Having emerged from Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur and, hopefully we have all been inscribed and sealed for a happy, healthy, successful and meaningful year and years ahead, we find ourselves in the midst of Succot.
During Succot, the B’nai Yisrael, as an Am Segula (a nation apart and unique from the other nations), as Hashem’s special, chosen people, visit, bond, and celebrate our special and unique relationship with HaKodosh Borchu.
Prominent in our thoughts during Succot are the Haftorahs which the prophecy of the War of Gog and Magog, Moshiach, the Ge’ula Shlaima (the Redemption) and the rebuilding of the Beit HaMikdash are pronounced. Or, as the expression goes among baseball fans each springtime — right down to the fans of the most hapless MLB team; “Hope springs eternal.”
But the question can be asked; What relationship is there between the War of Gog and Magog and the simanim of Succot and Lulav, Etrog, Hadassim and Aravim?
We learn about the simanim; the Lulav, Etrog, Hadassim and Aravim and how they represent the attributes of man and the world. And we learn, as Shem Mishmuel explains; the 4 Species (the Arba Minim) that we take on Succot equate with the three Cardinal Sins for which a Jew must be prepared to give up his life rather than commit, plus one.
He explains that the etrog (citron), like one’s head which corresponds to idolatry, but whose fruit and bark taste alike symbolizing that Hashem is one and his name is one. He explains that the lulav (palm branch), like one’s spine, equates with lust and man’s ability to overcome these lusts; that the hadas (myrtle), like one’s eyes, corresponds to murder for which the ultimate cause is jealousy and which we overpower once we view our fellow Jew as a brother, an extension of self. And finally, the aravah (willow), like one’s lips, corresponds with the speaking of loshen hora and conveys our ability to prevail over our tendencies toward malicious gossip and rumor-mongering and to channel our speech toward Torah and Mitzvot. (Shem Mishmuel, Succot 5674, pages 442-444)
From eating, drinking, sleeping and doing our daily activities in the Succah, we learn that man and the entire world are under the jurisdiction of Hashem. We learn that seemingly impregnable stone, brick or steel walls, buildings and roofs are as nothing before the Almighty. In recent history, 9/11 clearly showed us that. And it gave fresh meaning to what we say daily in tefillah;
Hashem annuls the counsel of nations, He balks the designs of people. Many designs are in man’s heart, but the counsel of Hashem — only it will prevail. The counsel of Hashem will endure forever, the designs of His heart throughout the generations.
Further testimony to the jurisdiction of Hashem can be found in a mushal from perek Cheilek in the gemura Sanhedrin 10b as rendered in the Schottenstein edition, the discussion of the habitat of clean birds with the righteous;
All of the doves’ needs were provided for by Noach in the Teva… Yet, it returned with an olive branch in it’s mouth to demonstrate that it preferred a bitter olive leaf plucked from the wild, and thus obtained directly from the hand of Hashem, to dependence on a human being, even one as magnanimous as Noach. This should serve as a lesson to humans, for whom it is infinitely more embarrassing to be dependent upon others. Living simply and within one’s means is preferable to by far to indulging in luxuries and being assisted by others.
If only the entire B’nai Yisrael would contemplate and internalize the fundamental Jewish lesson of Unity, love for one’s Jewish Brethren and Kiddush Hashem, hopefully we all will emerge from Succot with a renewed understanding of why there is an Eretz Yisrael and why they, we are all here.
And so we ponder the War of Gog and Magog;
“When Gog, all his army and all of the nations attack israel, even in a redemption ‘in haste,’ Israel will tremble with fear. Afterward, G’d will rise up and destroy the nations in the final redemption, as in the first one.” (“The Jewish Idea”, by Rabbi Meir Kahane, Z’l, Vol. 2, page 984)
“Our sages said (Tanchuma, Re’eh, 9); “…In the future, Gog and Magog will attack Israel, and they too will be burnt up with one fire, as it says, ‘I will punish him with pestilence,blood and torrential rain […fire and brimstone]. At that moment, I will magnify and sanctify Myself, and make Myself known to many nations.'” (Yecheskel, 38.22-23 in part, as quoted from “The Jewish Idea”, by Rabbi Meir Kahane, Z’l, Vol. 2, page 984)
May we be zocha in this coming year to take giant steps toward fulfilling Hashem’s blueprint of B’nai Yisrael as a Unique people — an Am Segula, not to be reckoned with as with “the nations” and may we be zocha the Moshiach, the Ge’ula Shlaima, “Yom Hashem V’Kol HaGoyim”, the Ultimate Redemption, bim hay v’yameinu — speedily, in our time”, — Achshav, Chik Chuk, Miyad, Etmol!!!
L’Shana Tova — a sweet year to Kol Yehudim and Good Shabbos!
Moshe Burt, an Oleh, is a commentator on news and events in Israel and Founder and Director of the Sefer Torah Recycling Network. He lives in Ramat Beit Shemesh.