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December 10, 2016 / 10 Kislev, 5777

Posts Tagged ‘sukkot’

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

Jerusalem Reinforces Security as Thousands Converge on Sukkot Holiday

Tuesday, October 18th, 2016

Extra police security measures have been put in place for the festival of Sukkot in public areas, parks, and malls across Israel, following the Yom Kippur holiday. Police units are providing beefed up security at national parks, community centers, synagogues and other public areas.

According to the Israel Police Foreign Spokesman, Micky Rosenfeld, special emphasis is being placed on Jerusalem as security is reinforced in and around the Old City of Jerusalem. During the Sukkot festival, police patrolling the Old City arrested 10 Arabs for throwing rocks from rooftops, which caused no injuries, according to Rosenfeld.

Thousands of people are visiting Jerusalem’s Western Wall during the week-long holiday to attend the annual priestly blessing recited at one of Judaism’s holiest sites. Last year on Sukkot, an estimated 50,000 people including ultra-Orthodox, religious, secular, traditional and non-Jewish tourists attended the traditional blessing ceremony at the Western Wall.

Following UNESCO’s resolution last week that denied any historic and religious connection of the Jewish people to the Western Wall and Temple Mount, Israel’s Interior Minister Aryeh Deri called on Israelis to visit the Western Wall in masses this Wednesday on a Facebook post. “This year, we’ll come, in our masses, to Jerusalem to the Western Wall, to the Priestly Blessing. We’ll send a clear message – nobody will separate us from our holy places.”

“On Sukkot, we will go up to Jerusalem; say yes to the Western Wall, no to UNESCO’s decision!” wrote Deri.

President Reuven Rivlin also commented last week on the vote, stating that “there is no festival more connected to Jerusalem than Sukkot.”

“The festival of Israel all highlight the inextricable bond between our people and our land, and no forum or body in the world can come and deny the connection between the Jewish people, the Land of Israel and Jerusalem – and any such body that does so simply embarrasses itself,” said the Israeli president.

Anav Silverman, Tazpit News Agency

Terror Victim Inspires Unique Sukkot Decorations Across Israel and Abroad

Tuesday, October 18th, 2016

A group of female graphic designers from across Israel have spearheaded a project to commemorate Na’ama Henkin, the 30-year-old mother who was murdered with her husband, Rabbi Eitam Henkin, 31 in a drive-by shooting carried out by three Hamas terrorists last October 2015. The couple was killed as they were driving with their four young children on the road between Itamar and Elon Moreh in Samaria.

Eitam Henkin was a doctoral student at Tel Aviv University and Na’ama was a respected graphic designer who owned her own studio. The family lived in the Neria community in the Mateh Binaymin Regional Council of southern Samaria.

“We wanted to find a way to remember the kind of person Na’ama Henkin was,” Rivkah Nitsan told Tazpit Press Service (TPS) in an interview. Nitsan, herself a graphic designer, did not personally know Henkin but followed her graphic design work.

“The last thing that Na’ama created was a poster for Sukkot, which she had uploaded to her Facebook business page for her clients and friends to print and use to decorate their Sukkot [booths],” Nitsan explained. Henkin had chosen a passage symbolizing unity within Israel for her last creation.

“A group of graphic designers from secular and religious backgrounds came together to create a variety of posters to use as Sukkot decorations based on Na’ama’s original color palette,” Nitsan told TPS. Each of the 44 designers who participated in the project chose a passage and a Sukkot-themed symbol for their poster, keeping within the spirit of Na’ama’s last work.

Over 40 posters were created and have been uploaded to a Facebook page, Aguda Achat – In Memory of Rav Eitam and Naama Henkin, dedicated to Hemkin’s memory. People from across Israel including some Knesset members and people from abroad have downloaded the posters to decorate their Sukkahs. “People in Canada and the USA wrote to us saying that they have hung these posters in their Sukkahs,” said Nitsan, who noted that head of the Zionist Union party and opposition leader Isaac Herzog had several posters in his family’s Sukkah.

