The haftarah of the second day of
Sukkos details the
dedication of the Beis Ha-Mikdash (the Temple) by Shlomo Ha-Melech.
The haftarah narrates the final preparations for sanctifying the
Beis Ha-Mikdash, explaining that the Aron Ha-Kodesh (Holy Ark) was
brought by the Kohanim into the Kodesh Ha-Kodoshim (Holy of
Holies), after which Hashem's cloud filled the chamber, indicting
that the Shechinah (Divine Presence) now dwelled therein.
Thereafter, Shlomo explained the original conception and history
of the planning of the Beis Ha-Mikdash.
Why do we read this haftarah on Sukkos? It is true that the Beis
Ha-Mikdash was dedicated as part of a 14-day assembly which ran
through Sukkos; so, too, the Beis Ha-Mikdash is referred to as "Sukkas
Dovid" - the Sukkah, or Tabernacle, of David. Still, these
connections between Sukkos and the haftarah about the dedication
of the Beis Ha-Mikdash are rather coincidental. Is there any
deeper relationship between Sukkos and the haftarah?
Sukkos is positioned shortly after
such that after becoming purified on Yom Kippur, we merit entry to
the sukkah, which represents a venue of God's glory. The hoshanah
of "E'eroch shu'i" depicts this theme, and it is well-established
in halachic and aggadic literature. If we view the relationship of
Sukkos and Yom Kippur through this perspective, it becomes clear
that Sukkos is a yom tov which needs the spiritual preparation of
Yom Kippur in order to have full meaning.
Thus, to answer to our question, the relationship of the haftarah
to Sukkos is the theme of preparation. The haftarah details the
preparations for Hashem's Presence to rest in the Beis Ha-Mikdash,
and - similarly - our experience of Sukkos and entry to the sukkah
depend on the spiritual preparation of Yom Kippur.
It must be noted that this preparation for Sukkos is not just
practical; rather, it is part of the very essence of Sukkos. Just
like the Biblically-mandated sequester of the Kohen Gadol before
Yom Kippur is an integral part of the purification process (as it
purifies the Kohen Gadol, who is the instrument for public
purification on Yom Kippur), so, too, is the preparation provided
by Yom Kippur essential to Sukkos. Without it, our observance of
Sukkos would be incomplete.
There is a second component of spiritual preparation for Sukkos.
One must be mentally prepared for the experience of entry to the
sukkah, such that he appreciates its holiness and what it
represents. (Some poskim hold that an awareness of the symbolism
of the sukkah is critical to fulfilling the mitzvah of dwelling in
a sukkah). One cannot instantly appreciate being enveloped by
holiness. Experiencing kedushah (holiness) is not something that
one can do "al regel achas" - on the spot. When an angel spoke to
Shimshon's mother to inform her that she would finally have a
baby, instructing her as to his special care (as a nazir),
Shimshon's mother knew that the speaker was an angel. However,
when Manoach, Shimshon's father, met the same angel, he invited
the angel to eat and asked the angel his name, as if the angel
were a person. The Tanach relates that Manoach was unaware that
the visitor was an angel.
One can be in the Presence of God and not even know it. Sukkos
teaches us that one must be prepared to encounter the Divine, for
without spiritual preparation, a sukkah is a mere hut; with proper
preparation, the sukkah becomes a reflection of the Beis Ha-Mikdash,
may it be built again soon.
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