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A Time to Celebrate

Friday, 28 September, 2018 - 10:19 am

This is a wonderful time of year.

While many tend to think of ‘the Holidays” as referring to Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur, those Holidays are just the beginning. The Jewish calendar actually has a continuum of Jewish celebrations that begin on Rosh Hashana and continue on for twenty-four days! 

Let’s start at the beginning: Rosh Hashana is the launch of a ten day exercise - culminating with Yom Kippur - when we reconnect with our best selves and with the Divine. These ten days are filled with the serious and introspective happiness that comes with self-awareness and self-improvement. They’re happy, even as they’re focused and introspective.

We then progress to Sukkos, when the High Holidays’ quiet satisfaction morphs into full-blown joy. The High Holidays’ holy moments can be elusive and difficult to concretize. The Sukkah brings our High Holiday inspiration into real life.

For seven days, we eat, drink, study and hang out in a hut (a Sukkah) with an imperfect (temporary) roof. That ‘roof’ represents the Miraculous Clouds which protected the Jews as they travelled in the desert after leaving Egypt. That ‘roof’ symbolizes G-d’s loving protection, then and now.

So the Sukkah is a tangible manifestation of the spiritual intimacy – the connectedness – we felt on the High Holidays.  When we sit in the Sukkah, we’re sitting in G-d’s embrace, because the Sukkah makes G-d’s love tangible in our daily lives.

We then reach the Holiday season’s peak when we celebrate the Torah on Simchas Torah (this coming Sunday evening through Tuesday evening). Simchas Torah drives home the message that we can always embrace, and be embraced by, G-d through studying Torah.

The Torah is your portable Sukkah, one you can access even after the Holiday wraps up.

In the Scripture, G-d tells us: “I have put My words (the Torah) into your mouth and I have covered you with the shadow of My hand." The “shadow of My hand” refers to the Sukkah’s interior shadow, its embrace. G-d is telling us that we can experience spiritual intimacy when we immerse ourselves in the Torah’s words and ideas, when we have the “words of Torah in our mouths.”

And that’s a real - lasting - reason to celebrate. We’re never alone. We can always re-discover the Holidays’ spiritual connectedness, through the study of Torah.

So come and celebrate!

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