There are some Jewish holidays that include aspects with universal significance. Noahides are obligated not to observe any of the Jewish holidays as religious obligations, but they are permitted to do some related activities on those days, in recognition of their significance.
One of the holidays is Sukkot because we read in Mishna Rosh HaShanah 1:2
At four times of the year the world is judged: On Passover judgment is passed concerning grain; on Shavuot concerning fruits that grow on a tree; on Rosh HaShana, all creatures pass before Him like sheep [benei maron], as it is stated: “He Who fashions their hearts alike, Who considers all their deeds” (Psalms 33:15); and on the festival of Sukkot they are judged concerning water, i.e., the allotment rainfall for each of the nations in the coming year.
During the seven days of Sukkot, Jewish priests in the Holy Temple were obligated to offer 70 bulls (see Numbers 29:13-32). In Tractate Sukkah 55b, Rabbi Eleazer teaches that these offerings corresponded to the 70 Biblical non-Jewish nations, and Rabbi Yochanan teaches that these offerings brought atonement for the non-Jewish nations (which allowed them to be shielded from harm and judged favorably by G-d for their annual allotment of water, that it should not be too much or too little).
This will resume during the Messianic era, when the people of the non-Jewish nations will “come up year by year to bow down to the King L-rd of Hosts and to celebrate the Festival of Sukkot. Any of the earth’s communities that do not go up to Jerusalem to bow down to the King L-rd of Hosts shall receive no rain”. (Zechariah 14:16-17)
The Lubavitcher Rebbe emphasizes that the manner in which these 70 bulls were offered, with a decreasing number each day, is connected with a reduction in the negative aspects of the cultures in the non-Jewisch nations.
As the Rebbe explains, this is symbolized by the manner in which the 70 bulls were sacrificed:
Sukkot consists of 7 days (representing the 7 Divine emotional attributes); on the first day 13 bulls were sacrificed, on the second day 12, then 11, 10, 9, 8, 7, making a total of 70.
As the corresponding evil attributes decline (as they become refined), fewer sacrifices are required to atone for the sins committed as a result of those bad attributes.
A lesson for us is that it is important to improve our attributes and to know G-d in all our ways (Prov. 3:6), so that more and more of the G-dly image within us will shine through.
Observing the Torah’s Noahide Code and learning the Torah’s teachings about it also improves our attributes as well. This is one of the symbolisms of the libation offering of water on the Temple’s Altar during the days of Sukkot, because water is the most commonly used metaphor for Torah, according to the Talmud. For example, it states in Isaiah 55:1, “Ho, everyone who thirsts, go to the water,” meaning, if you are thirsting for G-dliness, you will find it in Torah, which is as readily available as water.
In the Messianic Era, Torah will flow like water from Jerusalem. And corresponding to this, actual water of healing will flow from the Third Holy Temple in Jerusalem and spread throughout the world (Ezekiel 47:1-12).
The preparation for that future time must be accomplished now. Through learning and observing the Noahide Code according to the Torah’s teachings, Noahides improve themselves and thus their surroundings and their nations.
This brings us to one of Sukkot’s most essential themes.
The four different species of plants that Jews are commanded to wave during Sukkot represent unity (the palm branch, myrtle branches, willow branches, and citron fruit).
(Noahides should not observe the Jewish commandment of the four species, but they can be viewed as visual symbols to form an understanding of greater unity for humanity.)
We are all aware that each country has its unique set of customs, habits, and peculiarities. There are so many contrasts, which now lead to the polar opposite of unity. However, there will be unity and world peace in the Messianic Era when the people of the non-Jewish nations return from Jerusalem after every Sukkot with enhanced attributes, which will allow them to rise beyond the – seeming – diversity of the physical world.
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”
“the L-rd shall be King over all the earth; on that day the L-rd will be One and His Name will be One.”
By Angelique Sijbolts
Thanks to Dr. Michael Schulman of Ask Noah International for his feedback and input.
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