Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Diras Ara'i

Many explanations are offered as to the hashkafic significance of living in a temporary abode during the seven days of Succos. Chief among them is the concept of recognition of the transience of this world and our existence therein. We also take Four Species which do not last very long at all, easily wilting and withering away.
A question arises - why is there such an emphasis on the beauty of these transient artifacts? Why do we have Noi Succah, Succah decorations, but no Noi Matzah? Why are we meticulous in the Hadar and Hiddur of the Arba Minim, but not so much in the Hadar and Hiddur of the Shofar (except under the general rubric of Zeh Eli V'Anvehu)?
Perhaps one explanation is the following.
There is a Machshava that the cycle of the Yamim Tovim represent a process of courtship (Pesach - a period of courship between Klal Yisrael and the Ribboni Shel Olam, based on the Kallah's Yichus of the Avos), betrothal (Shavuos - Al Tikrei Morasha Ela Meorasa - the Torah is our Shtar Kiddushin) and marriage (Succos represents the Chuppah and the seven days of the Sheva Berachos).
We just spent much of the Yomim Noraim extolling the virtues of the Chassan, and how we fail miserably in any attempt to compare to Him. In U'Nesaneh Tokef, we say that we are like a floating dust particle, a fleeting dream, and Hashem is eternal. aEspecially on Yom Kippur, we say: Anu K'shei Oref V'Atta Erech Apayim, Anu Yameinu K'TZeil Oveir V'Ata Hu U'Shnosecha Lo Yitamu - We are obstinate and Hashem is patient; our days are like a passing shadow, and G-d is of unending years.
Let us imagine the scene - a speaker gets up at a Sheva Berachos sings the endless praises of the Chassan, about his incredible Middos, his kindness, his patience, his diligence, and so on. After the hour-long "hesped", he gets to the Kallah. He says, "She is truly unworthy of him. The Chassan could have done better. " This is not only a horrific insult to the Kallah, but a slap in the face to the Chassan - his judgement is so deficient that he picked an inferior mate!?
As we enter under the Chuppah with the Ribbono Shel Olam,, we cannot enter with impression that the Chassan has made a mistake! We must state, (albeit, in Kallah fashion, with some coyness), that this Kallah is beautiful! We find favor in the eyes of the Chassan! We are pleasing and pleasant and attractive. And so, while we do not have the audacity to state it openly, we say - the transient has beauty too. We beautify the Diras Ara'i, and we pay close attention to the beauty and attractiveness of the Arba Minim. The Chassan did not choose the wrong mate!
We are able to connect to the beauty of a Lulav or of an Aravah in a manner that is inexplicable. Take a Lulav to a fellow Jew, and he will admire its beauty. Show a Lulav to a non-Jew, L'Havdil, tell him excitedly how beautiful it is, and you will probably get a blank stare in return. This is a connection that we alone have with the Divine and His Commandments, and we relish the opportunity to find favor in His eyes by alluding to the beautiful heart, spine, lips, and eyes, represented by the Arba Minim, of His mate. We rejoice in placing pictures of the great gedolim of yesteryear and of the present, of inviting in theUshpizin - those members of the beautiful Nation who have given the Ribbono Shel Olam cause for joy.
Ashrei Ha'Am Shekacha Lo, Ashrei Ha'Am SheHashem Elokav!

G'mar Tov.

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