“Na’ama was a very kind and giving person and she believed in the unity of our people. We wanted to commemorate this legacy of Na’ama,” commented Nitsan.

“The project gives people the opportunity to remember the light and beauty of Na’ama. I believe that if Na’ama is looking down right now, she’d be happy to see how her work is continuing to inspire others,” concluded Nitsan.

Anav Silverman, Tazpit News Agency

The Remarkable Paradox of Sukkot

Sunday, October 16th, 2016

As is well known, the Sukkah visualizes our life span in the world. For what is a Sukkah? It is a frail structure which we need to dwell in for seven days. Many commentators remind us that these seven days represent man’s average life span which is about seventy years. This is well stated by King David when he wrote: “The span of his years are seventy and with strength eighty years.” (Tehilim 90:10) Indeed under favorable circumstances, we may prolong our stay in this world into our eighth day which is symbolized by Shemini Chag Atzereth, (a separate festival immediately following the seven days of Sukkot).

Indeed how frail our life is! Not only short but also most unreliable. As long as we live under favorable and healthy circumstances, life is a pleasant experience and just like the Sukkah, it seems to protect us and we feel safe. But once life uncovers serious problems or turns against us, we realize how little protection it is really able to offer and how unstable our lives really are. Like the Sukkah it is far less reliable than we had imagined.

Perplexing however is the fact that the festival of Sukkot is seen as the highlight of joy and happiness. Speaking specifically about Sukkot, the Torah states: “And you shall be happy on your festival” (Devarim 16-14). This means that we should experience the most exalted form of happiness at a time when we have to dwell in a structure which is far from secure!

In fact Jewish law makes it utmost clear that the Sukkah must be built in such a way that it is not able to stand up against a strong wind, that its roof must be leaking when it starts to rain and that it must contain more shadow than sunlight.

These conditions should make us feel distressed since the Sukkah seems to represent the vulnerability of man. So why command us to be joyful, precisely at the time when one is confronted with all that what can go wrong with life?

Here another question comes to mind. Since the Sukkah teaches us about life’s handicaps, we would expect that Jewish law would also require the interior of the Sukkah to reflect a similar message. As such the Sukkah should be empty of all comfort. It should just contain some broken chairs, an old table and some meager cutlery to eat one’s dry bread with.

However Jewish law holds a great surprise. It requires that the Sukkah’s interior should reflect a most optimistic lifestyle. Its frail walls should be decorated with beautiful art, paintings and other decorations. The leaking roof, made from leaves or reeds, should be made to look attractive by hanging colorful fruits down from it. One is required to bring one’s best furniture into the Sukkah, if possible to put a carpet on the ground, have nice curtains hanging in front of its windows. One should eat from the most beautiful plates and use one’s best cutlery. Meals should be more elaborate, including delicacies. Singing should accompany those meals. All this seems to reflect a feeling that this world is a most pleasant place made for our enjoyment and recreation!

So why sit in a frail hut simultaneously?

The message could not be clearer: however much the outside walls and the leaking roof reveal man’s vulnerability and uncertainty, inside these walls one needs to make one’s life as attractive as possible and enjoy its great benefits and blessings.

This should not be lost on us. Instead of becoming depressed and losing faith in life after the great tragedies which befall us, we should continue to approach life with the optimistic note which is conveyed to us by the beautiful interior of the Sukkah. True, the ongoing guerrilla attacks on Jews in the land of Israel and the collapse of the Twin Towers in the heart of the U.S., which believed it could offer its citizens a great amount of security, proves how vulnerable modern man really is and how shaken the outer walls of his “Sukkah” are! But this should not hold us back from enjoying life as much as possible. To be happy when all is well is of no great significance. But to be fully aware of the dangers which surround us and simultaneously continue our lives with “song and harp” is what makes humans great and proud.

We would therefore do well to discourage people from speculating about “the end of days” or reading kabbalistic and other sources informing us that the messianic days are very close and that the wars preceding his coming are imminent. There is no way of knowing. Just as in the days of Shabbatai Zvi*, such speculations, however tempting, could cause a great backlash and do a lot of harm. Instead we should stay with our feet on the ground and make sure we live up to our moral and religious obligations.

