October 13th, 2019 – Sukkoth 5780: Wishing everyone a wonderful Sukkoth Holiday
With the sounding of the final blast of the Shofar, we conclude Yom Kippur and go immediately into the joyfulness and historical lessons of Sukkoth.
Sukkot is the beginning of the rainy season, the time that we celebrate the bounties of the earth and the days when we remember that we were not just once slaves in Egypt, but that we arrived in the land of Israel not due to our wisdom but due to G-d grace and love. As is true of much of Jewish history, we often mix joy with remembrance. Sukkot reminds us that we spent forty years of wandering in the desert traveling a physical and emotional road from Egyptian slavery to national liberation.
Some call Sukkoth the Jewish Thanksgiving (although it would be historically more accurate to call Thanksgiving the American Sukkoth). In fact only two other nations: the United States and Canada, have chosen to create their own thanksgiving days. Might this lack of thankfulness reflect the fact that we humans often take too much for granted? Both Sukkoth and Thanksgiving emphasize a sense of thankfulness to G-d. Each has an underlying message: that we live only due to G-d’s grace and only for the number of days with which G-d allots us.
There are, however, differences between the celebrations. Sukkoth is a harvest festival, yet it places its emphasis not on the harvest but rather on G-d’s will. Perhaps that is the connection between Rosh Ha’Shanah, Yom Kippur and Sukkoth. Rosh Ha’Shanah is a time to take an accounting of one’s soul and Yom Kippur is the time when we beg G0d for forgiveness, and Sukkot reminds us that the most precious gift that G-d gives us is time. Sukkoth is not a time to look back at our accomplishments but rather a time to realize that our lives are highly precarious, and that we dare not waste a precious minute of G-d’s gift of life.
The precariousness of life is symbolized by the sukkah. The simple sukkah (booth) reminds us that that each day is a blessing, and to allow oneself to be controlled by negativity and pessimism is an affront to the many blessings within our lives. It is during these days that we think not of the negative but of the blessings in each of our lives.
Sukkoth challenges ua to rid ourselves of pessimism and negativity and to turn our sense of thanks into action. It reminds us that each of us has the task to make tomorrow’s world a better place than today’s.
Chag Samech/Happy Sukkoth
Youtubes for the Week:
Songs for Sukkoth
Israeli children’s songs:
An American song: