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How Will You Build Your Sukkah?

"They found written in the Torah that the LORD had commanded Moses that the Israelites must dwell in booths during the festival of the seventh month, and that they must announce and proclaim throughout all their towns and Jerusalem as follows, “Go out to the mountains and bring leafy branches of olive trees, pine trees, myrtles, palms and other leafy trees to make booths, as it is written.” - Nehemiah 8:14-15

Sukkot is one the most joyously visual of mitzvoth performed by the Jewish People. If you are in Israel, during the Hag (festival), look in any direction, here in Jerusalem, and witness the mitzvah being fulfilled as little booths spring up in yards, sidewalk cafes and even the merpesett (balcony) of apartment dwellers.

Spend any time in the Sukkah and one thing is obvious: It's a temp job. All the better to remind us that, like the temporary booth, we are here for just a little while. But the Creator’s message during Sukkot is to be joyful, even commanding Israel to be joyful--which demonstrates we can choose to be happy as you're buffeted about by life's unexpected experiences. And like the song says, "Storms never last".

There are several verses in the Torah that draw parallels between the Mishkan (Tabernacle) and the human body. For example, in Exodus 25:8, God instructs Moses to, Let them make Me a sanctuary, that I may dwell among them." In the Talmud (Berakhot 8a) we're taught that each individual should make themselves into a place suitable for God's Divine presence. Exodus 40:16 also reveals the parallel between our bodies and the basic design of the Mishkan. In fact the Torah employs the language of physiology. Chazal (the Torah Sages) teach us that Moses scrupulously followed God's instructions for the Mishkan and that's how our personal sukkah should be fashioned, to live a life in accordance with His will. The blueprint for the Tabernacle is rich with symbolism, each part representing different aspects of the human body. For example, the Ark of the Covenant, as the depository of the tables of the law can be seen as the mind and intellect. The Menorah, with its seven branches, represents the seven emotions of the heart. And the Altar, where sacrifices were offered, can be seen as representing the mouth and the power of speech.

Yes, the sukkah is a parallel to the Miskhan and that metaphor can be extended to our own body being likened to the Tabernacle. Since Moses followed God's instructions in building the Mishkan to fit heavenly standards, we can look to the Torah as a blueprint for a meaningful life. By following the Torah model we can make our personal sukkah a place fit for HaShem to dwell among us. Hag Sameach!

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