All our tragedies should encourage people to be more united and to show more sensitivity to each other’s needs. It should encourage Jew and gentile to build strong family ties and create, just as in the case of the Sukkah, strong and pleasant homes. It should inspire people to go to synagogue and church and create strong communities, because these are some of the decorations in our lifelong Sukkah.

Indeed, the walls of our world may be shaking, but let us not forget that we have an obligation to decorate its interior.

*Shabbatai Zvi was a self declared messiah who brought about a great upheaval in the European Jewish community in the seventeenth century. After it became clear that he was a fraud, many Jews no longer trusted the Jewish traditional sources which they believed were proving that Shabbatai Zvi was indeed the Messiah. Consequently they left the fold.

Rabbi Dr. Nathan Lopes Cardozo

Sukkot The Most Dangerous Jewish Holiday

Sunday, October 16th, 2016

{Originally posted to the author’s website, The Lid}

While not officially a holiday, the five day period after Yom Kippur leading up to Sukkot are the most most dangerous days in the Jewish calendar (and it’s not because God starts zapping those who didn’t make it into the book or iPad of life on the Day of Atonement).

Five days after Yom Kippur Jews begin the celebration of Sukkot. This festival is one of the three biggies (the other two are Passover and Shavuot). I know what some of you are thinking and the answer is no, Chanukah is a very minor holiday. The three “biggie” festivals as well as Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur are the only holidays ordained by God in the Torah. All the other holidays such as Chanukah, Purim, and my birthday were either created by Rabbis, other great leaders or as in the case of my birthday by a blogger looking for attention (note one holiday does reach the level of the “biggies” above–that is my wedding anniversary -that is because of a Hebrew phrase called “Shalom HaBayit” peace in the household).

As it says in the Torah,

Speak to the children of Israel, saying: On the fifteenth day of this seventh month, is the Festival of Succoth, a seven day period to the Lord.

Oh yeah I forgot to tell you. Rosh HaShana, the Jewish New Year is the first day of Tishrei the Seventh month in the Jewish calendar (when God created the universe). In Judaism there are four New Years every year. Along with Rosh HaShana are:

The 15th of Shevat also known as Tu B’Shevat–it is the new year for trees. In the Torah it says we are not to eat a tree’s fruit until it is three years or three Tu B’Shevat’s old.

The first of Nisan (which is the first month). Passover is 15 days later. It is said seventy individuals went into Egypt to become slaves and we came out as one people. Nisan celebrates becoming one people and meriting our redemption from Egypt.The first of Nisan is also a reminder to start adding fiber to our diet because all that matzoh we are about eat two weeks during Passover is going to be like cement in our intestines.

The last new year, the first of Elul, is the New Year for the tithing of cattle. The tithe for cattle had to be made from cattle born in the same fiscal year, between the first of Elul one year and the next.

Back to Sukkot, part of the holiday observance is to create a flimsy “structure” with a semi-see though roof–the roof must be built from something that grows in the ground. The structure is called a Sukkah. My friend Eddie built his Sukkah from scratch using raw materials, kind of like the one below. He is what’s known in Hebrew as רוֹדֵף רוֹשֶׁם which translates as “freaking show-off.” As for me, I put together a pre-fabricated Sukkah like the one at the top of this post.

sukkot_2004_1

During Sukkot we eat, entertain, and some even sleep in this structure. Personally my favorite part of the holiday is inviting over friends and hanging out in the Sukkah, It seems less pressured than when they come into the house and hang out.

It reminds us of the life of the ancient Israelites life, wandering in the wilderness for 40 years living in structures like this (and arguing over whether or not Moses should stop at a gas station to ask for directions).

More importantly, existing in this kind of flimsy structure, reminds us of the frailty and transience of life and in the end, our necessary dependence on God.

Sukkot has a lot of great meanings, perhaps the best one for today’s world is the fact that it is the Holiday when we pray for the rest of the world. And whatever your religion or political affiliation, I am sure that you will agree that the world needs it!

