Askmoses-A Jews Resource
Can a convert marry a Jewish man with the last name Cohen?
Browse our archives

The Scholar is ready to answer your question. Click the button below to chat now.


Scholar Online:

Type in your question here:

Pyramids of Unity

by Rabbi Eliezer Gurkow

  

Library » Holidays » Sukkot » Season of Rejoicing | Subscribe | What is RSS?


PRINT EMAIL COMMENT

The Holiday Mitzvahs

There are two Mitzvahs that are specifically intended for the holiday of Sukkot, eating in the Sukkah and the blessing on the Four Species. The Mitzvah designated for the holiday of Simchat Torah is the dancing and rejoicing of young and old with the sacred and precious Torah scrolls.

Our sages teach us that these holidays represent the concept of Jewish unity on three different levels. The Sukkah represents the entire congregation joining under one roof in the performance of a Mitzvah. The four species are symbolic of the four different types of Jewish people; the studious, the observant ones, who are both and those who are neither.1 In this Mitzvah these diverse groups come together and unite under the common banner of Judaism.

The dancing on Simchat Torah brings together young the old, scholar and layman. It could have been a celebration for scholars and students of Torah yet it has been given to the entire community. This represents the idea that regardless of stature, background or level of affiliation we are all brothers and sisters with equal rights to the Torah, our common heritage.


Two Forms of Unity

Unity can be perceived from several different angles. Firstly there is unity through uniformity, when all elements are matched there is no reason for discord and unity is achieved. While this is a wonderful form of unity, if it were subjected to challenge there is no telling if it will persevere.

The dancing on Simchat Torah could have been a celebration for scholars and students of Torah yet it has been given to the entire community.
The next level of unity is the cohesion of diversity. That is to say, the bringing of diverse elements together (people with conflicting opinions, groups with differing perspectives) and allowing them to reach a level of understanding. They look for a common denominator, a level of comfort, and as a result learn to co-exist.

This will not be a calm and peaceful unity, on the contrary it will constantly be challenged. These groups must carefully guard their steps and concentrate completely on their unifying factor, their areas of common interest. The moment they digress and discuss an issue of controversy their intrinsic differences are liable to cause discord.

However, in contrast to the unity discussed above, this unity has been challenged and has emerged unscathed and healthy. While the first level is pure and untarnished this unity is reliable and effective.

The question arises, is there a level of unity that inherently combines both of the advantages discussed above without adopting their problems and weaknesses? The answer is a strong and resounding yes, for this unity exists only amongst Jews.

The first unity discussed above is analogous to the unity of Sukkot in which we all unite under one roof regardless of our background and affiliation. The second unity is analogous of the four species in which four diverse elements find cohesiveness through their common Mitzvah. The third and ultimate level can be found in the holiday of Simchat Torah.

The Third and Ultimate Unity

This ultimate unity can only be found when opposing camps unknowingly share the same origin and work towards the same objective, each in their own ways. We, the Jewish people, share the same Father in heaven and possess the same soul. Even when we argue, we remain connected, we never become antagonists on the level of the soul.

On Simchat Torah our true color emerges and our uniformity comes to light. Some Jews enjoy the study of Torah and some don’t, some Jews enjoy the observance of the Mitzvahs and some don’t. But all Jews are connected to the essence of the Torah and dance with it together. For the Zohar teaches that the essence of the Torah is G-d and the essence of G-d can be found in the soul of every Jew.

May we all merit to dance with the Torah on this holiday, may we merit to truly enjoy the passion and spirit of our tradition, may we metrit true Jewish unity with the coming of Moshiach speedily in our days, Amen.

Footnotes

  • 1. See "What is the significance of the Four Species?" (http://www.askmoses.com/en/article/198,133180/What-is-the-significance-of-the-Four-Species.html).

ADD A COMMENT

Please email me when new comments are posted (you must be  logged in).

COMMENTS

World Peace

Posted by: Mark Meisels, Whichita, KS on Oct 09, 2006

What a wonderful article. I beleive that when we focus on the concept of unity, compassion and understanding - as is evident from this article - we are then paving the way for global peace.

How wonderful would it be if we can take the lessons of Sukkot and Simchat Torah and apply them on a global level.

Thanks for the inspiration!


RELATED CATEGORIES

Holidays » Simchat Torah

Mitzvah
(pl. Mitzvot). A commandment from G-d. Mitzvah also means a connection, for a Jew connects with G–d through fulfilling His commandments.
Torah
Torah is G–d’s teaching to man. In general terms, we refer to the Five Books of Moses as “The Torah.” But in truth, all Jewish beliefs and laws are part of the Torah.
Moshiach
The Messiah. Moshiach is the person who will usher in an era of peace and tranquility for all of humanity when there will be no jealousy or hate, wars or famine. This is a fundamental Jewish belief.
Sukkot
A seven day autumn festival commemorating the miracle of the Heavenly Clouds which enveloped the Jews while traveling in the desert for forty years. On this holiday we dwell in makeshift booths and shake the Four Species.
Sukkah
The temporary structure in which we are required to dwell for the duration of the holiday of Sukkot. The Sukkah must have at least three walls and its roof consists of unsecured branches, twigs or wooden slats.
Zohar
The most basic work of Jewish mysticism. Authored by Rabbi Shimeon bar Yochai in the 2nd century.
Simchat Torah
An extremely joyous one-day autumn festival following the holiday of Sukkot. In Israel it is the eighth day of Sukkot, outside of Israel it is celebrated the next day, the day after Shmini Atzeret. Every Sabbath we read a portion of the Torah. On this holiday we celebrate the completion of the yearly cycle.
Four Species
There is a Biblical command to take "Four Species" on the autumn holiday of Sukkot. These species are: palm branch, citron, myrtle and willow. It is customary to shake these species to all directions.
G-d
It is forbidden to erase or deface the name of G-d. It is therefore customary to insert a dash in middle of G-d's name, allowing us to erase or discard the paper it is written on if necessary.