The Jewish calendar provides certain rhythms to our lives connecting us with God, our history, the land of Israel, and each other. We celebrate our freedom as we remember our exodus from Egypt; we celebrate receiving the Torah; we commemorate those we lost in the Holocaust and those lost in battle; we remember the tragedy of losing our Holy Temple; we celebrate the harvest, etc.
Since hitting rock bottom on Tisha B’Av when we commemorated our long history of tragedies, we climbed all the way to our spiritual high in our personal connections with God on Yom Kippur.
Having made it through the High Holiday season, I am now ready to rejoice, and conveniently, the Torah provides just the opportunity.
On the fifteenth of the month (four days after the conclusion of Yom Kippur), after we have completed the harvest, we are commanded to observe the festival of Sukkot, aka Z’man Simchatenu—the time of our joy. Three times we are instructed to rejoice before God on this holiday. We celebrate the harvest; we live in huts; we wave the lulav bundle; we go to synagogue; we eat festive meals.
Maimonides reminds us that “when we eat and drink, we must feed the stranger, the orphan, and the widow, along with the rest of the poor who are in need.” If we do this, then we will have the joy of a mitzvah as well. If we do not, then we only have the joy of a full belly.
Sukkot starts this Sunday evening at sundown.
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