In Temple times, the High Priest used to make 70 sacrifices during Sukkot, representing a prayer for each of the nations of the world. I would imagine that the five days before Sukkot was a period of prayer for 70 cows.

By the way, do you want to know how many Jews light our Sukkahs? You ever go into Walmart in mid-January and see the store is selling Xmas lights for $1.99 a case? Well the guy you see in the parking lot wheeling the extra-large shopping cart full of cases of Xmas lights is probably a Jew who bought them to light his Sukkah. So I guess some can say Sukkot is the Jewish holiday that has the “Xmas Spirit.”

Sukkot is a happy holiday it referred to in Hebrew as Yom Simchateinu (the day of our rejoicing) or Z’man Simchateinu (the time of our rejoicing). From building the Sukkah, “living in it’ for a week, to tearing it down, Sukkot is a fun and Joyous time for family and friends. We also invite ancient Jewish figures, one different every night. These figures are called Ushpizin (righteous guests) and include Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, Aaron, and David. Now if you are cooking for your own Sukkah, I wouldn’t worry, these guys don’t eat that much.

Oh and the reason the five days after Yom Kippur are the the most dangerous days in the Jewish calendar? It’s an interesting story. Generally Jews do not start preparing for any holiday before the previous one has ended. It’s not a superstition thing, it’s that we need focus all of our attention on the holiday at hand before we can move on. This is doubly important when the holiday before is Yom Kippur when we are praying hard asking for forgiveness.

On the five days after Yom Kippur Jews all across the world start building their Sukkahs. The problem is that most Jews aren’t great with tools. And for many of us (like me) the last time we picked up a tool or stepped on a ladder was the day we took down the Sukkah last year. If you can you should peek out your window and observe your Jewish neighbor building their Sukkah–it is the construction equivalent of the Keystone Kops. Well except for my friend Eddie the Sukkah show-off.

The once-a-year use of tools, ladders, etc., is why the five day period is the most dangerous days on the Jewish calendar (it may also be the day where you hear a frustrated Jewish neighbor cursing in some ancient tongue that even they didn’t know they could speak). It is the time where most young Jewish children learn their curse words.

Sukkot starts Sunday night at sundown maybe ya’ll can join me over the next few days, pray for the safety of each nation, may they all remain safe and prosperous, may the ones who fight terror remain vigilant, the ones that promote terror reform their ways, and the ones that are on the fence get a backbone.

BTW you don’t have to be Jewish to pray for the world—as Kinky Freedman, the Jewish country music star would say, “Pray to the God of your choice”

And as we say in the momma loshen (mother tongue-Yiddish). Have a Gut Yuntif (a good holiday)

Jeff Dunetz

Sukkot (Feast of Tabernacles): Guide for the Perplexed, 2016

Friday, October 14th, 2016

1. Sukkot, the Feast of Tabernacles(in Hebrew (סכות– named after the first stop in the Exodus, the town of Sukkota (סכותה), Exodus 13:20 and Numbers 33:3-5 – commemorates the transition of the Jewish people from bondage, in Egypt, to sovereignty in the Land of Israel, from nomadic life in the desert to permanence in the Promised Land, from oblivion to deliverance, and from the spiritual state-of-mind during the High Holidays to the mundane of the rest of the year. Sukkot aims at universal – not only Jewish – deliverance.
 
2. The commandment to erect Sukkot (booths), and celebrate a 7-day-holiday, commemorating the stage of transition, was specified in Leviticus 23:42-43).
 
3. Sukkot (Feast of Tabernacle) is the only Jewish holiday which is one of the three pilgrimages to Jerusalem (along with Passover and Pentecost) – and therefore named “Holy Reading” – as well as one of the three holidays celebrated during the holy Jewish month of Tishrei (on the 15th day of Tishrei following Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur), and therefore named “Shabbaton,” Sabbatical. Sukkot commemorates the beginning of the construction of the Holy Tabernacle in the Sinai desert.
 
