This D’var Torah was given over by Ari Fuld on Sept. 16, 2016 as part of Ari’s Grill & Torah Series. It has been edited from the original transcript.
What is the symbolism of Sukkot and what do we have to learn from Sukkot in terms of modern day lessons for Israel, the world, the UN, Trump, Clinton, Obama and whatever else is out there?
We’re going to learn from the lessons of Sukkot that it’s not those people I mentioned that we need to worry about at all, or fear, whatsoever. We can actually laugh it off, because I am going to show you what Sukkot has to do with these problems we are having today, which are not really problems.
We, the Jewish people, build these sukkot, we eat in them, we sleep in them, we live in them, everything for the next seven days. It’s in memory of when God took care of us in the Midbar, the desert.
But the question is why?
Sukkot is the holiday where it says “V’Samachta B’Chagecha” – you should have a joyous time, happiness in this holiday. But all holidays are happy times, so why is Sukkot specifically the holiday where we are told to rejoice in the holiday?
We have Pesach (Passover) which is a lot of fun, lot of great times. We have Shavuot, where we traditionally celebrate that we received the Torah from God.
So why specifically on Sukkot do we have V’Samachta B’Chagecha, you will rejoice in your holiday?
What is unique in Sukkot that we are rejoicing more here, than on any other holiday? Why doesn’t the Torah say V’Samachta B’Chagecha on all the holidays?
And what is so happy and so awesome about leaving your comfortable house and entering this small hut, which any wind or storm can knock it down? You’re making yourself vulnerable.
The answer is as follows.
When we were in the Midbar, in the desert for 40 years, and we had nothing (of our own). We didn’t have water, food… nothing. God took care of every need we had. Not only did we have it well in the desert, many of the leaders… the spies, the meraglim (who were the greatest of rabbis of Israel, they weren’t evil people) made a horrible mistake.
The question is always asked, how could they, our greatest leaders, have possibly made such a horrible mistake?
When God says go to the land of Israel, dwell in it, and take it over, they said no, we don’t want to go into Israel, we’d rather be in the desert.
The answer is that in the desert God was taking care of every last need we had – spiritually as well as physically.
The greatest of rabbis, the greatest of our leaders didn’t want to go into the Land of Israel, because in the land of Israel you have to work your field, you have to go to work, you have to take care of your personal things. There wouldn’t even be Mann anymore, where God is sending you down food from the heavens and everything will be great. There won’t be a (heavenly) cloud over you showing you the way to go. You’re going to have to make your own decisions.
The greatest of our leaders did not want us to do that.
They wanted everything to be up to God. Just trust in God and that will be all.
But God had a different plan.
You see, God’s plan is that we would go into the Land of Israel and we will be in charge of ourselves. We have to do things according to what God wants, but its our freedom of choice – and that was the goal.
The spies caused tremendous amount of pain for the nation of Israel, for years, we’re still paying for that transgression, until today. They made a huge mistake.
The idea is not to stay in the desert. The idea is to come home to the Land of Israel and build an independent society that’s built on the values and morals that God gave us through the Torah.
That was the goal, so today, on Sukkot, we leave our comfortable homes, we leave everything inside and go into those huts (on mine I have these huge Israeli flags on top. The UN might have a problem with it, it’s like an illegal building in Judea). We leave behind our confidence (and reliance) in ourselves – and that is our huge downfall, our confidence (reliance/self-assurance) in ourselves.
When we win wars, when we are victorious, when we are saved, when we’re not destroyed by the enemies who want to destroy us – of course we thank the soldiers and those that are fighting and putting their lives on the line, but everything in the hands of God.
And that’s why it says V’Samachta B’Chagecha on Sukkot.
If you are rejoicing in only your own power, what “I did, I did, Me, Me Me” that’s not enjoyment. You earned it, maybe, you tried hard, but there’s no confidence there. At the end of the day, things happen all the time, and you have to realize it’s not “me, me, me, I, I, I”. Everything in this world is given to us by Hakodosh Baruch Hu, by God.
When we leave our home, and go into this shaky little hut, we put all our trust in God – and then, real happiness hits. Then, when you realize it’s not up to you, it not all about you… you’re in the world to make sure the world survives and be a light unto the nations, but it’s all up to God. And when you realize that, then you can really have happiness, and that is why on Sukkot we have this idea of being happy.
We have to realize God is in charge.
Also, we should appreciate things when things are going great. Not just say, “Hey God, why did you do that to me?” when things are going bad. But when things are going great. When you wake up in the morning you say, “Thank God, I’m breathing.”
Imagine if were able to be really grateful for every little thing we do! “I’m breathing. Wow! I inhaled. Thank God.” But we don’t do that. We take everything for granted today, because everything is coming to us (entitlement). But when it goes bad, we say, “God, why did you do this to us?”
That’s not what we’ve got to do, and that’s why we go into this little hut and we say it’s great, it’s awesome. Thank God for everything we have.
With all the garbage going on in the world, the terrorists, whatever it might be, the completely irrelevant UNESCO… I want to point out that we the Jews were in the Land of Israel long before any of the countries voting in UNESCO existed. We don’t really need an organization which has only been around some 75 years old, to give us, a 3000 year old nation, permission to live in Jerusalem, the Temple Mount, or anywhere else. But thanks for the vote anyway. Ignore them people, it’s actually funny.
From Judea, Israel, have a very, very, very joyous and happy Sukkot. Enjoy your holiday, enjoy your families, and enjoy and really appreciate everything you have. We have so much to be appreciative for.