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October 21, 2016 / 19 Tishri, 5777

Posts Tagged ‘sukkot’

PA Arrests Arabs Who Visited Jewish Sukkah of Peace

Friday, October 21st, 2016

The Palestinian Authority on Thursday arrested three of its residents who on Wednesday committed the crime of paying a visit to the Sukkah of Peace, an annual celebration of the holiday of Sukkot and the Jewish outreach to our neighbors, offered by Oded Revivi, head of the Efrat local council in Gush Etzion, Judea, Israel’s Channel 2 News reported.

The celebration attracted more than a hundred guests, and was an opportunity for Arab dignitaries from nearby Bethlehem and Hebron to mingle with senior IDF and Israel Police officials, including IDF Operations Dept. Head Major General Alon Nitzan, Judea and Samaria Police District Commander Superintendent Moshe Bareket, Judea and Samaria Division Commander Brigadier General Lior Carmeli, and Etzion Brigade Commander Roman Gofman.

Maj. Gen. Nitzan commented that many disputes can be resolved in this kind of gathering, “including security challenges.”

Revivi told the news channel that he and his council are trying to intervene on behalf of his arrested guests. “Everyone who was present at the sukkah on Wednesday felt the excitement that surrounded this unique event,” Revivi said. “Officers and civilians, Jews and Muslims, sitting together and examining ways to create better neighborly relationships, and how to forge a future of peace.”

“The fact that the Palestinian Authority has chosen to summon for questioning our Palestinian neighbors who had come to drink coffee with us only shows what a great challenge we’re dealing with,” Revivi noted.


The Universality Of Sukkot

Friday, October 21st, 2016

The Torah reading on the first two days of Sukkot (Leviticus 22:26-23:44) outlines the festivals that give rhythm and structure to the Jewish year. Examining them carefully, however, we see that Sukkot is unusual and unique.

One detail that had a significant influence on Jewish liturgy appears later on, in Deuteronomy 16:14-15: “Be joyful at your Feast … For seven days celebrate the Feast to the Lord your G-d at the place the Lord will choose. For the Lord your G-d will bless you in all your harvest and in all the work of your hands, and your joy will be complete.”

Speaking of the three pilgrimage festivals – Pesach, Shavuot and Sukkot – Deuteronomy speaks of “joy.” But it does not do so equally. In the context of Pesach, it makes no reference to joy; in that of Shavuot, it speaks of it once; in Sukkot, as we see from the above quotation, it speaks of it twice. Is this significant? If so, how? (It was this double reference that gave Sukkot its alternative name in Jewish tradition: z’man simchateinu, the season of our joy.)

There is a second strange feature that appears in this reading. Uniquely, Sukkot is associated with two mitzvot, not one. The first: “Beginning with the fifteenth day of the seventh month, after you have gathered the crops of the land, celebrate the festival to the Lord for seven days … On the first day you are to take choice fruit from the trees, and palm fronds, leafy branches and willows of the brook, and rejoice before the Lord your G-d for seven days” (Leviticus 23:39-40). This is a reference to the arba minim (four kinds) – palm branch, citron, myrtle and willow leaves – taken and waved on Sukkot.

The second command is quite different: “Live in booths for seven days. All native-born Israelites are to live in booths, so your descendants will know that I made the Israelites live in booths when I brought them out of Egypt. I am the Lord your G-d” (Leviticus 23:42-43).

This is the command to leave our house and live in the temporary dwelling that gives Sukkot its name: the festival of Tabernacles, or booths, or huts. It is an annual reminder of portable homes in which the Israelites lived during their journey through the wilderness.

No other festival has this dual symbolism. Not only are the four kinds and the tabernacle different in character; they are even seemingly opposed to one another. The four kinds and the rituals associated with them are about rain. They were, says Maimonides (Guide for the Perplexed, III: 43), the most readily available products of the land of Israel, reminders of the fertility of the land. By contrast, the command to live for seven days in booths, with only leaves for a roof, presupposes the absence of rain. If it rains on Sukkot, we are exempt from the command (for as long as the rain lasts, and providing it is sufficiently strong to spoil food on the table).

The difference goes deeper. On the one hand, Sukkot is the most universalistic of all festivals. The prophet Zechariah foresees the day when it will be celebrated by all humanity: “The Lord will be king over the whole earth. On that day the Lord will be one, and His name the only name … Then the survivors from all the nations that have attacked Jerusalem will go up year after year to worship the King, the Lord Almighty, and to celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles. If any of the peoples of the earth do not go up to Jerusalem to worship the King, the Lord Almighty, they will have no rain. If the Egyptian people do not go up and take part, they will have no rain” (Zechariah 14:9, 16-17).

The sages interpreted the fact that seventy bulls were sacrificed in the course of the festival (Numbers 29:12-34) to refer to the seventy nations (the traditional number of civilizations). Following the cues in Zechariah, they said that “on the festival [of Sukkot], the world is judged in the matter of rain” (Mishnah, Rosh Hashanah 1:2). Sukkot is about the universal need for rain.

