Thursday, March 15, 2007

Sukkot and its Nature

Posted by Iris

In class we discussed the role Sukkot plays in the outcomes of non- Jewish along with Jewish Nations. By developing this idea further Hashgacha can be better understood.
In Zechariah 14 Sukkot is celebrated by the Jews and non- Jews; the questions answered by Radak, Metzudat David, and Rashi is, ’Why Sukkot?’ Rashi’s answer is that it is a universal holiday when the nations, Jewish or not, are judged for rain. If the Nation doesn’t come to Jerusalem for Sukkot they may possibly not receive rain and even worse receive plague as a substitution. (Another Holiday when one was required to go to Jerusalem to sacrifice and recognize the Godly presence in the world is Passover. In Egypt Hashem used 10 plagues to show the Egyptians that he was present and that Pharoh should recognize that and release Bnei Yisrael. Plague’s as means of showing God’s presence seems to be a reoccurring theme, Coincidence? I think not.) Metzudat David and Radak explain that after the Mashiach and the war that will bring it, Goag OoMagoag, Sukkot will be a holiday to commemorate the war. Though each of the explanations are reasonable, logical, and somewhat self explanatory, there is a lot of irony found in accordance with Sukkot being the celebrated holiday instead of any of the other Jewish holiday. Rabbi Osher Chaim Levene says “By swapping his permanent building for a temporary booth exposed to the natural elements, the Jew affirms how he is in truth, ‘strictly under Divine Supervision’.” Not intended by this quote, the word “nature” can be looked into deeper and have added connotations.
According to Ramban matters of nature are under full Godly Supervision and any form of natural order is an illusion. Yet according to Rambam nature is nature. Hashem created the world in Bereisheit with a miraculous hand but then left it alone. Therefore, is being in a natural atmosphere on Sukkot really natural where each individual is control of their own fate, in this case rain?
Interestingly enough the Vilna Goan explains that the Cloud of Glory returned on Sukkot in order to tell Bnei Yisrael to atone for their sin. From this it can be deduced that God’s divine supervision left before Sukkot and returned to ‘protect’ Bnei Yisrael in the natural environment the holiday is in (similar to Ramban’s opinion.) Ramban, an elites, says that God involves himself more with the righteous and wicked than with the average person. The holiday of Sukkot was established in order for Bnei Yisrael to atone and construct the sanctuary. Through the transformation to a righteous being and having Hashem’s supervision return through the Cloud of Glory in a natural time is indeed in agreement with Ramban’s opinion.
According then to the ‘symbolism’ of the Sukkah being under the stars, or Clouds of Glory, and seeing Hashem’s miracles of creation first hand, it seems God’s Divine Supervision is present even at a time of natural circumstances. In conclusion can a statement be made that God involves himself in all affairs of everyone and everything according to these ideas putting the other various types of Hashgachot in jeopardy?

Thanks to Wikipedia, Concordance, Rabbi Osher Chaim Levene’s article on “Succah; Strictly Under Divine Supervision” and Rabbi Krestt’s lesson on Zechariya.


Blogger tali said...

First of all Iris, super long blog post. I hope I understood it. I'm not really sure that because of Sukkot, we can be assured that God plays a hand in everything, everyone, everywhere. I understand the analogy, but I think that we have to keep in mind that the dor hamidbar was the holiest generation of Jewish people, and it was almost definetly true that God was much more involved in their more mundane affairs because their actions would affect the future of this people probably more than they understood. I think on some level, the fact that you wake up every morning proves God's perfection in this world. However, I agree with Rambam that nature is nature, and this is simply evidence of the great gift granted to us by God.
I think God is constantly involved in our world, but in a complex way that we cannot comprehend, because God is infinite, and exists in multi-dimensional ways. To apply our human concepts of deism or pantheism is almost like trying to explain existentialism to an infant.

March 19, 2007 8:22 PM  
Anonymous Shira M said...

ok so I also agree with Tali and the Rambam. Sukkot was an important and major thing but I do not think it puts the other types of Hashgachot in jeopordy. Hashem involves himself in our world through nature a lot. Most of the miracles he performs are done through nature. Howver God's Divine Supervision is not just through nature, but through everything. The Sukkah is just one part of judaism and does not apply to everything. God involves himself in so many ways and I think that only one way is nature, but it doesnt apply to everything.

March 22, 2007 9:52 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree with shira in that hashgacha has many different ways of playing itself out. meaning that Hashem can have hasgacha through natural occurences, however this is not the only way. I do not fully understand the connection in this blog between hasgacha pratit and sukkot, however, i do think that what both have in common is that both represent different ways of Hashem's hashgacha. Meaning that in sukkot, bnei israel, an entire nation, was guided. Howeveer hashgacha pratit is when Hashem has individual hashgacha. I do not think that being in a natural environment contradicts these different ways of hashgacha, but rather shows just one way. Additionally, by the very fact that we pray for rain shows that in fact sukkot is not symbolic of hashgacha pratit because rain effects an entire nation, not just one person. And therefore, i believe that sukkot symbolizes a universal hashgacha, by which Hashem guides all nations and people through nature (ie rain).

March 22, 2007 11:49 PM  

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