Weekly Torah Commentary – Feast of Tabernacles Oct. 8-15, 2014

SuccotThe Festival of Sukkot or Tabernacles is the last of the yearly festivals commanded in the book of Leviticus. Coming as it does right after Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur, it seems redundant to some, even anticlimactic. However,it is a beautiful and inspirational festival.

Some believe that it was the Festival of Sukkot that inspired the Puritans of Massachusetts to celebrate their Thanksgiving Day. While giving thanks is a fitting conclusion to a succession of sacred days, Sukkot is much more than just a biblical “Thanksgiving.”

One of the readings during Succot is the book of Ecclesiastes in which the wise King Solomon speaks to us about the changing nature of life and eternal values. We are reminded that our condition is always precarious even when we think we dwell in security and safety. Yet through reading his book, we are reminded of a central issue in Succot: the temporariness of our earthly existence.

When we see what has happened to the world’s economy in a few short months, we might consider that we actually do ‘live’ in a sukkah. Anyone who has ever experienced a hurricane up close understands how a solid house can suddenly feel like a sukkah. When our trust-in our relationships, our work, our health-is shaken, we see that we really do ‘live’ in temporary dwellings on this earth. We can’t depend on the outer walls; our security and our stability is in God alone.

Since that’s the case, we are reminded each year during Succot of a valuable lesson about life. Strong faith is not a luxury but a necessity. Faith is a decision against chaos. It gives us the strength that comes from the inside, not from the outside.

Sukkot reminds us that what really matters in life is what will follow us into eternity: those words and actions which have eternal value; which have contributed to the betterment of our family and friends; which have inspired others to walk with God, to choose righteousness, to seek integrity, humility and holiness.

Succot is all about renewing in us the awareness of the destiny for which we were created: to be a living ‘Tabernacle’ or ‘Sukkah’ of His presence as we make our way through life’s joys and sorrows.

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