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Sukkos comes to us as a beautifully wrapped gift from Hashem, right when we can use some pampering. Having just completed an exhaustive round of appeals to our Father in heaven to forgive our iniquities and grant us yet another chance to prove ourselves worthy of His beneficence and mercy, we emerge as newborns – clean and pure and free of the stain of sin.
Gazing wistfully through my window at the remaining leaves still clinging to the young maple tree on our lawn, I am reminded of the golden hues that come to warm the stark cold nights in the dead of winter - those of the Chanukah flames. Just when we desperately yearn for an infusion of warmth, Chanukah comes around to reassure us that our light is never extinguished, that the flame in our soul is eternal, and that from darkness comes light.
It was no ordinary walk home on Yom Kippur night a year ago. The clear air was the kind lungs get high on. The moon's bright essence in a star-studded sky lit my path along the familiar yet now deserted winding country road. Even the crickets' rhythmic chirping seemed muted in the surrounding stillness.
On Rosh Hashanah it is a mitzvah to assume a bowed posture as we offer tearful prayer to God and beg for His mercy and forgiveness. We are hopeful that our humility and remorsefulness will earn us a favorable verdict, but should we, Heaven forbid, fall short, Hashem in His infinite kindness extends our time of teshuvah through the duration of Chanukah, when it is a mitzvah to light the Chanukah candles that give rise (literally) to the flames that shoot straight upward, in affirmation of our spiritual ascent.