Sukkot 3


Sukkot is really 

a very strange 

and wonderful holiday

all at the same time. 

In contrast to the solemnity and 

spirituality of Yom Kippur, 

Sukkot is joyful, 

a very different spiritual pursuit. 

Sukkot is very physical

with shaking the etrog and lulav


In fact, the mitzvah of the 

Sukkah itself is one of the only 

mitzvot that you can do with 

your whole body,

just placing your body in a 

Sukkah is a mitzvah.  

But why do we have the mitzvah 

of the Sukkah? 

The simple meaning is that it 

commemorates the dwelling of 

our ancestors in Sukkot when 

they left Egypt. 

But what is so significant about 

commemorating camping?


After all, 

it seems from the Torah that the 

Jews lived mostly in tents in 

their journey from Egypt to the 

Promised Land. 

Bilam the heathen prophet  

blessed the Jews: 

Ma tovu oholecha Yaakov, 

“How goodly are your tents O

Jacob” (Num. 24:5); 

tents—not huts. 

The deeper meaning, is that 

Sukkot are more than huts. 

It’s a state of being. 

Sukkot are about stopping dead 

in our tracks

i.e. build and sit in a Sukkah and 

take time out to appreciate what 

just happened to you. 

To emphasize this point with a 

passage from the Torah that 

most people do not pay 

attention to. 

It tell us that Sukkot happens to 

be the name of the 1st place 

where our ancestors camped out 

following their exodus from 

Egypt (Ex. 13:20). 

Perhaps there they built Sukkot 

so that they could absorb what 

just happened to them in their 

miraculous escape from the

tyranny of Egypt. 


And so we move into Sukkot 

after Yom Kippur to take time out 

to absorb the changes and 

promises we made on the High 

Holy Days.


What’s the message here?


• How much time do we take to sit back and appreciate what we have received, compared to how much time we invest in pushing onward? 


• How much more do we expect of our partners, compared to how much we consciously appreciate what they have done for us already? 


• Or how much they mean to us, as it is? 


The moment our ancestors were 

liberated from Ramses, 

• They no doubt became entirely 

focused on the journey ahead. 

• They no doubt asked, “ what’s 

nexton the agenda?” 

rather than 

stay a few moments with the 

enormous gift of having been 

liberated from slavery. 

• They were therefore instructed 

to construct Sukkot and to 

camp-out in these flimsy, 

temporary huts, and take 

in what they had just received. 

Judaism refers to this as 

hakaret  hatov, “

recognition of the good.” 

This is what Sukkot is really 


taking time to recognise

the gifts in our lives, 

whether it be

our health, 

our wealth, 

our partners, 

our children and so on. 


It’s the time to be grateful for 

being given another year and to 

then stop and take stock and 

appreciate life’s gifts. 

Can we not acknowledge our life 

gifts in a house or a tent ?

Why a sukkah? 

Because it’s temporary, 

built anew every time

just as our gratitude 


appreciation should be fresh 

every time 

and not just the same-old, 

same-old refrains.

There is a  beautiful story called, 

“The Curse of Blessings,” 

It’s a story that can be life-changing if you can absorb its message:


There is an Officer of the Law, 

recent graduate,

proud as you can imagine, 

in his beautiful uniform.

He wore a sword with a gold and 

ivory handle. 

He was as pompous as arrogant as could be 

One day he was walking in an 


He ventured into the darkness, 

and there,  in the distance, saw a man in rags. 

“Come forward,” 

he commanded. 

“Come forward now!” 

But the man in rags did not come forward. “

I am an Officer of the Law, and I command you, come forward!”


The man in rags did not move and spoke, 

“I don’t know what I’m going to 

do with you.”

“Do with me?” 

the Officer of the Law mocked. 

“Do with me? 

You don’t do with me! 

I do with you! 

I am an Officer of the Law, 

and I command you to come 



“Now I know what to do with 


the man in rags said, 


as he spoke, 

he drew his sword. 

“Now I know what to do.” 

Without further word he moved 

to attack.

The Officer of the Law drew his 

own sword in defense. 

“Stop that!” 

he ordered. 

“Put your sword down right 


But the man in rags did not stop. 

The Officer of the Law had to fight back.


he said again.

