Succot Lecture Part Nine: Hovering Over The Nest
What else do we do with the Mizbei’ach on Succot? We take the aravos and the aravos we take – enormous Arava, or willow, branches, enormous willow branches and we draped them over the Mizbei’ach so that you have a roof – S’chach, over the Mizbei’ach of aravos. And by the way, one of the names of the seven heavens is Arava, or willow,. Its one of the heavens.
So think about it, you have a roof, a S’chach, over the Mizbei’ach, we are creating a succah over the Mizbei’ach. This is what we are doing when we say the Hoshanat.
But its not only that, go back to the very beginning of creation, the first day. Even before the creation of light. And the verse says “veruach Elokim merachefes al penei hamayim,” that the sprit, the wind, the spirit of Hashem, so to speak, was hovering over the face of the water. And Rashi says as a bird hovering over it’s nest. That in the same way a mother bird hovers over her nest in order to protect her eggs and her young chicks. In the same way, the Ruach Elokim hovered over the mayim, the water. This is what we are acting out when we put the aravos at hoshanas, when we put those aravos and drape them as a nest, not only as a succah, but a nest over the top of the Mizbei’ach and we picture Hashem hovering over the top of the Mizbei’ach in the same way he hovered al penei hamayim, the face of the water.
So again, we are acting out the whole idea of the water and what it represents, but not just water, we are actually out the first water from the very first moments of creation when Hashem is hovering, so to speak, to protect this potential, everything the seeds, and the DNA of our existence when Hashem is there.
So we have a succah on top of the Mizbei’ach, we have a nest with a mother bird hovering over. We are going back to the moment of creation. This is beyond ‘as if,’ this is beyond taking something that is impossible and saying halacha says its possible. This is beyond taking our experience of the shechina on Yom Kippur and enfusing that experience into the S’chach. This is beyond the idea of living under the wings of the shechina. This is beyond picturing the anan hakavod, the Cloud of Glory of the shechina, filling the mishkan so that even Moshe could not enter in treating our succah as the mishkan at that moment. This is way beyond.
This is going back to the water or the mist rising. To the very first moments of our existence as human beings. And then this goes back even further.
Because it goes back not only to the sixth day of creation, it goes back to the first, when Hashem hovers over. And you have this sky of Arava, or willow, as S’chach, leaves, as S’chach over the Mizbei’ach where we are pouring water, where we have the earth of creation and we have a nest. Our succah and the bimah in shul, when we are walking around during hoshanas is like a nest. There’s a mist over it created by our hoshanas, by our lulavim and estorgim, and G-d hovers over that nest so to speak to protect his creations from the very opening moments of creation.
But there is much much much more.