The Torah tells us that after Adam and Chavah ate from the Tree of Knowledge they covered their nakedness with fig leaves. Later when Hashem admonished them for disobeying His prohibition of eating from the Aitz Hadaas, Hashem made for them clothing from animal skin. Was Hashem’s motivation behind the replacing of their fig leaves with animal skins a display of dissatisfaction in their choice of material used for covering their nakedness?
Chazal have labeled life on earth by four categories and levels. The lowest form is דומם inanimate such as water, the second is צומח vegetative life such as trees, the third is חי which is animal life, and the fourth that describes the highest form of existence is called medabair (speech) which corresponds to Man. Man who is the purpose of creation is known as a עולם קטן a microcosm of the world. Chazal say on the passuk נעשה אדם Let us make Man that Hashem was addressing the entire creation and inviting them to be partners with Man by giving some part of their uniqueness to him. In this manner if Man will elevate himself he would consequently elevate them as well.
As the discoveries of science and biology progresses we can understand this Chazal even more. Man is amicrocosm of the world and therefore also contains within himself these four categories. Up to 60% of the adult human body contains water the lowest category. The Human Body also has the nature of צומח for like a plant it too develops, grows and matures. The Animal Kingdom which is the third level is also contained within man and it corresponds to his נפש הבהמית the animal soul that Man possesses. The highest level is Man, who is identified as מדבר, possesses intellect and the power of speech which comes from the divine soul within him.
Hashem employed Adam Harishon (Bereishis 1,28) “with the task and responsibility for taking control of the earth. Rule over the fish of the sea, the birds of the skies and over all the wild animals that move upon the earth”. This was Man’s position and mission before the chait of Aitz Hadaas. His task was to elevate and direct every creation in the world to recognize Hashem as their creator. וידע כל פעול כי אתה פעלתו ויבין כל יצור כי אתה יצרתו ויאמר כל אשר נשמה באפו ה’ אלקי ישראל מלך ומלכותו בכל משלה (Musaf Yamim Noraim). It was Adam who proclaimed to all of creation on the very day that he was created לכו נרננה לה’ נריעה לצור ישענו. By elevating his body he therefore can bring the entire world to its destiny of having a tikkun לתקן עולם במלכות שדי.
However, when he ate from the Aitz Hadaas, Adam failed in his mission and he felt that he no longer was the ultimate form of life and superior being on earth who was the conduit to spiritually upgrade the universe. We find that immediately after his sin he covered himself with fig leaves a covering of vegetation. The reason being Adam felt that his present degraded reality was ומותר האדם מן הבהמה אין (Koheles 3,19) that with his colossal spiritual failure he had sunk from the highest form of life to the third level equal to the animal. The only difference is that he had two legs and it has four. Now his only reign of superiority and control was over vegetation. That is why when he heard the voice of Hashem calling he used the trees for cover concealing his shame. He also used vegetation to cover his nakedness directly with fig leaves for he lost his sovereignty over the third category of animal life (Techeiles Mordechai). He realized how profound his downfall was and he had remorse over his deed. Because of his deep regret and shame over his rebellious action, Hashem returned to Adam his former status of being the Medabair of creation, possessing the power to rule over the third level of the animal life form as demonstrated by Hashem’s making for him clothing of animal skins כתנות עורinstead of his fig leaves.
The same theme of the chait of Aitz Hadaas and the falling of Man from his original sovereignty over the remaining three levels of creation חי צומח דומם, is repeated with the story of Kayin and Hevel. The Meor Aini Chacahmim writes that קין is from the lashon of kinyan acquisition. He symbolizes the pursuit of material and physical pleasures and Hevel represents the opposite the Man that seeks spiritual acquisitions while viewing the life of Kayin as הבל waste and nothingness. Kayin had fallen to the level of the animal, in contrast to Hevel who retained his level of Medabair over the animal. Sacrifices are symbolic of one sacrificing his animal soul to Hashem. Only Hevel could perform such an act to Hashem because his role was supreme over the animal and all lower categories in creation was for his usage to serve Hashem. However, Kayin who was equal to the animal could not use the animal as a sacrifice to Hashem so he used vegetation instead upon which he was supreme. Of course Hashem did not accept his sacrifice from a vegetative level because it was a compromise of Man’s lofty level of Medabair. Therefore, Hashem told him אם תטיב שאתIf you want my acceptance then תטיב שאת do better and you will be elevated to the higher level of Medabair and then you can bring an animal as a sacrifice elevating your animal soul.
