The Essence of the Mitzvah
Across the world...
...Jews celebrate the joy of Sukkot!
nd you shall take for yourself on the first day a beautiful fruit of a tree, a date palm frond, and an intertwined branch and willows of the brook; and you shall rejoice before the Almighty your G-d, seven days” (Leviticus 23:40).

t is said that there are four categories of people:

a)Those who are learned and perform good deeds
b)Those who are learned yet do not perform good deeds
c)Those who are not learned but nevertheless perform good deeds
d)Those who are neither – are not learned and do not perform good deeds
e are commanded in the Bible (Leviticus 23:40) to take four species, and to hold them together for the Festival known as Succot.

or a deeper understanding of what the Bible is telling us, we can suggest the following thought. The Etrog (citron fruit) symbolizes the first category of people by virtue of its good smell and good taste. The Lulav (palm frond) has a taste yet offers no smell thus representing the second category of people, namely, the learned who do not perform good deeds. The Hadassim (myrtle branch) give off a beautiful fragrance yet have no taste, similar to our third category, whose good deeds fill the world yet have no inner content (unlearned). We are left with the Aravos (willow branches), which have neither a good smell nor a good taste, representative of our fourth category, those who are not learned and do not perform good deeds.

n the heels of the Days of Awe, God is commanding us to take four species together in our hands. G-d, in essence, is telling us to bring to our awareness the fact that we are all one unit! The four types of people (the four species) each play an intrinsic role in forming the body of who we are, and if even one of the parts is missing than we, as a unit, are rendered incomplete, we have not fulfilled our obligation for this commandment (In case you are wondering, even the fourth category of people is essential in the equation, for if not for the darkness one would not be able to appreciate the light). We recognize that in order to exist as a nation we must bond and bound ourselves together so that we may be able to continue to thrive as a special nation.

aybe that is the reason why Sukkot is the only holiday that we are explicitly commanded to rejoice (“…and you shall rejoice before the almighty your G-d…” – Leviticus 23:40), because only after the knowledge that we are all “one body”, and that each part is an essential part of the whole, only then do we have the ability to “rejoice” in the fullest sense of the word. Only then can we be expected to reach the lofty level of deep inner joy and tranquility. I can fulfill the commandments of the holiday knowing that I and everyone around me are an intrinsic and essential piece of the puzzle. What great cause for joy!!!

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