Sukkot Dvar Torah
Rabbi Avi Parsons, Middle School JudaicsClick here to view more pictures...
According to Kabbalistic tradition, we are visited in the Sukkah by seven supernal Ushpizin ("guests") -- Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, Aaron, Joseph and David. On each of the seven days of the festival, another of the seven Ushpizin (in the above order) leads the group. We merit to welcome these exalted guests - the Ushpizin, as a reward for entering the Sukkah for the sake of the Mitzvah.
On the festivals there is a special mitzvah, "one who locks the doors of his courtyard, and... does not feed the poor and the embittered soul - this is not the joy of a mitzvah but the joy of his belly..." "And you shall rejoice on your festival.." (Deuteronomy 16:14), and, our Sages explain, the only true joy is shared joy. Indeed, the verse in full reads: "And you shall rejoice in your festival --you, and your son, and your daughter, and your manservant, and your maidservant, and the Levite, and the stranger, and the orphan, and the widow, who are within your cities." In the words of Maimonides (Laws of the Festivals 6:18), "When one eats and drinks, one must also feed the stranger, the orphan, the widow, the other unfortunate paupers. But one who locks the doors of his courtyard, and eat and drinks with his children and wife but does not feed the poor and the embittered soul--this is not the joy of a mitzvah but the joy of his belly..."
The divine guests come automatically, but it is upon us to open the door and welcome everyone else into our Sukkot and into our homes. May we all do our part to be a welcoming and inviting community on Sukkot and throughout the year.