Special Sukkot Teaching (see below for weekly teaching)
September 27, 2015
“You shall dwell in booths for seven days, all citizens of Israel shall live in booths, in order that future generations may know that I made the Israelites live in booths when I brought them out of the land of Egypt.”
This is the verse from the Torah that commands our observance of Sukkot.
The rabbinic commentator Rashi, asserts that the Torah isn’t discussing the actual booths our Spiritual ancestors lived in while wandering in the wilderness for their forty years, but rather, the Torah is symbolically referring to the clouds of glory that protected the Israelites as they were traveling.
“Just as clouds shield us from the hot desert sun, so too did the clouds of glory for our ancestors.”
Rashi’s grandson, the Rashbam, disagreed with his grandfather. He asserted that the Israelites dwelled in booths for all 40 years that they were in the wilderness, and it was there that they received their daily manna (heavenly bread) by which they consumed in the booths.
On Sukkot, we build and eat within our sukkot (booths) so as to recall where all of our food comes from; the bounty that we appreciate God providing to us. Further commentary notes that the simple, temporary dwellings we build in commemoration of the ancient sukkot also remind us, by simplifying our eating space, that we better appreciate the conveniences and comforts that so many of us enjoy.
Not only do we eat in the sukkah, many will observe the custom of sleeping in the sukkah. (More easily observed in a warm climate environment.)
Because the roofs of the sukkah have to have openings to the sky, we also have the opportunity to look up and witness the stars and sky, and have further awe of all that God has created.
Sukkot is a holiday that purposefully shifts our attention away from the material world and refocuses our attention to the spiritual. Another aspect of the Sukkah is its flimsy nature. A strong wind could blow down most sukkahs. This fragility is a reminder of how fragile is precious life is for us.
This reminder of fragility further reinforces our desire to prioritize that which really matters. Its why the Ethics of the Fathers taught 2000 years ago, “Who is rich? The person who is happy with what they possess.”
As we head into our Sukkot observance we can continue our High Holiday reflections.
- What really is my source of happiness?
- Is my time allocated to reflect my real priorities?
- Am I taking care of my physical and spiritual health?
- Am I pursuing mitzvahs by which to improve myself and add more of God’s light to our world?
Chag Sameach—Happy Sukkot!!
September 25, 2015
Over the holidays I received many requests for the story on the question: “Do you believe in life after delivery?”
So, in lieu of my writing a new teaching for this week, I share this story for your own pleasure and to hopefully share with others.
Shabbat Shalom & a very Happy, Healthy & Peaceful New Year!!
In a mother’s womb were two babies. One asked the other “Do you believe in life after delivery?”
The other replied, “Why, of course. There has to be something after delivery. Maybe we are here to prepare ourselves for what we will be later.”
“Nonsense” said the first. “There is no life after delivery. What kind of life would that be?”
The second said, “I don’t know, but there will be more light than here. Maybe we will walk with our legs and eat from our mouths. Maybe we will have other senses that we can’t understand now.”
The first replied, “That is absurd. Walking is impossible. And eating with our mouths? Ridiculous! The umbilical cord supplies nutrition and everything we need. But the umbilical cord is so short. Life after delivery is to be logically excluded.”
The second insisted, “Well I think there is something and maybe it’s different than it is here. Maybe we won’t need this physical cord anymore.”
The first replied, “Nonsense. And moreover if there is life, then why has no one ever come back from there? Delivery is the end of life, and in the after-delivery there is nothing but darkness and silence and oblivion. It takes us nowhere.”
“Well, I don’t know,” said the second, “but certainly we will meet Mother and she will take care of us.”
The first replied “Mother? You actually believe in Mother? That’s laughable. If Mother exists then where is
The second said, “She is all around us. We are surrounded by her. We are of Her. It is in Her that we live. Without Her this world would not and could not exist.”
Said the first: “Well I don’t see Her, so it is only logical that She doesn’t exist.”
To which the second replied, “Sometimes, when you’re in silence and you focus and you really listen, you can perceive Her presence, and you can hear Her loving voice, calling down from above.”
Special Sukkot Teaching, September 27, 2015
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