Sukkot. These teachings confirm and enrich our understanding of the festival, hinting at its role in a world transformed by the coming of Moshiach. Rabbi David Eliezrie’s idea of a "transitionary" world propels us towards this divine culmination.
What is equally captivating is that all of these insights harbor a strong undercurrent of hope, subtly echoing the message of the ultimate redemption through Moshiach. Sukkot, in its celebration of unity and trust, serves as a glimpse into the Messianic era—an era defined by global awareness of the Divine and unparalleled unity among mankind.
In this spirit, let us step into our sukkah with a sense of purpose, aware that its frail wooden beams and palm branches are not just symbols of past journeys, but signposts pointing towards the realization of the world’s ultimate destiny. As we usher in the festival, let's imbue our actions with the knowledge that we are not just commemorating a historic event but participating in shaping the world's future—a world that awaits the arrival of Moshiach.