The union between all members of Israel is unique during Sukkot. One of the specific mitzvot for this time of the year says that it is essential to collect the 4 species of plants: Lulav, Etrog, Hadas and Arava and make a bundle with them. Each of these species, with its taste and fragrance, represents a sectorof the Jewish people: the etrog (citron) represents the student of the Torah and practice the mitzvot; the Hadas (myrtle) and the Lulav (palm), those who have one of these two features: knowledge or practice. The Arava (willow) represents those who have neither the one nor the other. The Mitzvah of Sukkot is to gather and unite these 4 species, symbolically uniting all parts of the Jewish people.
This Shabbat, we will be right in the festival of Sukkot. The Zohar teaches that every day, guests (“Ushpizin”) come into Sukkah. Each Day we receive the ancestors and “shepherds” of the Jewish people: Abraham, Yitzchak, Yaakov, Moshe, Aaron, (also Yosef), David, Shlomo, and the matriarchs Sarah Rivkah, Rachel, Leah, Ruth, Esther and Miriam. This is a lesson about being welcoming, not only towards our Jewish brothers and sisters but to all humanity.
Each day, one of these guests has the role of main guest, bringing others with him. The first day of Sukkot, the main guests are Abraham and Sarah, who distinguished themselves particularly by their hospitality. The Talmud mentions that hospitality (hachnasat orchim) is a virtue greater than welcoming the Divine Presence, as Abraham, right after his circumcision, welcomed guests, the famous Angels … This was in this way already before the giving of the Torah and with guests who probably were idolaters, how much more this should be the case today, when the Torah has already been given, and when dealing with guests, whether or not of the progeny of Abraham.
Hospitality is an indicator of the amount of our divine service in the galut in the exile, since the destruction of the Temple. The Talmud compares this period to “children who have been exiled from the king’s table.” The natural place of the Jew is to be close to the “royal table,” this is say, of the Eternal. Why the exile? So we can learn the divine service (Avodah) during this period.
Now we can understand better the statement of our Sages. Like Abraham, our Avodah (divine service), while we are guests, is greater than what we do “at the king’s table” where the divine presence is revealed.
The Talmud mentions that “the Eternal has acted well in dispersing us among the nations.” In other words, this dispersing us in the galut (exile) is not punishment, but an act of kindness that we needed. The Torah wants we seek the divine sparks scattered over the earth, and that we transform our world into a divine abode. Here the sense of Tikkun Olam, the restoration of the World. The Baal Shem Tov taught “in those places where Jews live, they must remember that they did not arrived there by themselves, but they were actually lead there in order to accomplish a divine order.” Hospitality expresses the importance and value of divine service precisely when we act like guests, outside of Israel. I hope that through this service, we will work together to come create a time when each of us will welcome in joy the revelation of the Divine Presence (hitgalut) as is written “the glory of Gd will be revealed.”