Rabbi Dovid Saks
529 Wyoming Ave.
Scranton, PA 18509
108 N. Abington Rd.
Clarks Summit, PA 18411
At the conclusion of the Holiday of Succos when we leave the Succah booth we recite a short prayer, where we ask G-d, that the same way we fulfilled the Mitzvah of Succah, so too, may we merit next year to sit in the “Succah of the skin of the Leviathan.”
What is this Leviathan?
We will begin the public Torah weekly readings of the Torah with the portion of Beraishis this coming Shabbat which immediately follows Simchat Torah.
In the beginning of Beraishis, the Torah describes what was created on each of the six days of creation. On the fifth day, the Torah says that G-d created two sea-giants. The Talmud tells us that these Leviathan fish ruled over all the creatures of the sea. Originally, they were created male and female, however, G-d foresaw that if the two fish were allowed to mate and multiply, they would destroy the entire world with their great strength and numbers. G-d therefore killed the female preserving it in brine, to be eaten by the righteous at a banquet that will be prepared for them in Time to Come.
G-d will construct canopies from the beautiful skin of the Leviathan to shelter the righteous from the brilliant sun in the World to Come. The prayer upon leaving the Succah refers to this spectacular Succah.
While we are on this subject, we may add something else that was made from the skin of this Leviathan.
When Adam and Eve were expelled from the Garden of Eden after they sinned by eating from the forbidden Tree of Knowledge, the Torah tells us that they were provided with clothing made by G-d Himself. The great commentator, the Rosh, cites a Medrash that tells us that these garments were made from the beautiful skin of the radiant Leviathan!
As the Holiday of Succos comes to a conclusion and there is no longer a Mitzvah of sitting in the Succah or waving the four species, we usher in the special Holiday of Shemini Atzeres / Simchas Torah.
Our Sages explain that from before Rosh Hashana through Yom Kippur we absorb and bask in the spiritual encounter with G-d. We then continue through the Holiday of Succos when we are busy with many observances related to the holidays. Before this uplifting spirit and special bond with G-d winds down, G-d instructs us to observe some down time with Him, without the performance of the various Mitzvos related to Succos. This is the function of Shemini Atzeres. We celebrate the Shemini Atzeres / Simchas Torah with Him by bonding with the Torah He entrusted to us. This is done through our rejoicing, singing and dancing at the completion and commencement of the yearly public Torah readings.
This spirited exercise further energizes us spiritually and carries us forward.
This year, we in the Diaspora, are fortunate that the Holiday of Simchas Torah leads directly into the Holy day of Shabbos.
Besides the holiness that each Shabbos affords us, there is something special about the Shabbos which we read the portion of Beraishis, since the concept of the holiness of the seventh day of Shabbat is mentioned in it. The Torah states that after the six days of the world’s creation, G-d ceased from all creative activities on the seventh day – the Holy day of Shabbos!
We mentioned that upon leaving the Succah we pray that we merit to sit next year in the Succah of the skin of the Leviathan, which is reserved for the spiritual World to Come after the coming of the Messiah.
In truth, we have this same opportunity to bask in the spirit, shelter and serenity of the World to Come every week through our observance of the Shabbos in the way G-d commanded it to be celebrated, honored, and remembered.