Parshas Bereishis is always on the heels of Chag Hasuccos. Every Yid like AdamHarishon sins against Hashem אין צדיק בארץ. This happens when we fail to take control over the lower categories represented in our bodies. Instead of conquering the animal soul with the power of our neshama and intellect, it conquers us and we fall to its level. One might have fallen even farther to the level of vegetation and has stopped growing altogether in Torah and avodasHashem. Chas Veshalaom the decline of his former status could be so severe that he is controlled by דומם which then connotes a spiritual death.
Yet during the Yom Tov of Succos, Hashem embraces every Yid no matter what level and degree of control over life he has. Succos is the time of וימינו תחבקניHashem’s right hand hugs each Yid.
If a person allows his animal nefesh to take control of his nefesh Elokis then in a certain aspect he has lost the level of Medabeir for he equals the בהמה that also does not possess any morality and has no control or choice over its natural needs and instincts. Nevertheless, such an individual can once again return to his former sovereignty, the kingdom of Man and Medabeir, over the Animal Kingdom. This retake of ruler ship happens during the Yom Tov of Succos.
We know that every Yom Tov requires a level of simcha. Yet the Yom Tov of Succos demands far greater simcha that the others. The Medrash says that the taking of the Four Minim on Succos alludes to the four major limbs of a person, the spine, the heart, the eyes, and the mouth (lips). On Succos by taking the Four Minim and waving it in all six directions is tantamount to taking all our inner limbs and negating them to Hashem in all directions which is symbolic of involving all moral choices and middos. It is the Yom Tov of Succos that enables a Yid to attain even a level ofכל עצמותי תאמרנה ה’ מי כמוך (Vayikrah Rabba 30,14) which is the symbolic experience of shaking the Four Minim.
This is what separates Succos from every Yom Tov. On every Yom Tov, the mitzvah of simcha ושמחת בחגיך is an experience of the neshama and not of the body. In contrast on Succos, simcha is experienced both by the neshamah and the body לבי ובשרי ירננו לקל חי. It is during another Yom Tov that we find that the body will tire from dancing after one hour because the body wasn’t inspired initially by itself to uplift itself through spiritual simcha but rather it was pressured into doing it. In contrast on Succos one can attain the madraigah of כל עצמותי תאמרנה because every limb is embraced by Hashem and the Succah, and therefore becomes inspired. That is why at Simchas Beis Hashoeivah one discovers that time flies and we find ourselves dancing and singing the entire night. All the unique qualities of Succos relay the message that even if one feels he lost his sovereignty not only over his animal soul but even lower, nevertheless on Succos he can regain back his kingdom of Medabeir.
Let us examine this concept on the different levels of life. On Succos one of our major preoccupations is with mitzvos that fall into the second category of צומחvegetative in nature. They are the Four Minim and the Sechach of the Succah. Yet the Chazal tell us that the Four Minim correspond to the four major limbs of Man, as we brought above. The Medrash also states that Hashem is compared to the Four Minim. We see from this that the Man that is symbolically alluded to in the Four Minim is specifically the spiritual Man of Hashem who is devoted and committed to His service of learning Torah and davening which involves the Medabeir koach. Another distinction of the Four Minim in contrast to the rest of vegetation is expressed by the Bnei Yissaschor who writes that all other vegetation grows and matures by a malach which is in contrast to the FourMinim which grow directly from the hashgachah of Hashem Yisbarach (maybe that would explain why they are so expensive).
Therefore we see from all of the above that even if one finds that he compromised his level of superiority over the category of the third level of life, the animal, and lowered himself equal to a mere vegetable, nevertheless on Succos he too can rise and connect to Hashem, to be inspired to return to the level of Medabeir through the Four Minim and Succah.
Furthermore, if a Yid has sunk down so dramatically and feels equal to the inanimate nature of water and he lives an inanimate life with Hashem, he must be reminded that on Succos even this lowest level is poured on the alter in the Beis Hamikdash. This ritual creates such a super simcha that Chazal say if one did not see Simchas Beis Hashoeivah they have no inkling what true simcha is all about. The waters that were once separated from Hashem on the second day of creation because the firmament was created that divided them, have their tikkun on Succos with the mitzvah of ניסוך המים על המזבח and they once again return to become close to Hashem (Vayikrah 2,13 Rashi). Chazal say that the body of Adam was formed from the earth that lay under the exact place that the holy alter was to be situated. Every Succos we pour water that flows into this same ground as Hashem did when creating Adam Harishon. This ritual of ניסוך המים על המזבח sends the message that even the inanimate water on Succos attains the level of the fourth category of Adam before he ate from the Aitz Hadaas. So too the individual who has fallen to an inanimate relationship with Hashem can find his tikkun on Succos.
