In Iggeres HaKodesh, the Alter Rebbe writes that each year, a new light that has never been revealed previously, shines and descends to this world. In particular, the revelation of this light comes on the holiday of Sukkos.
Though this light is drawn down through the service of the Jewish people, the complete nature of this revelation extends to the entire world as well. From this, it is understandable that the celebrations of Simchas Bais Hashoevah should include great joy, more joy than ever was expressed before and that this joy should also be extended to the entire world.
To explain the above: As implied by its very name -- Rosh Hashanah -- "the head of the year", fulfills a function parallel to that of the head in the human body. The head includes within it, in microcosm, all the limbs of the entire body and controls the functioning of those limbs. Though the head is more elevated than any of the other limbs of the body, it is still connected to the body and controls it. Thus, whatever increase in power is granted to the head, causes an increase in the functioning of all the limbs of the body as well.
The above is intrinsically related to the holiday of Sukkos. Based on Psalms 81:4, Chassidus explains that the influences which are hidden on Rosh Hashanah come into revelation on the holiday of Sukkos. Rosh Hashanah represents the coronation of G-d as King of the world. However, this quality is only expressed in a hidden manner.
Similarly, though there is a certain degree of happiness on Rosh Hashanah -- for can there be any greater happiness than when G-d asks the Jews to crown Him as King of the world and then, accepts their coronation -- nevertheless, the celebration is aptly described as "they will rejoice in trembling." The qualities which prevail on Rosh Hashanah are fear and awe. Only on the holiday of Sukkos is the full nature of the happiness of the day revealed.
The new light of Rosh Hashanah which is revealed on Sukkos is intrinsically connected to the concept of happiness. Each day has a particular service which serves as the gateway to all the spiritual influences of the day. The service which characterizes Sukkos is happiness as implied by the name, "the season of our rejoicing."
Chassidus teaches "happiness breaks down barriers." Therefore, the service of happiness is necessary to bring about the revelation of the "new light" of Rosh Hashanah. Thus, the happiness of Sukkos represents the ultimate of rejoicing as implied by our Sages' statements: "Whoever did not see Simchas Bais Hashoevah, never saw happiness in his life."
Even though at present, it is not possible to bring the water-offering which was associated with Simchas Bais Hashoevah, we have the potential to celebrate in the fullest and complete manner. On the contrary, there is an advantage to our present situation, for we can begin those celebrations immediately, on the first night of the holiday, without waiting for the second night as was customary while the Temple was standing.
The above is particularly relevant on the first night of Sukkos when the quality of newness is expressed. The first night begins the holiday and includes within it all the other days that follow. On the other nights, there is also an aspect of newness. However, the appreciation of this quality requires meditation and thought. In contrast, on the first night of Sukkos, the aspect of newness is expressed in a manner that anyone can appreciate.
All the above -- the "new light" drawn down on Rosh Hashanah and the happiness of the holiday of Sukkos -- are not confined to Jews alone, but rather are related to the entire world. Indeed, the complete expression of G-d's Kingship is when G-d is accepted as King; not only over the Jewish people, but over the entire world.
We see a parallel to this on the very first Rosh Hashanah. After Adam was created, he proclaimed: "G-d is King, He has garbed Himself with grandeur," accepting G-d as King over Himself. Afterwards, he called to the entire creation, "Come, let us prostrate ourselves and bow down; let us bend the knee before the L-rd, our Maker," crowning Him as King of the world at large.
This same pattern also applies in regard to the holiday of Sukkos. This is emphasized by Psalms 117:1-2 which is included in the Hallel prayers recited each day of Sukkos. Those verses state: "Praise the L-rd, all you nations... for His kindness was mighty over us;" i.e., mentioning the powerful influences drawn down to the Jewish people, "His kindness is mighty over us" and the influence this has on the gentiles, "Praise the L-rd, all you nations."
