4th Day of Chol HaMoed
Erev Shabbat Kodesh
Prominent in the Haftarah subjects of Succos is the War of Gog and Magog, the cataclysmic series of battles that will result in the final Redemption and the Messianic era. The Haftarah of the first day and that of the Sabbath of Chol HaMoed deal with this war. According to Rashi, this topic is related to Succos because of the prophecy that those nations who would survive the wars would join Israel every year in celebrating the Succos festival.
Nimukei Yosef to Megillah quotes a tradition from R’ Hai Gaon that the victory over Gog and Magog will take place in the month of Tishrei – the month of Succos.
R’ Hirsch (Numbers 29:13) discusses the inner connection between Gog and Magog and Succos. Following is a free rendition of his thesis:
In the name גוג, Gog, one recognizes the word גג, roof, and thereby at once seees the contrast to succah, the weak, unstable covering of foliage. Actually, the whole history of mankind consists of this contrast. Just as people have the power to make [themselves] safe and secure against their earthly contemporaries by sturdy walls, so they delude themselves into thinking that they can make themselves safe and secure against that which comes from above – against God and…His power to direct matters. They think that they can find security in the protection of their own might, take their fate into their own hands, and crown the building of human greatness with gabled roofs, rendering them independent of God.
[The war of Gog and Magog] is the battle of גג, roof, against סוכה, succah, the fight of the roof-illusion of human greatness which never allows rest, against the succah-truth of cheerful confidence and serenity which comes of placing one’s trust in God’s protection.
R’ Hirsch’s exposition of the Gog-Magog relationship bases itself on the Hebrew grammatical rule that the prefix מ, mem, expresses the idea of projecting something. For example, אור is light; מאור, luminary, is a heavenly body which projects light. So, too, גג means roof – in R’ Hirsch’s view, it represents the philosophy that man can insulate himself against the heavenly power of God – מגוג is the attempt to project that philosophy on earth.
---Commentary on the Stone Edition Chumash
~ SHABBAT SHALOM and CHAG SAMEACH ~