Succot: A Third World?

Rabbi Moshe Ben-Chaim

It is not mere theory, but factually, there exists another third world aside from Earth and afterlife. This must be so, and you can prove it to yourself. How? Ask yourself how Earth and the entire universe came to be. As nothing can create itself, something other than the universe brought it into existence. The same holds true for the afterlife. Of course we refer to God, who is the first cause, and before whom nothing else existed. But when God created the universe and the afterlife, He also created a system of non-physical laws that govern these 2 worlds. 

For example, the better watchmaker is not the one who must move the hands every second to keep correct time. The superior watchmaker is the one who can create a system of springs, gears and dials which—following natural laws—moves the watch hands to display precisely accurate time, without the watchmaker’s continued intervention. The watch is autonomous. The greater painter is not the one who must apply paint to a canvas, brush stroke by brush stroke. But the more talented painter carefully arranges paint drops on a roller, and then with one roll of that roller over a blank canvas, a beautiful scene emerges with mountains, lakes, sky, sun and clouds, birds in flight and deer in the woods. That is far greater ingenuity, just like the superior watchmaker. 

As man is capable of such ingenuity, certain God can perform far greater feats. In fact, God brought the original tiny matter into existence with the amazing potential to unfold over billions of years into our great universe we see today.

Similarly, God built a Third World which runs on its own. This is the world of laws that exists not on Earth, but that govern Earth. We might assume nature law to be “on” Earth. But this cannot be, as the laws that govern Earth preceded Earth, in order that the subsequent Earth followed those blueprinted laws! Let that register…natural laws do not exist “on” Earth. They exist as all truths exist…as all wisdom exists, but not in space and time. They exist in a non-physical manner.

Now, what is even more amazing is that these laws are designed by God to self-adjust for righteous men and women. Justice guides the operation of these governing laws: 

“Please test Me in this” said the Lord of Hosts. “I will surely open the storehouses of heaven and empty out for you a blessing that is more than sufficient” (Malachi 3:10).

Rabbi Chait commented:

This means that God returns one’s tzedaka tenfold. Chazal say that one cannot perform a mitzvah just to receive a reward, but in tzedaka it is permissible. This is because if it is performed properly, it means God must return the kindness because God is the source of all kindness, of all tzedaka. Why is the idea of tzedaka the most paramount and the most basic idea in Judaism? It is because tzedaka runs contrary to a very strong type of thinking: “hedonistic logic” as I would call it. Hedonistic logic tells you that if you give something away, you are losing. And you cannot show that to be wrong. But the essence of Judaism is that this type of logic is absolutely false. Beyond the hedonistic reality is a greater reality. If one is not in line with that greater reality he is simply not in line with Judaism. He denies the whole basis of Judaism, which is that a reality exists beyond the physical and instinctual reality that man perceives sensually. [God’s promise above of abundant wealth for giving tzedaka overrides the hedonistic mathematical logic.] When one gives tzedaka it is not a loss, but a gain, because now he is in line with God. [The physical world is governed by laws that God created, controls and alters through His providence. All miracles in Torah convey this message, as does this promise of wealth if one tests God in tzedaka.] (“Ethics of the Fathers” Chap. 5, pp 273-274).

Maimonides commented on tzedaka:

Never has anyone become poor by giving to tzedakah, nor has anything bad ever come of it, nor has any harm occurred because of tzedakah, as it is said, (Isaiah 32:17) “The work of righteousness [tzedakah] is peace. “Anyone who shows compassion, others will show compassion to him, as it is said, (Deut. 13:18) “[May God] show you compassion, and let your compassion increase” (Mishne Torah, Gifts to the Poor 10:2).

God need not “step in” to our space/time system to make changes for the charitable person. But He has already designed Earth’s laws to automatically favor righteous people. Abraham was to be barren, but due to his acts of perfection, coming closer to God, God’s system of providence—this “Third World”—altered natural law and Abraham and Sarah bore a son. God is like the watchmaker and planned His mechanism of governing laws to respond to certain people at specific times. Pirkei Avos 5:6 says this exactly: 

Ten things were created on the eve of the Sabbath at twilight, and these are they: [1] the mouth of the earth, [2] the mouth of the well, [3] the mouth of the donkey, [4] the rainbow, [5] the manna, [6] the staff [of Moses], [7] the shamir, [8] the letters, [9] the writing, [10] and the tablets. And some say: also the demons, the grave of Moses, and the ram of Abraham, our father. And some say: and also tongs, made with tongs.

Pirkei Avos teaches this fundamental of a system that controls Earth. It is a world of principles and laws designed to favor righteous people. Even killing Korach and other evil people favors the remaining righteous and innocent people to not be misled by the wicked. 

Maimonides commented:

At the beginning of things [Genesis] , He placed into [their] nature that they should do everything that they would do [in the future], whether they be things that would happen constantly, that being a natural thing; or whether it be [something unusual], that being a miracle. It is all one [regarding this]. Therefore they said that on the sixth day, He placed into the nature of the earth that it would sink [under] Korach and his community, and He placed into the well that it would give out water and into the donkey that it should speak, and so [too] for the rest. 

God says will alter nature for the righteous:

And should you ask, “What are we to eat in the seventh year, if we may neither plant nor gather in our crops?” [God replies] I will ordain My blessing for you in the sixth year, so that it shall yield a crop sufficient for three years (Lev. 25:20,21).

God triples the crops’ yield in year 6, if man obeys God.

God also says He responds to our mitzvos and prayers:

[The righteous Jews confess they gave their crops as God commanded] “I  have not eaten of it while in mourning, I have not cleared out any of it while I was unclean, and I have not deposited any of it with the dead. I have obeyed the LORD my God; I have done just as You commanded me. Look down from Your holy abode, from heaven, and bless Your people Israel and the soil You have given us, a land flowing with milk and honey, as You swore to our fathers” (Deut. 26:14,15)

Succah follows this theme. We leave our reliable homes and live in the Succah, a flimsy-roofed hut, a demonstration of our reliance upon God’s protection. 

Chag Sameach!