Each of the seven days of Sukkot is associated with a Biblical figure. They are nicknamed the “ushpizin” as they are considered ‘guests’ that you invite into your sukkah. This is symbolic of focusing on a specific attribute of that person. These attributes correspond to the seven middot, the lower seven emanations (Sefirot) of G-d that are ‘active’ in creation. As we focus on a particular attribute we examine aspects of it at all levels – physical, emotional, intellectual and spiritual.


Abraham is the first of the ushpizin (guests) we welcome during Sukkot. Chesed (‘lovingkindness’ or ‘mercy’) is associated with Abraham. Chesed is the active, giving, aspect of God. Abraham was known for not waiting to be kind to others. Chesed is not only first in terms of hierarchy, but also in that it has nothing ‘causing it.’

‘The world is built with chesed.’ (Psalm 89:3)

Even before his reputation for hospitality became known, Abraham was the model of being proactive. He searched for and discovered G-d on his own, while rejecting the idolatry of his contemporaries.

Abraham did not allow his environment to dictate his choices. He carried out G-d’s commands with eagerness and speed, such as when G-d told him to:

1. travel from his homeland to Canaan.
2. circumcise himself
3. offer his son Isaac to G-d. (i.e., He “rose early in the morning,”)

‘The scrupulous do the Mitzvoth immediately.’ (Yoma 28b).

Conversely, just as chesed has no borders, Abraham lacked the ability to distinguish between Isaac and Ishmael. G-d sent Sarah as his ‘personal’ counterbalance. The ability to make distinctions comes with the second of the middot – Gevurah/Judgment.


Isaac is the second of the ushpizin and is associated with the Sefirah of Gevurah (‘judgment’) among the seven middot. Gevurah carries with it the ideas of measurement, restriction and concentration. Where Chesed is limitless, Gevurah sets a boundary. This idea is a requirement in order for anything to take ‘form’ and exist,

Isaac is a peculiar character in the Torah in terms of how little is said about him. What we do know does exemplify several aspects of Gevurah in that his life was one of ‘precise’ actions that reflect this:

• First to be circumcised at the age of eight days.
• Accepted the wife his father had arranged for him.
• Did not protest Jacob’s stealing of the birthright or defend Esau. He sticks to the ‘letter of the law.’
• Did not leave the land of Israel.
• The Akedah, the binding of Isaac by Abraham, which of course depicts the idea of restriction.

Gevurah includes the aspect of ‘concentration of force,’ which can be applied to pushing aside the superfluous to extract deeper spiritual riches. We see this where Isaac went back to his father’s wells and dug them deeper.

Another term used in place of Gevurah is ‘Pachad,’ which is ‘fear.’ This comes from ‘Pachad Yitzach’ in Genesis 31:42, with Jacob speaking to his father-in-law, Laban, where he says:

“Unless the G-d of my father, the G-d of Abraham and the Fear of Isaac, had been with me, surely now you would have sent me away empty-handed…”

The ‘Fear of Isaac’ in this verse is presented as a name of G-d. Jacob is calling out the attribute of ‘fear’ relating to that which enabled him to be as cunning as Laban. He was ‘serpent-like,’ which is another aspect of Gevurah and ‘left side’ of the Tree of Life.

Whereas Abraham was about proactive chesed without concern for limits, Isaac reflects the traits of being contemplative and restraint. This does not mean that chesed and gevurah are necessarily opposed to each other. They work together just as Abraham and Isaac did.


Jacob is the third of the ushpizin and is associated with the Sefirah of Tiferet. In comparison to his brother Esau, who gave away his birthright for a meal, Jacob was of the mindset to put first things first in his decision making.

“Beauty is when the mind says, “There is symmetry here and I must find it!” It is the great hunt, the quest for meaning.”
– Tzvi Freeman

The word ‘tiferet’ comes from the Hebrew word pe’er, meaning “beauty.” This is beauty in terms of harmony. Tiferet merges the unrestricted flow of Chesed and the restriction of Gevurah to allow for the proper measure. Tiferet is not “compromise.” It functions with a view toward integration. This balance/blending is why Tiferet is also called “Rachamim” (compassion), the synthesis between loving-kindness and judgment.

“… Jacob was a plain man, dwelling in tents.”
– Genesis 25:27

Regarding this verse, it is taught that Jacob was a combination of Abraham and Isaac, i.e., the (two) ‘tents.’ He balanced his grandfather’s desire to give and bestow without limits, with the restriction (G-dly ‘fear’) of his father, Isaac. This ‘fear’ ensures that unbounded does not become misdirected. It adds sensitivity to our acts of loving-kindness.


Here we are at the mid-point, day four, and our ‘guest’ is none other than Moses. This fourth of the ushpizin is placed at the Sefirah of Netzach.