This also must be expressed in the celebrations of "the Season of our Rejoicing." The word "our" implies a twofold celebration -- the rejoicing of G-d as implied by the verse, "and G-d will rejoice in His deeds" -- and the rejoicing of the Jewish people as implied by the verse, "Israel will rejoice in its Maker."
Both these verses emphasize the quality of deed and action, indicating that our happiness must be expressed in the world of action, through physical deeds. Thus, the celebrations of Simchas Bais Hashoevah must a) reflect new joy (representative of the new light of Rosh Hashanah) which must b) be expressed within the context of the physical world. This means dancing in a more powerful manner than in previous years with that dancing spreading into the street as well.
The term "the Season of our Rejoicing" does not only indicate that there are two celebrations -- that of G-d and the Jewish people as explained above. Rather, the fact that, in Hebrew, the two are alluded to by the same word shows that the two celebrations are united as one.
The unity of G-d and the Jewish people is emphasized by the following teaching of the Maggid of Mezeritch based on the verse, "Let us make man in our image." The Maggid explained that one can draw a comparison to a father and a son. The son's image is firmly engraved in the father's consciousness. However, this only occurs after the son is born. Beforehand, it is impossible for the father to perceive his son.
Nevertheless, the latter limitation is only human. G-d is able to perceive the image of the Jewish people even before they are created. This is implied by our Sages' statements, "Israel arose in G-d's thought." From that image which "arose in thought," G-d actually created man.
[The aspect of thought is also intrinsically related to the present year when both Rosh Hashanah and Sukkos begin on Shabbos. Shabbos is identified with the realm of thought. On the first six days, G-d created the world through speech. On Shabbos, He rested from speaking and everything was elevated to the realm of thought.]
The Maggid stated that the son's image is "engraved" in his father's consciousness. Chassidic thought elaborates in detail on the difference between letters which are engraved on a stone and, thus, are an integral part of the stone itself and letters which are written on paper or parchment which are separate entities from the substance on which they are written.
The above concept is also related to Yom Kippur, the day when the second tablets where given. In this context as well, the letters were engraved into the tablets. This also reflects the oneness between G-d and the Jews as implied by our Sages' statement: "'the day of His wedding' -- this refers to the giving of the Torah."
The oneness of the Jewish people is also reflected in the Torah reading associated with the present day. It includes the phrase (Devorim 34:10): "...who knew G-d face to face." The Hebrew word for "face" -- Panim -- also means "inner." Thus, this verse alludes to an inner bond between the Jews and G-d.
(Though the verse explicitly speaks about Moshe alone, the Tanya explains that each Jewish soul contains a spark of Moshe. This is evident from the Talmud's comments on Devorim 10:12: "What does G-d ask of you except to fear G-d...." Our Sages ask: "Is fear a small matter?" and explain that for Moshe it was. Thus, though this verse is addressed to the entire Jewish people, the spark of Moshe present in every Jew gives each person the potential to fulfill this command.)
The above explanations about the unique qualities of the Jewish people are relevant even to young children. On the contrary, Hoshea 11:1 states: "Israel is a youth. Therefore, I love him;" i.e., it is precisely the aspect of Israel which is "youthful" that arouses G-d's essential love.
This quality is also related to the festivals for the happiness of the festivals stems from the expression of G-d's essential love for the Jews. This is particularly true on the holiday of Sukkos which commemorates "the booths in which I caused the children of Israel to dwell when I took them out of the land of Egypt." Even though the Jews had just left Egypt and were still "young" in a spiritual sense, G-d expressed His love for the Jews by causing them to dwell in sukkos.
All the qualities related to Rosh Hashanah and Sukkos mentioned above are expressed throughout the entire year. The Previous Rebbe explained this concept as follows: On Tishrei, we acquire a load of merchandise and throughout the year, we unload the packages. Thus, during Tishrei, we make good resolutions which we carry out over the course of the entire year to come.
