There are Jewish holidays that also have a universal meaning, and thus are also significant for Noahides. But what is the significance of Sukkot for Noahides?
In Mishna Rosh HaShanah 1:2 we read: At four junctures, the world is judged: on Passover for grain, on Shavuot for fruits, on Rosh Hashanah all pass before him like sheep of the flock, as it is written, “He form their hearts as one, he understands all of their deeds.” (Psalms 33). On Sukkot, the world is judged for water.
Rabbi Eliezer tells us that on the days of Sukkot the Jewish priest were commanded to offer 70 bulls (corresponding tot the 70 Biblical Gentile nations).These sacrifices provided atonement for the Gentile Nations so that they would be judged favourably on their ration of water for the coming year, so they would not receive too much [think, for example, of the Flood that came upon the world in the time of Noah.] or too little [think of the great drought in Egypt].
There is a difference between the atonement received by the Jews on Yom Kippur, and the atonement received by the Gentile nations through the sacrifice of the 70 bulls. The atonement the Gentile nations received from those sacrifices was automatically. Whereas the forgiveness for Jews on Yom Kippur - and for non-Jews [on a personal level] on all days of the year, including Yom Kippur , happens after people repent.(also read the blog: "Yom Kippur, Repentance, Forgiveness and Noahides.")
This will continue during the Messianic era.
The nations have to make "a pilgrimage year by year to bow low to the King L-rd of Hosts and to observe the Feast of Booths. Any of the earth’s communities that does not make the pilgrimage to Jerusalem to bow low to the King L-rd of Hosts shall receive no rain". (Zachariah 14:17)
The people who go up to Jerusalem go to ask forgiveness for their sins. When they do this sincerely, their sins are forgiven and they receive the blessing of the rain.
Sincerely asking forgiveness for sins also means wanting to improve yourself for the future. The Rebbe therefore points out that these 70 bulls were also given so that people would improve themselves in their attributes.
This is symbolically represented by the manner of sacrifice of the 70 bulls.
Sukkot consists of 7 days (representing our physical world) and on the first day 13 bulls were sacrificed, on the second 12, then 11, 10, 9, 8, 7, making a total of 70.
Bad attributes become fewer, so fewer sacrifices are needed to atone for the sins done by the bad attributes.
It is important to improve your qualities, and to know G-d in all your ways (Prov. 3:6) so that man will more and more bear the image of G-d.
These attributes are also improved by water. Not by rainwater [which is physical] but by flowing water [which is spiritual] - from Jerusalem.
After all the most common metaphor for the Torah is water. The verse in Isaiah 55:1. states, “Ho, everyone who thirsts, come for water. The Talmud explains that water is a reference to Torah."
And so the water, the Torah will flow from Jerusalem into the whole world.
The people who go up to Jerusalem to ask for forgiveness take the water of the Torah with them to their nations. Where they can improve themselves and therefore their environment.
Which brings us to one of the most important themes of Sukkot.
Unity, which is visualized by the lulav with its 4 different fruits.
(Noahides do not have the commandment of using a lulav, but can use it as a visual symbol to form an understanding of this unity for humanity.)
We all know that every nation has its own customs, habits, peculiarities. So many differences, the opposite of unity. However, when the people return from Jerusalem and improve their characteristics, which should cause them to rise above the - apparent - divisiveness of the physical world, there will be unity and world peace.
Which will lead to:
For then I will make the peoples pure of speech, So that they all invoke the L-rd by name And serve Him with one accord. (Zephaniah 3:9)
And the L-rd shall be king over all the earth; in that day there shall be one L-rd with one name. (Zacharia 14:9)
Recognizing the importance of Sukkot, the question arises, how can Bnei Noah celebrate Sukkot? Which can be read in the blog: "How to Celebrate Sukkot?"
Brought By Angelique Sijbolts
Angelique Sijbolts is one of the main writers for the Noahide Academy. She has been an observant Noahide for many years. She studies Torah with Rabbi Perets every week. Angelique invests much of her time in editing video-lectures for the Rabbis of the Academy and contributes in administrating the Academy's website in English and Dutch. She lives in the north of the Netherlands. Married and mother of two sons. She works as a teacher in a school with students with special needs. And is a Hebrew Teacher for the levels beginners and intermediate. She likes to walk, to read and play the piano.
Mishnah, Rosh HaShanah 1:2.
Chabad Article: 21 Things the Torah Is Compared To
With thanks to Dr. Michael Schulman
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