The power of SUKKOT is,
that it takes us back to the most elemental roots of our being.
- You don't need to live in a palace to be surrounded by clouds of glory.
- You don't need to be rich to buy yourself the same leaves and fruit that a billionaire uses in worshipping God."
Of all the festivals, SUKKOT is surely the one that speaks most powerfully to our time.
known in Hebrew as Kohelet,
is in the Writings (Ketuvim)
and is read during the week of Sukkot.
KOHELET could almost have been written in the twenty first century.
Here is the ultimate success,
the man who has it all,
the envy of all men,
who has pursued everything this world can offer,
from pleasure to possessions
to power to wisdom
and yet who,
surveying the totality of his life, can only say, in effect,
“Meaningless, meaningless, everything is meaningless.”
Kohelet’s failure to find meaning is directly related to his obsession with:
the “I” and the “Me”:
“I built for myself.
I gathered for myself.
I acquired for myself.”
The more he pursues his desires,
the emptier his life becomes.
KOHELET was also, of course, a cosmopolitan:
a man at home everywhere and therefore nowhere.
In the end KOHELET finds meaning in simple things.
- Sweet is the sleep of a labouring man.
- Enjoy life with the woman you love.
- Eat, drink and enjoy the sun.
That ultimately is the meaning of Sukkot as a whole.
It is a festival of simple things.
It is, Jewishly, the time we come closer to nature than any other,
sitting in a hut with only leaves for a roof,
And taking in our hands
A palm branch, the LULAV,
2 willows, ARAVOT,
A minimum of three myrtles, HADASSIM
And one lemon , ETROG
The power of Sukkot is that it takes us back to the most elemental roots of our being.
Living in the sukkah and inviting guests to your meal, you discover
– such is the premise of Ushpizin, the mystical guests –
that the people who have come to visit you are none other than:
Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and their wives.
What makes a hut more beautiful than a home is that when it comes to Sukkot there is no difference between the richest of the rich and the poorest of the poor.
We are all strangers on earth, temporary residents in God’s almost eternal universe.
Sukkot is the time we ask the most profound question of what makes a life worth living!
Having prayed on Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur to be written in the Book of Life,
Kohelet forces us to remember how brief life actually is,
and how vulnerable.
What matters is not
how long we live,
how intensely we feel that life is a gift we repay by giving to others.
Joy, is the overwhelming theme of the festival,
Most majestically of all,
Sukkot is the festival of insecurity.
It is the acknowledgment that there is no life without risk,
we can face the future without fear when we know we are not alone.
G-D is with us, in the rain that brings blessings to the earth,
in the love that brought the universe and us into being,
Sukkot reminds us that G-D's glory was present in the small, portable Tabernacle Moses and the Israelites built in the desert!
A Temple can be destroyed.
But a sukkah, broken, can be rebuilt tomorrow.
Security is not something we can achieve physically but it is something we can acquire
mentally, psychologically, spiritually.
All it needs is the courage and willingness to sit under the shadow of God’s sheltering wings.