At the same time, however, it is the most particularist of festivals. When we sit in the sukkah, we recall Jewish history – not just the forty years of wandering in the wilderness, but also the entire experience of exile. The sukkah is defined as a “temporary dwelling (dirat arai).” It is the most powerful symbol of Jewish history. No other nation could see its home not as a castle, a fortress or a triumphal arch, but as a fragile tabernacle. No other nation was born not in its land, but in the desert. Far from being universalist, Sukkot is intensely particularistic. It is the festival of a people like no other, whose only protection was its faith in the sheltering wings of the Divine presence.

It is almost as if Sukkot were two festivals, not one.

It is. Although all the festivals are listed together, they in fact represent two quite different cycles. The first is the cycle of Pesach, Shavuot and Sukkot. These tell the unique story of Jewish identity and history: the exodus (Pesach), the revelation at Mount Sinai (Shavuot), and the journey through the wilderness (Sukkot). Celebrating them, we reenact the key moments of Jewish memory. We celebrate what it is to be a Jew.

There is, however, a second cycle – the festivals of the seventh month: Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur and Sukkot. Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur are not only about Jews and Judaism. They are about G-d and humanity as a whole. The language of the prayers is different. We say, “Instill your awe upon all Your works, and fear of You on all that You have created.” The entire liturgy is strikingly universalist. The Days of Awe are about the sovereignty of G-d over all humankind. On them, we reflect on the human – not just the Jewish – condition.

The two cycles reflect the dual aspect of G-d: as creator and as redeemer. As creator, G-d is universal. We are all in G-d’s image, formed in His likeness. We share a covenant of human solidarity (the Noahide covenant). We are fellow citizens of the world G-d made and entrusted to our care. As redeemer, however, G-d is particular. Whatever His relationship to other nations (and He has a relationship with other nations: so Amos and Isaiah insist), Jews know Him through His saving acts in Israel’s history: exodus, revelation, and the journey to the Promised Land.

No sooner have we identified the two cycles than we see what makes Sukkot unique. It is the only festival belonging to both. It is part of the cycle of Jewish history (PesachShavuotSukkot), and part of the sequence of the seventh month (Rosh Hashanah-Yom Kippur-Sukkot). Hence the double joy.

The four kinds represent the festival’s universality. They symbolize nature, rain, and the cycle of the seasons – things common to all humanity. The Sukkah/ tabernacle represents the singular character of Jewish history, the experience of exile and homecoming, and the long journey across the wilderness of time.

In a way not shared by any other festival, Sukkot celebrates the dual nature of Jewish faith: the universality of G-d and the particularity of Jewish existence. We all need rain; we are all part of nature; we are all dependent on the complex ecology of the created world. Hence the four kinds. But each nation, civilization, and religion is different. As Jews we are heirs to a history unlike that of any other people: small, vulnerable, suffering exile after exile – yet surviving. Hence the Sukkah.

Humanity is formed out of our commonalities and differences. As I once put it, “If we were completely different, we could not communicate. If we were all the same, we would have nothing to say.” Sukkot brings both together: our uniqueness as a people, and our participation in the universal fate of mankind.

Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks

Beyond the Matrix – Sukkot and the Nations [audio]

Thursday, October 20th, 2016

Ira and Rod discuss the universality of the holiday of Sukkot, as well as the meaning of the Four Species that we use to praise G-d.

Israel News Talk Radio

Holiday Blessing by the Kohanim From the Western Wall in Jerusalem [video]

Thursday, October 20th, 2016

This week the Western Wall Plaza was filled with the sound of blessing — the benediction of the Kohanim – by the descendants of the priests of the Holy Temple of Jerusalem.

They prayed for the Nation of Israel from the heart of the holy city of Jerusalem on the second intermediate day of the Festival of Sukkot, the Feast of Tabernacles.

Hundreds of Israeli police and Border Guard police officers were also there to take their places among the worshipers, not only to secure the thousands who participated in the ceremony as Kohanim and those who received the blessings, but also as worshipers themselves.

Thousands also watched the ceremony from around the world via the Kotelcam webcam that is installed across from and above the Western Wall, enabling viewers to watch the activities at the sacred site 24 hours a day.

NOTE: Please be aware that the above YouTube footage contains a recording of the sacred prayers and thus should be treated with appropriate respect.

Hana Levi Julian

Livin’ in a Booth – Fountainheads Sukkot

Thursday, October 20th, 2016

Video of the Day

A Soldier’s Mother: Sukkot and the Times

Wednesday, October 19th, 2016
The holiday of Sukkot is one that is ignored by most non-Observant Jews outside Israel. Here in Israel,both religious and secular Jews make note and honor this important holiday. Outside Israel…not so much.

