D’var Torah Parashat Ha’azinu
‘Oh, to be a fly on the wall’ – In his D’var Torah this week, the Chief Rabbi offers a deeper understanding on the Usphizin and the distinct role that nachas plays in our Jewish tradition.
During the forthcoming festival of Sukkot, many of us will be keeping a custom we call Ushpizin. Ushpizin is an Aramaic term which means ‘guests’. We believe that during the seven days of Sukkot, seven visitors are there throughout the festival and on each day a different one of them is the leader.
These Ushpizin are Avraham, Yitzchak, Yaakov, Yosef, Moshe, Aharon and David. We recite a special prayer in which we welcome them into our homes.
The custom of Ushpizin is derived from Kabbalistic teachings. These seven great Tzaddikim, their souls of course reside in paradise, and because of the Kedushah, the sanctity of the sukkah, they feel equally at home within our sukkot, and consequently we can readily invite them into our sukkot during the festival.
‘Because of the Kedushah, the sanctity of the sukkah, they [the Ushpizin] feel equally at home within our sukkot, and consequently we can readily invite them into our sukkot during the festival’
In addition, the Zohar tells us that all seven at one point or other in their lives, left the security of their homes and then they were on the run, or engaged in a long journey, at a time when they needed to connect with deep Emunah, with great faith, to their creator.
This of course is one of the key themes of the Mitzvah for us to dwell in a sukkah.
I’d like to add a further idea. I believe that Ushpizin has everything to do with nachas. Let me explain.
Often one might think, ‘What’s going to happen in future years to our descendants?’ Please God, in 200, 300, or 400 years’ time, those who come from our Mishpochos will still be loyal to Jewish tradition, will be marrying under Chuppah, will be keeping our sacred values going. But we don’t know. If only we could be a fly on the wall in their homes to see what will transpire.
Well actually, that is what we do with regard to the Ushpizin. Some of the great founders and leaders of our faith are the ones whom we bring in to our sukkah and we say to them ‘Look, here is a Mitzvah that is so difficult to perform, we can’t actually fully understand it, but nonetheless we are totally devoted to its performance’, so that they can gain some nachas, so that they can see that all the effort that they invested in preserving their tradition is indeed being continued through all the ages.
‘If only we could be a fly on the wall in their homes to see what will transpire’
Let this custom of Ushpizin therefore, inspire all of us to redouble our efforts to guarantee that the great legacy of Jewish tradition, which has been preserved until this time, will be passed on successfully by us to future generations, so that if ever we could have a chance to be a fly on the wall in their homes, we would see them performing the Mitzvot and enjoying them immensely.
I wish you Shabbat Shalom and Chag Sameach.