Years ago, after the beginning of the second Intifada in 2000, the Israeli press discussed the matter of knowing whether Israeli society as a whole were “unforgiveable”. At the heart of the Jewish tradition and daily life is that we do underscored the importance of “kippur/forgiveness in the sense that the nation of the faithful can at-one, forgive each other and be able to get to One”.
These days, the Jewish community celebrates the eschatological feast of the Tents, Booths or Sukkot. The Hebrew word refers to “sachachסכך = to extend, cover, overshadow”. Indeed, the booths should be covered by palm branches and the roof allows to see the sky in between, during the night as during the day. It reminds something of the time when the Jews were wandering in the wilderness. The Booths recall that we are going through a pilgrimage on Earth, in this life, generation after generation and in whatever country. On the other hand, God’s Divine Presence shades over human beings. “Overshadowing” is the way things have been expressed in Greek in the New testament to speak of the annunciation to the Blessed Virgin Mary: she could be compared with a Booth at the time of the wandering in the desert, when God was obliging the nation He saved to mature and understand His will and not their own projects or frustrations.The Spirit came to shade her with the unexpected assistance of the Spirit.
The Feast of the Tents is also present in the vision of the Transfiguration. The event is traditionally considered as having taken place at Mount Tabor, a magnificent mountain that allows to see very far toward Galilea and the North and also down to Jerusalem and the Great sea shore. Other accounts stipulate that the event took place in fact in Jerusalem and then the Mount of Olives constitutes the reference to all end-of-time manifestations of Divine prospects, from the return of Prophet Elijah to the revelation of the Messiah.
Transfiguration could be viewed in different terms in Hebrew: Modern Hebrew has “hitshanenutהתשננות = tranfering, tranformation, change”; Modern hebrew invented something strange: “shinui-klaster-hapanimשימוי קלסתר הפנים = changing/replaement of the shape of the face” that really does not sound Hebraic or Semitic. At Mount Tabor, the vision is special: Jesus comes with his disciples and they sleep. Jesus then appeared to Peter, John and James as in a flash of a full, totally ful-white, whiter than any white shape for just a few seconds together with Moses and Prophet Elijah. The two prohets have no “earthly” grave: Moses was buried outside of the Holy Land/Ertez Israel on Mount Nebo and nobody knows where. Prophet Elijah went up to heaven in hus chariot of fire (merkavah) while Prophet Elisha asked to be given a part of the Prophet’s spirit. Peter proposed to build three tents. Not one tent for the three! This should be noted. because by the time of the feast of the Tents, one gathers with all the generations under each tent. So the three “Prophets” could have dwelt under a single tent; But each of them, according to Peter, could be given one sukkah/booth to rest and dwell and share and even “meet”! He did not know what he was saying and out of a sudden, the two prophets disappeared while Jesus stood alone, whiter than whiter; and he “left”. “White” is the color of forgiveness, the color of purity and unity that is worn from the time of Kippur/Day of Atonement till the Shemini Atzeretשמיני עצרת, the great day that closes the feast of the Tents. The vision of Transfiguration is thus special: mankind is one as God is One and He is one for the sake of true unity and Oneness.
Intriguingly, Hebrew would use other roots to describe the vision: a) “Gilguגילגולl” that shows the revolving movement of something that is often linked to metempsychosis, or reincarnation, but mainly refers to the “revolving movement of transmitting human identity beyond night and day, sleep and dreams, visions and realities. It means “change of identity, this of face, shape”. b) Hebrew has “hitgalutהתגלות = return from the exile” as Sukkot gathers the scattered exiled on the Eretz Israel or from death to life.
The tents could not be built on Mount Tabor, which would presuppose, according to the Christian interpretation, that Jesus is the “real and total eschatological Tent” who reconciles, unites and unifies, encompasses the whole of generations and human history.
We should consider something more: the Feats of the Tents does not exist in the Church. Autumnal feastss are of major importance because they mark the renewal of the liturgical annual cycle, the feast of Elijah (Assyrian Church) and the Founding of the Cross in Jerusalem. The Sukkot welcome all generations and the faithful are then invited to pray, reflect, eat, study the Word of God, Bible and Oral Law (Mishnahמשנה), to sleep and to converse during the day. This is the true “Ekklesia/Qahal Rav or Great Assemblyקהל רב”, the real “Church” as the Body of the One God. Therefore on should maybe contemplate that the Church will expand amongthe Nations of the world as it did in the first two millenia. But the real Church, the true “Beyt Israel/House of Israelכל בית ישראל” is the ingathering of all the faithful back to the Community of Israel.
There is an option that has rarely been considered or studied in the Church because we are convinced of our “primacy”. The Living Word” allows another point of view: conversion to God does not depend of our views, can hardly be described as humans can understand it. Synods, Conucils and regulations could never determine and ascertain the acts of faith. Faith is salvation, redemption and resurrection does not belong to anyone. It is to be compared to the flash of the vision on Mount Tabor. The Church in her totality and plenitude means more than what we can imagine.
The Feast of the Booths overshadows time, history, human souls and bodies and enlarges them to their true measure of oneness.
Av Aleksandr [Winogradsky Frenkel] (from my South African Blog: “Cradle of the World/Wieg van die Wêreld)
September 26/13, 2010/7519 – 18 Tishrei 5771 – 17 SHawwal 1431