Some quick notes on this fourth Sefirah:

• Netzach is the first of the ‘lower triad’ of Sefirot (Netzach, Hod, Yesod) known by the acronym ‘NeHiY.’ This triad deals with more with relationship with our fellow humans (as opposed to CHaGaT (Chesed, Gevurah, Tiferet) which is more focused ‘upward.’)
• Netzach ‘descends’ from Chesed above it on the right side of the Tree of Life. Thus Moses shares a similar ‘proactive’ nature as Abraham (at Chesed).
• As Chesed is paired with Gevurah (on the left), Netzach is paired with Hod, on the left. Netzach and Hod are called ‘the wings of Yesod.’ As they deal directly with how we ‘walk’ in this world, these two Sefirot are also depicted as ‘legs’ that work together.
• Netzach has many meanings including “victory” (nitzachon), “eternity” (nitzchiyut) and “orchestration” (nitzuach). These relate to initiative, persistence and overcoming.

Another pair working together as one were Moses and Aaron. Netzach corresponds to Moses, and Hod to Aaron. Netzach relates to the proactive force of the prophet while Hod is the contemplativeness and responsiveness of the priest. They are the ‘wings’ to every individual within Israel, providing the cycle of motion to keep us moving forward toward the Image of G-d (B’tzelem Elohim).

The quality of Netzach in your soul is dependent upon the degree of confidence you have that you are doing what G-d wants of you. It’s a lot easier to be pro-active when you know your destination and your source are one – like Moses did.


Just as Isaac has less written about him than his father or his son, Aaron is also a bit of a mysterious figure, living ‘in the shadow’ of Moses. It seems we need to squeeze a little harder to get insights into Isaac and Aaron, which correlates to them both being on the left side of the Tree of Life, the side of restriction.

We encounter Aaron for the first time in Exodus 4:14, where G-d says this to Moses:

“Is not Aaron the Levite thy brother? I know that he can speak well.”

Thus, the first concept associated with Aaron is ‘good communication.’ There’s more to this skill than just talking however. Being a good communicator involves an equal measure of being a good listener. It is a bit odd that although communication may be the most important skill in life, we spend years learning how to read, write and speak, but not much on listening.

The Sefirah of Hod correlates to Aaron who complements Moses at Netzach. Hod is a complex Sefirah. Being on the left side, it has the aspects of; measurement, restriction, reflection, and contemplation. It also carries the idea of ‘reverberation’ – when a sound or signal is reflected. We can relate this to the communication technique of “bouncing ideas off of each other” to come to an agreed upon course of action.

Aaron was known for his skill at getting people to resolve their differences:

“Aaron, however, loved peace and pursued peace and made peace between man and man, as it is written, The law of truth was in his mouth, unrighteousness was not found in his lips, he walked with Me in peace and uprightness and did turn many away from iniquity.”
– Talmud, Sanhedrin 6b


Joseph understood unifying his family for G-d’s greater purpose was ‘the game plan.’ Getting there was not simply a matter of revealing himself however. He needed to promote a collective act of teshuvah from his brothers – something that would bring them together in the ‘right way,’ to fulfill the plan of G-d.  This is the process of ‘synergy.’

Of course this involved a little bit of ‘deception,’ on Joseph’s part, including hiding who he was, allowing the brothers to think he needed an interpreter and that he received his intimate knowledge of them through ‘divination.’

Note the unity that begins to be formed by way of this:

· They did not complain when Benjamin was given more (Genesis 43:34)
· They did not accuse each other of stealing the cup (Genesis 44:9)
· They stuck together and did not abandon Benjamin (Genesis 44:13)
· They humbled themselves together (Genesis 44:14)
· They realized their circumstances were connected to what they all did to Joseph (Genesis 44:16)
· They offered themselves as slaves to Egypt, not abandoning Benjamin (Genesis 44:16)
· They were concerned as to how this might affect their father (Genesis 44:29-31)

Once he got them to understand how everything that had occurred was part of G-d’s plan, they came to better realize each of their particular roles in their ‘mission,’ which is later revealed to Jacob:

“… for I will there make of thee a great nation.” Genesis 46:3


King David was far from faultless. One thing that made him great in the eyes of G-d was applying Torah principles to effect change in his life. Malchut is said to have no attributes of its own but is the receptacle for all the others that came before it. It’s about taking that which G-d has given us and utilizing it to bring tikkun (repair) to our lives and the world –  “sharpening your skills” on a regular basis.

Though we consider ourselves as being in the ‘physical world,’ Torah says we simultaneously exist in four worlds. These have a parallel to our physical, emotional, intellectual and spiritual selves. The Kingdom may be “within us,” but only when a king humbly works to improve himself through Torah/the middot at all levels, is he able to rule properly.

“In relating to the first nine Sefirot, (in the full structure of ten) we are outside observers – admiring G-d’s handiwork objectively. We may be impressed but somehow it never quite becomes an overwhelming experience. It is only when we hear the voice of G-d echoing from within us – which is malchut – that we are truly transformed.”
– ‘Physics God and the End of the World,’ Dennis A. Wright, p. 149

“Malchut is the goal that G-d had in mind when He created the world. All of the other sefirot are only the means to see malchut emerge.”
(See “Malchut: The Kingdom Within” at