Sunday, October 07, 2012
Succos 5634 Sixth Ma'amar
When the Beis HaMikdash was standing in addition to the mitzvah of taking the four species, there was an additional mitzvah to bring aravos to the Beis HaMikdash, stand them against the altar and walk around the altar. Today we commemorate this mitzvah on Hoshana Raba, the last day of Succos by taking aravos in addition to the four species. What is the significance of the arava? Why, of the four species is the arava singled out for an added mitzvah?
Chazal teach us that each of the four species alludes to different types of Jews. The esrog which has taste and smells good alludes to those who have Torah and good deeds. The lulav which has taste (i.e. the date, fruit of the palm tree) but no smell alludes to those who have Torah but no good deeds. The hadas/myrtle branch which has a nice smell but no taste alludes to those who have good deeds but no Torah. Finally the arava which has neither taste nor smell alludes to those Jews who have neither Torah nor good deeds.
The arava was singled out for the additional mitzvah in order to show that our special connection to God is intrinsic and unconditional rather than based on our Torah and good deeds. The Torah unconditionally calls us children of God, "בנים אתם לה' א-להיכם .../You are children to God, your Lord ..."
We see this idea in a pasuk from Shir HaShirim (1:2), "ישקני מנשיקות פיהו כי טובים דודיך מיין/If only He would kiss me with the kisses of His mouth, for Your love is better than wine." נשיקה/Kiss is closely related to the word השקה which means bringing together or touching. For example, a pool of water can be made kosher to be used as a mikva if it touches water that is already kosher for a mikva. This is called השקה. When we long for God's kiss, as it were, we are asking for a connection to Him that would purify us the way that water becomes pure through השקה/touching. That connection is better than wine. What does wine signify?
The end of the pasuk, "טובים דודיך מיין/Your love is better than wine" is an allusion to the wine libations of the entire year. Using wine as a libation represents our Mitzvos and good deeds. In contrast, on Succos, in addition to the wine libation, there is a water libation. Water, the universal solvent, the simplest liquid represents our intrinsic connection to God and God's unconditional love for us. Our connection to God that we merit as a result of our Torah and mitzvos cannot compare to the intrinsic connection that flows from God Himself, "כי חלק ה' עמו/For God's portion is His nation."
This realization of the fundamental connection between us and God causes us incredible happiness, another reason that Succos is the time of happiness.