NOTE: As we are in the midst of celebrating the seven day festival of Sukkot (Feast of Tabernacles), the regular Torah reading schedule is suspended and the readings are from Leviticus 23 regarding the festivals of the Lord.
Tabernacles does not commemorate some major historical event in Jewish history; rather, it celebrates the survival of the children of Israel for forty years in the desert. Every guideline for constructing our ‘sukkahs’ today reflect the memory of our ancestors’ experience: a ceiling made of materials taken from the earth, a roof that is not fully closed so the stars remain visible, etc.
During those forty years, the children of Israel were surrounded by clouds of Divine protection. There was no dependence on navigational skills or instruments. All direction was given by the pillar of cloud by day and the pillar of fire by night; at once a very ‘insecure’ situation yet in reality the most ‘secure’ of all, as Israel lived under the manifest presence of the Almighty.
A sukkah reminds us that regardless of our personal or family circumstances, the reality by which we live is precisely that: we are temporary citizens of a temporary world enroute to the Land of Promise, the World To Come, where we ultimately achieve happiness and fulfillment.
Sukkot is a very joyful time but how do we keep that joy year round. First and foremost by the way we think. As a man thinks in his heart, so is he, wrote King Solomon.(Prov. 23:7)
When we include God in our moment-to-moment decisions, we are better equipped to embrace joy and “go with the flow” of daily life in a spirit of peace and tranquility. Once in a while we need to remind ourselves that God was ruling the world long before we came on the scene and will continue to do so when we depart this life.
Recognizing that “His mercies are new every morning” and “great is His faithfulness”,we can face each day with confidence and assurance that His love is greater than any limitation we hold on to or place upon ourselves.
The western attitude of entitlement has no place in our relationship with Him. Rather His goodness stimulates us to gratitude. We are the constant recipients of gifts that we can never repay. To Him be the honor and thankfulness.
We are all in this together, individuals bound together by faith and a love for the Almighty. This is symbolized by the four species that we join together on Sukkot; the etrog, the citron, the lulav and the myrtle. On Sukkot, we hold them up bound together as a symbol of our shared destiny.
In Tune with Torah this week= The joy of the Lord is our strength – this is the message of Sukkot. How is your joy level? Are you so grounded in Him that whether or not the circumstances meet your expectations, you are still able to maintain a sense of joy in your relationship with the Holy One of Israel?