Sukkot is one of the special times throughout the year when we sing chapters from Psalms to Hashem, otherwise known as Hallel. Among the passages that we say are the following words (Tehillim 118:22): אֶבֶן מָאֲסוּ הַבּוֹנִים הָיְתָה לְרֹאשׁ פִּנָּה” – The stone which the builders despised is the stone that became the cornerstone”.
One might ask: Why did King David (the composer of Tehillim) see fit to give an analogy of a stone in this passage? We may understand this as follows:
It often happens that a person desires to follow a certain set path in life, but circumstances cause things to go in an undesired direction. He may likely react to this by becoming disgusted, possibly even allowing himself to become somewhat rebellious. Similarly, if any creature would be placed in a situation that is not to its liking, it may very well act in an unruly manner.
However, a stone is different. For even when it becomes full of filth until the point of repulsiveness, its position will nevertheless remain the same. It will continue to faithfully fulfill its role as a stone within the side of a building. Its occupation of holding up a wall will not be compromised.
King David is telling us that all the human ‘builders’ of the world might likely become disgusted while looking upon the externalities of this stone. However, Hashem – the ‘Ultimate Builder’, does not pay attention to the superficial surroundings of this stone; rather He pays heed to its faithful nature to continue to do its function in life. Thus, Hashem specifically chooses this stone, with its absolute loyalty, as the one to become His cornerstone.
Therefore, we learn the following lesson from this faithful stone. Surely, we should choose to enhance the externalities of our spiritual lives as much as we are able, in order to give prominence to that which we represent. We should certainly choose the most ideal settings in which we would be capable of producing even greater measures of spirituality.
However, at the same time, it is imperative to know that while this is important, our faithfulness to Him counts more than anything else. Thus, even when life’s circumstances do not appear to meet our desires; when things are not exactly going the way that we would wish, know that Hashem seeks out the genuine loyalty that could be found within our hearts.
Submitted by Rabbi Usher Smith