4. Sukkot has played a key role in the reconstruction of the Jewish Homeland and the ingathering of Jews – and their transition – to the Land of Israel. For instance, the town of Sukkot was the first stop of Jacob the Patriarch upon returning, to the Land of Israel, from a 20-year-long work for Laban (Genesis 33:17). Joshua ordered the Jewish people to erect Sukkot (booths) upon settling the Land of Israel. Nehemiah/Ezra (Nehemiah 8: 13-14) renewed the custom of erecting Sukkot upon the ingathering to the Land of Israel, following a 70-year-old exile. Thus, the Hebrew root of Sukkah stands for key characteristics of the relationship between the Jewish people and the Jewish Homeland: Sukkah (סכה) is “wholeness” and “totality” (סכ), the “shelter” of the tabernacle (סכך), “to anoint” (סוך), “divine curtain/shelter” (מסך) and “attentiveness” (סכת).
 
5. The US covenant with the Jewish State dates back to Columbus Day, which is always celebrated around Sukkot. According to “Columbus Then and Now” (Miles Davidson, 1997, p. 268), Columbus arrived in America on Friday afternoon, October 12, 1492, the 21st day of the Jewish month of Tishrei, in the Jewish year 5235, on the 7th day of Sukkot, Hoshaa’na’ Rabbah, which is a day of universal deliverance and miracles. Hosha’ (הושע) is the Hebrew word for “deliverance” and Na’ (נא) is the Hebrew word for “please.” The numerical value of Na’ is 51 (נ – 50, א – 1), which corresponds to the celebration of Hoshaa’na’ Rabbah on the 51st day following Moses’ ascension up to Mt. Sinai.
 
6. The first recorded mention of the 7-day-Sukkot celebration was – following the Cyrus Edict – in Nehemiah 8:17: “And all the congregation of them that came out of captivity made booths (Sukkot), and sat under the booths: for since the days of Joshua, the son of Nun, unto that day had not the children of Israel done so. And there was very great gladness.”
 
7. Sukkot is the 3rd major Jewish holiday – following Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur – in the month of Tishrei, the holiest Jewish month. According to Judaism, the number 3 represents divine wisdom, stability, permanence, integration and peace. Three is the total sum of the basic odd (1) and even (2) numbers. The 3rd day of the Creation was blessed twice (“And God observed that it was well done”); God appeared on Mt. Sinai 3 days following Moses’ ascension of the mountain; there are 3 parts to the Bible, 3 Patriarchs, 3 annual pilgrimages to Jerusalem, etc.
 
8. The Book of Ecclesiastes, written by King Solomon – one of the world’s greatest philosophical documents – is read during Sukkot. It accentuates Solomon’s philosophy of the centrality of God and the importance of morality, humility, family, friendship, historical memory and perspective, patience, long-term thinking, proper timing, realism and knowledge. Ecclesiastes 4:12: “A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.” The Hebrew name of Ecclesiastes is Kohelet, (קהלת), which is similar to the commandment to celebrate Sukkot – Hakhel (הקהל), to assemble, and the Hebrew word for public.

Yoram Ettinger

Sukkot For Our Time

Friday, October 14th, 2016

Editor’s Note: Sukkot is known in Jewish tradition as a time of rejoicing, but its customs and prayers are often mysterious to many of us today. The new Koren Sukkot Mahzor, with powerful commentary and explanatory notes by Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks, unveils much of the intrigue behind the concepts, minhagim, tefillot, and Torah readings relevant to the weeklong festival. The following is an exclusive excerpt from Rabbi Sacks’s beautiful introduction.

 

Of all the festivals, Sukkot is surely the one that speaks most powerfully to our time. King Solomon’s Kohelet, which we read on Sukkot, could almost have been written in the twenty first century. Here is the ultimate success, the man who has it all, and yet who, surveying the totality of his life, can only say, in effect, “Meaningless, meaningless, everything is meaningless.”

Kohelet’s failure to find meaning is directly related to an obsession with the “I” and the “Me”: “I built for myself. I gathered for myself. I acquired for myself.” The more he pursues his desires, the emptier his life becomes. There is no more powerful critique of the consumer society, whose idol is the self, whose icon is the “selfie” and whose moral code is “Whatever works for you.”