Growing up, my family didn’t built a Sukkah until I became religious and built it on my own, sometimes with the help of family, sometimes not at all. Since I married, we have had one every year, in every place that we have lived  – never so large and beautiful as in the last few years since we moved to our current house.

Sukkot – the Feast of Tabernacles – is a holiday that I love, almost above all others. Missing is the tremendous amount of work related to Passover, the trepidation built into Yom Kippur, the intensity of Shavuot. Sukkot is quite simply fun. That doesn’t change the incredible symbolism involved, but it does help build the anticipation.

Sukkot is about many things but perhaps the most important message I take from it is trust. We spend our lives working to build homes for our families and make them secure – financially secure, safe from intruders. The home is our haven from the world., the place we hide out when we need down time; the place we run to when we feel oppressed.

Sukkot is about leaving that home and putting ourselves out there at the mercy of God, of the elements (controlled by God). There is no real security against thieves, the darkness, the cold. Over the last year and a bit, there has been a tremendous shift in the world, including the Jewish world.

Israel has become the greatest of Sukkahs for the Jewish people – it is truly here that we are safe in a way we do not feel anywhere else in the world. From France, to England, to Belgium, to Germany and across the United States, anti-Semitism is on the rise again, if in fact it ever really was less.

The United Nations “Education, Science and Culture” Organization (UNESCO) suggests that the place where the greatest home ever built by the Jewish people, has no real connection to the foundations of our religion.

The world seems crazy – craziest of all perhaps, is the election in the United States with candidates that should shock and embarrass every American. And here in Israel, we are an island of quiet and peace. Yes, really. What you hear may sound like we live in a country plagued by violence and yet that is so far from the truth.

Daily, we walk where we want, do what we want. We don’t live in fear of terrorism – the ultimate victory. More often than not, when a terrorist reaches out to kill, he’s shot down by a soldier or an armed and trained civilian within seconds, certainly minutes. Our sons and daughters are on alert everywhere and yes, it’s a crummy way to live, but it is life and it enables us to trust.

We build our Sukkot, decorate them with lights and posters and shimmering objects. As I do every  year, I will hang four small bags from the ceiling – salt, honey, flour and oil. This I learned from my mother-in-law – the basics of food – trust that God will provide.

These are the essential ingredients to the challah I bake each week, the dough rising on my table right now – the simple things in life.

Tonight, so much of Israel will light candles and then eat (and even sleep) in the Sukkah. In my neighborhood, it is hard to find a house or apartment without one (some even have more than one). In a world that is upside down –  we will trust and leave our homes and put ourselves out there because that is the lesson we have learned.

To have faith that God will protect us – from the rain, from the cold, from the Iranians, even, if need be, from the next president of the United States.

It is an amazing feeling to be able to reach out and show that in the place where much of the world thinks we live in violence, we truly feel safe and filled with the joys of this holiday. In a world gone crazy, Israel is our anchor, God our greatest salvation.

May the holiday come in joy and be the truest of celebrations but more, may its message of trust and love be heard around the world. The very walls of our home, of our gates and walls are nothing when the Protector of Israel watches over us.

Paula Stern

Israel Missing at US Gathering of World Military Leaders on ‘Day After ISIS’

Tuesday, October 18th, 2016

Military chiefs from nearly 50 nations around the world were convened at Andrews Air Force base in Maryland on Monday to discuss what will be on the “day after” the Islamic State terrorist organization, also known as ISIS or “Da’esh,” is defeated.

Israel was not among them, according to The Hill, although it is not clear whether Israel was simply not invited, or whether Israel chose not to send a representative to the gathering, perhaps because Monday was the Jewish festival of Sukkot and it is the official policy of the State of Israel to observe all Jewish holidays abroad as well as at home, regardless of personal observance.

If the latter, the American military leadership would have been aware of the issue as this is not the first time a conference or top-level meeting has ever been scheduled with the State of Israel at this time of year. Moreover, it is entirely possible that other people involved in the gathering may also have been Jewish.

U.S. Marine General Joseph Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, opened the conference with the information that he expects to see success in the “next coming months” in Mosul and Raqqa, the respective ISIS capitals in Iraq and Syria.

Dunford was quoted by The Hill as saying military leaders need to think about the “second and third order effects” of defeating the group in those countries, and “where we will see the challenges,” as he put it. He added that military chiefs would provide briefs on their counter terror efforts to enhance transregional cooperation and a common understanding of transregional terror threats, noting that “one region affects other regions,” before the conference broke up into work groups.

The nations who were in attendance included, in alphabetical order:
Australia, Bahrain, Belgium, Canada, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Egypt, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Indonesia, Italy, Jordan, Kuwait, Latvia, Lebanon, Lithuania, Malaysia, Mali, Mauritania, Morocco, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nigeria, Norway, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Qatar, Romania, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, and the United Kingdom.

Hana Levi Julian

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/israel-missing-at-us-gathering-of-world-military-leaders-on-day-after-isis/2016/10/18/

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