The Chofetz Chaim said there would be three wars before Moshiach. He said that the first was the First World War. He predicted the coming of the Second World War. And then, he said, there will be a third war. Dovid ha Melech hints of this, when he says three times in Psalm 118, “Kol goyim s’vavuni … all the nations surround me.”
But that is not all.
The Chofetz Chaim also is reported to have said the following: “The third war will be different. In the first two wars, the Angel of Death was given freedom to harm tzaddikim as well as evil people. But not in the third war. In the war directly before the coming of Moshiach, the Angel of Death will not have power to harm those who cling to Hashem and His Torah and who reject the culture of the surrounding nations. Those who stick like glue to Hashem and His Torah will survive and go on to live in the Days of Moshiach.” (Paraphrasing Rabbi Salomon Shlita”h, who told over the words of the Chofetz Chaim)
Next week, we will sit in the protective shade of the sukkah. We will bring with us “the pri aitz hadar… the fruit of a beautiful tree … the branches of date palms, twigs of a plaited tree and brook willows ….” (Vayikra 23:40)
It is all so insubstantial, just a flimsy hut under the sky and a gathering of plants in our hands. How can this possibly protect us against the terrible dangers that surround us?
My friends, these twigs and branches represent the most powerful force under the heavens. Before we blow shofar we say the following: “Sound the shofar to Hashem … for Hashem is supreme, awesome, a great King over all the earth. He shall lead nations under us, and kingdoms beneath our feet ….” (Tehillim 47)
What the sukkah and the arba minim tell us is that power in this world does not belong to the sword, but rather to the invisible G-d Who created, sustains and rules the world. The invisible G-d rules the world. The invisible soul rules man. What mankind thinks is powerful is nothing.
“This is the word of Hashem: ‘Not through [armies] and not through strength, but through My spirit,’ said Hashem, Master of Legions.” (Zecharia 4:6)
When we dwell in the sukkah, we are surrounded by kedusha. When we wave the Arba Minim in six directions we are acknowledging Hashem’s control over the entire world.
In this highly dangerous world, there is one place which is safe.
This insubstantial hut and these fruits and twigs which we carry in our hands, these are the guarantors of our safety.
On the first day of Sukkos we read the following prophetic words: “Behold, G-d’s awaited day is coming, and your spoils will be divided in your midst. I shall gather all the nations to Jerusalem to wage war …. Then Hashem will go out and wage war against those nations ….” (Zecharia 14:1)
The nations have no idea whom they are toying with. In their arrogance, they are presuming to judge the King of Kings, His Holy Torah and His Holy Nation. But their palace is about to collapse. “Shimshon grasped the two central pillars upon which the building rested and he leaned on them, one with his right hand and one with his left hand … and the building collapsed on the governors and all the people inside it.” (Shoftim 16:29)
My friends, the building is about to collapse. We do not want to perish like Shimshon in the rubble of the collapsing civilization. So we must run into the sukkah and grasp the arba minim. When Hashem sees that we are fleeing to the safety of the sukkah, He will save us.
“Achas shoalti, Mai’ais Hashem…. One thing I asked of Hashem, that shall I seek: that I dwell in the House of Hashem all the days of my life …. Indeed, He will hide me in His shelter on the day of evil. He will conceal me in the concealment of His Tent. He will lift me upon a rock. Now my head is raised above my enemies around me ….” (Tehillim 27)
Loud voices are raised against us; our enemies are sitting in judgment.
“But they do not know nor do they understand. They walk in darkness. All foundations of the earth collapse …. Arise Oh G-d, judge the earth, for You allot the heritage among all the nations.” (Tehillim 82)
My friends, let’s retreat into the sukkah, far from the tumah and the tumult. Let us grasp the arba minim. Soon with Hashem’s mercy, we will see the Day of Destiny, when righteousness returns to earth and we are released forever from the hands of the slaves who want to bring us down to their level.
“Kol mevasair mevasair v’omer … The voice of the herald … proclaims: Save Your nation and bless Your heritage, tend them and elevate them forever …. Please G-d … Save now and bring salvation now!”
Arba minim: four plant species held during prayers during the Holiday of Sukkos
Dovid ha Melech: King David
Tzaddikim: holy people