THINGS vs. RELATIONSHIPS
There is a secret in happiness that is hidden in Sukkot. On Sukkot, we are commanded to be happy. But what if I am not? There is a mitzvah in Sukkot to make our families happy. There is a mitzvah on Sukkot to be happy with G-d. But what if I am just not happy? What am I supposed to do, force myself to have a smile?
Well, Sukkot is the lesson, that if you are dependent on a nice cozy house for happiness, then you have no idea what happiness is. Because happiness is not dependent on things, it is dependent on relationships, and whatever relationships entail. Sukkot is not only about being happy with the minute, the simple things in life. It is about being so happy with relationships, such as our relationship with G-d, relationships with our family, that all those things that people covet, are just small stuff. Take a branch and a hut, and be happy with it. ××– ×™×¨× × ×• ×›×œ ×¢×¦×™ ×™×¢×¨ â€“ Then, all the trees of the forest will exalt . The Meiri (Sukkah 37) states that the reason why we shake the Lulav like we do in the shul, during the time when we say the parts of Hallel that thank Hashem, and during the time that we ask for a salvation, is because we are shaking, and even dancing, out of happiness â€“ with a branch.
What are we happy about? Shaking a branch? Sitting in some hut? Yes. We are happy that G-d accepted out Teffilot, that G-d forgave us on Yom Kippur. That G-d accepted us, and that we have Someone to pray to and to pour out our hearts. Acceptance is the key to love, and love = happiness. That even after a fight, even after the sin of the Calf, G-d accepts us and loves us so much that He forgives even the worst.
Rabbi Geisler taught this to me, the day after Yom Kippur. I was discussing with him the importance of relationships. He told me that he would ask his Talmidot, â€œWhat has more importance in your lives, Relationships or Things?â€ Every last student voted relationships.
â€œOkay,â€ said Rabbi Geisler, â€œWhat would happen, if your groom would tell you during your engagement, that his parents can buy you the nice, fancy engagement rings. And then he expresses his feelings about buying your ring. â€˜But I do not want my engagement ring to come from them. I want the ring that I am going to give you bought with my own, hard earned money. This ring means a lot to me. I want to take all the money I made in camp, all the money I made tutoring, all the money I saved from my allowance, and with that money I want to buy you your ring. Are you okay with that?â€
All of the Talmidot said, â€œOf course!â€
Then Rabbi Geisler threw at them the curve ball. â€œNow, you’re sitting with all your friends, who are Kallahs, and everyone is showing off their ring. Each friend’s diamond is bigger than the next! And your diamond is so small! You need a magnifying glass to notice it on the ring. Would you stick out your ring finger to show off your diamond?
The Talmidot said, â€œNo way!â€
â€œWhy not? Arenâ€™t relationships more important than things?â€
It seems, that even though we value relationships more, but Things keep getting in the way of our happiness and contentment, they become bigger than life. So much bigger, that the value of relationships become forgotten.
The Lulav is not just a branch. It is our symbol that G-d allowed us to win; He tipped the Scale in our favor. It is our sword that we hold up, victorious, as we claim, ×”×•×“×• ×œ×”’ ×›×™ ×˜×•×‘. It is what we fight the Satan with, as if we stick it in his eye. (Sukkah 37, see Sfat Emet) It is not just a Thing that we shake in shul; it is about our relationship with G-d, our trust in G-d, that He fights our battles for us and we can take on even the biggest enemies, with just a spiky Lulav branch/sword, and our faith that He accepted us.
Sukkah is not a hut. It is a hug. Two walls and a bit, as if an arm is hugging with a hand â€“ the hug of G-d.(Arizal) If someone says to you, casually, â€œI wish G-d would, I do not know, just hug me or somethingâ€, invite him to your Sukkah. Thatâ€™s when and where G-d hugs. ×ž×©×›× ×™ ××—×¨×™×š × ×¨×•×¦×” ×”×‘×™×× ×™ ×”×ž×œ×š ×—×“×¨×™×• (Shir Hashirim 1, 4) (see Gra)
This is the secret of happiness. It is not the things; it is what they represent. Most people believe, more things = more happiness. This is the biggest â€œcon jobâ€ of marketing. If only you had â€œmoreâ€, you could be happier. But it is not having things that brings you your happiness; it is relationships. If we could learn to focus on the deeper meaning of things in life, then we would be able to find happiness. If we would recognize G-dâ€™s love and care, then we could celebrate life, even if our living quarters were some hut, and even if we just danced around Shul with a branch, a few twigs, and a fruit.
And one more point. On Sukkot, it is not only a mitzvah to be happy. On Sukkot G-d judges us as to how much rain we are going to have on the basis of how happy we are. Living in the Sukkah, shaking that branch and twigs, Simchat Beit Hashoevahs, making our wives and kids happy with whatever. What is the connection between rain and happiness? G-d waited to bring the first rain, until Adam was around, because G-d will not bring rain without appreciation. The more appreciation one has, the more happiness one has. Many shy away from giving recognition for something they should appreciate, for they do not want to feel that they owe anything to any source outside themselves; but still, appreciation equals happiness. Your relationships depend upon your appreciation. And we are judged on Sukkot as to how much rain we are going to get, by our expression of happiness over ‘some branch’. This happiness is the secret to being ×–×•×›×” ×‘×“×™×Ÿ, to passing Judgment, safely!