August 7, 2018

Sukkot, Hospitality and the third Beit HaMikdash

The word ‘Sukkot’ appears three times in the Torah (see Vayikra 23:42-43). Yet, while on the first two occasions the hebrew word ‘Sukkot’ is ‘chaser’ (meaning that the word appears to be missing a ‘vav’), on the third occasion it is ‘maleh’ (meaning that it includes a ‘vav’). Though various explanations have been offered for this apparent inconsistency, I would like to share the explanation offered by Rabbi Yaakov Abuchatzeira, otherwise known as the Abir Yaakov.
The Abir Yaakov explains that the two words which are ‘chaser’ refer to the first two Temples in Jerusalem, while the word which is ‘maleh’ refers to the Third Beit Hamikdash. Thus, these three words hint to the destruction of the two Temples, and the future eternal third Temple. In addition to this, during the festival of Sukkot we add an extra line in the Birkat Hamazon which refers to the destruction of the Temple and an expression of hope for its restoration.
Yet, while we can find hints to connect Sukkot and the rebuilding of the Temple, is there anything more meaningful about this connection?
I would like to suggest that the Sukkah is understood to be a remedy for the malady that led to the destruction of the Temple. We know that the second Temple was destroyed because of baseless hatred, while the Sukkah is intended to be an open house in which we offer hospitality. Devarim 16:14 teaches us that ‘you shall rejoice in your festival: you, your son, your daughter, and your maid, and the Levite, and the sojourner, and the orphan and the widow’, on which Rashi comments, ‘Your four – son, daughter, male and female servants, correspond to My four – the orphan, widow, Levite and proselyte. If you will bring joy to My four, I will bring joy to your four’ (Rashi on 16:11). From here we learn that someone who invites others into their sukkah, especially those in need or those who are alone, bring goodness to the world and brings redemption that much closer.
Therefore, on a festival in which we are commanded to be happy and bring happiness to others, we hope to turn the tide of the baseless hated that destroyed the Temple and thereby bring about the Third Temple speedily in our days.
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