Lecturer: Rev. Edward Daniel Brotsky, D.D.
Copyright Edward Daniel Brotsky, 1988, 1995. All rights reserved.
This message was given by Rev. Edward D. Brotsky to several congregations. A shorter version was broadcast over the University of Toronto Radio, CIUT 89.5 FM on November 19th, 1989 and on September 30th, 1990 and hosted by the Rev. Malvern Jacobs, D.Min. This message was a part of the Worldspirit program in a series called: The Bible and Prophecy: A Messianic View.
Out of my background of experience worshipping in synagogues, may I share with you a typical Rabbi's sermon on this biblical subject, entitled "the Feast of Tabernacles," the third of the major "appointed seasons of the LORD" (Leviticus chapter 23 - Jewish Publication Society of America).
|I. Historic Review of the Festival (a Rabbi's typical Sermon)|
Hag Samayah! Happy Holiday!
Sukkot is the Festival of our Rejoicing - Z'man Simhataynu: a Festival of rejoicing and happiness. It reminds us of our history: a paradox of sorrow and joy. Its symbolism speaks to us of great and sober truths. It is also prophetic - it reminds us of the promise of the messianic era.
Historically, we are reminded that our ancestors were emancipated from slavery in Egypt, and wandered for forty years in the wilderness on their way to the "promised land," Eretz Yisrael.
The Zohar speaks of Sukkot as a freedom festival.
In the Torah, we read in Safer Vayikra, Leviticus 23, verses 40 to 43:
And ye shall take to you on the first day the fruit of goodly trees, branches of palm trees, and boughs of thick trees, and willows of the brook, and you shall rejoice before the LORD your God seven days. And ye shall keep it as a feast unto the LORD seven days in the year. It is a statute for ever in your generations; ye shall keep it in the seventh month. Ye shall dwell in booths - sukkot - seven days. All who are native Israelites shall dwell in booths, that your generations may know that I made the children of Israel to dwell in booths when I brought them out of the land of Egypt: I am the LORD your God.
(1) Substance and Symbolism
The frail little sukkah should sober us concerning the frailty of life. Each Fall as we live for seven days in our sukkot, we confess that we live in the shadow of faith.
Our survival of the winds and storms of our history is a living document to the veracity of miracles. As a nation, we have risen from the ashes of Hitler's ovens to give rebirth to nationhood - our statehood.
The sukkah is a testimony to our "bittahon" - our confidence, our hope, our faith in the Holy One, the Source of our strength and salvation.
We come out of our more substantial houses, and we elaborately decorate our sukkot. We eat, study, and entertain friends and relatives, and we even sleep there - weather conditions permitting. And if weather conditions did not permit, and we did not have a substantial house to protect us, we would seek shelter in our frail little sukkot and pray for survival!
The humble booth or tabernacle should humble the potential arrogance that comes with material success and wealth. It should sensitize us to the needs of the less fortunate - the poor, the neglected, the aged, and others in various kinds of need.
(2) Messianic Hope for Jews and Gentiles
In the period following the destruction of the First Temple (586 B.C.E.), the frail and humble sukkah came to symbolize our national homeland and the Sanctuary which was laid waste. Since the destruction of the Second Temple (70 C.E.), our longing had deepened for the reestablishment of the Temple and national sovereignty. We are now celebrating our national sovereignty - Medinat Yisrael. And plans are under way for the rebuilding of the Temple.
The prophet Amos foresaw the messianic era:
In that day will I raise up the tabernacle (sukkah) of David that is fallen down . . and I will raise up his ruins, and I will build it as in the days of old. (Amos 9:11)
In our Grace after meals during the Intermediate Days of this Festival, we pray: "May the All Merciful One raise up for us the fallen tabernacle of David."
"The fallen tabernacle or sukkah of David" is the family or kingdom of King David which has fallen or declined numerically and in power.
Our national hope is the coming of the "Messiah, son of David." Israel's mysterious preservation may be for the purpose of becoming "Sukkot David Malkenu" - the sukkah of David our King. Believing Jews and Gentiles may be incorporated into the house or family of David and become His tabernacle or sukkah: His dwelling place in messianic times.
When we celebrate the giving of the Torah, we should remember that the Eternal made provision for the atonement of believing Gentiles within the Mosaic Covenant: - "One law shall be to him that is homeborn" - the Israelite - "and unto the stranger" - the Ger, the Gentile - "that sojourneth among you." (Exodus 12:49)
(3) The Future Vision of the Prophets
The prophet Zechariah, in his vision of the messianic era, foretold that in the end of days,
"It shall come to pass that every one that is left of all nations that came against Jerusalem, shall go up from year to year to worship the King, the LORD of hosts, and to keep the Feast of Tabernacles." (Zechariah 14:16-21)The prophet Micah foretold:
"Nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more." (Micah 4:3)GO TO PART TWO
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