Sages tells us there are five levels of the soul, which can be interpreted as forms of breath—neshama, which has nearly all the same letters as neshima, meaning breath; ruach which is a form of belly-breathing; nefesh whose letters can be rearranged to spell nashaf, or exhale, and on it goes. the word Nishmat Chaim is described when G-d gave his creation of mankind his breath His Essence and created life within us.
A midrash commentary explains how the four species used on the festival of Sukkot each represent a different part of the body. The lulav (palm branch) represents the spine, the hadas (myrtle) represents the eyes, the aravah (willow) is like our lips, and the etrog (citrus) symbolizes our heart and without these four parts mankind is not a vessel for G-d to give his essence or breath to. (Vayikra Rabbah , Chapter 30).
The Etrog (citron fruit), Lulav (frond of date palm) Hadass (myrtle bough), and Aravah (willow branch) – are the four species the Jewish people are commanded to bind together and wave in the sukkah, a temporary booth constructed for use during the week-long festival of Sukkot. Four Kinds, which symbolize the essential unity of all people despite differing levels of Torah/Bible knowledge and observance. A season when all peoples of the the Earth are commanded to come and to celebrate.
Every Jewish child knows them and likes to declare which of the four is noted for its excellent flavor and fragrance, which has either no fragrance or no flavor, and which has neither. It is shaken in all four directions of the earth including toward the heavens and the earth’s ground to signify that G-d reigns over all. His breath is in all peoples of this planet. It is on sukkot we all are commanded to celebrate or rejoice meaning with all our “breath and soul”.
“And you shall take you on the first day [of Sukkot] the fruit of goodly trees (Etrog citron), branches of Date Palm trees, and boughs of thick trees (Myrtle Hadas), and willow trees branches of the brook, and you shall rejoice before Adonai your G-d seven days” (Lev. 23:40). “You shall dwell in booths (Sukkot) for seven days” (Lev. 23:42) The Hebrew word rejoice שָׂמַח, שָׂמֵ֑ח verb rejoice, be glad in Hebrew take action with whole self ie body and mouth שָׂמַח sâmeach, saw-makh’; a primitive root; to brighten up, i.e. (figuratively) be (causatively, make) blithe or be gleesome:—cheer up, be (make) glad, (have, make) joy(-ful), be (make) merry, (cause to, make to) rejoice, very happy expressed with breath and soul. Giddy from head to toe.
So Sukkot is really a time of thanksgiving, rejoicing, and do it with all our souls with our breath. Also called Z’man Simchateinu (Season of Our Rejoicing). Rejoicing with the very breath G-d breathed through Adam’s nostrils at creation. We usually think of joy and happiness as emotions that come to us as a result of pleasant circumstances or good news. But G-d’s instructs us for the Festival week of Sukkot to reveal that we are more than passive recipients of joy but are truely grateful and deeply feeling Joy. The fact that He commands Israel to rejoice shows us that joy can and should be our choice (Leviticus 23:40).
G-d created us in His image, and then He breathed the fullness of Himself His essence into our being. G-d’s own breath filled us with all of Him. G-d breathed into us the potential to be fully and completely one with Him both in the Heavens and on the Earth. Sometimes we forget how to breathe properly.
We become overwhelmed with life and its challenges and demands. We worry over what we cannot control more than we should. We are discouraged when life isn’t going according to our plan and not seeing the big picture. We fear the future, and we mourn and sometimes regret the past without fully moving on. We had forgotten in the desert wonderings, that we breathe with the very breath of G-d. When the Israelites forgot how to breathe, God breathed the fullness of Himself into us with unimaginable love.
So, we must remember, and we breathe. We inhale G-d, and His Joy seeps into the depths of our whole being. We are rooted in G-d’s love; we live, inhaling G-d and exhaling Joy into our world. We must do it with complete rejoicing. Our holy breath bears witness to the Joy of G-d!
May you all have an Easy fast and Sukkot be a time of Deep Joy! Chag Sukkot Sameach and Shabbat Shalom!