This is the society that achieved unprecedented affluence, giving people more choices than they have ever known, and yet at same time saw an unprecedented rise in alcohol and drug abuse, eating disorders, stress related syndromes, depression, attempted suicide, and actual suicide.

Of all things people have chosen to worship, the self is the least fulfilling. A culture of narcissism quickly gives way to loneliness and despair.

Kohelet was also, of course, a cosmopolitan: a man at home everywhere and therefore nowhere. This is the man who had seven hundred wives and three hundred concubines but in the end could only say, “More bitter than death is the woman.” It should be clear to anyone who reads this in the context of the life of Solomon that Kohelet is not really talking about women but about himself.

In the end Kohelet finds meaning in simple things. Sweet is the sleep of a laboring man. Enjoy life with the woman you love. Eat, drink, and enjoy the sun. That ultimately is the meaning of Sukkot as a whole. It is a festival of simple things. It is, Jewishly, the time we come closer to nature than any other, sitting in a hut with only leaves for a roof, and taking in our hands the unprocessed fruits and foliage of the palm branch, the citron, twigs of myrtle, and leaves of willow. It is a time when we briefly liberate ourselves from the sophisticated pleasures of the city and the processed artifacts of a technological age, and recapture some of the innocence we had when we were young, when the world still had the radiance of wonder.

The power of Sukkot is that it takes us back to the most elemental roots of our being. You don’t need to live in a palace to be surrounded by clouds of glory. You don’t need to be rich to buy yourself the same leaves and fruit that a billionaire uses in worshipping God. Living in the sukkah and inviting guests to your meal, you discover – such is the premise of Ushpizin, the mystical guests – that the people who have come to visit you are none other than Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and their wives.

Sukkot is the time we ask the most profound question of what makes a life worth living. Having prayed on Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur to be written in the Book of Life, Kohelet forces us to remember how brief life actually is, and how vulnerable. “Teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom.” What matters is not how long we live, but how intensely we feel that life is a gift we repay by giving to others. Joy, the overwhelming theme of the festival, is what we feel when we know it is a privilege simply to be alive, inhaling the intoxicating beauty of this moment amid the profusion of nature, the teeming diversity of life, and the sense of communion with those many others with whom we share a history and a hope.

Most majestically of all, Sukkot is the festival of insecurity. It is the candid acknowledgment that there is no life without risk, yet we can face the future without fear when we know we are not alone. God is with us, in the rain that brings blessings to the earth, in the love that brought the universe and us into being, and in the resilience of spirit that allowed a small and vulnerable people to outlive the greatest empires the world has ever known.

The sukkah became in the course of time a symbol, not only of forty years in the wilderness, but of centuries of exile and dispersion. Too often, home turned out to be no more than a temporary dwelling, a sukkah.

Yet with its genius for the unexpected and its ability to rescue hope from tragedy, Judaism declared this festival of insecurity to be zeman simchateinu, the season of our rejoicing. For the sukkah, that quintessential symbol of vulnerability, turns out to be the embodiment of faith, the faith of a people who forty centuries ago set out on a risk-laden journey across a wilderness of space and time, with no more protection that the sheltering presence of the Shechinah.

Toward the end of his great History of the Jews, Paul Johnson wrote:

The Jews were not just innovators. They were also exemplars and epitomizers of the human condition. They seemed to present all the inescapable dilemmas of man in a heightened and clarified form…. The Jews were the emblem of homeless and vulnerable humanity. But is not the whole earth no more than a temporary transit camp?

Those words go to the heart of Sukkot. To know that life is full of risk and yet to affirm it, to sense the full insecurity of the human situation and yet to rejoice: this, for me, is the essence of faith. Judaism is no comforting illusion that all is well in this dark world. It is instead the courage to celebrate in the midst of uncertainty, and to rejoice even in the transitory shelter of the tabernacle, the Jewish symbol of home.

Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/opinions/sukkot-for-our-time/2016/10/14/

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