We all know that Sukkot, which began last Monday night is such an important holiday on so many levels. But many Jews (including Rabbis) are unaware of the deep mystical power that comes out of holiday…a power to manifest and create our dreams and goals into reality over the next ten weeks.
To understand the mysticism of the holiday and the subsequent weeks, we need to first understand our Patriarch Jacob and his relationship with the holiday. Sukkot is the holiday associated with Jacob for a number of reasons. The Midrash teaches that Jacob is both born and dies on the first day of Sukkot. The first time the word “Sukkot” is mentioned in the Torah (Gen. 33:17) is immediately after Jacob and Esau have their reconciliation and Jacob journeys to a place he calls “Sukkot”. Our Sages taught that Jacob experiences God in buildings and structure (commentaries on the Amidah), and he is the one who understands how to manifest and create changes in the physical world based on spirituality (as demonstrated in Gen 30:37 where he causes sheep to be born with spots or speckles). The Holy Temple, may it be rebuilt in our time, is often referred to as the “House of Jacob, and our Sages teach repeatedly of how Jacob knew the mystical secrets of imbuing physical creations with Divine spirituality. And there are few more mystical structures than the Sukkah, which is the basis for the Holy Temple. Our liturgy even says that all 613 commandments come from and are dependent on the Sukkah.
But there is an even deeper teaching that we can all use during these next weeks to manifest our dreams. To understand this aspect, we need to look at the relationship between Sukkot and Hannukah, Jacob’s influence on both; and the power of the days in between.
We all know Hannukah is about the re-dedicating of the Temple by the Maccabees in 167 B.C.E. Most of us also know that Hannukah is a time to rededicate ourselves, and that it is a time of bringing light into the darkness of the world and our own lives. Hannukah is even called a “second Sukkot” in the Talmud and the Book of Maccabees. But what is the connection, and why does it matter in the 21st century and in our personal lives?
We find the first part of the answer in the Book of Genesis, Chapter 50, Verse 3. There it says that when Jacob died in Egypt, the Egyptians mourned him for 70 days (he was so honored because he was the father of Joseph, who was a leader in Egypt). There is then a day of travel to Atar, and Joseph ordains a memorial holiday of seven days for Jacob.
We know that Jacob died on Sukkot, the 15th of the Hebrew month of Tishrei. 70 days after that (the time of mourning in Egypt) is the 25th of Kislev. Based on the calendar, the ancient Hebrews observed an 8 day festival (including the one day of travel) beginning on the 25th of Kislev…the same day that we now begin our Hannukah celebration. This festival of mourning Jacob was “ordained”, meaning that it was to be observed for all time by Jacob’s descendants. As opposed to a yahrzeit which is only observed by immediate family members; because of Jacob’s status as a Patriarch, all of his descendants are to observe Jacob’s yahrzeit as an 8 day festival in perpetuity.
When we mourn our dead, like many other cultures we light candles. This means that our ancestors were observing an 8 day festival (that included candles) 1500 years before the Maccabees on the same days we now observe Hannukah! Whether the Hannukah miracle of the oil lamps actually happened on the same date or whether our ancestors just overlaid the miracle of the Maccabees on to the same date is inconsequential: the point is that the holidays are entwined together going back to biblical times.
While this is interesting information, how are the two holidays tied together in ways that directly affect our lives today?
Both holidays are centered around creating a holy space in the physical world: a “temple”. They are the first and last steps in building. On Sukkot we create the framework of a structure, and on Hannukah we complete that structure by “turning on the lights”. And the 70 days in between are the time to consciously manifest what we want to build step by step.
In the same way that the period of the Counting of the Omer between Passover and Shavuot is a seven week period where we spend each week focusing on a different sephirah (energy center), this period of Sukkot to Hannukah is also a time to focus on a different sephirah each week. There are 7 lower sephirot in the physical world, and that is the focus during the seven weeks of Counting the Omer (see Rabbi Yaakov Haber’s great book “Sephiros: Spiritual Refinement Through Counting the Omer”). But on these weeks of Sukkot through Hannukah we have the opportunity to awaken all ten sephirot (there are a total of 10, seven in our bodies and 3 that are above and beyond our physicality) and manifest what we want to create.
Each week, beginning at Sukkot, we focus on a different step to “build the building” we desire. An actual building or home remodel; creating a new business or re-branding ourselves; writing a book or creating a piece of art; manifesting our ideal relationship or having children…it doesn’t matter what we desire to create in our lives, this is the time to manifest it step by step so that it comes to fruition during Hannukah.
During Sukkot we begin to build the structure and start the architectural plans. On Hannukah we do the final step of “turning on the lights”. The ten weeks in between is the time to do each step of manifesting our dreams and goals through conscious focus and effort so that they come to fruition in this world.
We are taught that God only implants a dream or goal in our heart so that it can become real in this world. Now is the time to bring those dreams to life through focus, consciousness, and action.
May we all see the deepest dreams of our souls become manifest in our lives in this time; and have good health, joy, prosperity, love, and peace fill the world through our efforts.
Shabbat Shalom and Chag Sameach
Rabbi Michael Barclay
September 24th, 2021
18th of Tishrei, 5782