One of the unique contrasts between Sukkos and the other festivals is the presence of the Ushpizin; those mentioned in the Zohar: Avraham, Yitzchok, Ya'akov, Moshe, Aharon, Yosef and Dovid, and the "Chassidic Ushpizin" mentioned by the Previous Rebbe: the Baal Shem Tov, the Maggid, the Alter Rebbe, the Mitteler Rebbe, the Tzemach Tzedek, the Rebbe Maharash, and the Rebbe Rashab. (Accompanying the Rebbe Rashab is also his son and successor, the Previous Rebbe.)
Just as showing hospitality to guests in a simple sense adds to the joy of the festival, so, too, the presence of the Ushpizin contributes towards that happiness. Since, as explained above, the influences of Sukkos are an expression of the new light revealed on Rosh Hashanah, it follows that each year, a new quality related to the Ushpizin is also revealed. Though the Ushpizin came last year as well, in the interim, they have acquired a new and higher level.
Iyov 5:7 declares: "A person was born to work," i.e., from the moment of his birth he must constantly strive for elevation. If this concept applies while he is in this world, surely, it is relevant when he is in Gan Eden -- the place of the Ushpizin. It is true that there is no concept of performance of mitzvos in Gan Eden. However, there is a concept of Torah study. Indeed, from one perspective, the Torah study in Gan Eden is infinitely superior to any Torah study in this world. This study allows the Ushpizin to proceed to new and higher spiritual levels. Therefore, when they appear again, they are no longer the same as they were a year ago.
The quality of new growth is particularly evident in regard to the Ushpizin of the first day: Avraham and the Baal Shem Tov, who both share a common factor.
[The emphasis on the common factor shared by the two is appropriate to Sukkos which expresses the theme of unity. This can be seen regarding the lulav which unites the four different types of Jews. Furthermore, as explained by the Rebbe Maharash, each of the four species used in the mitzvah individually expresses the quality of oneness. The sukkah also expresses this quality as can be inferred from our Sages' statement: "All of Israel is fit to dwell in a single sukkah."]
The unique quality of Avraham was that he was the first Jew, the first of the forefathers. Accordingly, he is the Ushpizin on the first day of Sukkos. Similarly with the Baal Shem Tov. That name literally means "Master of the Good Name;" i.e., when one decides that even after all the high levels previously attained, it is necessary to seek for a new and far greater level, it will be possible to achieve these heights since he is the "master of the good name."
The qualities of Avraham and the Baal Shem Tov are also reflected in the Torah portion associated with the present day, the seventh portion of parshas Berachah. This portion refers the names of both these leaders: a) "This is the land which I swore [to give] to Avraham," mentioning an oath, a commitment of a very elevated nature. b) "Before the eyes of all Israel." The expression "eyes" can be interpreted as "the wise men of." Thus, the Baal Shem Tov relates to all "the wise men" of Israel of all generations.
These lessons receive additional emphasis for they are studied twice: on the first day of Sukkos and on the first day of Shemini Atzeres. All the above is revealed within the context of our world as implied by the phrase "before the eyes of all Israel."
To summarize the above in a practical directive for action since "deed is most essential," tonight, we will celebrate Simchas Bais Hashoevah. This celebration has to be carried out with more energy and power than in previous years to the extent where it becomes a new entity.
The celebration should begin in the synagogues, be continued in the sukkah during the festive meals, and then, be extended into the streets to the extent where even the gentiles will help increase the rejoicing of Simchas Bais Hashoevah. In this manner, we will transform the public domain into a private domain, into a domain for G-d.
As mentioned above, "happiness breaks down barriers." May our celebrations -- and those of the entire Jewish people wherever they are found -- break down the barriers of time and in the next moment, we find ourselves celebrating Simchas Bais Hashoevah in Eretz Yisroel. Indeed, our activities in transforming the public domain into a private domain -- making Eretz Yisroel here -- will serve as the necessary preparation for our coming to Eretz Yisroel in the ultimate and complete redemption, led by Moshiach.