The Officer of the Law was forced to retreat.

When it seemed the man in rags would win, the Officer of the Law just intended  to protect himself, however killed the man in rags. 

“I didn’t mean that,” 

the Officer of the Law said. “

I didn’t mean to hurt you. 

Why didn’t you stop when I 

ordered you to? 

Why did you attack me?”


The man in rags waved the 

words away. 

“I am leaving you,” he said, “

and as I do, I put upon you the 

Curse of Blessings.”

“What do you mean?” 

asked the Officer of the Law, 

now quite confused.


“The Curse of Blessings.


Every day you must say a new 


one you have never said before. 

On the day you do not say a new blessing, 

on that day you will die.”


The man in rags closed his eyes.

 The Officer of the Law looked

 about for help. 

There was none to be found. 

When he turned back, 

the man in rags had 


He was gone.


” It was a dream,” 

the Officer of the Law thought. 

“Only a dream. I imagined it.”


The time was late in the 


The sun was setting. 

As much as the Officer of the 

Law tried to ignore his 

experience, he could not. 

The Jewish day ends with the 


The Officer of the Law felt his 

body growing cold and knew 

from the chill that his life was 

leaving him. 

In a panic, 

he uttered these words of 


“You are blessed, Lrd our Gd, 

ruler of the universe, 

who has created such a 

beautiful sunset.” 

At once warmth and life flowed 

back into him. 

He realised, with both shock 

and relief, 

the curse had been for real.


The next morning, 

He woke with words of blessing. 

“You are blessed that You 

allowed me to wake up this 


His life felt secure the entire 


The next morning he blessed his 

ability to rise from his bed

the following day that he could 

tie his shoes.


Day after day he found abilities he 

could bless. 

• That he could go to the bathroom, 

• that he had teeth to brush, 

• that each finger of his hands still 


• that he had toes on his feet and hair on his head. 

• He blessed his clothes, every 


• He blessed his house, 

the roof 

the floor, 

his furniture, 

every table and chair.

At last he ran out of things to 


so he began to bless relationships. 

• He blessed his family and 


fellow workers, 

and those who worked for him. 

• He blessed the mailman and the 


He was surprised to find they 

appreciated the blessings. 

His words had power. 

They drew family and friends 

closer to him. 

Word went out that the Officer of 

the Law 

was a source of blessing. 


Years passed, decades passed!

The Officer of the Law found new 

sources of blessing. 

• He blessed 

city councils and 

university buildings, 

scientistes and their discoveries. 


He passed the age of 100. 

Most of his friends were long 


As he approached the age of 120,

he considered that his life was 

long enough. 

Even Moses had not lived longer. 

On his birthday he made a 

conscious decision not to say any 

new Blessing and allow his life to 

come to an end. 


As the sun was setting, 

a chill progressed inward from his 


He did not resist it. 

In the twilight a figure appeared,

the man in rags. 

“You!” the Officer of the Law 


“I have thought about you every 

day for a hundred years! 

I never meant to harm you. 

Please, forgive me.”


“You don’t understand,” 

said the man in rags. 

“You don’t know who I am, do 


I am the angel who was sent 100 

years ago to harvest your soul, but 

when I looked at you, so pompous 

and proud, 

there was nothing there to harvest. 

An empty uniform was all I saw. 

So I put upon you 

the Curse of Blessings, 

and now look wat you’ve 




the Officer of the Law said, 

“You are blessed, my Gd, ruler of 

the universe, that You have kept 

me alive and sustained me so I 

could attain this moment.”


 “Now look what you've done!” 

the man in rags said in frustration. 

“A new blessing!”


Life flowed back into the Officer of the Law, 

and he and the man in rags 

looked to each other, 

neither of them knowing quite 

what to do.

My friends, 

like the Officer of the Law 

was forced to recite blessing after 


A lifetime of blessings

Sukkot commands us to recite 

blessing after blessing

over the Sukkah, 

the etrog, 

the lulav, 

the myrtle 

and the willow. 

Just like the Officer of the Law 

could not stop saying blessings

even when his life was ending

So too may we absorb the gift of 

another year and the message of 


which is, 

to not stop saying blessings when 

Sukkot is over. 



Best Regards

Jean-Pierre FETTMANN

+65 94604420