On night 2 of Sukkot, someone accidentally dropped the citron. It happens, and it’s not like we aren’t using foliage that has been cut for over a week and we all know what that means. . . This isn’t about that . . . but the next morning we saw that the citron was bruised. And each night the bruising has gotten more obvious–even though the fragrance has stayed just as heavenly! So I asked Adonai what lesson there might be in the bruising. He prompted my heart with this:
But He [was] wounded for our transgressions, [He was] bruised for our iniquities; The chastisement for our peace [was] upon Him, And by His stripes we are healed. (Isaiah 53:5)
The ultimate example of what it means to live the life of a citron came to dwell among us, and we bruised him.
There has always been a thought of intentional harm when I have read that verse, or heard it taught. Men wounded Messiah; our sins bruised him. And I think that is accurate. But I think we often overlook the lack of intention present in the vast majority of sin that bruised him. Bruising comes from the accidents–the trips, the falls, the misses that weren’t planned. This is challenging how I look at what Messiah endured–and what it means to be called to follow in his footsteps.
Rabbi Shaul/Paul admonishes us in Romans 12:2 to be in the world but not of it, and Rabbi John cautions us, in 1 John 2:15, “Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.”
And I realized, the reason that the citron was dropped was because it was not bound together with the rest of the lulav. It was separate. Sure, we hold them together, and we do need to be reminded that we are all part of the same community. But to be the citron really means to be set apart and called to live in that community in a very different way. We are bound together with our community because Adonai has placed us with the lulav. How we walk as the citron will be viewed by others as a witness–as a testimony to who we really are and what we really believe. But we are not to strive to be so deeply connected to the community, to men, that we lose site of the reality that the citron is not tied to the holder–it is set apart.
Since we are called to walk in the footsteps of the greatest citron who ever lived, I have to imagine that our lives will involve some bruising. To be the citron means that when that happens, we don’t need to ask where God is in our suffering; we don’t need to worry about our appearance or what others think; like the citron in our lulav this week . . . . we just need to keep being the citron and putting out that heavenly aroma that draws others to us so that we can share the fruit of what we have learned. We will get dropped because we aren’t in the holder. We will be bruised because that is what happens to a citron that is in this world.
Maybe the most beautiful citron is the one that has been bruised and kept its scent . . . that is the citron that knows who it is. That is the citron that can point us to the One who was bruised by our iniquity. That is the citron that can show us how to live in this world without being of it. So when my family wakes in a bit and we wave the lulav together, I’m going to look at the bruising in a whole new way. And I hope that, after I wave the lulav this morning, I will be able to look at some things in my life in a whole new way as well.