When describing the love relationship between G‑d and the Jewish people, Shir HaShirim states: Shir HaShirim 2:6. “His left hand is under my head and his right hand will embrace me.” “His left hand” refers to the attribute of Gevurah, “might.” In our Divine service, this refers to the way in which a person is humbled by meditating on his distance from G‑d. This motifoperates throughout the Ten Days of Teshuvah and culminates on Yom Kippur.

The goal of this process, obviously, is not to crush the person, but to create an environment in which “his right hand will embrace me”; an environment in which love — man’s love for G‑d and G‑d’s love for man — will flourish. This motif comes into expression on the holiday of Sukkos.

The Flames Of The Altar

The altar in the Beis HaMikdash is an analogy for a person’s heart. Our Sages teach:1 “Even though fire would descend from heaven [to consume the sacrifices], it is a mitzvah to bring ordinary [fire].” The fire that descended from Above refers to G‑d’s love for man; the ordinary fire, the love man would arouse for G‑d. These fires would consume the sacrifices.

In the analogue, the implication is that these fiery loves consume all of a person’s material desires and concerns, including those involving earning his livelihood. His love for G‑d lifts him above his ordinary mindset. Sukkos is “the season of our rejoicing,” the time when such emotions surface.

A Totally Different Motif

Concurrent with the preparation for and the flourishing of this love relationship with G‑d, a different type of spiritual emotion is welling up within a person’s heart during this time period. Its uniqueness is expressed by the verse:2 “And you shall draw water with happiness from the wellsprings of salvation.” Both the preparatory work alluded to by the left hand and the fiery love alluded to by the right hand represent emotional states within man’s natural limits. The water libation offered during the Sukkos holiday, by contrast, introduces a new dimension of Divine service that transcends human limits. It is an experience of intimacy with G‑d. No longer is there yearning or burning desire; there is the serene, peaceful satisfaction that comes from lasting togetherness.

Expressions of this level in our Divine service exist within “the still, slight voice”3 that surfaces during Shemoneh Esreh — in contrast to the fiery love expressed during the recitation of the Shema — and in the inner union between man and G‑d established through Torah study.

As highlighted in this maamar, this intimate bond is developed throughout the Sukkos holiday and internalized on Shemini Atzeres. This makes it possible for us to experience such a connection throughout all our activities in the coming year.