The passuk (Shir Hashirim (8,7) says מים רבים לא יוכלו לכבות את האהבה many waters cannot extinguish the love we have for Hashem and for His Torah. The many waters can be alluding to one’s fallout of the three levels in creation where Man loses his control over the חי the צומח and even the דומם. All three add up to the gematriah רבים. Succos has its own avodah and tikkun of water. It is then that we daven for rain just like Adam Harishon who was the first human Medabeir in the world who brought down the first rain that made the vegetation grow to feed the animal species. The love that Hashem showers upon the Yid on Succos inspires him to regain the reign of theרבים levels that he lost because of his aveiros. This is hinted in the last letters of מים רבים לאיוכלו לכבות which equals 487 the same as סכות (with the word). Succos is the time that when drowning in water of רבים the inanimate, the Yom Tov can throw you a life line and you could be saved and pulled out all the way up to Medabeir.
This elevation of an individual who lost all three levels מדבר חי צומח began already on Yom Kippur. This is hinted in the passuk (Vayikra 16,3) בזאת יבוא אהרן אל הקודש. The gematriah of זאת is 408 the same as מדבר חי צומח. It starts with Yom Kippur and it ends on Succos as we explained. But this concept of tikkun is even deeper. On the passuk וה’ בירך את אברהם בכל the Medrash explains that בכל is referring to the mitzvah of Succah. In what way does the word בכל refer to Succos? This is the Yom Tov when if a person has nothing not even control over the inanimate of מים he can nevertheless rise above his matzav and gain back הכל all levels that he lost due to his lifestyle. That is why at the Akeidah Hashem calls to Avraham by name twice not to slaughter his son. The Bnei Yissaschor writes two times אברהם equals 496 the gematriah of מלכות referring to the Kingdom of Hashem. Avraham implanted into every Yid the Pinteleh Yid the holy spark of connection to Hashem that can never be wiped out or defiled. That spark of Avraham has the power to give back to a Yid everything he lost if he will do teshuvah even though at the present time he finds himself drowning beneath the fourth level of creation. That is why אברהם with his name is 249, and twice is equal to 498 the same as the four level מדבר חי צומח דומם. Even if a Yid lost everything nevertheless he can gain everything back בכל through Avraham the first Yid who kept the mitzvah of סוכה called כל.
This is also the reason why we make a siyum on the Torah on Succos. It is because learning Torah also has the ability to inspire a Yid who has fallen even so far away that he equals the lowest level of creation of water. Torah possesses the water of spirituality as the passuk says כל הצמא לכו למים. And the Yerushalmi Chagigah 6 says that הלואי אותי עזבו ותורתי שמרו שהמאור שבה מחזירו למוטב that even if one leaves Hashem but learns His Torah, the light in the Torah would return him to the right path. Note that המאור is the gematriahof the three levels דומם צומח חי. That even if one spiraled down all levels until the lowest of דומם the power of Torah can elevate and return him to his former malchus of Medabeir and he will get control over the four levels of his life.
This is the reason why the reading of the Torah ends with וזאת הברכה on the last day of Succos. The Stechiner Rebbe Shlita in a mamar תשמה said that the mesorah of pessukim in וזאת הברכה is 41 and the siman is the gematriah of גאואל. The meaning to this is that the Meraglim are listed in the order of their importance. Therefore גאואל who is listed last was the lowest spiritually of all the others. The sin of the Meraglaim caused such spiritual destruction that there is one opinion that the spies lost their portion in Olam Habah. גאואל was the worst of all of them. Relating his words to our mamar now we can understand the siman of 41 pessukim in this parsha specifically on Succos. It is to teach that even those neshamos who have lost their four levels of control can nevertheless find berachah וזאת הברכה)) at the very end of the Torah on the Yom Tov of Succos when Hashem embraces every Yid for his inner worth and value, the Avraham that lies inside of him. He too can merit to a personal גאולא as hinted in his name. This same idea we find in the gematriah of 41 אםthe acronym of the two redeemers of Galus Mitzrayim which wereמשה אהרן , the two redeemers of Purim אסתר מרדכי, and the future geulah brought about byאליהו משיח .
This is the connection between Succos and parshas Bereishis. Adam on the day of his creation sinned against Hashem and he lost his reign over the animal form of life. He did teshuvah and it was returned to him with Hashem’s making of clothing from animal skins. So too every Succos even though one might have lost his reign overרבים , with the Yom Tov of Succos he can regain it back and live his life with the fulfillment of his former reign and mission of Medabeir.
– Rav Brazil